Thursday, March 20, 2014

Vancouver Fashion Week V/W 14 - Day 1 - Susana Bettencourt, Green Embassy, Pitour & Gabriel Lage

The first day of runway shows at Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) always offers a little extra excitement. But with 60 designers from 30 countries on the schedule this season, the energy was palpable. Media, buyers and fashion enthusiasts could be found in the lobby, up in the VIP lounge and on the runway greeting those they haven't seen since last season, sipping wine and talking about the designers showcasing that day. Big smiles were in evidence everywhere - lots of hugs and warm greetings the norm.
                    Image by Ed Ng Photography

The first day of runway shows at Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) always offers a little extra excitement. But with 60 designers from 30 countries on the schedule this season, the energy was palpable. Media, buyers and fashion enthusiasts could be found in the lobby, up in the VIP lounge and on the runway greeting those they haven't seen since last season, sipping wine and talking about the designers showcasing that day. Big smiles were in evidence everywhere - lots of hugs and warm greetings the norm.

Image by Ed Ng Photography
One thing that always makes this particular fashion week special for me is that we are all seated at the start of the evening and don't have to leave the venue until the end - no exiting and lining up between shows or sets of shows.  Approximately 3 designers are showcased back to back followed by a ten minute break. During that time the runway literally explodes with people and photographers mixing, chatting and snapping tons of candid shots of the well-heeled audience.  We pose, meet new people, admire unique fashion styles, laugh and talk about the most recent runway offerings.  Sometimes a few models join us so we can see designs up close. This the heart of what makes VFW special for me.

Image by Ed Ng Photography

As I remind everyone - I pick four shows each day to cover. There are always many more deserving shows, but time limits and the sheer number of designers showcasing place limits on how many I can feature. Today you get lucky as because an unexpected twist of fate I have 5 below. When life's road takes a turn, I usually just go with the flow.

Susana Bettencourt

Images by Peter Jensen


Susana Bettencourt  was born in the Azores Islands of Portugal. Her interest in knitwear and traditional lace techniques began at a young age and were pursed in London where she earned BA in Fashion Knitwear from Central Saint Martins and in 2011, an MA in Digital Fashion at London College of Fashion where her sculptural designs earned her the title of distinction at graduation. Bettencourt embraces the future - using cutting edge technology experimental collections from new fabrics. Celebrities fans include Radio 1xtra DJ Sarah-Jane Crawford & Lady Gaga.

Last night we saw dense textural knit each created with a wash of several muted tones such as blue/gray, tan/gray and more. The less-is-more silhouettes offered a perfect pairing that blended with the unique fabric. Some looks were in the blue/gray palette were styled with stunning large coiled necklaces - actually my favourite looks on the runway.  Then there were a few looks that offered a signature knit piece paired with a woven counterpoint.  What a great opening show that set the pace for the entire evening.

Green Embassy

Images by Kuna Photography











Green Embassy - was another collection that stood out for creating unique garments from unusual fabric - in this case wool felting. Turkish born artist/designer Zuhal Kuvan-Mills is the creative force behind this Australian label, each a hand-made and totally unique. In She grew up with a love of nature and learned dressmaking from her mother and spinning/weaving from her grandmother. In 2004 she rediscovered her love of art and complete studies at the University of Creative Arts in London and Curtin University in WA. I love this description found on her website, "...a collectible artisan haute-couture label with higher meaning. In essence, her wearable pieces of art are individual prayers for sustainability on earth." The goal is to find that perfect balance between couture, sustainability and the concept of slow fashion.

I sat in awe during this show. There was something very organic about the way the textural fabrics and unique dye choices were combined the the silhouette and each is unique. Fabrics include 100% handmade organic Australian alpaca, merino, silk and recycled natural fibres. Each garment is crafted and hand dyed and knits are fashioned from hand-spun yarns. This is wearable art and I can only hope to have a garment from Green Embassy hanging in my closet one day. Kudos to the designer on a show that took my breath away.

Anna Fora

Images by Kuna Photography
This show was a surprise - tucked between Pitour and Shelley Klassen - and who doesn't love a surprise. It was Toronto native Maida Ghide's collection for her label Anna Fora Designs - moved from her slot on Thursday to today.  This self-taught designer finds inspiration from both her current environment and her Eritrean ethnicity - ancient cultures presented with a modern approach. The silhouettes are also an exploration of life's influences and experiences. For the designer, "...through trials I’ve come to realize that the only definition of Me is life...Anna Fora is a 'truly and independent collective of life’s inspiration, the creative endeavor to make fabric speak to life.'"

The collection showcased looks for men and women with black and dark gray as anchors. Silhouettes were simple with many softly draping the body.  There was one look that offered a wow moment on the runway - when the model on the left above came out in this vivid garment. The look consisted of a floating over drape which was removed at the end of the runway. Underneath was a halter drape covering only the front and a pair of black shorts.  It was a strong and very sexy look which the model worked to the max.

Pitour
Images by Kuna Photography


Fashion Designer Maria Oberfrank - a Helmut Lang student at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna - brought a truly unique point of view to the runway. Based in Austria, her label - Pitour - offers on trend, but understated elegant design work paired with experimental, intricate details often created ​by hand. Simple cuts, asymmetry, extraordinary fabrics and a touch of European style define this label that includes both clothing and accessories. 

There were many standouts in this collection I loved. What was intriguing for F/W 2014 was a theme of interconnected fabric knots that appeared on several garments. There were a few in a lighter fabric with dark trim that made this detail pop, but the dark often monochromatic palette of many garments meant from a distance it offered as a more subtle note - a textural hint. It was only as the garment was close that you realized how intricate, involved and labour intensive the detailing was. Another dress feature circle cut-out on the skirt. An intriguing and inspiring offering from this talented artist. (Note may have to connect with Oberfrank when I visit Vienna in the fall!)

Gabriel Lage

Images by Peter Jensen
The final show of the evening is usually a show stopper and last night, Argentinian designer Gabriel Lage did just that. From the first sparkling gown to the last lacy wedding dress, there was a growing murmur to be heard throughout the audience. This artist comes by his talent naturally. Both father and grandfather were highly respected Haute Couture tailors who exposed him to European technique, the finest skills and the highest quality garments. His first Prêt-á-Porter collection was launched in 1990 in Mar del Plata and in 1995 he stepped onto the runway in Buenos Aires with his first Haute Couture collection. Since that time, his brand has gained global status with many awards and runway shows around the world - Uruguay, Paraguay, Dubai, Chile, Dominican Republic, Paris, New York.

Images by Peter Jensen
On the runway, models showcased beautiful full-length luxury gowns. Simple body-skimming silhouettes with just the perfect neckline front and back were offered in a soft wash of very pale pastels - with a few exceptions - creating an understated sophisticated elegance. Extensive, intricately pattern beading truly took these gowns to the couture level.  As the runway spots, there was a constant shimmer and sparkle that kept us all on the edge of our seats. All around me were oohs, aahs and women discussing which they would love to own. By the time the final look - a beautiful lace wedding dress - hit the runway, we were all in the palm of his hands. My favourite look hands down was the gold gown top right with the soft, gold feather accenting at the hem. What an amazing way to end the evening!

No comments:

Post a Comment