Monday, December 15, 2014

University of the Fraser Valley - , Kevin Hunter, Menswear inspired by Korean K-Pop Culture

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen (unless otherwise noted)

I say it time and time again....Want to see the future of fashion? Start attending the fashion grad shows at the one of the many great local design schools we are fortunate to have here in Vancouver. It can be a real eye-opener. This is where the fresh ideas will be coming from - this is the future of the fashion industry.

Nowhere is this as evident as in the menswear collections. I love seeing menswear on the runway whether totally edgy, gender challenging, classic silhouettes with a twist or great takes on developing new trends.  

The University of the Fraser Valley's (UFV) Kevin Hunter's collection caught my eye on several levels.  I liked his use of colour and texture in particular. One look pushed it hard with an all over print, but he pulled the design back to a sleeveless shirt and top of the knee shorts to keep it from being overpowering. On the other end of the spectrum was the all black look where a textural element was brought in with the incorporation of an interesting print pant.

For me, the elements of colour, texture and silhouette were perfectly balanced in the third look. Here a simple,short sleeve tee in a bright colour popped discreetly out from behind a striped black/white vest adding a subtle textural element. Then the look was completed by solid colour pants in a softer fabric with large side pockets and drop crotch to add a twist.  Normally I don't like drop crotch, but it worked well here.

It really was no surprise at the end of the show when Kevin Hunter was awarded the Most Marketable Collection.  I think the individual separates offered have enough breadth to create some really interesting looks paired with closet staples found in most men's closets. The collection overall also offered a great stepping stone for men wanting to break out of that predictable West Coast mold.  
Want to know more?  Enjoy this Q and A.

- - - - - - - -

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Langley, B.C., and lived in Aldergrove until I was 3. Then we moved to Abbotsford and we have been living in the same house ever since. 

What were you like when you were young?

I asked my parents this question because I figured they would be able to tell you better than I. The first thing that comes to my mom’s mind is that I was very particular about my clothes and what I wore. I always wanted to put together my own outfits, no matter how nonsensical they were. As a kid, I loved shoes and trying them on. Whether it was my grandpa’s giant oxfords, or my aunt’s pointed-toe pumps, if they made a clunking noise, they were the only important things in the room. Growing up I was pretty shy and reserved though, always feeling like my interests didn’t quite match up with my brothers, cousins and friends.

What were your interests in High School?

In high school I remember trying to find out what I was good at. What was my “thing” that I could pour myself into and excel at. I tried playing Bass guitar (after playing piano for several years); I even tried Break dance and Hip Hop classes. Nothing really captured and held my interest, so I put a lot of my efforts into academics, and found a real interest in my Law 12 class. This then led me to pursuing an academic career in Criminology at the University of the Fraser Valley. That lasted almost 2 years, but I found the classes about Criminal behavior and Criminal law to be very... disturbing. It was very dark subject matter and I just couldn't enjoy it like I used to.

Looking back, can you remember any signs that you would end up in fashion? A personal story would be great here.

To be honest, I never saw myself ending up in fashion. I had thought about it very briefly in high school once. I wanted to take a sewing class, but it wasn’t priority over my academic courses, not to mention the whole stigma towards guys in sewing classes was not something I wanted to be a target of.
Why did you choose to study at the University of the Fraser Valley?

I was originally studying Criminology, so since I made connections with the fashion faculty by taking the fashion electives, it was a natural move to progress in my fashion education at UFV. I had also seen the Absolute Style fashion show back in 2011 and was in awe of the creations that were sent down the runway. Up until this point it was only a dream that I would one day be showcasing a collection and specialty market garments such as a bustier, swim suit, coat, and jacket.

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you, what was easy for you, are there any high, low or funny moments you can share?

I had never touched a sewing machine before starting the fashion program in 2012. I was so grateful to the program faculty for accepting me into the program and willing to teach me from scratch. The first year was rough, many long days and late nights working on projects, all the while working a part time job to pay for my schooling and supplies. There was a point when I almost wanted to drop out. I felt overwhelmed and that this possibly wasn't the area of study for me. I would compare my projects to the other students and that, I found, was the most destructive way to think. Fashion can be a form of art; everyone has a unique perspective. Therefore you should only judge your work standing alone, and not in comparison to someone else’s. 

We all truly did beautiful work, all unique in our own way. The second year was even more intense than the first. Many 14-16 hour days at the school, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at the cafeteria and Tim Hortons, ordering sushi or pizza to be delivered to us at the school the nights we all stayed late. I would have to leave the school to work my evening shift selling clothes, and then would head back to the school for a few hours before the security guards would kick the other students and I out for the night. Becoming a family with the other students was a highlight of the program for me.

The most amazing part of the program was the year-end fashion show. The sense of accomplishment and joy in seeing my creations walk the runway was indescribable.

What was the inspiration for your grad collection? Share anything you'd like readers to know?

The inspiration behind my grad collection was primarily Korean pop culture. In recent years Korean pop (K-pop) groups and singers have become popular worldwide. I was drawn to how their styles and performances are so eccentric and transformative. I wanted to fuse North American lifestyle clothing with surges of K-pop inspired pieces throughout the collection.

Describe your collection – customer, day-evening-sportswear-separates-casual-highend glamour-stage costuming-punk?

My “It” guy is someone who is nonconformist. He looks for a balance in comfort and unconventional style. The collection is spring/summer casual street wear that fuses tonal blacks with lively colours, and showcases bold prints.

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

The palette for the collection includes the colours cobalt, teal, and acid yellow, with tonal blacks making the occasional appearance, and a couple statement prints: the geographic multicoloured print, the zigzag knit, and the graffiti pinstripe. The fabrics include high quality cotton sateen, canvas, french terry, bamboo knit, stretch poplin and ponte de roma.

Do you have a favourite look?

It is so difficult to choose a favorite of the three looks I sent down the runway. The first look, the cowl neck slim fit tee with the pullover vest and drop crotch harem pants are the perfect casual comfort yet stylish look. I can see the pants being a very popular item that reaches beyond my target market. The second look, which has a mix of the graffiti pinstripe canvas pants with the ponte de roma jacket, is such a statement. The fabrics of both the pants and the jacket were the soul inspiration for this look. For the last look, I wanted to create a look that married the previous two, all the while making a statement of its own. That’s why this look is suiting, presented in the most unconventional form. The bold print and unexpected silhouette make this look my feature look for the collection.

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

I would like to think I could refresh what North American menswear is. While honouring tradition, introduce new and exciting elements to create a more diverse range of clothing for men.

Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for a while, launch your own line, take a break and travel?
I’m not exactly sure where I want to go from here. Currently I am a product manager in a clothing retail store, merchandising. I would like to work my way up the corporate ladder and eventually be a part of the product development and pattern development team. Before that, I may take some time to live and work abroad and experience different cultures. I’m excited for what 2015 and the years to come have in store.

Images by Photo-Schuetz

Please share a quote on what fashion design means to you?

“You can be comfortable without ever compromising glamour.” ~ Donatella Versace. I love Versace and her words are wise. The reason I work clothing retail, the reason I want to design, is so that when someone tries on one of my garments and looks at himself or herself in the mirror, they will smile. They will feel comfortable and attractive, if I can help even a few people to feel that way, then it is all worth it.

To reach Kevin Hunter please email the designer at

For more information on the Fashion Design program at UFV go to -

Friday, December 12, 2014

Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week (VALT) Day 1 - reVolution

Article by guest writer Jacqueline Ryan

Jody Beugeling wearing Samantha Stroman
- Image Patrick Parenteau
“Revolution,” was the theme for opening night, once again ushering in a captivating evening of fashionable theatrics. VALT 2014’s Friday extravaganza was pretty, playful, fierce and sexy. The Vancouver Alternative Fashion scene, continued to celebrate and embrace our city's extraordinary talent, by presenting fresh new faces, and some favourite, highly anticipated designers that we've seen in VALT’s two previous, amazing years.

Host Ava Vanderstarren charmed us as the classic vintage housewife, wearing pearls, pink pointy-toed heels, curlers in her hair, a feather duster in one hand, and a rolling pin in the other. For her second visit, the housewife ditched the duster and “Factory Girl” emerged in her fitted denim jumpsuit, bandanna... this time rocking a toolbox. A Revolution was taking place, and we liked it. But what would be next for her transformation? We’d have to wait until the end of the night for that.

Images of Ava by by Norm Lee 
Blue Dress from Scout Boutique
 Kicking things off, was a fascinating conceptual dance piece by Bizarnival. It was a major highlight of my first night, and left a lasting impression. Dancing in like a jungle cat in a sheer white lace dress, our lady's dreadlocks were tied up to individual purple balloons, which lifted up her hair into a floating bouquet. She began her slow striptease, building to a crescendo when a black-robed executioner came towards her, standing over her as she lay on the stage. She was looking up at him as he reached down with a knife, stabbing and popping each balloon! When she arose, she was not sad and frightened as I expected her to be, but rather... free! She was almost naked, gently smiling, pleased and relieved to be rid of them.

Bizarnival - 3 images starting on left by Jacqueline Ryan  - Far right image by Patrick Parenteau

Lapin Rouge took the evening's theme literally, fully embracing the opulent excess - and gore - that was The French Revolution. There were white satin coats, flouncy bows, a lace-detailed gown with pleated paniers, and poet's shirts, white wigs - all that was de rigueur of the period. Nice attention to detail, clever use of props, and touches like the ribbons which echoed the blue, red and white of the French Flag, made the collection for me. A Napoleonic hat-wearing model in a floor-length crimson skirt, pulled out a long pistol, and aimed it straight down the runway. "Josephine" came out with a sky blue taffeta gown with a generous train covered in flowers, "Napoleon" in his epaulets. I especially appreciated the (foreshadowing) red rose adorning Marie Antoinette's doomed neck... and best of all, model Nathan McLean carrying the bloodied heads of the freshly guillotined Royalty on spikes! Vive Lapin Rouge!

Images by Patrick Parenteau

KGK opened with a statuesque Roman goddess inspired white flowing dress, the bodice layered with white feathers, and sets of gold straps and buckles secured the gathers as the train billowed behind her. I enjoyed the diversity of this designer, mixing up the collection with pieces like her wearable golden leather skirt, with a capped sleeved, breast baring vest. There was piece-y, purple hooded ballgown skirt-meets-bondage ensemble, a bony skeleton bra dripping with chains, for a blacked winged Maleficent-esque horned outfit, and the piece de resistance, a silvery-blue, gravity defying couture confection that wrapped up model Holly Wu in layers of wires and whimsy.

Images by Patrick Parenteau

Immersed Unity was a beautifully shot short film - Concept by David Naman & Nat Danson, Cinematography by Mark Halliday - which shared a voyeuristic viewpoint, during the process of two models becoming living, breathing works of art for a photographic shoot. They were immersed in a milky white bath and painted with brushes in strokes... building layers of colour, as they ultimately came together and intertwined. A duality becoming one. "Immersed Unity" was a beautiful illustration of mediums marrying into a soft, femininely seductive, artistic drama piece.

To view this video go to
No Soda Clothing took a page out of DC comics, showing spandex tops, leggings and accoutrements fit for a villain. The details were seriously playful inlays of questions marks for "The Joker," diamonds for jester "Harley Quinn," spiders, and repeated ovals, combined with nicely applied, bold, colour blocking. Playfully bad ass, these girls brandished toys like a sledgehammer, the black cat, a riding crop, while one pulled another by a leash. They were very pleased with themselves, as any good villain should be. But the darling of the collection came in the form of a pug in a backpack, who, strapped onto the designer's body as she took her moment on the runway, utterly stole the show.

Images by Patrick Parenteau
Avant-Afi showed a visually arresting line this year, with shorter, form fitting dresses and skirts, expertly mixing panels of sheer blacks and nudes, to bring the earthy and jewel toned sections together into sexy, wearable pieces. Jumpsuits and bodysuits were more fantasy, avant-guard modern, textured, and with details like exposed zippers, poufed leather shoulders, and a bust with sharp, silver spikes. This was a very eye-catching, and interesting collection to behold.

Images by Patrick Parenteau
Set to a sultry "Sweet Dreams are Made of These," soundtrack, AD Designs walked the walk with military inspired, structured, and flowing sleeveless vest jackets, high collars, shrugs and capes worn by beautifully bad dominatrixes in thigh high boots, and stockings. Two leather and lace lingerie clad beauties meant business, as they shoved the models mercilessly down the runway for us to consume. The looks were accentuated with rows of buttons, over sized cuffs, chain detailing, and shapes baring and daring in all the right places, in what was a seductive and powerful presentation.

Images by Patrick Parenteau

Pretty In Punk delivered on the theme with corsets, shorts and dresses, sides wide open and laced provocatively together, fiercely worn by girls and boys in sky high heels! One piece was made exclusively of strategically placed black leather straps and buckles, while another one piece jumpsuit was created entirely of a sheer black fabric and was punctuated by dark seams. Fans of fetish wear truly have a go-to collection with "Pretty In Punk." Here I am after the show with one of my favourite models, Nathan, rocking his side-laced couture dress.

Samantha Stroman pulled out all the stops with a stunning, jaw-dropping, modern collection, that had an Elizabethan feel to it. Dramatically dropped rose petals set the tone of draculean feel, with black capes with leather hems, a frothy white blouse paired with these Renaissance black and white carnivalesque shorts, hinting at a step back to the late 1600's England, and paired with an edgy corset and a ruffled collar. Every piece was a unique and special twist on a classic garment. Corseted blouses, sequined hems, and structured collars really set this collection apart. Then came the high drama pieces, including a skirt with vertical rolling ruffles that was fashioned from neoprene - as was the neoprene, full-length skirt, and a long mermaid skirt and train. They were absolutely gorgeous and delightfully surprising. She included sculptural accessories such as paniers made of cages, and a high arching silver metal collar worn with a flowing sheer white skirt. Absolutely stunning!

Images by Patrick Parenteau

Of her collection, Stroman says: "This collection is inspired by a combination of 16th Century menswear, and vintage science fiction. Monochromatic in tone, I explore texture and contrast by way of a multitude of fabrics. Wool Melton, leather, silk, pleated chiffon, neoprene, and a variety of of other technical fabrics. Predominantly black in colour, bold streaks of white and metallic silver enhance the elaborate shapes and voluminous silhouettes." The audience went absolutely wild with appreciation for the designer's dramatic and surprising collection. It was no surprise then, that Stroman was awarded the honour of "Most Promising Student Designer." Well deserved. 
Images by Patrick Parenteau - on the right, Kat Ferneyhough with designer Samantha Stroman

Valt Director Kat Ferneyhough shared, "Samantha Stroman was one of VALT'S designers in our inaugural year with her corset collection; 'Eternally Waisted." It was a stand out collection, so we certainly weren't surprised to find her 2014 application to be exceptional. Stroman has more than just talent and an eye for design, she pushes herself and her designs with spectacular vigor - she has determination and passion. You can tell from her work that each piece must have taken endless hours of testing, editing a redrafting... The patience is palpable. We had several very strong contenders for this award, but Ms. Stroman was a clear choice for the jury." 
Left image of Jacqueline and Nathan McLean by Norm Lee 
Right image Siobhan D. of Shiverz Designs and Jacqueline Ryan by Felix Tavira
The evening wrapped up with our host Ava Vanderstarren stepping on to the stage in a simple, classic black dress... a natural beauty, who kindly informed us that, "One of the most revolutionary things you can do, is to be yourself."

Indeed. A perfect message for a perfect evening.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week (VALT) Day 2 - eVolution!

Image by Kuna Photography

I had conflicts on day one of Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week (VALT) and sadly had to miss that night.  Fortunately the lovely Jacqueline Ryan was willing to step into the void and her write-up will be posted shortly.  But there is still that note of regret as there were many things on the Friday schedule I did not want to miss, from the emcee for the evening who I deeply admire  - Ava Vanderstarren - to a recent Vancouver Community College (VCC) grad - Samantha Stroman.

Day 2 - eVolution - was my first chance to see the new venue and I was impressed.  The Maritime Labour Centre located at 1880 Triumph Street in Vancouver, was more spacious and a bit brighter than last year's which I loved.  We had more room to move around and connect with old and new acquaintances, as well as more chairs along the raised runway. There was also a much larger area to display the great selection of artwork.

What can I say about the evening's emcee but that I adore him.  Aaron Morris of Morrismore Production House and GrindDown Magazine was a total edgy bad ass when he emcee'd the 2013 show. This night he donned a straggly wig and lab coat to do a VERY convincing nerdy scientist impression.  I honestly didn't recognize him.  Jacqueline Ryan was sitting next to me and filled me in when I asked.  My jaw dropped in amazement.  Kudos my friend.

Images by See It LIVE Canada
A nice moment later in the evening was when wife, Kat Morris, joined him onstage as another scientist (this one definitely not nerdy) to complete the evening's story line. Want to know what I'm talking about? Come next season!!!!! The dates are already in place, November 20-23, 2015.

I have 2 choices here - write a lot and only cover a bit of the evening or just include the basic info on everyone and showcase the entire evening. I think the latter is the best choice - so here we go in order of appearance -

Atlas by Marjan Rabbani  - Rabbani is a recent graduate of the fashion design program at VCC who uses beautiful classic fabrics, organic knits, stretch mesh and velveteen to create a wearable fusing traditional and modern.

Images by Kuna Photography

Nocturnus Couture by Nancy Amenti - Nocturnus Couture is an apparel and accessories brand with an ultra feminine, Gothic edge. Garments are created from new and recycled fabrics - odds and ends of fabrics that are destined for the disposal -  making each garment unique and limited edition.

Images by Kuna Photography

Zollection - Zollection is a line comprised of hand-made garments with a twist created by Zoe. Looks range from fairy/pixie to bohemian.

Images by Kuna Photography

With You - A fashion film by Shayne Zwickel - starring the West twins and Zwickel himself. Styled by Crystal Macleod & Shot by Shawn Seifert

The Written Years - This band - vocalist Wade Ouellet's vocals, drummer Kane Enders and guitarist Kodie Krogh - offers a unique combination of indie rock, traditional folk, post rock and alt. rock influences. The group released their first full album in January 2014. Rather than a pic, I thought it would be great to include one of their music videos. Enjoy!

Biznarival - Bizarnival produces events that feature a unique blend of entertainment: sideshow acts, theatrics, djs/dance floor, and more. They have a nostalgic influence, but are executed with an alternative edge. This evening were were treated to a wonderful dance performance.

Images by See It LIVE Canada
Dixon Clothing - Dixon Clothing is a line that offers an interesting range from very wearable (but with an twist) to alternative fashion.

Images by Kuna Photography

Carolyn Bruce Designs - Love writing up this one up as Carolyn is my friend.  Bruce's jewellery is steam punk/out of the box. What is really fun is the large pieces look very high fashion from across the room, and then when an admirer nears, they are surprised by the unique findings incorporated.

Images by Kuna Photography

I included 2 strips here partly because I couldn't choose, but also because another designer friend of mine - Magdalena Lima - created all the amazing slashed, braided leggings and t-shirts worn by the models. It was a great pairing of talent.

Images by Kuna Photography

YUCA - YUCA is a lower mainland band comprised of  Matt Borck - Lead Vocals & Guitar, Andy B - Bass & Backing Vocals and Dave Atkinson - Drums. They bill their style as New Alternative Rock. Here is a video single to enjoy.

Protagonist Menswear - I always enjoy seeing menswear on the runway and this collection by designer Meta Vaughan had everything I love - unique silhouettes such as the onesie and interesting detailing such as a felted wool neck accent on the image left below.

Images by Kuna Photography

ShiverZ Designs - This local designer offers an amazing mix of fantasy items that put a smile on your face - "Fascinators, hats, masquerade masks, feather hair clips & bands, flower hair clips, earrings, jewelry, top hats, garters, chapeaus & what ever else I can think of in a day..... Decorate yourself!"

Images by Kuna Photography

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Blanche Macdonald - Liis Sober, Inspired by Vintage Tennis Photos

Illustrations by Liis Sober
Runway Images by Peter Jensen

I am thrilled to include this piece on recent Blanche Macdonald grad Liis Sober! Why? I met her when she worked with Shelly Klassen at Blushing Boutique and watched her walk in this designer's show at Vancouver Fashion Week. In fact the first time I walked in the boutique I thought she was Klassen - a mea culpa we quickly sorted out. When she went to work for lululemon 3 years ago, we didn't get a chance to connect as often.

I love meeting an artist early on in their career and following their journey as they grow and mature. Just being in the audience, seeing her name in the program and then watching her grad collection become reality on the runway gave me a thrill. Here I was watching her new career as an artist unfold.

But despite our history, her looks and illustrations still needed to stand out in a field of over 35 talented designers - and they did! This vintage tennis inspired collection all in white was very classic in terms of silhouette. The element that added interest was the open, basket weave detailing reminiscent of the strings in a tennis racket created with wide, flat strips of fabric.  I particularly liked the jacket seen paired with a basic top and pants on the right in the runway images below. Looking through the illustrations, I can see several other strong silhouettes I wouldn't mind having in my closet - although with my track record with white, I might need it in colour instead.

I hope you enjoy this Q and A filling in all the details of how Sober came to this moment as much as I did!

Where were you born, where did you grow up?

I was born in Tallinn, Estonia. Moved to Finland with my family when I was 7. I moved to the U.S. to attend the University of Kentucky on a tennis scholarship. I have a bachelor's degree in merchandising apparel and textiles. During my last year of university I completed a managerial internship with Nordstrom in San Francisco. After graduation I moved to San Francisco to work at Nordstrom as a department assistant manager. When I moved to Vancouver I had the pleasure to work with designer Shelley Klassen as her store manager and merchandiser for 3 and half years. After working for Shelley I got an opportunity to work for lululemon as a merchandise information associate (assistant buyer ) and I currently work with the lululemon concept team as a design room assistant. I have been with lululemon for almost 3 years.

What you like when you were young?

I was an athlete. Tennis was my first love and I was very competitive. My father is a professional basketball coach, and he instilled in me the love for sports.My mother is passionate about arts and theatre, and she instilled in me the love for creative fields. I had the chance to travel all around Europe playing in tennis tournaments. I grew very tall and was a bit of a tomboy. Sports helped me to gain confidence and later modeling added to this.

Love this image and quote from the Lululemon site in an article on
this talented designer.
What were your interests in High School

I was a competitive tennis player since I was 9, I played tennis throughout high school and university. I started modelling when I was 14. This helped my interest in fashion develop. I had the opportunity to work with many of the major magazines in Finland, even traveled to Spain for a photo shoot.

Looking back, can you remember any signs that you would end up in fashion? A personal story would be great here.

Definitely starting modeling at 14: being able to see the fashion world made me want to be part of the industry

Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design. Was you family supportive? Did you have some experience in the industry?

Yes, I had a lot of experience in the industry as I had studied merchandising and worked in retail management and buying for years. I came to realize that I enjoyed working in the industry and I needed to also be creative and this is why I decided to go back to school. My family was very supportive of me going after my dream.

Why did you choose to study at Blanche Macdonald?

I chose Blanche Macdonald after I spoke with many designers that work in Vancouver. I found out which schools they went to and many of them had graduated from bmc. I had already done 4 years of university, so the 1 year program suited me well.

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you, what was easy for you, are they any high, low or funny moments you can share?

I loved the whole program and the year was a the perfect challenge that I wanted. I learned so much about the industry, about garment construction, pattern drafting, and fashion illustration . The teachers are amazing at bmc as they provided me with skills and knowledge to take on the industry.

What was the inspiration for your grad collection? Share anything you'd like readers to know?

My inspiration was tennis: playing tennis on a competitive level gave me so many opportunities and taught me so much about life. I looked at vintage tennis photos from 20's and 30's. I also used tennis equipment as my inspiration, such as the tennis strings and net, I added an idea of the large scale basket weaving that mimic tennis netting and strings. My collection is all white to represent the classic tennis color. Using tennis as an inspiration was a way for me to also say thank you to my parents for encouraging me to play this beautiful sport.

Left - action shot from competition // Right - lululemon ad

Describe your collection – customer, day-evening-sportswear-separates-casual-highend glamour-stage costuming-punk?

My customer is a confident woman who trusts in her own taste and opinion. As a professional woman she wears pieces that are transitional from day to night. Having a taste for modern silhouettes, she is the leader not the follower. She works hard and is passionate about what she does and expects high quality and high standards from everything in her life. The collection is sportswear category pieces that are transitional from day a to night from casual to dressy.

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

The palette is different shades of white to reflect tennis as inspiration. Highest quality fabrics: silk satin, dupioni silk, linen, cotton, tencel jersey.

Do you have a favourite look?

I love the three looks that I made for my grad show because they are all so different yet all carry through the same story.

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

I will bring my experience from merchandising/managing combined with my skills in fashion design which will allow me to understand the complex industry as a whole.

Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for awhile, launch your own line, take a break and travel?

I am currently the design room assistant at lululemon.

Can you share a quote on what fashion design means to you?

"It is very important to take risks. I think that research is very important , but in the end you have to work from your instinct and feeling and take those risks and be FEARLESS " - Anna Wintour

For more information or to contact Liis Sober you can email her at

For more information on the Fashion Design Program at Blanche Macdonald go to

Monday, December 8, 2014

Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week (VALT) Day 3 - reVelation

Image by Patrick Parenteau/DVPix

Oh my! I managed to sneak into the Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week (VALT) venue early this evening and had a glimpse of the emcee for reVelation -  Kieron Rhys Lillo, Music Editor at GrindDown Magazine, Sound Designer at Sugar Skull Films and Evil Overlord at Isoarstudio - fine tuning details of his performance onstage.

Lillo (along with 2 stunning models who also rocked it) was channelling an evil Star Gate alien with voice alteration, amazing costume by Nikki Rose of N.R.L. Designs and out of this world make-up by the one and only Jennifer Little of A Little Artistry. The overall effect took my break away. I spent the whole night in awe, especially the times he looked intently at the audience and stated, "YOU WILL................."

By day three, the glitches were all sorted out. The audience knew the ropes and what to expect, models were in the groove and the photographers familiar with the set-up and easily nailing their shots. We're all relaxed and firmly in party mode! Whooping and hollering during shows was the norm.
Jennifer Little (left),emcee Kieron Rhys Lillo(center),
designer Nikki Rose (right). along with 2 beautiful models.
Image by Nina Pak

This night my wonderful friend Tracy Cake showed up (how did we miss getting a picture together my dear?). Everything about her style from always changing wild hair colour to her great wardrobe - this night a sequins unitard - challenges me to step out of my ordinary box and have fun with fashion. Check out the picture at the end of the article! And really, fashion should make us smile no matter what our shape, size, age or gender bent. That's one of the biggest themes at VALT - just EMBRACE and ENJOY! Missed this year - mark #VALT2015 dates in your calendar - November 20-22!

Again, the choice is to write more extensively on only a few of the great artists I saw this evening, or offer just a sound bite on everyone along with photos or videos.  The second choice again wins.

Taare - Avtar Panesar is the creative force behind Taare and she learned her craft from her mother and grandmother - both talented seamstresses. The runway show itself was fun and energetic with bright pink a staple. No wonder - the theme was Classy in Pink. This collection expresses a woman's strength and the color pink chosen as a symbol of happiness, passion, confidence and awareness. There was no doubt the models thoroughly enjoyed wearing this collection.

Images by Patrick Parenteau/DVPix

K-O.ME Clothing - Such a pleasure to see my friend designer/artist/teacher Kjaer Neletia Pedersen, not only show her designs on the runway here, but launch some new and interesting fabrics. Her creations are created from soft flowing silk that gently hugs the body and floated as the models walk the runway. It was obvious from their faces they truly enjoyed wearing these silhouettes and several went on to buy their piece after the show - high compliments indeed. I just had to snag one of the newer looks - the one created from a black/white skull print. Can't wait to break it out at an event. This was a large collection so more images are here to enjoy.

Images by Patrick Parenteau/DVPix

Dawna (Harp Pixie) McLennan - Dawn was in the program as a musical performance, but she asked director Kat Kozak if she could start on the runway and was given the green light. This gave McLennan, a multi-talented performer, the chance to surprise everyone by opening her musical set with spoken word poetry. From there she moved onto the stage where she accompanied her own vocals by playing harp. Very different for VALT and a great twist from the normally louder bands that play here. Below is a video of her single - Never Alone.

That No One May Know My Suffering  - This film by Ulla Laidlaw is still doing festival tours so I am unable to include a link or embed a video. But Laidlaw has given me a few screen shots and this information - Photography by Graham Zwicker. Woman in bathtub - Miranda Calderon. Woman suspended - Ania Gorka

coidlyn wight - coidlyn wight designer Ashley Parker shared these amazing words with me about her collection that say it so much better than I can. - "'We shape clay into a pot but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.' - Lao Tzu. This collection was about embracing imperfection and the impermanence of life. Nothing permanent. Nothing is complete. Nothing is perfect." The palette as well as the feel this show was dark and somber. Elements of texture and draping brought interest to the designs. Because the palette was so dark, it is harder to appreciate the individual pieces, but there were several versatile offerings here.

Images by Patrick Parenteau/DVPix

DistractedMoths - What I loved about Distracted Moths runway presentation was that the models were allowed to bring their own personality to the show.  The silhouettes were interactive - spider arms, draping fabric that flowed, wing like sleeves and the middle cape below even reversed to offer a completely different look. Each model created a performance unique to their design. There was a great mix of colour, print and texture. The designer describes the aesthetic as, "Functional Art. Designing in the literal sense of the word.Real or Unreal I have an Idea!" So this unique way of presenting the looks was perfect.

Images by Patrick Parenteau/DVPix

DJ Spry Bry - Spry Bry is a Vancouver-based filmmaker, event Producer, and DJ for hire, known for his documentary "Taking My Parents to Burning Man" and his affinity for "Electro Swing" music.. He's an advocate for creative expression and collaboration. From his website - "Though he got his start in a metal band, his exposure to the West-Coast festival culture developed his ear for electronic music. In University, he began producing tracks and making a name for himself as a DJ and composer. Now he's a regular at scene at local clubs and festivals. Check out this vide of Spry Bry performing with Michael Fraser, Freebound, and Jungle Kat performing at the SHAMBHALA MUSIC FESTIVAL 2013. You can also hear some of his mixes at

Nicool Radical - Nicool Radical designer Nicole Fromm recently graduated from VCC's fashion design program and showcased in their grad fashion show - Fiat Mode XXVII - in September. She strives as a designer to create timeless garments by hand using the highest quality of craftsmanship - fashions designed to express the individual client's desires. Again, the models were given free reign to personalize their performance which makes it interesting. This designer was also the winner of the #VALT2014 G&S Dyes Surface Design Award. Kudos on this great achievement.

Images by Patrick Parenteau/DVPix

Mikiko Katahira - Mikiko is another recent grad of VCC's design program who also show cased in Fiat Mode XXVII. Her designs are inspired by the art works of Isamu Noguchi who made connections of peoples' lives and nature.  Her garments are ART for people. If you look closely, you will see many pieces with 3-D, textural detailing to add interest.  This is kept to just the right note so not overpower the designs. Most would mix and match as well, with makes this collection very marketable.

Images by Patrick Parenteau/DVPix

Bizarnival - Bizarnival produces events that feature a unique blend of entertainment: sideshow acts, theatrics, djs/dance floor, and more. They have a nostalgic influence, but are executed with an alternative edge. This evening treated 3 distinct numbers to "PLEASE" the evenings emcee - exciting circus style dance performance with the use of several types of props, a solo number and a theatrical duet. This group brought great energy, focus and performances each day at VALT and this closing one was the perfect end to this event.

Images by Patrick Parenteau/DVPix

Love you Tracy!
Image by Patrick Parenteau
The evening closed with many expressions of gratitude to all involved, especially co-founder Aaron and Kat Morris who are stepping down next year.  Rather than give you that list - I would like to offer my thanks to the 6 directors - Kat Morris, Victor Morris, Kat Ferneyhough, Drew Ferneyhough, Aaron Morris and Kat Morris - as well as all the volunteers who have worked so tirelessly these last 3 seasons to create this very unique showcase of talent. It is so much more than a show of alternative fashion/music/art. It is a celebration of how unique each of us are and an environment that encourages us to embrace that uniqueness fully. Kudos on another fabulous year!

Special thanks to the following generous sponsors who helped to make this event possible - Morrismore Productions, Nightshade Makeup and Hair, Opus Hotel Vancouver, Kat Eye Imaging, Aveda Tonic, Bedowynn Designs, Dead Heaven Makeup, Ed Ng Photography, DVPix International, Norm Lee Photography, Shutter House Films, Ayden Gallery, We Love Vancouver, Scandal Brewing, ODD Society, Lamplighter Public House, Floral and Hardy Edible Plants, Manifest Photography, Northwest Fanfest, Sin City Fetish Night,,Vancouver Sound & Lights, and G&S Dye.