Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Adoption Not An Option by Eugena Couture

Adoption Not an Option: A Métis Woman Torn from her Family and her 40 year Battle to Find Them Again

Image used in this book cover
As an avid reader. there several books I have been meaning to review. Hopefully over the next few weeks I can get them all done. This first one is special to me because I actually know Eugenea Couture. She is a fellow Vancouver author also signed with Influence Publishing. I was honoured when she attended my book launch in support and it's an honour to support her in return by sharing her story here.

Before I begin - I want to be clear that I know some amazing foster parents. The story told here is not a reflection on their commitment. Unfortunately not all foster parents are as committed to the children's welfare or have the needed parenting skills. A bad placement can affect a child their whole life.

The book opens with Couture's grandmother, whose five children were ripped from her arms and scattered to the wind by her abusive husband. A few of the relatives the father hid the children with ended up being horrible choices. There was some unimaginable abuse.

This generational journey continues when the author's mother has her children taken away by social services one night after a snow storm kept her from returning as planned. The babysitter's mother reported her. Couture and her siblings first ended up in an institution with only supervised visits, and then were placed in separate foster homes and not allowed any contact with each other or their mother. It would be forty years before they were all reunited.
Together at She Talks

Adoption Not an Option is hard book to read in the beginning as the abuse and mistreatment of both her mother and herself are mind boggling. How can anyone treat a child this way? And the decision by Social Services to remove these children without any recourse and completely sever all family ties is very hard to understand. Then there is the deep sorrow and shame felt by both mothers.

BUT the focus and purpose of this book is to offer a positive message. There were caring people along the way that offered her the support she needed. And Couture offers proof positive that you can reclaim your family, you can break the cycle, you can take control, and no matter what your beginning, there is hope and joy and a positive future waiting to be embraced - even if it takes forty years. I want close with this excerpt -

"As a mother of four, Eugenea is determined to overcome the 
odds of losing her children like her mother and grandmother                
did before her. Meanwhile, she pursues her search for her 
adoptive brother...Eugenea''s story teaches the positive ways to 
search, locate, and  reunite when all hope seems lost."

Adoption Not an Option is available online in Canada at Amazon.ca and Chapters/Indigo, and in the U.S. at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.  For more information or to contact the author, please visit her website at www.eugeneacouture.com.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 15 - Shravan Ramaswamy

Image courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography
Ah my dear friend Shravan Ramaswamy.  I had only one regret during this season of Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW),  that you and I were unable to get together away from the mayhem and spend some time catching up.

I first met Ramaswamy - talented designer and compassionate humanitarian - a year ago when he brought a collection to the runway at VFW F/W 14 - his first appearance. When he returned the next season for S/S 15, we arranged to meet for breakfast the day after VFW finished.

What a privilege it was to sit with an artist and talk without distraction. It was a lovely opportunity to get to know one another better and to record an in-depth interview for my files. I was entranced by his personal journey. But that season he stayed just a little longer. Unfortunately this season he had to leave right away. The 10 hour days of shows and writing don't leave me much free time.  Next time come a bit earlier or again stay a day or two longer my friend. Breakfast is on me.

Image courtesy of Garry K Photography
I did manage to snag a few minutes backstage with Ramaswamy as he was preparing for his show. A hug is always in order as are new photos together. We were also able to sit and chat for just a few quick minutes about this collection and why it was so dear to his heart.  In honour and support, both of my wrists sported gifts from my friend and as the designer took his final bows surround by models, I offered a standing ovation. It was well deserved.

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography
This evening, the show began with a beautiful introduction by Selena Sandhu. Sandhu is a local entrepreneur, host and producer at Her Confidence - a web series for women.  Decked out in one of Ramaswamy's dresses, she greeted all in attendance and prepared us for what was to come.

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography

Next the audience was treated to a passionate dance performance by Canadian Actress Priya Rajaratnam. A teacher at Jess Dance trained in Bharatanatyam, she collaborated with Shravan to highlight his vision/inspiration for this particular collection. The dance she performed was called Guarav Thandavam from which came the Sanskrit word thandra. It was a wild tribute to Lord Shiva who is the almighty power for the tribes of India - the dance of God to take the negative energy away from the crowd and have a peaceful life.

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography

Each collection Ramaswamy brings has a different inspiration. F/W 15 was inspired by and in honour of "The Tribes of India." They have a beautiful tradition of art, but they have little money, are very poor and their life is extremely difficult. The designer has been working with the Gujrath, Andhra and Rajasthan tribes for a while now to help open a new world for them and trying to give them a glimpse of a new life.

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography
Those watching this evening were offered a window into these people's talent, bringing them recognition here in Vancouver. Shravan shared, "My inspiration is their tribal folk art. There are loads of mirror work to ward off bad omens. The colour palate is natural and very deep - all natural colours from Mother Earth - and bright as the tribes use colour to keep the animals away."

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography

When you look at the runway images, several things stand out. There is a joy and celebration apparent in Ramaswamy's collection.  No surprise, as I have honestly never seen Shravan without a welcoming smile on his face. We also find a lovely mix of more traditional looks with others offering a more modern style.  The tribal elements are still included - but as a more subtle note. The collection featured dresses both short and long and separates for men and women.
Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography
The wide variety of silhouettes for women meant there was a look each of us could embrace. Then there was the menswear.  I am a HUGE fan of Indian menswear. It is bolder, especially in colour and pattern, but ever so masculine at the same time.  I particularly loved the purple jacket 2 strips up (accented with the fuchsia scarf) and the longer gold/pink/purple coat in the centre image above. It was also obvious that the models walking the runway loved what they were wearing - something that always makes me sit up and take notice.

The show ended as Ramaswamy took his bows surrounded by models showcasing his entire collection.  It had to be a proud moment for him. I know as his friend I was honoured to be there sharing this moment.  Missed the show? You're in luck Aman Bal of Elite Images has put together this great video with clips behind the scenes as well as the runway presentation. Enjoy!

For more information or to contact Shravan Ramaswamy, go to https://www.facebook.com/shravansstudio

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 15 - Model Rachel Sargeant

Image courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography
When you have attended 16 straight seasons of Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW), you begin to recognize faces of others who have been there several seasons. This is especially true of the runway. From designers to models - it's a joy to watch them mature from one season to the next as they gain experience.

This season I realized there was one beautiful model with soft red hair and pale skin that screamed of Ireland (no idea if that is her heritage or not) - Rachel Sargeant of Leo Management - that I remembered seeing a lot. I have the joy of backstage access at VFW and had the pleasure of saying hello a few times over the last few seasons. Each time I received a warm, friendly smile. It was time to get to know her a little better.

A sure sign of Rachel's talent is the sheer number of shows she walked in this season. Booking that many shows is a combination of several things. The designers certainly need models that fit the clothing and have the right look to showcase the garments, but they also want a great work ethic. That means showing up on time (or early), having a smile on your face, being prepared with the right basic undergarments on hand, offering a positive reaction no matter what your are asked to wear or how your make-up/hair is styled, being quick to pick up what they want the runway show to look like and an overall yes attitude.  You absolutely have to be easy to work with.

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography
Today, it's a chance for each of you to have a photographic peek behind the scene and on the runway with Rachel at VFW F/W15, as well as a Q and A offering a little personal information.  Enjoy!

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography
Q and A -

Tell me us a little about yourself where you're from, where you grew up, what you do outside of modelling (work, school, interests), etc.

I am nineteen years old and have been modeling for about four years now - and still enjoying it! I grew up and still live in a suburb about forty minutes outside of Vancouver. Outside of modeling, I am a full-time university student majoring in English Literature, read an outrageous amount of fantasy books, and write my own novels. A huge theatre kid, I love browsing through vintage shops and anything relating to Marvel comics. I bellydance and horseback ride, can speak French, Spanish, Japanese, Sign Language, and am currently learning Korean.

3 left images Peter Jensen Photography - right image Kuna Photography

Describe your personal style? How has modelling influenced it?

I was a very casual person until I immersed myself in the fashion industry. Modeling has definitely opened my eyes to different ways of wearing clothing and the fashions of other cultures. As for my own style, I would say it’s peacoat-skinny-jean-printed-Tshirt-grunge-flannel. I love my (vintage) army coats and ripped jeans, but also have a drawer full of fluttery skirts and hair bows. I like dressing for my mood.

What influenced you to pursue modeling? How old were you?

My mom modeled before she had me, and I think seeing her pictures made me curious from a young age. I was around twelve or thirteen when I started developing a real interest, around that time girls start reading teen magazines and watching America’s Next Top Model. I would see the photoshoots and think ‘that looks so fun’ and ‘I wish I could have a picture like that!”. I was fifteen when I had my first photoshoot and am very lucky to have the full support of my parents in my career. I am signed with Leo Management here in Vancouver and love my Leo Family!

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography
What is the most enjoyable part of your job? What is the most difficult?

As a theatre kid, all the makeup, hair and ‘costumes’ I wear appeal to my dramatic side. I love being recreated and seeing what people can do to change me. The most difficult part is dealing with the extreme levels of competition. You always have to be taller, slimmer, better than everyone else, because there are so many people who want to do this that it is all too easy to be replaced.

What your the favourite moment in your modelling career so far?

The moment I found out I was going on contract to New York. I was seventeen, it was my first contract anywhere, and it was New York to boot! The excitement of signing that dotted line and the whirlwind planning and packing are memories that will stick with me forever.

Images from Left to Right courtesy of - Peter JensenDale RollingsKuna PhotographyPeter Jensen

How many season have you walked in VFW and which shows did you walk in this season?

This Fall/Winter15 season was my sixth season of VFW, and I ended up walking eighteen shows - Alcoolique (Opening Gala), Grandi’s, Theresa Chen, Alex S. Yu, Connally McDougall, YKS, Dervish Dubai. Pouneh Askarian. Paola Gamero. Sofia. Aniimiism, Noe Bernacelli. Nika Tang. Michelle Lesniak. Fesvedy. Ophelia Song. Alcoolique and Eliza Faulkner. Last season I walked twenty shows, and I would have loved to beat this previous record! 

Eliza Faulkner - Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography

What is it like backstage from a model's point of view - especially when you have so many shows? Can you share a funny moment?

It can get so crazy backstage, especially if you booked back-to-back shows and have thirty seconds to change full hair, makeup and wardrobe looks! Besides that, it’s usually pretty chill, and all the models I know get along rather well. We play card games and eat our salads together and go on coffee runs between shows. There is a level of competition that is only slightly acknowledged, because of course you want to book more shows than that girl over there, but I’ve found everyone is supportive and shakes off any grudges rather quickly. As for funny moments, I think the best thing about us is that on the runway, we’re these cool, collected, intense goddesses, but backstage before we go on we are all dancing like crazy and being total weirdos, regardless if we have on leather or lace or pearls!
Candid images courtesy of Sam Stringer
Did you have a favourite outfit this season?

Hands down, my favourite outfit was the magnificent green beaded gown I wore for Peruvian designer Noe Bernacelli’s show. When I arrived at the fitting I saw it hanging on the rack and thought to myself, “that is the dress for me. I want to wear that one”, and then he smiled, picked it up and told me it was mine! I was so excited. It was beautiful, with a train and embroidery in emerald green. When I walked out on the runway, everyone in the audience started cheering and clapping!

Anything else you'd like to share?

I have a Youtube channel (A Model Who's Read) where you can watch fashion show vlogs and commentary on my majestic daily life. Book reviews are also a regular occurrence. I am a model who reads, after all.

Candid images courtesy of Sam Stringer
For more information or for bookings contact Leo Management at info@leomanagement.ca

Friday, March 27, 2015

Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 15 - Sunny's Bridal

All images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography

Opened in 1995, Sunny's Bridal Gallery was the first high end South Asian Bridal Boutique in Vancouver. Hundreds of couples from all over North America have crossed their threshold in the last two decades looking to find just the right wedding attire to make their day special. They were not disappointed.

Custom work is available to meet each client's personal needs and Indian designer labels are a staple.  Available are women's Lenghas, Sarees and Suits as well as men’s Achkans, Jodhpuris and Kurta Pajamas. To compliment the look, the gallery offers an impressive array of accessories.

When the lovely Mesha Toor emailed me to let me know she was a part of Sunny's Bridal fashion show at Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW), I was instantly excited. Toor is an actor, model, coach and more, with an impressive resume. Anything she commits to she gives 110%. It was such an honour when she attended my book launch in January 2015, and it was now an honour to have the opportunity to support her in return.

Toor was not only the fashion show coordinator/stylist - she was the opening and final model. It had been far too long since Vancouverites had the privilege of seeing her on the runway and I was delighted she was back where she belonged. Teenage upstarts beware -  a model with extensive industry experience brings a confident, magnetic presence that cannot be easily matched. Toor - you rocked it.

Before the show, all invited guests were welcomed by owners Sunny Sethi and Reshu Sethi to a lovely private reception featuring complimentary hors d'oeuvres and desserts courtesy of Chef Arjun Sethi and his team at My Shanti. Featured celebrity guests in attendance included Shushma Ji, Mo Dhaliwal, Bal Brach, Nira Arora and Vikram Vij. Unfortunately, as I am in my seat for all runway shows, I was unable to pop by. Hopefully I can meet the owners in their bridal gallery soon.

Then it was time for Sunny's Bridal to take their turn on the runway. From opening note to final bow, they wowed us all. I thought the flow of this show was truly beautiful. It began with five models dressed in white/gold. After a brief pause for the photographers in the pit to capture the moment, the runway show commenced with Toor leading the way.

One high-end look after another took us through an eye-catching palette of colours. After White/Gold, there were looks in Pink/Gold, Orange/Gold, Blue/Gold and finally evening wear in Black that would be a perfect choice for any high-end gala. Most garments featured lightweight embroideries, making them wearable for outdoor events such as destination weddings, and also making them more appealing to the main stream communities.

There was a wide selection of looks for both sexes. For women we saw very formal Indian wear but with a more contemporary flare, lightweight hand done embellishments and modern designs on very formal and rich silk fabrics. For men, the collection offered wedding wear created from hand woven fabrics with hand embellished patterns.

One element during the show that truly charmed the audience, was the decision to show several couples starting with a mother/son combination.  The positive reaction from the audience was audible and I saw a smile on everyone's face.  This was followed by several stunning bridal looks for couples. I honestly couldn't pick a favourite - but the Gold/Burgundy mens suit in the centre image below is definitely a top contender.

Last down the runway before the owner's final bows was Vikram Vij - Indian-born Canadian chef, cookbook author, and television personality (Dragon's Den). He is also co-owner of Vij's Restaurant, Rangoli Restaurant and My Shanti Restaurant.  I had the pleasure to meet Vij once when I was taken by my friend Mita Naidu of Lotus Eye Designs to dine at Vij's Restaurant. He was utterly charming and the food amazing. I loved how he took his time to walk down the runway, turning right and left to acknowledge his many, many fans.

The show ended with owners Sunny Sethi and Reshu Sethi taking a celebratory bow to an appreciative audience. The warm response they received was well earned. Kudos to all involved on a fabulous show!

Thanks go to -
Hair/Make-up: Drama Queen Studios
Jewellery: Manny's Boutique
Fashion show coordinator/Styling: Mesha Toor - @iammeshatoor
Men's styling: Singh Styles - Kam Bains
Backstage team: Sukhi Sandhu, Rosy Saran, Raman Fenty,
Jessie Thiara, Esha Singh, and Sahab Singh.
Registration & reception coordinator: Rana Singh + Simran Sethi

For more information on Sunny's Bridal go to http://www.sunnysbridal.com/

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 15 Day 6 - Crystal Commerc, Ophelia Song, JY Kim and Alcoolique

The last day of shows at Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 15 you could see two things - the excitement to see what would be offered on the runway this day and the weariness in those of us who have been in our seats for every show each and every day. We all welcomed the energy my friend and the evening's emcee Symone Says brought to the event.  She had us again doing the wave and had a true gift for connecting with interesting individuals in the audience. I was also really excited to see fellow Influence Publishing author Belynda Lee (Five Inch Heels) in the audience and quickly snapped a picture with both.

This was my volunteer appreciation day, something I do each season. There are a multitude of people working each and every day you don't see on the runway - front door, backstage, seating attendees, dressers, hair stylists, make-up artists, technical staff, photographers, bar staff, food service and more.  They don't get their picture posted or mentions in write-ups, so each season I try to thank them by bringing a treat. Mama Costco was the supplier as I did not have time to bake, but the selection this season included mini-cinnamon rolls, one-bite browns, and cake balls dusted with sugar, powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. The cake balls were only for front of house as I didn't want to take a chance with it getting on the clothing backstage.

Images by Sam Stringer
My outfit this evening was oh so comfortable.  The top was a knitted sweater jacket by designer Sofia Méndez Schenone of Sofia Clothing. I was drawn to it on the hanger in the Fashion Capsule showroom and loved it on the runway during her show. What a gift to have her allow me to wear it this evening.  It was paired with a textured, black knee length skirt by JAC, a pair of bronze heels and a pair of drop earrings created from Porcupine quills. I think my favourite pic of the jacket is the one with Jessica Luxe in the strip above as you can clearly see the black zipper detail.

Images courtesy of Kuna Photography

Shows this night offered a unique mix of styles which always makes it harder to select only four. While I have chosen to cover Crystal Commerc, Ophelia Song, JY Kim and Alcoolique, I strongly encourage you to check out the other designers who showcased collections.

Crystal Commerc

Image courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography
I am waiting for some information on this designer so be sure and check back. The show opened with two beautiful young girls fully costumed - a total hit with the audience. It was a charming note and the they did a brilliant job of opening the show.

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography
The collection that followed started with a great selection of comfortable, relaxed fit dresses in black that featured intricate images on either the back or the front. Many were paired with matching purses and the jewellery accessorizing the looks was stunning.  I could definitely see several a part of my travel wardrobe in particular.  There were several I was drawn to. One look that really captured my eye was in the middle below as the dress fabric was a tweedy black/white, adding an intriguing textural note to the overall look. As the show continued, we were offered several upscale, fitted dresses for evening wear with added fur detailing on some.

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography

The designer came out at the end accompanied by the same two lovely young girls that started the show - a lovely closing note. Kudos to the designer for great styling, as I when I saw something that appealed to me personally, I found myself wanting to buy the complete look including jewellery and handbag. 

Ophelia Song

Images courtesy of Ed Ng Photography
Ophelia Song is an Chinese American fashion designer, textile designer and painter based in Los Angeles. She is the chief designer of both this line and Shakespeare's Republic.  Beautiful dresses are her passion - from semi-formal to beautiful custom wedding gowns - and that's what we were treated to this evening.  From her bio, "Her design aesthetic is bold and innovative; she combines western silhouettes with eastern delicate crafts."

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography
The collection was ethereal - especially the looks featuring a brilliant white with soft blue dye incorporated as an accent. I always love accent dying and this was done beautifully. Then there were feminine offerings in black and several daring sheers. While the sheers will find a limited client base that can pull them off, most of the rest of the looks would appeal to a wider clientele.

JY Kim

Imags courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography

I would love to know more about JY Kim, but there is just not a lot of information out there to share other than the basic resume. Born in Korea, Studied at Columbia International College, McMaster University and the London College of Fashion (where he earned a BA in Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear). This is the designer's third collection.  The only personal note I could find is a quote, "I wanted to express the most confident aspect of myself and also the ideal silhouette of myself that I hoped to express through fashion."  I would love to offer you more, but for now will move onto the collection.

Imags courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography

When a collection is all in a dark palette, the pictures often don't offer the reader enough detail. This is a the case here. I think the menswear was the most interesting overall.  More detailing, some colour blocking with a few lighter tones included and a few really intriguing pieces that offered an edgier look without being totally wild. An example would be in the top row centre, you have a mens shirt and pant with an over skirt - the over drape would push the envelope for many west coast men, but it is understated and paired with a more traditional shirt and pant.  The women's looks embraced simpler silhouettes with the exception of the jacket in the middle. The palette was two tones - a deep blue and inky black. The fit was relaxed and most garments had a gentle flow.

Image courtesy of Ed NG Photography
Italian designer Rocco Adriano Galluccio is a veteran of Project Runway Italia. His love of fashion began at the young age of eight and by sixteen had begun his career as a fashion stylist. After earning a degree in Industrial Design in Naples, Galluccio moved to Milan to hone his skills. All garments in his collection are 100% made in Italy and I love his tag line - Art turning into fashion, for daring women only. Here is an excerpt from his bio, "Rocco Adriano Galluccio has the ability to combine curiosity, new ideas and cultural interest for his Neapolitan roots with a strong sense of fashion and style, and, most of all, care to details...Alcoolique is a kaleidoscopic, edgy world capable of catching the public interest and attention."

Images courtesy of Kuna Photography
On the runway we saw a mix of fun, flirty, flared, fitted, denim, prints, sheers and sequins.  There really was a little bit of everything. Looks were all feminine but ranged from casual to red carpet, from laid back to daring.  Definitely a few looks not for the faint of heart - not everyone can carry off a sheer body or heart appliques over their breasts. But this designer definitely brought high energy and fun to the evening and the audience responded.

Missed this season?  A new season will hit the runway in September. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Exciting World of Video Podcasts

The world wide web has brought a whole new aspect to marketing that is accessible to everyone. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo offer a way to reach out to a whole new fan base outside a person's normal reach.

It is both exciting because of the opportunities that await, and confusing because there is so much to learn. What is the best way to reach out?  How do you create a campaign to take your idea viral?  It takes a lot of research, hard work and sometimes trial and error to answer those questions, especially if this is the first time you are putting your toe in the water. But growing numbers from pre-teens to grandparents are doing just that.

After almost a decade of writing, editing and running a magazine, I am fairly familiar with Twitter and Facebook in particular. Those have proven pretty intuitive for me.  Instagram I still haven't embraced and not sure I will.  Video podcasts have always intrigued me as an interviewer, but I haven't had time yet to pick up a recorder and start playing around.  So this past week I was happy to be the recipient of two very different video interviews to give me an idea of what I need to learn.

My first recorded interview on the TV show Studio 4 by 
Fanny Kiefer in 2011 to promoted VFE

Want to run your own video channel? If you want to be more than a video one-hit wonder, you need a reasonable level of basic skills. The best videos have at least some editing so they look like more than a home video. Learning how to do this cleanly and smoothly is an art.  Then there is the audio.  It needs to be relatively clear. Questions arise. What kind of background works best if you're doing interviews out on the street or at events? Where is the light source and how can you use it most effectively? If you are setting up a recording space, what lighting to you need and what is the best way to use it? I'm sure there is a lot of trial and error as you learn.

My first interview this week was by Kim Craig of Globe Dater. With only one assistant, she bravely conducted interviews on the busy runway between shows at Vancouver Fashion Week. People were walking behind, around and occasionally right in front of the video camera.  It would be relatively quiet and then the sound tech would throw some music on. She never once lost her cool. To deal with sound issues, her assistant taped the video while she used her cell phone as a close-up recorder. The interview was on the fly with no preparation and we just explored both my recent book and then my views on fashion. Craig had to sync the phone recording with the video and edit out the distracting music that boomed out during the end. Above is the final. WOW! This is only one of many interviews at the Globe Dater Channel, so be sure and check it out.

My second video interview was about five days later.  It was with Christina Waschko of Motherpreneur TV. This time I was in a more controlled venue. She has a setting in her home with the video camera on a tripod and special lighting.  We talked before to get an idea of what the interview might include, then taped a segment sitting in chairs facing each other. The only assistance she needed was for her son to start the recording, then we were on our own. It made it an intimate conversation between friends that I bet relaxes most of her guests.

After that I was miked and she did a few closeups with me answering questions.  All this recorded material is then spliced down into a clean, tight segment of just the right length - more like a true TV interview. It is due to go online Wednesday, April 1st and I can hardly wait. Be sure and check back as I will post here as well.

My latest forays into podcast interviews was an audio Soundcloud experience courtesy of Paul Mantello - Warrior Life Coach - on his channel, The Whole Life Success Show.  While you don't get the visual, these are fabulous for distance interviews. We had a pre-arranged call in time and number to a site that he recorded our talk. Then it was cleanly edited and posted on his iTunes channel.  Fast, easy and much better quality than a video Skype interview. Then there was a Google Hang-out on Air with WSA TV (Women Speaker Association).

Each opportunity to be in front of the camera is a privilege to share my story and what my passion is. To be honest, I'm more comfortable doing the interviewing than being interviewed, but these two women made it very easy.

Thanks to Kim Craig, Christina Waschko, Paul Mantello and WSA TV for welcoming into their world.  I would highly recommend you visit their Youtube stations and explore some of the great interviews they offer.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Vancouver Fashion Week Day 5 - Jose Hendo, Teresa Farese, Marko Feher and Hong Kiyoung

Image courtesy of Kuna Photography
Day five of runway shows at Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) saw a much welcome return to sunshine.  The wet spots were clearing up, although backstage still had challenges. I again want to say kudos to the staff, the volunteers, the models - everyone involved - for dealing with this issue so professionally. The shows ran smoothly and you just wouldn't know from the audience's perspective anything was going on. Kudo's on a job well done!

The mix of shows this day was truly inspiring! My wonderful friend Shravan Ramaswamy returned for his third season at VFW - opening the night with a stunning show and receiving a well-deserved standing ovation from many of us. Because of the depth of his show - I will be featuring him in a separate article next week so I can include more information and a larger grouping of pictures.  The evening continued on with a wonderful variety of styles offered on the runway. When you sit through all shows every day - well over 50 shows this week - you need to see an ever changing range of styles to keep your focus sharp. Yesterday the mix was perfect.

My outfit was one with an interesting story - and I love my clothes to have a story.  The top is by RV Designs.  Designers Theresa James and Roger Prince were students emerging from the fashion design program at Blanche Macdonald when I first met them. They showcased their graduation collection at VFW in April 2010.  I was so sad when they moved to Newfoundland, but continued to follow their career.

Images courtesy of Kuna Photography

In 2012, they created a special collection which featured on the runway at Lakme Fashion Week. This beautiful silk blouse in an original print was part of that collection. It's one of my cherished treasures. This evening I paired it with a deep turquoise knit skirt by JAC. The two bracelets (one was actually a necklace wrapped 3 times around my wrist) are both special to me as well as they were gifts from Shravan and worn this day in honour and support of his runway show.

Image courtesy of Kuna Photography

Saturday was the toughest in terms of who to cover as each designer so unique.  In the end I decided to feature José Hendo, Teresa Farese, Marko Feher and Hong Kiyoung. but I cannot stress enough that you really should take a moment and check out the other great collections shown this evening. And be sure to check back later next week for individual articles on both Sunny's Bridal and Shravan Ramaswamy. I also have a third surprise article coming - something that will be a first for me on this site.  SHHHH - It's a secret!

José  Hendo

Images courtesy of Dale Rollings

Award winning, London-based designer José Hendo's runway offering was full of truly unique silhouettes. I was instantly intrigued.  Until reading her bio this morning, I did not realize it was also an eco line. Here is an excerpt, "The label...uses eco-friendly fabrics as much as possible, creating unique, one-off pieces, from organic barkcloth, cotton, hemp, used garments such as suits, denim, wedding dresses etc. ‘ José Hendo’ promotes the use of organic, eco- textiles and recycled materials. Supports ethical trading, fair working conditions and raising awareness about the environmental issues affected by the fashion industry...Jose’s keen eye and attention to detail, together with her character as a perfectionist, can be seen in the quality of the work produced. All garments are finished to an exacting standard." She is the go-to designer for Ugandan Royalty and has shown at London, Berlin, New York and Kampala fashion weeks.

Images courtesy of Dale Rollings

Hendo has eight collections to date inspired by her African background, sculpture and nature. Fabrics embraced include bark cloth, upcycled materials, end of roll fabrics, organic cotton and hemp, eol denim, eol silk and eol wool. The very sculptural nature of her looks last night are what drew me in. Hendo really has an impressive eye for proportion, drape, detailing and creating visual flow.  I particularly loved her use of one colour, structured fabric to hold and highlight the intriguing shapes paired with linings in print fabric that peaked out subtlely. Great palette, great variety, great styling - wonderful show all around. I adore wearing interesting pieces and this designer had a great balance between interesting and beautiful construction.

Teresa Farese

 Images courtesy of Ed Ng Photography

The quality of Italian designer Teresa Farese's collection took my breath away. Each piece was created from luxurious fabric, perfectly proportioned and tailored to couture standards. As someone who has sewn all my life, I was in awe. This skill comes as no surprise if you've read her bio. "During her studies...She especially enjoyed the [courses] which specialized in haute couture techniques and models to further explore the art of patterns. Over time, she began to design high quality clothes under a pure touch of creativity and elegance. It is through the consistent and continuous study of advanced tailoring techniques...that she completed at her graduation at Istituto Calligari in Milan. Each one of Teresa Farese’s dresses describes the perfect result of her fashion journey mixed with art, technique, tradition and innovation." Farese creates looks designed to evoke desire and listening to the audience comments around me, she easily accomplished this.

 Images courtesy of Ed Ng Photography
Even though structured, there was stunning visual flow and soft drape to the garments.  Love the folded drape at the hips with with accent colour to highlight - beige with black, black with beige. Fabric colour contrast was also used to highlight a label, a skirt peplum or an arm opening.  The same colour accent was used with small beige buttons, outlining a aside opening on a pant leg or just a few subtle hints at the bottom edge of a pant.  The off the one-shoulder and off the shoulder silhouettes laid perfectly on the models. The black dress on the right in the bottom strip really caught my eye. Honestly, words are inadequate to describe the silhouette and how subtle draping folds were created - you just had to see it. The accent ruffle down the left was just the right accent note. This collection featured garments of the highest quality.  I hope one day to have a garment by Farese in my closet. It would be an honour.
Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography
European designer Marko Feher brought the avant garde element to this evening.  Based in Banja LukaBosnia and Herzegovina, the designer studied fashion design at the College of Technology and the University of Banja Luka. He presented his first collection at Banja Luka Fashion Fair 2013, won first place (in a field of 200) at the 2014 “Perwoll New Generation” in Nivea BH Fashion Week, collaborated with the brand “Funky Guerrilla” to create the "limited black edition" and has worked with many celebrities.

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography

From first to final look, Feher held the audience captive with his edgy designs in Black and white. The looks were strong and the simple black/white palette let the design work stand out on its own,   I found the leather pieces particularly strong featured intricate tailoring and detailing including well-placed silver zippers. Interesting see through mesh head pieces in organic shapes were an added styling note with several looks. There was an adrogeny in the collection that will allow many pieces to find a market with both sexes. 

Hong Kiyoung

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography

This is the third time I have had the privilege of seeing South Korean designer Hong Kiyoung on the runway at VFW. You can check out previous article at these links - Sept. 2013 and Sept. 2014.  The designer bills his brand as a "Luxury Street Wear Label." An excerpt from his Sept. 2014 bio - "[Hong Kiyoung] founded his principle on ‘Minimalistic Exaggeration with street’, and is trying to disseminate it to other designers. Strongly inspired by contemporary arts that portrayed by new artists who are trying to change. He presents ‘Most elegant High-Street wear with tailored suit’ with his own wit...The new definition of men’s beauty is rising up, however, many of fashion figures are settling for the present." One recent honour was having Vogue UK feature his AW 2014 collection on their website. Kiyoung is also directing the Mummy line for the Italian show brand - Fessura.

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography


Sunday is the last day at VFW. Want to snag a tix for the last shows?  Go to www.vanfashionweek.com.