Thursday, March 17, 2016

Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 16 - Buy Local!!


This Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 16 column offers the second edition of BUY LOCAL. I support wearing local designers fully and decided last season to put all the Vancouver designers that participate in VFW in one place which I would add to daily.





The reason? I want you to scroll through and find those whose style draws you. Then take time each season to seek them out either through their website or through a local retail outfit that stocks their designs and pick up at least one item to add to your closet. To have a vibrant local fashion scene, we have to support it by investing real dollars.

Many of these designers also manufacture in Vancouver which adds needed jobs and money to our local economy. That means you don't see prices like fashion that is made in unsafe work environments by poorly paid (and poorly treated) labor.

So enjoy!  I will be adding new designers as the week progresses. With so many due to take the runway this season, some with more than one collection, I may not be able to get this column up the next day by noon. The photographers in particular are struggling to get the daily avalanche of pictures processed as quickly as possible.  But all local designers will be here in the end, so keep checking back!!!

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Designers from Sunday the 20th

Alex S. Yu -

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery

Designer Alex S. Yu - a graduate of the Blanche Macdonald fashion design program - has shown on the runway at VFW three previous seasons now and each time it's obvious how he is maturing as a designer. For his fourth appearance he offered us a collection called The Artificial Promise, "...inspired by the voice of the people, the Vox Populi, against the organized interest and partisan propaganda of big government. George Orwell's dystopian novel, 1984, which confronts the unsettling subject matter of the unrelenting control of a governing body and the want of autonomy by its conscious citizens, serves as the starting point of this collection; while another source of inspiration comes from the current and very real events happening globally -- governments spying and invading the privacies of its own people. This collection asks the question: How free, really, are we?"

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery
I personally felt that this collection offered the most wearable pieces to date, yet everything was still true to Yu's trademark style. Luxury street wear looks were created offering original prints featuring vivid graphics, quirky texts and 2D rendering of plaids. There was a great mix of colours and materials blended in a more mature and muted colour palette than in previous seasons.

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery


This collection also offered menswear for the first time. From the designer, "The collection plays with numerous menswear references and visually restricting tailoring elements such as a high and tight turtleneck or skin tight sleeves." Well done Alex!  It is great to watch you grow each season.

Brittany Wacher

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery


Brittany Wacher is a graduate of LaSalle College in Vancouver. After fnishing, it was off to work as a stylist in Thailand, followed by an internship under Dutch designer Pauline Van Dongen (amazing designer who showed at VFW a few years ago). While working under Van Dongen, the designer began to refine her approach to garment construction and explore more conceptual work. From her bio, "Integral to [Wacher's] vision is the concept of duality and the passage of energy through time and space. This energy, represented by moods and feelings is transformed into shapes, colour blocking and use of lines in textile." While her bio shows her based out of Montreal, VFW let me know she has just moved back to Vancouver.

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery


It's always amazing to see the graduate of a local design program return to show how they have matured and grown.  Wacher's collection was a true reflection of all the experience she has garnered internationally. Her time working under Pauline Van Dongen in particular was evident. This collection was very architectural with unique, interesting detailing throughout. From the designer, "Sharp lines and angles define the garment’s dynamic, austere silhouette. Accompanying details involve the interplay of structured details with contrasting, soft, flowing, forms. Our palette of earth tones, punctuated with subtle sections of electric colour, is framed by the predominant use of black and white and exclusive in- house prints."

Evan Clayton

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery


Evan Clayton is another designer who I have been following since his graduation from Blanche Macdonald's fashion design program.  He has showcased several previous collections on the runway at VFW - each very different from the last.  For F/W 16, the designer decided to surprise us all again. Known for offering very theatrical, avant garde collections, Clayton chose this season to show his range and versatility by offering instead a very romantic collection call Worship. ''WORSHIP provides an opportunity to explore the realms of your own desire, creating an altar to a heuristic sense of self...[It] is a journey through the softer side of his brand."

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery


I don't know where to start. First there was the wonderful set that each model blended into at the end of their runway walk, slowly creating a portrait. Then there was the romantic music. The audience was held captive. I don't think I heard a single word whispered during this show. So many young designers get pigeon-holed way too early in their career. I am truly delighted Clayton decided to showcase the depth of his creativity and offer something unexpected.

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery

From the designer, "Tailored silhouettes are juxtaposed with dramatic frills and luxurious textiles. Natural materials take centre stage with ethereal silks flowing against rustic denim. Peruvian llama evokes a plush atmosphere, while belvedere cotton and cotton canvas cocoon the wearer in sartorial elegance. The collection exudes an energy of awareness and calm with a colour palette of ivory, blush, and olive." Kudos my friend. I hope you continue to explore, create and surprise us for a long time.

Encima Clothing

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery


Encima is a contemporary menswear brand founded in 2015 by Creative Director, Faiz Lalani and his wife, Suzy Lalani. It is both designed and manufactured right here in Vancouver. This is the second season they have taken to the runway at Vancouver Fashion Week, this time with a much larger collection. From the designer, "The goal has been to design and create unique garments utilizing colours and materials that best represent our individuality. We don’t all look the same, so why should we dress the same. This mentality is what strongly influences the design aesthetic that can be found on each and every Encima piece."

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery


I was excited to see Encima offer this new collection called Obsession. Menswear is always refreshing to see on the runway and the designer has found that balance between looks that are very wearable/marketable and also stylish.  Every look is store ready and well-suited to our West Coast lifestyle - contemporary with a street style feel. Designed for versatility, the individual looks can be dressed up or down to suit a wide variety of occasions and the palette was well chosen to allow the pieces to be combined into many different looks.

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery



Designers from Saturday the 19th

Sunny's Bridal - Check out the review of this show HERE.


Designers from Wednesday the 16th


Images by Ed Ng Photography


Vancouver based designer Lauren Warkentin of So Martha So Mary developed a love of design textiles and sewing at an early age. In fact she spent her youth stocking up on textiles and patterns from her local fabric store. Laura would then transform her visions into her own stylish creations. She is also an avid traveler, discerning shopper and detail oriented by nature. The future designer chose to enroll in Vancouver Community College’s Fashion Arts Program where she excelled, earning the prestigious 2012 Gabriel Levy Scholarship at graduation.  In 2013 she launched So Martha So Mary.

Images by Ed Ng Photography


The focus of So Martha So Mary quickly became evident - beautifully tailored, beautifully designed coats featuring wonderful fabrics, absolutely impeccable tailoring/construction and great detailing. The pockets lay flat, the buttons were big, the fur trim used in just the right amount.  Having sewn all my life I know how hard it is to make coats in particular look so effortless, so kudos to the designer. Well done.



Images by Ed Ng Photography
From the designer's VFW Bio - "Working in vintage and used garment industry exposed Designer Negin to the waste of fast-fashion. While studying Fashion Design and Technology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, she continued to research the extreme effects the fashion industry has on a global level. NOCTEX was created in 2011 as an independent initiative to produce garments with transparent practices and to create without the imposition of the fast-paced modern fashion industry. Individual accessories and garments were produced by her own hands, or with the help of home sewers. Linking humane values to business practices became the foundation of the business. NOCTEX released its first seasonal collection in Fall 2013, revolving around the idea that only 3 garments can be worn together or apart in 15 different ways. "

Images by Ed Ng Photography
I was intrigued by the designs I saw on the runway. Although very wearable, they weren't the cookie cutter collection of separates and dresses.  Each had a unique silhouette. Black embellishments were placed strategically here and there in the collection. It was obvious all garments were hand-made with attention to detail. There were several looks I would love to incorporate in my wardrobe as the l appreciated the balance of style combined with easy wear.  I can't wait to see more from Noctex.

Images by Ed Ng Photography
Designer Suman Faulkner (Lata) was born and raised in Fiji where most clothing was either home made or produced by tailors.  As a child she learned embroidery and crocheting from her mother and aunts. She was always passionate about making clothes and created her first sari blouse at the age of 12. Other garments quickly following. At age 18, the family immigrated to Canada. It took years before Faulkner was willing to leave the comforts of a well-paid steady job to pursue a career in Fashion Design at the Art Institute of Vancouver, but the calling could not be denied.

Images by Ed Ng Photography

Faulkner's design work straddles two cultural influences - that of her upbringing and that of her adopted country. That duality was evident in her runway show. There was definitely an ethnic element to the looks, but also a modern, western twist.  I believe most of her work at this time is custom garments for clients and that was reflected in the designer's runway show.  Instead of a F/W 16 cohesive ready to wear collection, there was a wide selection of great looks showcasing her depth as a designer.

Images by Ed Ng Photography


Designer Katelyn Woodburn is a gradute of the Fashion Design Program at Blanch Macdonald and the Entrepreneurship program at BCIT. As an “equestrian enthusiast,” she saw a need for innovative clothing that was more than just jodhpurs and crisp blazers. When she met business partner Tina Kam who was harboring the same thoughts, they combined forces to launch Saddle & Street in August 2015. The brand takes a firm stand against fast fashion - their mantra “cherishable, not disposable.” Instead of seasonal collections, they create one style at a time.

Images by Ed Ng Photography


Inspiration is drawn from the equines they love as well as the style of the Teddy Girls and Jackie Kennedy. From the designer, "In an overstimulated digital era, it hearkens back to simpler times in a whimsical, nostalgic way. Vintage belt buckles, fine linens… Street & Saddle hasn’t figured out who their “woman” is yet, for it has attracted the finest assortment of ladies of all ages, walks of life an personal styles."  Looks were polished and ranged from riding/casual wear to outfits appropriate for work or an evening out.  One of my favourite looks was the colour blocked blouse and skirt in the top strip on the left.  All had excellent tailoring which is always something I personally appreciate.

Images by Ed Ng Photography










I remember first seeing the the work of Vancouver knitwear artist Sally Omeme a few years ago - some amazing creations combining yarn and strips of raw recycled denim - all knitted. The hands down best was a denim/yarn gown with crinoline. So needless to say, I was really excited to see her new collection. She shares in her bio that in knitting - taught to her by her mother - she found her rhythm.  She left her home in Calgary in 2011 to study at John Casablancas Institute. It was through the love and support of her instructors that she embraced her dream of becoming a knitwear designer.

Images by Ed Ng Photography


Music helps Omeme find inspiration, the beat moving through her and her needles sometimes acting as drum sticks. Strips of leather, suede, denim, t-shirt material and wonderful yarns are all fashioned into one of a kind pieces ranging from bulky, long scarfs to full length dresses. Most of the raw materials are reclaimed, giving new life to the elements. The focus in this show was on yarns from luscious bulky ones to a super slender fine one that looked like lace.  I loved her collection and happy to say I am now a proud owner of one of her luxurious, enormous, long scarfs.  Can't wait to wear it.


Designers from Tuesday the 15th

Allison Wonderland

Images by Dale Rollings
There were a couple designers today I have been following for several years and Allison Smith is one of them. In fact I first interviewed her in 2009 for Fame'd Magazine (article here). She is a graduate of  the Fashion Design & Technology program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and began her career in Montreal’s rag trade before starting Allison Wonderland in 1998 and Pillar in 2011. She creates effortless, wearable clothing perfect for our West Coast lifestyle in particular with inspiration often found in the 70's. Smith offers slow fashion - timeless pieces to embrace for years.


Images by Harry Leonard Imagery


Both collections were offered on the runway last night. First was Allison Wonderland - a little more refined, a little more elegant, a dash of class. Lots of separates, great silhouettes and a wonderful balance between style and easy wear. From the designer, "Allison Wonderland - This season has some more relaxed looks. Looser blouses with dropped shoulders. Drapey pants. Rich burgundy and power 80’s blue with neutrals of black and cement grey. Lots of texture. Playful prints." Then came Pillar which had a younger, more casual feel. Many looks were styled very appropriate;y with toques. I loved the softer jackets with soft raw edge look in particular. From the designer, "Pillar - Weekend vibes with an edgier look. Luxe sweatshirts. Turtleneck rib dresses. A darker palette of grey and black with some lighter tones to complement."

Sofia

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery


Sofia Méndez Schenone was born and raised in Chile. After studying theatre in Santiago. her wanderlust brought her to Victoria, British Columbia, to study Fine Arts and Fashion Design. Soon after graduation she relocated to Vancouver to start her own label. Sofia was founded in the Fall of 2010. Her second collection, Spring 2011, earned her the title of Best Up and Coming Designer in Western Canada’s Generation Next Competition. Sofia has shown at Vancouver Fashion Week and at Vancouver Eco Fashion Week. Her work and been featured in Vogue UK, Glamour UK, Fashion Magazine and Flare Magazine amongst others.Sofia can be found in boutiques throughout Canada.

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery

Sofia's focus is to create a timeless look with an effortless fashion flair for the modern woman on the go.  Looking to enhance women’s personalities Sofia combines feminine styles with luxury fabrics - the brand embracing strong, independent, passionate women wanting to look and feel their best in their own way. What we saw on the runway offered lots of separates to mix and match with a few classic dresses to complete the collection. Probably my favourite two looks are in the bottom strip - the woven jacket on the left and the sheer black top with black pants second from the right. The bulky gray sweater in the middle also caught my eye as it looked a warm and cozy option for a cold, rainy West Coast night.




aniimiism

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery


aniimism designer Cassie Dee grew up in Calgary, Alberta and moved to Vancouver to study at Helen Lefeaux School of Fashion. She began designing under her own name after graduation and was selected in the inaugural year of the Mercedes Benz StartUp competition to present at Toronto Fashion Week (WMCFW). Her designs have appeared in publications including Vogue and she was on one season of Amercia’s Next Top Model as a designer to the competing models.

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery


Dee takes inspiration from the philosophy that all things carry spirit and stories. Her collection brought a fresh note to the runway last night that I think had a strong appeal to the younger viewers in particular. From the designer - "For Fall Winter 2016 the aniimiism collection pushes into new territory with the most eye-catching collection yet. Spotlight worthy fabrications include a shimmer and shine 80s inspired chiffon with a hint of transparency, a punk inspired multi colored boucle and an accordion pleated pleather. Exaggerated and covered up, the long line silhouettes are designed to have a grunge-y, covert seductiveness."

Shelley Klassen for Blushing Boutique

S/S 16 - Images by Harry Leonard Imagery


Shelly Klassen is another I have known and covered for a very long time.  Her designs have garnered a strong fan base - they are by a woman, for women. Events at her 1500 square foot flagship store, Blushing Boutique (579 Richards Street in Vancouver), are always packed.  Her brand is focused on all that is feminine so it's no surprise so see dresses for all occasions take centre stage in every collection, but there are always a some great separates tucked. The boutique also offers on-site fittings and alterations as well as custom design work.

F/W 16 Images by Harry Leonard Imagery


Klassen offered two shows this evening which I loved. First came Spring/Summer 16 - a runway move I think all designers should embrace. The audience loves to see what is in stock right now to wear. It was filled with brighter colours and floral prints.  One look I loved was a textured white crop top with soft draping full-length turquoise skirt.  From the designer, "Spring 16 - Imagine a perfect summer day with not a care in the world, except how you many eyes are on you in your sweet blushing dress..."  This was followed by Fall/Winter 16. A darker palette was shown here and more structured silhouettes.  I was intrigued by a muted dark floral that had a vintage feel to it.  From the designer, "The Fall 16 Collection takes us back to an era where privilege and extravagance were revered..."

Jenny Hedberg

F/W 16 Images by Harry Leonard Imagery


I learned just before this show that not only is Jenny Hedberg a graduate of Blanche Macdonald, she has also gone on to become one of their instructors. Her bio offers that she was "...raised on rock'n'roll, gypsy dreams and that her parents encouraged her creativity and nomadic spirit." From the designer, "Made with Love from Jenny H is an idea passed down from makers of the past. Each handcrafted gown is designed, cut, and sewn in house. Taking it back to the roots of garment making, where clothing tells a story, and the process was personal. I want to dress brides whose hearts are taken, and are looking for a gown with a non-traditional spirit."

F/W 16 Images by Harry Leonard Imagery
On the runway, we saw a collection of enchanting hand-made Bohemian wedding dresses. The looks were soft and oh so feminine. Models were either barefoot with a slender satin ribbon added in decoration or wearing tennis shoes. Looks were styled with bohemian head bands  In addition to traditional white, there were a few in a bright floral print. This collection would fit right into a West Coast wedding set outdoors - surrounded by nature.



4 comments:

  1. I'm really seeing wonderful talent in Vancouver moving to more sophisticated styles with attention to detail and quality. Exquisite. Thank you.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it the coverage and I agree. I think there is more depth now.

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  2. Thank you so much for the lovely write-up! We really appreciate it.

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    1. My pleasure - more local designers being added shortly. LEt's get the people of Vancouver invested in our local talent.

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