Thursday, March 30, 2017

Vancouver Fashion Week FW 17 - Empty Oceans by Zuhal Kuvan-Mills of Green Embassy

All photography by Harry Leonard Imagery

In March 2014, I was in my seat watching shows at Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 14. One night a new designer took to the runway that floored me - Zuhal Kuvan-Mills of Green Embassy - a series called "Earth."  During the week I managed to connect with her in the showroom to get up close and personal with this talented artist and her collection to learn a little about what she was doing.

The next time she came to Vancouver Fashion Week we managed time for an interview so I could go more in depth with her. Our friendship continued to grow over the next several years despite the great distance between us. Her intensity and passion for not only her art, but the people and environment around her knows no bounds.  I am proud to call her friend.

Here are a few things you might like to know.  Zuhal was born in Turkey and lived in London before moving to Perth, Australia, where she lives on a farm with 4 dogs and a herd of 52 Alpacas. Her career path started as a veterinarian, then an educator and then a textile artist. Her love of animals have led her to embrace being a vegetarian.  Her passions and commitment to change run deep with social and environmental concerns expressed through all her art including fashion design.

It was while showcasing the beautiful textiles she created from her alpaca's wool a few years ago that things shifted.  At a trade booth, she decided to drape the beautiful fabrics she was showing on models. Someone thought they were garments and asked her to be a part of a fashion show. A little over 3 years later she has showcased collections on the runway at fashion weeks around the world - London, Vancouver, Beijing, Paris and more.

With each collection Zuhal highlights a concern dear to her heart.  F/W17's inspiration came from the plight of our oceans.  Always one to challenge the audience in more than one way, she also brought to the show the affirmation that we as human beings - no matter our race, colour, religion or sexuality - are all one family. To open the show the designer offered a heartfelt video introducing the theme Empty Ocean.  To set the tone while the models walked the runway in her unique creations, she chose O SIEM by Inuk musician Susan Aglukark.

O Siem, We are all family. O Siem, We're all the same
O Siem, The fires of freedom. Dance in the burning flame
Siem o siyeya. All people rich and poor. Siem o siyeya, Those who do and do not know
Siem o siyeya, Take the hand of one close by. Siem o siyeya, Of those who know because they try

And watch the walls come tumbling down

The Empty Ocean Series was showcased on not only traditional models, but individuals of all ages, sizes and ethnicities. In a nod to the indigenous peoples of all nations, the show was opened by two young girls of the Tsleil-waututh Nation who are descendents of beloved Chief Dan George along with their mother. Warren Dean and Katherine Flandez of Studio Cloud 30 walked with their son Noble - an emotional moment for the audience as we listened to the words repeated, "We are a family."

Zuhal's show was filled with incredible one of a kind fashions highlighting the fragility of our oceans, but it was so much more.  The powerful impact on the audience was obvious and many stood to offer a standing ovation. On an important note - the designer reached out to The Sea Shepherd Organization and will be donating money from the sales of these one-of-a-kind pieces to their efforts.

What's next for this designer/artist/activist?  Zuhal is organizing the first ever Eco Fashion Week of Australia in Perth this November 2017. Please check back for more information. I would like to close by sharing a press release created for this Vancouver show by Robbin Whachell - founder of The Bahamas Weekly. Enjoy!

"As an environmental activist, designer and artist Kuvan-Mills believes art and fashion impact our emotions and can move us to value our blue planet. This is her third time to VFW and she says she was inspired to return after hearing about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion and its threat to local waters, in particular that her current collection is her emotional response to the world's troubled oceans. She is currently supporting the world’s leading direct action ocean conservation organization, Sea Shepherd (Australia).

Green Embassy is Australia’s first internationally recognized organic fashion label who base their work on the protection of nature, and natural resources, while focusing on bringing public attention and education to environmental issues. In November 2017, Kuvan-Mills will launch the inaugural Australia Eco Fashion Week in Perth. During her stay in Vancouver she hopes to inspire other designers to go ‘eco’ and has talks planned with Kwantlen University and Blanche Macdonald.

"Vancouver has such a rich and beautiful coastline that should be protected for generations to come. I know that the First Peoples of its territory are as connected to their land and water, as Aboriginals are Down Under. Water connects us. Water is life. I hope to bring this awareness to local and international audiences."

While forging her own path in the ‘slow fashion’ scene by not only designing and creating garments for quality and longevity, most of her fabrics come from the alpacas she raises on her farm in Perth. Her dyes are made from vegetation, like flowers, leaves, or vegetables. Focusing on modern, minimalist, functional and alluring garments for earth-friendly consumers, Zuhal finds inspiration within the textile crafting traditions of ancient times. Inspired by marine life and the ocean’s diversity of forms, shapes, colours, and textures, Kuvan-Mills used industrial fishing net remnants and recycled polyester made of trash, plastic bottles, drift / ghost fishing nets as her starting point for Empty Oceans. Using 100% certified organic Australian alpaca, merino, silk and recycled natural fibres, each artisan haute-couture Empty Ocean piece is a handmade collectible with higher meaning.

"Fashion is a tool for me to reach larger audiences in my mission and passion to save just one tree from being cut, or save one wild animal from poachers. It is also my aim to support and help indigenous communities across the world," says Zuhal who will have Tsleil-Waututh Nation children dressed in traditional regalia walking the runway on Sunday at VFW. It is her hope to great a collaborative event between the First Peoples of both Canada and Australia whereupon dance, music, fashion and the arts can be shared.

Green Embassy has been seen on the runway in Paris, London, Beijing and Vancouver, and with more and more concern being placed on fast fashion and the environment, Kuvan-Mills is quickly becoming a sought after guest speaker, and has been interviewed for television on SBS World News and national radio on ABC, Australia. In 2016, the Empty Oceans collection caught the attention of Pamela Anderson, who has her own foundation to help environmental causes.

Kuvan-Mills' commitment to sustainability, organic agriculture, art and slow fashion is expressed in each extraordinary textile piece as a labour of love."

Green Embassy Website -
Atelier Zuhal Website -
Facebook -
Instagram - @greenembassy
Twitter - @greenembassyau
LinkedIn -

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Vancouver Fashion Week FW 17 - Sunday Shows By Viviane Valerius, Hattitude, MACHIOMIZUMACHI & Armine Ohanyan

Image by Harry Leonard Imagery
How to describe last night at Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW)?  I am overwhelmed for so many reasons.  Sunday night was the final note on my 20 seasons of coverage - a full decade. From now on I am a regular audience member. It was stepping into writing in the fashion world that opened the door to me interviewing people from around the world and in 2015 becoming a published author. I could not be more grateful to VFW founder Jamal Abdourahman for the opportunity and support he has given me over the last 10 years.

The evening again held an amazing array of shows from ready to wear to bridal to Eco to conceptual. No two were alike and that kept us all riveted.  The venue was filled to overflowing - every seat occupied and every place to stand packed.  The runway during breaks was again a carnival atmosphere filled with people talking, laughing and snapping pics. With so many people in that small space, getting group shots in particular proved challenging. I have to admit, I held to my seat more.  It was that crowded.

Kudos to the many people who all come together to make this week happen. Today was my volunteer appreciation day where I walked through the entire venue before the doors open - front of house, backstage and hair/makeup rooms - and personally thanked all the volunteers and offer them a treat.  The number varies from day to day, but over the course of the week there are approximately 350 volunteers and 300 models involved in VFW. WOW!

My outfit this evening was chosen with great care. I wanted it simple, classic and locally designed. My sheer black shirt and synthetic leather/knit skirt were by RozeMerie Cuevas of JAC by JC.  The red leather bracelet with Japanese silk under glass embellishment was by Shi Studio and has been in my wardrobe for over 12 years.  My wonderful red shoes with unique heel are vintage John Fluevog and have also been in my closet for many years.  The gold bangle was a gift this week from host Symone Says.  Last but not least were my large red earrings.  I wore them at my wedding 32 years ago and put them on again tonight in honour of my husband who was in the audience. I could not do what I do without his support.

All week I have tried as much as possible to wear garments purchased from a wide range of independent designers, all purchased over a 12 year span.  The point was to share what I learned as I stepped into the fashion world - if you take the time to make thoughtful, quality purchases from independent designers, you will slowly build a wardrobe you cherish for year to come. Make that commitment today to buy one garment or accessory from an independent designer each season. You'll never regret it.

Last but not least - thanks to Jamal, Vancouver Fashion Week and all the wonderful friends and family who came out last night to share their thoughts and celebrate with me as I was honoured with the Ambassador Extraordinaire Award for my decade of coverage. I am still touched and overwhelmed.

Today I chose to feature Viviane Valerius, MACHIOMIZUMACHI, Hattitude Christina Lichy and Armine Ohanyan. Designers Evan Clayton and Alex S. Yu have been added to my BUY LOCAL column and a solo article is in the works for Zuhal Kuvan-Mills of Green Embassy. My undying thanks go out to the three photographers who have labored through the night all week to get pics to me so quickly for my 14 columns - Harry James Leonard, Ed Ng and Dale Rollings. You are amazing!

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Viviane Valerius

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery

Viviane Valerius is a Miami based fashion designer who earned her BA in Fashion Design at Miami International University of Art & Design. Born and raised in Haiti, she has had a passion for art and design from a very young age. Her mother was a talented seamstress, Valerius spent many hours beside her watching the magic happen. An artistic person by nature, fashion design allows her to express that creativity through the beautiful garments she designs.

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery

While there was more than just wedding gowns to Valerius' show, it was the bridal offerings that received the biggest attention. I heard more than one OOOOOOHHHH and an I wish I was getting married. Looking around the audience you could see rapt expressions on many women's faces. The gowns were beautifully designed and offered in a wide range of styles.  I was particularly drawn to one that was totally non-traditional - a top, peplum, pant combination with black detailing. You can see it in the centre in the top row of images.  It had a lovely edge to it that I could see fitting in beautifully at a tropical destination wedding.

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery

While the wedding gowns did take centre stage, there were several lovely evening offerings. My favorite by far is the deep pink gown second from left in the bottom strip.

Hattitude Christina Lichy

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery

"Behind Hattitude stands a Danish girl with long-distance pain, who completed her apprenticeship in 2002 as a seamstress. In 2007, she started her apprenticeship as a hobbyist. In 2010, she worked as a trainee in Vienna, where she worked at Art4Art and later at Mühlbauer. The last time of her training she was in Copenhagen with Q-hats / Per Falk Hansen, who created hats for the Danish queen Margrethe. In December 2010, she successfully completed her apprenticeship and in April 2011 she moved permanently to Vienna, where she founded her company Hattitude in the same year in November." - From the designer's VFW bio

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery

Designer Christina Lichy offered the audience a truly wide range of hat designs from casual to Ascot worthy.  Bright colour dominated as was a wonderful dash of fun - no surprise if you met the designer, especially the day she was sporting a large rubber chicken purse!  Inspiration comes to her from many sources - history, colors and moods, a walk in the zoo or from old films of the 50's (but with a modern twist).  Materials used include felt, straw, fur, fabric, feathers, ribbon, mica and pearl. The wide range of silhouettes offered means that there is a perfect hat waiting for each of us.


Images by Ed Ng Photography

"Machio Mizumachi was born in Japan Osaka Sakai, and has won many contests and prizes with his creative and captivating works...Machio Mizumachi’s characteristic eccentric sense of color in design and his technique of Dismantling and Rebuilding couture in his clothing, serve as his basis. His most recent collection works to showcase ideas of nostalgia and Machio re-imagines and redefines various aspects of his own personal life, and brings them to the forefront of his fashion designs." - from the designer's VFW bio

Images by Ed Ng Photography

The buzz for MACHIOMIZUMACHI started around me before the designer's name was even announced, so I knew I was in for a treat.  From the moment the first model took to the runway, I knew I would not be disappointed. This show lived up the it's pre-show buzz and then some. The collection we saw bright primary colour, graphics, varied textures and out of the box elaborate design/embellishment. The aesthetic was strong and in your face. Some of the jackets and tops had been covered with a myriad of accessories including artificial flowers, belts and even backpacks. Most interesting is, while it would take a bold and confident person to pull it off, most of these designs were quite wearable.

Images by Ed Ng Photography
Needless to say, the applause as the designer took his bows was deafening. Well done!

Images by Ed Ng Photography

"Movement is infinite, it’s never ending, it’s dynamic, it changes everything in life. Coming from an artistic and plastic arts background, I bring a different vision to fashion. I believe that if getting dressed is a necessity, then fashion is the art of necessity....I live in a world completely removed from the ordinary. Through my designs, I want to share my life story, my past, my creative thirst. I want to come out of the shadows and become immersed in design by putting my own signature stamp on it." - From the designer's VFW bio

Images by Ed Ng Photography

Parisian designer Armine Ohanyan closed the day with an intriguing, thoughtful show.  I wanted to know more, so I checked out the website, but it was all in French of course. The designer emailed me after to let me know the name of this collection is EVOLUTION. With the help of a translation program, I gleaned a few other things as well which really helped me understand what I had seen on the runway. There were 4 sections: Winter, ice, crystallization and then spring. Fabric were varied and included a 3D white synthetic. The video behind was perfectly created to pair with the designs we saw, moving from scenes of winter to spring to water.

Images by Ed Ng Photography
I think designer's words say it better than I can, so I want to leave you with another quote from Ohanyan's website on the inspiration behind this collection. "We are evolving! Life changes! In our mineralized urban spaces, Nature manifests itself, transforms itself, expresses itself. The human being adapts, deforms. Universally, infinitely. The metamorphosis has no limits. The landmarks are upset. Nature represents the real, the metamorphosis, the unreal. The conceptual distinction between Man and Nature no longer exists. One transforms into the other. Deep winter buries Man. Snow and ice dominate it. Everything becomes icy. Then the human being is reborn, and the cycle begins again and again .."

Vancouver Fashion Week FW 17 - Jose Hendo

Photography by Harry Leonard Imagery

In March 2015, I found myself in awe as I watched the very architectural Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) show by London based designer José Hendo. For the next two days I tried to find her both by myself and with the help of VFW volunteers. It was not meant to be. While we connected and kept in touch through Facebook, what I really wanted was a chance to sit face to face and hear her story.

Then I learned the designer was not only going to show this season, but was coming a day early to make time for us to have that interview before the chaos began. Amazing. I could not have been more excited.  We did a little driving tour of Richmond, had lunch at my home and then sat for over an hour while she shared her story with me.  I declared her my Warrior Woman sister as she is a powerful woman who knows her mind, has strong convictions and lives them fully.

Because of this interview, I was privileged to hear just a bit about the collection she was set to show. Her beloved father passed away last summer, a man who had a huge influence on her life. This collection was created in his honour. It is masculine, but with touches of the feminine to show how his influence has come out through her. It had that same very architectural aesthetic that I loved so much last time, but was perhaps just a touch more conceptual than the last I saw. While the garments were all wearable, Hendo's collection was purely and simply fashion as art. It had such a strong emotional impact on me that tears welled up as I watched.

I want to first offer you a bit of information from her press release. That is followed by a great Q and A so Josephine (yes that is her birth name and I adore it) can share about her passion in her own words. Enjoy!

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"‘José Hendo’ takes a fresh approach to contemporary fashion design, challenging the obsolescence nature of fashion, and the throw away culture...It 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. She supports ethical trading, fair working conditions and raising awareness about the environmental issues affected by the fashion industry. 

Their garments are designed to flatter all body shapes, the designs are contemporary, edgy, tailored, timeless pieces. Their bespoke garments are made for any occasion and existing garments are also re-work (revamp) to give the customer a different or updated look. Currently there are eight collections produced under the label, inspired by the Jose’s African background, sculpture, and nature to create timeless pieces...The designer's keen eye and attention to detail, together with her character as a perfectionist, can be seen in the quality of the work produced."

Please share a little bit about your journey to becoming a fashion designer.

I started making clothes by playing around with creating costumes for my dolls when I was 7 to 10 years old. It was very basic, no stitching involved - just wrapping around and tying. I used scraps from what was left over from my mother's tailoring. By twelve I had learnt how to use a domestic sewing machine and could stitch in a straight line.

I used to revamp used clothing to create my own unique style in high school, cutting trousers to make peddle pushers or taking a lining out of a skirt to make a top. I wanted to do fine art, but my A- Level art results went missing and I couldn't continue with it at university. So I had to rethink my dream. So I went to Paris Academy to study fashion. 

I did three years of learning the foundation of fashion from making patterns to garment construction. I worked in the garment industry then moved onto self employment in the bridal bespoke service. After a few years and having started a family I had a restless feeling and felt I needed to go back to study fashion and redirect my career. It was a final move in that if I didn't find a deeper understanding of fashion then I would leave the industry. So I went to London College of Fashion and studied ' beyond being a fashion designer '. This is where I started the process through the research I carried out of becoming this eco-sustainable fashion designer that I am now.

In your own works please share what you and your brand are about? Who is your client? Who can wear your clothes?

I am an eco-sustainable fashion designer going against the throw away culture to minimize the fashion industry's impact on the environment. I started R3 (Reduce Reuse Recycle) campaign doing workshops, presentations and whole collections to create a better understanding of what goes in the life of a garment. Through my research interests I have realised that 'the history of a garment is just as important as it's future.' This has shaped my journey so far. My client is between 25 yrs to 65yrs + Anyone can wear my clothes but creative people and professionals especially enjoy wearing them. 

I know you have a strong Eco/Zero Waste focus. Please share why this is so important to you.

Focusing on Eco/Zero Waste is so important to me because it is the only way to achieve true sustainability in fashion. The cornerstones of this focus are 'REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE'

You are beginning to incorporate more and more bark clothe into your collections. Please talk about what this is important to you and the charity you are working with to plant more of these trees.

We started the 1 million Mutuba tree planting campaign on October 14, 2016, when we had the exposé of a dress that was designed from the adopted José Hendo Mutuba trees 2nd harvest. It is going on display at the Uganda National Museum this summer. We have currently developed some zero-waste products to sell and a percentage of each sale will go towards planting more trees. 

It is important to include barkcloth in all my collections as I am trying to bring it back into the forefront of fashion. Barkcloth is one of the oldest cloths made by man. Barkcloth is a 600 year old tradition in Uganda that is recognised by UNESCO as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity. It is the best ambassador for sustainability because the Mutuba tree from which barkcloth is harvested regenerates a new bark and can be harvested annually for up to 60 years. It is organic and the processing of the barkcloth is all done by hand. 

Finally, after years of working with barkcloth, I took my work back to Uganda for 1st time last year. Starting the B2TR (BARK TO THE ROOTS) an initiative that is anchored in the ethos of the sustainable development goals, reminding us to preserve both our heritage and environment. For the last three years we are now connected to the BOTFA (Bukomansimbi Organic Tree Farmers Association) one of the communities that has kept the barkcloth tradition alive. We have adopted and planted Mutuba trees (Ficus natalensis) also supporting the community primary school St Aloysius. Reinforcing the importance of the mutuba tree (from which barkcloth is harvested ) to the environment. 

For more information, check out this great article and video -  'Saving the ENVIRONMENT AND OUR HERITAGE 'Could your next dress be made from tree bark?' by Colin Hancock for CNN at this link -

Please share the inspiration for your inspiration for this specific collection as well as it's palette.

Motto Silhouette is a zero waste collection that is transeasonal, covering all seasons through the year. I am using the Japanese meaning of Motto - the origin the foundation the basis the cause. Authentic traditions are mixed with modern designs and simple construction methods. There are futuristic experimental shapes and abstract with unexpected perforations. Materials used include seatbelts, offcuts, organic silk and Hemp, organic barkcloth in hues of blues, greys, black, off-white, dark brown. 

Your collections always have a strong architectural element. Has this always been a part of your design work? What draws you to this aesthetic?

I have always been interested in architecture. It speaks to the artist in me and inspires me. The attention to detail , shapes and forms are what I love because that is what draws me to this aesthetic. Yes it has always been part of my design signature.

What would you most like readers to know about you as a designer? As a person away from your work?

I am married and a mother of three 1 girl and 2 boys. My family, especially my husband, has supported me on this road. I would not be where I am without my faith and family. I love people and giving back one way or another is really important to me.

What can we look forward to in the coming year?

Another B2TR event happening at the Knitting and Stitching Shows in the UK where together with 3 other people, Passionate About Barkcloth will be presenting our work in barkcloth the title BARKCLOTH REIMAGINED. I will also be working on the a new transeasonal collection. 

Links -
Website -
Facebook - Jose Hendo-Label
Twitter - @JoseHendo
Instagram - @josehendo

Monday, March 27, 2017

Vancouver Fashion Week FW 17 - Lesley Hampton

All images by Dale Rollings

Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) is such a busy time for me, that I try not to do a lot of solo articles, but the show by Lesley Hampton needed just that.  I was blown away by her the last time this talented young was here, and then she returned and upped the ante. 

The growth evident since her last show was tremendous and then you add the icing on the cake. She is still a student in design school! I hope your jaw dropped open.  Her work speaks of a designer with much more time in the industry.

There was a second reason I chose to do a solo article as well - her strong message of positive body image as well as the message of you can do it. There are no limits. Hampton's 3 part opening video made both of these messages clear, but it was brought home when the opening model in her show took the runway. If there hadn't been music playing, you would have been able to hear a pin drop.

I also loved that she honoured her First Nation's heritage in the audio chosen to accompany the show. It added a powerful note to an already first class show.  That placed a lot of pressure on her designs to stand up and hold their own.  And they did.  I hope you enjoy this Q and A. With it are runway pics, her opening video a link to the full Tedx Talk by her opening model amputee/ballroom dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis.

This was a truly wonderful show by a rising talent I am so proud to offer media coverage to. Congrats Lesley. I have my eye on you. 

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Can you share a little about your journey to becoming a fashion designer? Any childhood/teen that indicated this might be your future?

I was always a creative child. On weekend, instead of watching morning cartoons like most other kids, I would watch Fashion Television with Glen Baxter and Jeanne Baker telling me all about the new developments in the fashion industry. The summer after high school I completed a fashion design internship at a small design house in Toronto where I was making samples for the store and learned about the grunt work involved with designing and LOVED IT. I completed my honours bachelors degree at the University of Toronto in Visual Art and Art History, and then started my brand.

Where are you studying design? What is hardest about the program? What is your favourite, or comes easiest for you?

I am currently studying fashion design at George Brown College in Toronto. The hardest part about the program is juggling my professional career with my academic career. I started my brand during the first month of my program so its been an ongoing problem to excuse myself from classes to attend lookbook or editorial shoots, or fly to Vancouver for Fashion Week every season. My favourite part is making friendships with other likeminded students, having my friends help me out with my collection and teaching each other new skills as we go is so, so much fun.

Please share a bit about your opening video and the strong message of self love it shares. 

My opening video for VFW was three-fold. The first part was a behind the scenes video of my latest editorial shoot in Toronto's Distillery District. I asked models, who were walking in my show, to send me their thoughts on the importance of body positivity on the runway, and used it as the voiceover during this first section.

The second part was in order to explain to the audience what the Be Body Aware Project is all about, as told by its founder, Irish-born Toronto-based model and academic, Tia Duffy. Be Body Aware project is raising awareness of the psychology of body image through reimagined media and fashion imagery, such as photoshoots and runway shows, to represent and respect bodies of all individuals. 

The third part was a clip of a Ted Talk by Adrianne Haslet-Davis telling her story and how words have incredible impact. Adrianne was third in the world in ballroom dancing in 2013. She was in watching the Boston Marathon finish line during the time of the terrorist attack and lost her left leg, and was told by many that she would never dance again. She did return to the ballroom dance floor and won her first competition back. I found Adrianne on a Vancouver Sun story and on Instagram, and I was incredibly inspired by her story and invited her to Vancouver to walk in my show. I used this section of the pre-runway video to have the audience be introduced to her story, and then I had Adrianne open my show in my first look. I chose to have Adrianne walk for me so that I could bring all types of bodies to the runway, and show people that the ultimate trauma could happen to you, but there is a life after the hospital and you can overcome any adversity and live your dreams! 

Please share about your inspiration for the collection we saw on the runway at VFW.

Through creating the Fall Winter 2017 collection, the message I wanted to convey of rebirth. The colors of the collection are consistent with a sunset leading to the golden hour: the time of day the sky turns a soft gold, this is also the time in trauma cases that is the most crucial period for treatment. This collection will give the wearer the strength to overcome any personal adversity might occur, with each sunset leading to a new day. I believe the runway presentation of this collection, in combination with the music and video components, allowed for the message and concept to be understood.

What was the palette? What fabrics?
The palette of this collection were reminiscent of the colors seen in the sky when the day turns to night.  The black and white fabrics (sequins on mesh, embroidered lace, and black marni scuba neoprene) were to represent the shadows that are created by a low sun in the sky.
The plums and gold floral fabrics (plum organza, and polyurethane finished poly-cotton) were to represent the color of the sky as it transitions into an amazing purple gold as the sun is setting.
The final gold looks (gold palmira sequins lace) were to represent the sun itself as it sets.

Did you create any of these prints? I was especially intrigued by the print on the white fabrics in the first few looks?

I source my fabrics from a Canada-based wholesale fabric and textile company, with some fabric purchases from the retail fabric stores in Toronto. This collection contained a lot of hand sewing; the fabrics were sourced already embroidered or with sequins however I edited and added where necessary to accentuate certain parts of the body for each design. 

Your chose of sound track to accompany gave a wonderful nod to your first nation's heritage. How has that heritage influenced you as a designer?

The runway mix I used for FW17 was from A Tribe Called Red. I use my collections to research various native teachings and throughout the creation of each collection, I increase my understanding of each native teaching and how what I learn from that can be application to the fashion industry, conceptual work, or just everyday life.

What is coming up for you in the next 6 months, the next year?

In the next 6 months I will graduate from my Fashion Design college program, update my brand's business plan, and use my summer to focus on researching Toronto-based production facilities to begin low-quantity production on my SS17 and FW17 collections that come in all sizes. In the next year, I hope to continue to bring more diversity models to the runway for SS18, and I will also hopefully be starting a post-graduate program in fashion production in Toronto.

Email -
Website -
Twitter - @LesleyHampton
Instagram - @Lesley_Hampton

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Vancouver Fashion Week FW 17 - Saturday Shows by Misi Afrique, MAAK, Pierrot-Emma Viedma and Gatsby Lady London

Image by Harry Leonard Imagery
Saturday at Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) was as high energy as it comes.  I worked on VFW writeups in the morning, then attended another event in the early afternoon before I came, so a little tired. Having that amazing energy swirling all night made all the difference. Then there was the great line-up of shows - a mix of local and international, ready to wear and ethnic inspired, glittery gatsby and ready-to-wear. No two collections were alike. The smile suffered a bit - not as natural - the the heart was beating happily.

My outfit this evening honoured three amazing women I have had the privilege to interview several times over my career. They are strong, intelligent, creative and gifted entrepreneurs who have given back to upcoming generation through mentorship. My beautiful black/white print silk kimono was by Patricia Fieldwalker, a Vancouverite who has rocked the international lingerie world for over 35 years. Then there were my incredible black/white graphic heels by U.S. designer Ruthie Davis. They were higher than I was used to, but it was well worth the effort. My feet have never received more attention. Lastly were my leather look/knit leggings by the one and only RozeMerie Cuevas of JAC by JC whose label has exploded to into the Asian market a few years ago.

Completing my look, I gave a nod to two young women who are just hitting their creative strides. First is my fairy earring by Rachelle Adamchuk of  Alkymiya Gallery. Then the final touch was a black/white polka dot mini bag I received at Nicolette Lang-Andersen's 2016 launch of her NLA Style label - a wonderful new line of women's wear you can check out at Fine Finds in Yaletown. I think my necklace is a local designer as well, but I purchased it so many years ago I no longer remember.

With such a strong and varied line-up last night, it was again really difficult to choose just a few designers to feature.  However, I think the four I have chosen really showcase the variety we saw on the runway. That's when fashion shines for me. There is no right or wrong, no one way we should all look.  I want a big kaleidoscope of options. In a perfect world my clothing budget would be large enough that I could indulge in a sampling of everything.

I do have a separate article coming on London designer Jose Hendo.  As well, Vancouver designers Sara Armstrong and Kim Legler will be added to my BUY LOCAL column. Enjoy!

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Misi Afrique

Images by Ed Ng Photography

 "Misi Afrique was unveiled in July 27, 2013 in a state-of-the-art fashion show. Our tag line, 'Africa in your closet!', is aimed at bringing Africa into everyone’s closet in style, quality and bright colors. Misi Afrique is a ready-to-wear or custom made clothing line that uses rich African fabrics to design trendy and chic clothes for everyday women, men and children. Our objective is to deliver high quality and stylish clothing to its global customers. We design clothes for all occasions including work, parties or for everyday because no matter the event, we dress you up to make a statement. Our goal is that 'Everyone, everywhere wears Misi Afrique to every occasion, every time'." - from the designer VFW bio
Images by Ed Ng Photography

I have a huge affinity for both African fashion and African fabrics, so looked forward to this show with great anticipation.  The element of ethnic prints could be seen, but many garments had looks that were modernized and combined with non-traditional fabrics. One I particularly liked was in the top photo strip on the right.  A shift dress out of a traditional print peaks out from underneath a full length black lace overlay.  This look really popped on the runway for me. The show ended with the beaming designer not only taking her bows, but doing a few celebratory dance moves. I loved it.


Images by Dale Rollings 

"This particular collection, Dark Stones, centres on individuality and attitude. ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ – Dark Stones is a collection designed by MAAK to give the wearer the confidence to face their fears and be themselves. Its dark tones and sassy edge inspires the wearer to be independent and vivacious. Its textures represent the overcoming of life obstacles one may experience." - from the designer's VFW bio

Images by Dale Rollings 

MAAK is a sustainable label by designer Charne Esterhuizen launched just this year in Canberra, Australia. The collection we saw on the runway was, except for the final look, a great selection of ready-to-wear. A muted palette, good fabric choices and a varied mix and match selection of separates offered something for everyone's closet. The surprise was the final look.  It was a dress created from 3D printed butterflies - not something everyone could pull off but a great final note to make us all sit up in our seats.

Pierrot by Emma Viedma

Images by Ed Ng Photography
 I was very taken by this show by Paraguayan designer Emma Viedman, but found nothing on the VFW website. However, in a quick internet search I found the designer's Facebook page. Google translate along with some help from Julia Mariuska Hodgins have helped me to sort it out. Hopefully this is correct. "PIERROT is a Paraguayan female clothing offering two line -  pret a porter and haute couture. The label is inspired by an created with the goal of blending indigenous design and art which compliment each other beautifully.  The designer's passion and inspiration for collections are found within these elements.  Pierrot is more than just garments, each is truly a unique work of art."

Images by Ed Ng Photography

Everything about this show came together beautifully - the music, the stylist, the wonderful colour palette that alternated between vivid offerings and natural tones, the mix of prints, textures and woven leather.  I felt like I was walking through a tropical forest looking at trees, greenery, flowers, birds and animals. In fact, I would love to sit through this show a second time as there were just too many elements to take it all in at once. Pierrot was a wonderful way to end the evening, leaving us all with a smile on our faces. 

Images by Ed Ng Photography

This is designer Rojda Hoda's third appearance at VFW and her show is always a crowd favourite. Part of it is the FUN nature of the show. Part of it is the era the clothing, hair and makeup are inspired by. Another part is the Gatsby era style music the models walk to. Last but not least is designer's choice to showcase the same dress on a variety of models - UK size 0 to 30 and petite to tall. They look fabulous on every body time.  

Images by Ed Ng Photography

Because I have written on Gatsby Lady London several times, I'm going to just let the beautiful runway photographs tell the story this time.  Congrats Rojda Hoda on another amazing show!

Images by Ed Ng Photography

Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 17 - Friday Shows by Tengri, Joseph Ribkoff, Daphne Wong & CooperHotcooture

Image by Harry Leonard Imagery
Friday was my fifth straight day of watching shows at Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) and then doing write-ups for 5 hours the next morning. I'm obviously slowing down. However, this day held so many, many wonderful shows from a truly wide range of aesthetics - conceptual art, rough Mongolian knits/weaves, minimalist and high end established ready to wear - I could not help being energized . Being in such a creative environment always inspires me.

Then there was the mayhem between shows. Tuesday the runway during breaks was a quieter meeting of attendees. Then each day after it started to build in numbers and sheer energy.  By Friday it had become a crazy melee of fashion lovers all sharing about the shows and snapping pics in singles, pairs and groups from small to large. There is just no way to convey the almost carnival atmosphere happening during the breaks.  It's amazing to be a part of.

The other thing that helped me get out the door yesterday was my outfit.  The anchor piece was a wonderful, edgy, synthetic leather bolero by Vancouver's very own Roxanne Nikki. That bolero and I have a long history together.  When Sarah Murray first invited me to one of the designer's holiday sales, I was blown away. Her collection was amazing. Of all the garments, though, this bolero called me. My budget at the time just wouldn't stretch, so I had to walk away. When a while later she had a big sample sale, I was there right at the start and this time managed to make it my own.  It's been in my closet for a couple years waiting patiently for the right styling idea to come together. This week it happened.

Image with designer Lesley Hampton by Fotowerks 
I paired the bolero with a great basic I picked up a month ago at Fine Finds Boutique in Yaletown - a green, bias cut silk sheath by PS The Label. My bag looks like it was made to match the bolero, but it was actually created from recycled auto tires. I purchased it last fall at Bookmark the Library Store at the Vancouver Public Library - a great way to support the VPL. My earrings are created from strips of bicycle inner tube also look they were made to match. They are by a local artist as well, but I need to find the name. The wonderful shoes are also fav's I've had in my closet for many, many years. Sadly I noticed last night that they are reaching the end. I need to find a replacement.

Honestly, every designer I saw yesterday deserved to be given press, so I am hoping each of the media in attendance will make different picks so they all receive the spotlight they deserve. I have decided to feature four here.  I am adding two to my BUY LOCAL column - Aiki District and One Delirious Dream. Then I will be doing individual articles next week on Sunny's Bridal and Lesley Hampton. Enjoy!

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"LA born, London resident Nancy Johnston founded Tengri in 2014 with a mission to spearhead change for good in the global luxury fashion in dustry. An Asian-American with a penchant for travel and adventure, Nancy’s first hand experience of living with nomadic herder families in the Khangai region of Mongolia inspired her to found the House of Tengri, a collective movement built by people unwilling to settle for the status quo...Tengri is a lifestyle brand and noble yarn specialist, featuring ready-to-wear and bespoke collections which instill elements of eastern and western influences, made from Tengri’s Khangai Noble Yarns®...Tengri’s yak fibres are sourced directly from cooperatives representing 4,500 herder families in Mongolia’s Khangai mountains, and spun into yarns in Yorkshire. Khangaiyak are indigenous to Mongolia and live sustainably in the ecosystem...Tengri garments are designed and made with the highest level of craftsmanship for discerning and conscientious global citizens." - from the designer's VFW bio

Images by Dale Rollings 

I love it when fashion and social consciousness comes together and Tengri is a perfect example. The pictures do not do this line justice. The nature fibres used to created these pieces - knitwear and wovens - have an understated luxurious look that stands out from garments created from synthetic fibres.  They will also have a longevity that a man-made fibre cannot and offer warm on those cold winter days. I have heard these fabrics have become of interest to those creating high end suiting. The earthy palette was perfect to set off the natural yarns and make each piece a versatile addition to any closet. This is one brand I will definitely be following.

Joseph Ribkoff

Images by Dale Rollings 
"Since 1957 Joseph Ribkoff has been successfully designing collections for women around the world who lead busy lifestyles. The company and collections have been constantly evolving to meet the multidimensional needs of today’s women. Joseph Ribkoff stands out as one of the leading designers in Canadian fashion industry for nearly 60 years and over 64 international markets. Almost all clothing is designed and created in Canada." - from the designer's VFW bio.

Images by Dale Rollings 

There is nothing like experience in the industry and Joseph Ribkoff is a perfect example. Proportions are appealing, fabrics choices great and shapes strong. And the way the designer chose to create the silhouettes made them both fresh and wearable by a wide range of women.  Of all the pieces I saw, the one that I would most love to have in my closet was the first down the runway at the top left. That blue jacket has my name all over it. A great show.

Daphne Wong

Images by Dale Rollings 

Born in Malaysia, designer Daphne Wong completed a BA in Fashion at Curtin University of Technology in Perth where she now resides. In 2015, her conceptual grad collection received the X-Press Fashion Award. Since graduating, the designer has continued to hone her craft with a goal " breakthrough the traditional pattern block and strikes to bring in a new trend of exclusive pattern making into the commercial fashion industry for the peoples’ everyday wear."

Images by Dale Rollings 

This collection had a super clean look.  With only one or 2 exceptions, the fabrics were all matte finish to place the emphasis on the structural elements.  Shapes were very architectural. White was the building block for most with colour blocking accents in orange and deep blue.  It's hard to see in these small images, but a few looks had volume created through 3D shapes design drafting. Well done.

Cooper Hotcooture

Luxembourg designer Sacha Cooper discovered his love of fashion early on and after high school went on to study at first at  ESMOD in Munich and then at the Akademie für Mode & Design) in Duesseldorf. However, upon graduating, the journey to becoming a designer proved difficult. In 2012 it all changed when he participated in a charity fashion show with his collection ‘Heartache.' Many awards have followed. Cooper Hotcooture offers subtle sexiness, affordable wearable couture and more importantly, unique designs that are handmade in Luxembourg.

Images by Dale Rollings 

I loved the designer's great fabric choices and palette. He played with silhouettes in a way that combined fun, ease of wear and elegance - a triple threat all women love to embrace.  There was a great mix of separates and dresses and the individual garments all combined to make a perfectly complete wardrobe that would take you from casual chic to an evening out.  I think my personal favourite over all was the blue dress with the hem high in front and low in back on the left in the photo strip below.  Perfection.

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