Opposites Make the Evening Special

All photography courtesy of Peter Jensen.

I had several favourites yesterday at Vancouver Fashion Week, but as I am starting to feel a bit of fashion overload, I am going to mention two that are still on my mind.  The theme today is opposites and I have chosen two designers that differ widely in their style.  To all those others who put on a great show that are not covered here, I apologize.

First and foremost on my mind is Vancouver designer Fala Chien.  I am a definite fan and her current collection was everything I hoped for.  This talented designer was born in Taiwan and took her first fashion course right out of high school.  In 2005 Chien relocated to Vancouver - a daring decision given the fact she spoke no English and didn't know a soul here.  She went on to study Fashion Merchandising, learning the language as she went along, and launched her first collection at VFW's S/S 2010. 

Chien's strength is truly in the details.  Whatever she makes has beautiful proportions and is constructed with impeccable skill, something often missing in today's rushed society.  Seams are so perfectly sewn they are almost invisible, zippers lay absolutely flat (even when sewn in sheer fabric), hems and garment edges are finished at the couture level.  While she did show some lovely wearable knits yesterday, I find I am always drawn to her wovens as these garments better showcase the incredible technical skill of this designer.

True to form, I got caught up in a couple pocket details.  One dress had cut-outs on the right and left at the waistline.  If you looked closely, there was actually a double layer in the front as two pockets were melded into those openings - one on each side.  They were inserted with such skill I almost missed it.  The other pocket that stood out had zipper trim.  Zippers details seem to be all the rage right now, but Chien made it her own by chosing to place the metal zipper teeth on just one edge of the pocket instead of both.  The effect was very subtle. Most of the garments were in pale colours, but the final gown was created with a sheer black overlay, closing the show on a dramatic note.  This designer truly understand the architecture of creating beautiful clothing.

To learn more about Fala Chien you can visit her website at http://www.playwithfala.com/, stop by her 4th Avenue Boutique in Vancouver or read her article in VFE at http://vancouverfashionezine.com/magazineissue28/fashiondesigner.html

The beauty of VFW this year is the chance to see collections from international designers.  This is truly a gift for those of us who do not have the budget to visit other fashion weeks.  As this blog is about opposites, I wanted to mention Laura Siegel.  While Chien's designs are reminiscent of architecture, Siegel's aesthetic has the feel of nature - wild and untamed.  Deconstructed, organic and unexpected are all great terms and the show was a welcome addition to the mix.

In visiting her website I was surprised to find out Siegel only debuted her first collection in May 2010.  Everything is made by hand from dying, to weaving, to sewing, to accessories.  She has laboured to keep each part of the process sustainable.  Working from home, the designer experiemented with colours created from natural sources such as herbs and flowers until she had a "bible" of colours to work with from mauves to rust.  Hand looms were created out of dining room chairs and her closet stored the yarns created.  A nomad at heart, she used a recent trip to Cambodia and Vietnam to source supplies to be used to create accessories.  A metal crafting class added an extra dimension to her rings.

I really enjoyed the collection she presented at VFE yesterday.  This quote from her website helps to bring home what Siegel is about - "I have an immense love affair with all things earth, and an obsession with sexy design, so I will use these powers to capture you and keep you."  There was a luxurious senusality to the show that surprised me. Many garments felt more like pieces of art than something I would wear on a daily basis, but there were also several I would love to have for my wardrobe. Cording cascaded off the models as well as as being sewn into interesting design details on individual pieces.  Gorgeous chunky hand knits were draped around the neck or fashioned into a full length garment that reached almost to the ground even on the tall and striking Mickella.  Styling of the collection was done to perfection.  The show was utterly unique and a breath of fresh air.  I will be definitely keeping a keen eye on this designer.

For more information on Laura Siegel you can visit her website at www.laurasiegelcollection.com.