VFW - Great surprises on the runway!

Before any fashion week, I try and look through the designers and check out websites for those I do not know.  There are still surprises that occur and those moments are always fun for me.  A show starts and suddenly, even though I am perhaps tired from several days of watching, the adrenalin starts to flow.  Here are four that caught my eye at Vancouver Fashion Week.

Photos by Dale Rollings
Having been on the scene for over 4 years now, it's not often I see a local designer I have never heard of - enter Pouneh Askarian.  I was instantly smitten and wanted to rip the red/grey coat in the far right photo above right off the model's back and run out the door.  A graduate of Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Richmond and the University of the Arts London in the UK, her label launched in Canada in 2007. Askarian’s design objective is minimalism and romance. Garments showcase a softer, more wearable silhouette while still having great style.  This collection was infused with a touch of the designer's Iranian heritage - in fact it was inspired by a small tribe in Iran called the "Ghashghai" - combined with the perfect silks, wonderful embroidery accents and a great colour palette that includes Lazuli blue, gold yellow, dark ruby, Indian orange and satin silver.  Colour is something woefully missing from the runway in this economically difficult time and kudos for Askarian for using it in such a powerful way. Her aim, "...to use the traditional elements in a modern life, for a modern woman who embraces different cultures and deigns, but yet wants to be modern and comfortable in her outfit." 

Photo by Peter Jensen - www.peterboblog.blogspot.com
Friday was my 3rd day of watching and I was beginning to fade.  When the final show of the night began, I was at a low ebb until the first model appeared on the runway.  Offered was a perfect pairing between Love's True Couture Boutique and Sova Design Millinery.  Love's True Couture is located in Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, B.C.  In looking at their website, they only mention clothing from all over the world, but what they presented on the runway was definitely vintage-inspired.  Soft, flirty, fun and feminine were the order of the day.  The range went from soft pastels to black, from solids to prints.  One particularly charming number was a lacy sheer beige shirt paired with short lace tap pants and a light fur vest.  The models were given the freedom to actually smile during this show which made it even more charming and brought a warm ambience to close the day.

Photos by Wayne Mah - www.staticpixel.com
Based in Saskatoon, Sova Design Millinery (www.sovadesign.ca) is the brainchild of designer Sherri Hrycay.  It is no surprise that she lists Philip Treacy as one of her icons.  She was first encouraged to pursue millinery while working a mentorship with couture fashion designer Mite de Fontenay.  What followed were 2 important internships - first under Rose Corey, milliner to the late Queen Mother, and then with Lucy Till, an established milliner in the south of France.  Hrycay's design style is full of "Notalgic Flair," so the pairing with a vintage inspired line of garments was the perfect match.  Sova's V/W '11 collection was inspired by France, the movie 'The Kings Speech" and Gabrielle Chanel.  Cloche and bowler shapes dominate the line this season, but there were also small surprise silhouettes featured. Hats are constructed from thick, lush fur felt with accents such as petersham bows, exotic feathers, and stylized buckles and flowers.  Where should you wear a hat?  According to this designer, "Anywhere you take your head."

Photos by Dale Rollings
Seattle fashion designer Tanya Min Jee Ellis (www.tanyaminjee.com) presented a sleek line of womens wear mainly in black.  I love this quote from her website, "Polished and raw.  Edges for miles..."  She has a degree in Fiber Arts from the University of Washington and began her fashion career as a stylist on the sales floor with a national brand.  After 5 years of working closely with clients, she decided to add fashion designer to her resume.  She chose to study at the New York Fashion Academy in Seattle and, after graduating, released her first collection in April 2009.  What she presented at Vancouver Fashion week was very modern and urban.  I think it will be a hit with young, professional women in particular.  What do you wear when it's time to take off that power suit?  Everything she offered on the runway.  The garments were form fitting, had great structure and expert detailing with a nice mix of pieces to fill out your wardrobe, including Ellis' own version of the always important little black dress.

Photos by Dale Rollings

Liuba Palanciuc (www.wix.com/liuba_palanciuc/portfolio) was born and raised in Moldova and first graduated from fashion design school 22 years ago.  A move to the states in 2004 meant everything became new - culture, language, history, technology - and she realized it was time to refresh her knowledge. Now a graduate of the Art Institute of Seattle's Fashion Design program, she is ready to build her own clothing label that will eventually include shoes and accessories.  The collection shown at VFW was youthful and wearable, especially suitable in the workplace.  Jackets, pants and skirts had strong lines, were gently shaped to the body without being tight and sported interesting collars and shoulder details.  Solids dominated, but there were a few pattern fabrics in the mix as seen in the photos above.  Palanciuc strives to create look that is, "... practical and comfortable but elegant, luxurious and glamorous at the same time.

I want to take a break from fashion in my next couple of columns, but there will be some more highlights coming later in the month..