Vancouver Fashion Week S/S 14, Day 1 - Sara Roka, Valerio Moda, Elfer Castro and Shelley Klassen

Runway images by Peter Jensen Photography
All other images as credited (Rafael EscobarKuna Photography)

With Valerio Moda model Ross Foster
Image by Rafael Escobar - Frock of Ages
After the high energy of the opening gala is there anything as exciting as sitting down in your seat for the first day of fashion shows?  The anticipation is always high.  Sometimes the season is slow to start with seats filling up as the week progresses. Not so this season, especially in the first 2 rows. If you are coming, I suggest you get there early.

The day was interesting for me for several reasons. First I didn't get in my day's meditation and just couldn't find a calm space. I was full of over-the-top pop all night. Hopefully I can manage a bit calmer presence tonight. However, as I spend up to 8 hours a day alone at the computer right now writing, I can forgive myself for one night of decadent diving into the great energy all around. Then there was the wonderful male model from Valerio Moda I chatted with while waiting to talk to the designer who suggested we take a picture together. I was charmed!!!!! Thanks to Rafael Escobar who snagged his camera and took us outside for a quick picture. The only downer was the battery in my normally reliable little camera went on the fritz. Every time I tried to get a picture with friends - it turned itself off. SIGH! Any photos from yesterday were kindly taken by photographers I know.

Now to the shows.  The audience was treated to nine diverse and interesting collections yesterday. I loved the mix on the runway - it kept it interesting.  Four are featured here, picked for a variety of reasons, but I assure you there were many other wonderful offerings. You can find the full list at and I encourage you to check out some of the others.

Images by Peter Jensen Photography

I apologize as I mentioned to a couple people that she was from here (meaning Vancouver), but her online bio just states Canada. She is a graduate of F.I.T in NYC (finishing Summa Cum Laude) and trained under Michael Kors and Valentino. For the last 11 years her home has been Italy and there as a definite touch of Europe to in this collection. Inspiration came from the men's classic button down shirt - a nod to the fact that many great moments in fashion history came about when women borrowed clothes from their boyfriends and husbands. Roka shares on her website, “When faced with having to make a quick decision for what to wear, the shirt is the easiest way to be sophisticated and casual at the same time. The shirt is great for every occasion, and the perfect canvas for accessories and one woman’s personality to show through.” The silhouettes were light, airy and oh so desirable. My favourite (although I loved many) was the all-white top with a touch of colour in the striped skirt (centre above). There were also several softer silhouettes that stood out created with the use of printed material reminiscent of scarves. This is a line I hope will be picked up locally or offered in an online store internationally as I would love to have a few of these pieces in my closet.

Valerio Moda

Images by Peter Jensen Photography

It is always a pleasure to see Valerio Moda at Vancouver Fashion Week. This line first came to my attention in the spring of 2011 at this very event and was featured the next month in Famed - No Room For Error (still available to read online and great for more background). I love seeing menswear on the runway - it brings such a unique element to the evening - and each season this label finds a way to surprise me. Designer Ali Mokhtarian and business partner Mo Movassagh launched Valerio Moda just three short years ago with a focus on unique, elegant leather outwear for men. It has expanded each season until in S/S 2014 we see a full range of shirts, pants, accessories and outerwear (biker jackets, bomber jackets and blazers). A wide variety of fabrics such as leather, wool combinations, leather - including perforated and stretch, textured cotton and linen add interest to the looks. The palette consisted of white, cream, beige, red, blue, brown and black.  In the past, their focus has been super clean with amazing detail, so I was really taken with their decision to create some garments such as suit jackets with raw edges. Intriguing! The move to include athletic wear was also new. These looks were more casual, but still had that touch of Valerio Moda elegance. "Inspiration for the designs was derived from Ali’s passion for timeless style and art. It is this fervor that stimulates Ali to experiment with different fabric combinations, and colors to create unique blends and designs. Valerio Moda continues to push fashion boundaries!"

This collection was truly a breath of fresh air. Peruvian designer Elfer Castro is actually first and foremost an artist.  He not only creates uniquely original garments, but also works in other medium such as painting, furniture/interior design and photography. Hard to believe he started off as a medical student. The label embraces the philosophy of social consciousness. Each garment is created from all-natural fibres (cotton, alpaca wool and sheep's wool) and handmade by local artisans in the mountain-range city of Cusco. It's impossible to do justice to the garments by describing what I saw on the runway, so I will let the images speak for me. Instead I will offer this great excerpt from his website, "Elfer Castro brings a totally new and unique concept to the fashion runway of the world. His...creations are made in the traditional ways dating back thousands of years by the grandmothers, mothers and daughters of the area, as handed down to them through the ages...Elfer Castro´s design do not start with a bolt of cloth or other material, but instead with freshly harvested natural fibre that is then spun, dyed and woven to his specifically designed patterns.The genius of his approach is not only to create a total unique look and style in a environmentally friendly way, but also to create employment in an impoverished area of Peru while at the same time allowing the artisans in these very remote locations to show their proud, traditional, skills to the world in a unique way. This approach allows for a perfect marriage of ancient techniques and modern design working hand in hand to brings Elfer Castro´s unique, avant-garde, creations to life on the world stage."   Amen!

Shelley Klassen (Blushing Boutique)

Images by Peter Jensen Photography

While designer Shelly Klassen of Blushing Boutique showcased two great collections, I want to focus on her 2nd - Fall 13. There has been a lot of discussion about what should be shown on the runway and I applaud her decision to feature looks just arriving in her store now.  I, for one, am happy to know if something calls me I can indulge immediately - not wait 3 months. Klassen is known for oh-so-feminine, chic dresses that accent a woman's curves.  Classic, of course, are those silhouettes with a hint of pin-up to them - small waist paired with a flirty, crinolined skirt. Wrap dresses and body hugging sheaths also abound. Blushing Boutique always offers a mix of solids and prints in a diverse palette embracing neutral to bold. Last night I was delighted to see a few softer silhouettes for those of us a little more body challenged, such as the bright red/black opening dress at the top left. It also included a lovely draped back. Very sexy! The bias cut pencil skirts also caught my eye as this type of construction offers a fabulous fit. Then there were several offerings of a versatile, cozy knit sweater dress with cording up the sides of the skirt.  It could be worn as a tunic with pants/leggings or as a dress with varying necklines and lengths (ultra mini to knee). My favourite was the one in Teal, but it also comes in Red, Teal, Purple, Green, Black and a Check pattern. Loved the models who brought smiles and sass this show - it paired well with what this collection is all about. Want to see more? I strongly suggest you check out the Blushing Boutique website.

So ends day 2.  Below are just a few candid shot by various photographers to enjoy which I will post as I receive so be sure and check back.  See you tonight!

Candids by Kuna Photography -

Candid by Ed Ng Photography -