Vancouver Fashion Week S/S 14 - Opening Gala

Nicolette Lang-Andersen, Samantha Sito, Andy Chu
Irena De Marco, Myself (holding Felix's hand for support)
Felix Tavira and Jennifer Gray - Image by Dan Poh
The excitement at the start of a new season never ceases to amaze me.  You enter the gala and the large space is FULL of people all dressed to the nines with smiles on their faces. The energy is palpable. For me it's a chance after a summer away to reconnect with many in my wonderful fashion family - photographers, designers, fashion artists (hair, make-up, styling), media and more. Hugs and welcoming smiles abound - my favourite part. The energy in the venue is palpable. If you pose for a picture with a few friends you end up with several photographers snapping away which can be a bit intimidating. Where to look? How to keep that smile from looking forced?

This season, Vancouver Fashion Week took a moment to take a celebratory look back at a few of the wonderful artists who have shaped our community. Four were mentioned that we have lost in the last couple of years: Helen Lefeaux who founded an amazing design school which brought European couture techniques to Vancouver students; fashion designer Manuel Mendoza, well-known for his wonderful bridal fashions in particular  (check out Quality, Unique Fit, Perfect Touches by guest writer Natasha Bhatnagar Chaube); highly respected photographer Gregory Crow who not only offered great work, but mentored many; and the incomparable Virginia Leeming, the former Vancouver Sun fashion editor whose presence is still felt today.

The one and only - local icon Virginia Leeming
The evening continued with a well-deserved tribute to Leeming offering insights from a few of the many individuals whose lives she touched. They shared her influence and great compassion for our community. I was privileged to interview her in 2010 for a Behind that Scenes article called - Virginia Leeming - 20 Years of Fashion. I was fairly new to writing at the time and was tremendously grateful for her kindness and feedback. Have to admit - at the end of this segment I was struggling emotionally.

Left - Jenica Chuahiock and Dominique Hanke, Middle - Elisabeth Yoon and Jamal Abdourahman
Right  -William Urrea (Marketing director for sponsor Francescos Ristorante Italia)
and Laurie Belle (Get Cooking With the Stars) - Images by Dan Poh

Next came a runway preview of the exciting designers we would be seeing this week. This is a great way to introduce the new season to those in attendance, hopefully encouraging everyone to step out each night to see the full collections.  There are many I have my eye on after perusing their websites. As I was feeling quite emotional after the tribute and will be in my seat for most shows, I headed up to the VIP lounge to catch up with more friends, enjoy a glass of wine and some great
With Patti Desante
treats. There were cookies and cupcakes in one area and then some great cake pops in a side gallery. The view from the upper balcony is bird's eye compared to the close-up vision seated at the runway.  While I actually like being really close where I can observe construction details and fabrics better, it was a great change of pace.

Hands down to everyone involved for a great opening night and a special thank-you to founder Jamal Abdourahman for bringing so many international designers to my personal doorstep. I absolutely cannot wait to get in my seat and view the first day of shows. Hope to see you there!
Images by Kuna Photography

For show schedule and to purchase tickets go to