Eco Fashion Week 7th Edition - Six Designers Hit the Runway

All Images Courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography unless otherwise noted -

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Day three of Eco Fashion Week proved a long day for me. It started at 2:30 with a late lunch with long time friend and photographer Peter Jensen on the Vancouver Art Gallery Cafe's outdoor patio and continued through a busy night of six shows. Definitely fabulous from start to finish, but I found myself very tired by the time I arrived home.

My original intention was to just to pick a few designers to cover more in depth, but instead I decided to do a shorter write-up on each so you can see images of all the collections. Always nice to see the flow of aesthetics on the runway. As you can see it was a real mix of styles on Tuesday that included everythung from casual, to art inspired, to evening wear. Don't forget EFW only has Wednesday and Thursday to go if you're trying to make a few shows.

Cherry Blossom Design

Cherry Blossom Design is a small, artisanal clothing line located on Salt Spring Island and created by designer Deanna Milligan. Eco-friendly fabrics include bamboo, modal and hemp. All garments are manufactured in Canada and embellished with original artwork created by Milligan on silk screens made from recycled, discarded picture frames. Inspiration was found in Chinese brush paintings, the flora and fauna on the island and even an old photo of her mother in a great t-shirt (which inspired the Peggy Top). The palette included taupe, mid blue, red, olive and deep purple. Soft fabrics were used to create simple, clean silhouettes with that draped beautifully. Definitely comfort wear accented with a touch of art.

Sally Omeme

Although Sally Omeme was taught by her mother to knit in the early 2000's, it wasn't until attending John Casablanca in 2012 that, with the encouragement of instructors, she took the leap of faith and launched a knitwear line. She was hands down one of my favourite shows last season at EFW with an edgier collection that included suede and leather. This season the look was more refined and elegant, with a larger focus on garments created from re-purposed t-shirts and yarn. All looks start with second hand materials - t-shirts, sweaters, denim, suede and leather. Fabrics are cut into narrow strips and sweaters are deconstructed. These materials are then knit into new silhouettes inspired by music, colour, texture, what people are wearing and even a walk through Holt Renfrew. I really loved those pieces with chunkier yarn or raw-edged denim fabrics as well as those garment created from two different materials. Kudos to the designer for also making charity an important part of the brand by donating boxes of clothes to the Covenant House Vancouver, an organization that helps youth between the ages of 16-22 who are facing crisis.

Dahlia Drive - "Resurrecting the Fashion Landscape"

I met designer Wendy Van Riesen many years ago when she was part of unique design competition and had created a dress from living grass. Intrigued, I quickly went on to check out her Dahlia Drive collection and concluded she was actually an artist using clothing as her canvas. That assumption still holds true today. Last summer I reconnected with her at a show in VanDusen Gardens and was floored by her new work. The aesthetic was more polished and the art work a more integral part of the overall design. Van Riesen salvages pre-loved slips, fabric remnants, curtains (especially sheers) and gives them new life by hand dying, screen printing, embellishing and rusting to create "wearable art". Inspiration comes from story-telling (a nod to her background in theatre) and any inherent flaws such as stains or wear are incorporated as she the new garment, "...not to eradicate the previous history, but to stand on its shoulders as a part of its evolution." There was a touch of Asian flare to a few of silhouettes as well as a great skeleton design that appeared on several garments including a swimsuit. It was extremely hard to choose just five images as I loved so many looks. I suggest you check out the full show.

Young Oak + Park - "Scouted Everywhere, Re-worked in Vancouver"

Designer Tammy Joe's love of reinvention and distaste for waste were the foundation on which the the Young Oak label was built - a collection of scouted, edited and re-designed one-of-a-kind apparel. She has loved vintage all her life and at one time even owned a vintage store, but now is focused on the process of deconstruction and reconstruction. She is constantly scavenging for "great threads" and brainstorming methods to reinvent these finds. Inspiration for every garment comes from the unique materials she works with, "I have always waited for the fabric to speak to me first. I can hardly contain myself when I find a vintage piece with intricate hand beading or an interesting silk print." Every garment showcased on the runway last night was created from vintage garments or textiles. Joe brought the element of elegance with beading, detailing, shine and luxurious fabrics. The striking black/white legwear completing the looks was by Park Legwear - designed and manufactured in Winnipeg.

Couture Therapy

Next on the runway was Couture Therapy by Sarah Couture - a contemporary line of womenswear out of eco friendly fabrics such as bamboo, silk, organic cotton and leather. All fabrics are sourced locally and the garments manufactured in Vancouver. The designer is a graduate from the Fashion Design program at Blanche Macdonald with internships under other designers. After a break to start of family, she co-founded the House of Couture and launched the Couture Therapy label - a sophisticated, feminine line of timeless designs with clean lines and a soft drape. The palette was kept simple with white, turquoise, electric royal blue and black. Sheer accents, a few leather pieces and several white logo'd t-shirts added interest.

Bhana Designs - "Embracing the Goddess Within."

Designer Trisha Rampersand founded Bhana Designs in 2008. While she started with clean lines, symmetry and classic silhouettes, today the aesthetic embraces more exploration of symmetrical shapes, lush fabrics and sleek lines. All are inspired by traditional garments and created with the well-dressed woman in mind. In April 2013, the company also made the move to fair trade and sustainable fabrics. Last season this label showcased sleek colour blocked dresses and clean suiting with some reversible jackets in a muted palette of taupe, dark gray and black. For S/S '14 there were still structured shapes, but this season also offered many softer silhouettes. The palette included the more muted tones of dusty green, gray and black, but had a larger focus overall on lighter and brighter hues with lots of white, coral, mustard and blue. Extra pop was provided with the introduction of more luxury fabrics with a evening wear sheen.