Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 14 Day 4 - Nadia + Zehra, Mario Young, Yuhshi Takahashi and Jose Zafra

These 3 men I absolutely adore.
Every year it's a please to reconnect.
We're up to day 4 of runway shows at Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW).  I always pick one day to thank the many volunteers/staff working at the door, on the runway and behind the scenes by bringing a treat. This was the day. There was no time to bake, so it was a 3 kinds of cookies from Safeway bakery that filled the void - chocolate, red velvet and shortbread with caramel.

What fun it was to pop in early before the doors opened and wander around snapping pics while offering them a treat. Even after so many days of work, they were smiling and oh so friendly. Unfortunately in looking at the pics I have, I actually took very few. Guess I ended up saying thanks and handing out treats more than snapping. Going to try and get more today. This is my chance to again say thank-you to each of you for making my time so wonderful.

Still lots of photo ops on the runway before and after shows, but as people tire, the frenzy has definitely settled down. It has become more about seeking out those you haven't had a chance to connect with and to strengthen bonds with new acquaintances. I also had a lovely lady introduce herself - Ekaterina Sytcheva - who is rep for a great European line which will be showing at VFW in September. How fun to get a heads up early and start to hear about the next season before the current one is finished.

Images by Ed Ng

Images by Ed Ng

Now for today's picks. There is a real dichotomy in what people want to see on the runway. Many look for wearable offerings they can buy. Jaded industry professionals prefer to see something different that makes them sit up in their seats. What is offered below is widely divergent.  I love it when runway is like this as it keeps me interested through 3-5 hours of shows. Enjoy.

Nadia + Zehra

Images by Kuna Photography
Together We Innovate New Shit!" -- “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a FUCK.” This London-based duo offers both art for your wall as well as totally unique wearable pieces. They are graduates of the Polimoda Fashion School in Florence, Italy, and for their separate graduate collections actually created distinctive pieces that complimented and contrasted with their twin's. From their bio, "Drawing inspiration from their heritage, Nadia uses Italian costume and Zehra Turkish costumes brought a personal aspect to their collections." They are "..a lifestyle brand with a new twist."

Nadia + Zehra was great out-of-the-box show to open the evening. It grabbed you from the first look and kept you on the edge of your seats right to the designers taking their bow. Wild colours, zany styling, feathers, incredible head gear/specs made from Lego - it was a wild ride. Their work has been described in the past as “Teletubbies on acid.” I like it. Tucked in there were pieces for the brave as well as a few that if styled right, could work their way into a more traditional wardrobe. You had to look a little closer for those, but they were there.  Have to admit I loved the sweater that said, "FUCK OFF" on the back. Guess I have a wilder side and there are days...... We need more runway offerings like this that challenge the status quo. It's what keeps fashion interesting.

Mario Young

Images by Kuna Photography

I love seeing menswear on the runway and it doesn't happen often enough, so was delighted to see Mario Young's collection this evening. Hard to find out a lot about him though. His website is not working and his twitter account takes you to a link at a University of the Arts in London page where he earned a BA. His resume is impressive, with experience gained working with Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Omar Kashoura and Christopher Raeburn and lists that he is now studying at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. Hopefully that is up to date. The designer works to keep commercially aware of developing his brand as a business while offering a menswear collection with high standards in presentation, unique styling and a modern philosophy.

The looks from his collection were interesting particularly for their blend of fabrics. Jackets and vests in cream or black were 3-dimensional structures fashioned from a neoprene-like fabric. Underneath were garments fashioned from a dark textile embellished with deep toned threads to give it a natural feel. I loved the contrast of the two elements. There was one natural sweater thrown in the mix with raised folds to blend the textural and sculptural element in one look.  Black and white neutral pants finished the looks. The collection offered looks that stretched the boundaries, but were still very wearable. My favourite was a combination of model and garment - 2nd from left above. The models long hair and mustache/beard really blended well with the overall look of the garments.  Great styling choice. This is definitely one young designer I'll be keeping my eye on and I hope to learn a little more about him soon. 

Yuhshi Takahashi

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen

The second show of the night by Japanese designer Yuhshi Takahashi took the audience in a whole new inspiring direction. I couldn't have been happier. This was a another designer I could find very little information on. His FB page is new with the about section still empty and the one link I could find I had to use Bing translation to read and we all know how crazy that can turn out. Here is what I gleaned. This talented designer was born in Gifu and is a graduate of the haute couture Bunka Fashion College Graduate School. He has interned working for apparel manufacturers, launching his own label just last year (2013).

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen
Loved the edgy, cool vibe of this collection. One write-up I found online suggested a theme of "fragility and transience" and that the collection expressed a view of the world based on his own story. It was not clear if the comment was referring to F/W 14. The palette was kept to a simple white/black theme which let the interesting silhouettes take centre stage. My favourite look was definitely the crop top and skirt with the hand-dyed hem in the middle in the bottom photo or 2nd from left in the strip above. I would love to own that skirt and to compliment my shape would wear it paired with an uber-edgy black jacket, draped white shirt and a statement necklace. I also really liked the 1st look which was the all black dress with a taupe edge at the asymmetrical hemline and 2 different length sleeves. Another designer I will be watching as his star rises.

Jose Zafra

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen
South America is currently a virtual hot bed of amazing luxury designers. Tonight we were treated to gowns by Jose Zafra from Lima, Peru.  From the age of 9, this designer was drawn to the arts - studying both drawing and painting.  By the age of 12, fashion became a focus and hundreds of sketches were completed by the end of secondary school. His first collection included a whopping 50 pieces which were exhibited and sold in a renown fashion house he worked for. The designer was only 19. A year later his unique style and talent at blending colour, structure and fashion brought him national and international attention. Celebrities, influential women, fashion/television show, beauty pageants and more were on his client list. It's hard to know how he finds the time for his companion role as a Professor of Fashion Design at the prestigious School of Fashion Norka.

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen

What we saw on the runway last night were mostly long gowns in a variety of silhouettes.  The collection was titled "Amantani" - a reference to an island on Titicaca Lake which was the inspiration for each piece in the collection. "Emerging from [Titicaca Lake] as a goddess is Amantani Isle, stopped in time - mystical and imposing. Every detail that adorns it attracts the eye." Zafra offered us a wide range of silhouettes and hues. Organza, silk, tulle, fringe, embroidery, crystals, beads, sequins were incorporated. One element seen throughout was the use of sheer fabrics - both nude and in colours to match the gown. It anchored deep open spaces and provided a foundation to add embellishment.  I liked it best when it was in a colour to match the garment. 2 dresses that drew my eye were: a lovely one deep red with small strips of fabric stitched into body hugging shapes and the other a black lacy number with a Spanish. As is traditional haute couture, the show ended with a striking, beautiful white wedding gown. This was a great show to end another wonderful day of shows.