Blushing Boutique on the runway at Vancouver Fashion Week - Q & A with Shelley Klassen

Image by Kuna Photography
At day 1 of shows at Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW), there was one designer I decided to pull out of the daily write-up and feature separately - Shelley Klassen of Blushing Boutique (brand name Blushing Designs). Why? First it's important to support local. For 14 years now she has been a force on the Vancouver scene offering beautiful, feminine, irresistible silhouettes that have been a hit with her loyal clientele. Secondly, this is a line designed by a woman for women. She embraces her clientele as they are and wants them to feel great in her clothing, right down to making small adjustments in shop to ensure the perfect fit. Lastly - she is truly a lovely person inside and out.  

The collection is known for lush fabrics, looks that showcase a woman's curves and skirts with bit of swing. F/W 14 was no exception. Titled DECADENCE, the audience was invited experience looks created from two distinct inspirations. First was the exotic, romantic, decadent ORIENT EXPRESS which was seen in the Asian inspired petal and circle skirts, cowl neck tops, bustiers and strapless dresses. The palette seen here included magenta, fiery red, greens and black. Silk was a staple. Then there was the BAROQUE where we saw Italian grandeur and opulence in the deep reds, jeweled teals, expressive magenta. Silhouettes included sleek and textured, A-line skirts with fitted bodices and sexy boleros.

When asked to share what being a fashion designer means to her, Klassen shared, "Creating clothing brings me immense joy and satisfaction. My goal is to pass on that positive energy through the clothing and empower the women who wear them. 

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Images by Dale Rollings

Talk about your journey to becoming a fashion designer. 

My mother's passion for sewing was passed on to me at a very young age. She made beautiful dresses for us 3 girls and I was the only daughter that took an interest. I sewed dresses for Barbie, purses, pillows, crafts as a child and that eventually led me to making my own clothing. When I moved out of the house for university, she bought me my very own sewing machine. Being on a low budget as a student, I made my own clothing and started to get a lot of attention with people asking where did I get that outfit? I never even considered designing as a career as there was no real hoopla about fashion like there is today with 'Project Runway' and every movie/rock star having their own label. It only occurred to me on a 6 month trip to India after graduating from university that this was my true calling. I fell in love with the fabrics as I traveled around the country and was enthralled with the tailor/chia shops that measured you up while serving you tea and made you outfits of your choosing in a matter of days. I decided to enroll in design school as soon as I returned home with a goal to move to Vancouver and open up my own design studio/ boutique. 

Images by Dale Rollings

Where did you learn your skills? 

I enrolled in a private design school in Ottawa called Richard Robinson Academy of Design. It specialized in haute couture sewing and pattern drafting. This is where I fell in love with pattern drafting and I still draft all my own patterns to this day. I waitressed full time during the day and took night classes which was amazing as there were only a few students in each class and we received a lot of one on one time with the instructors. It was thrilling to make patterns and clothing that were perfected in cut , fit and construction and I pride myself to this day on creating well made garments.

What was that first collection like? 

Funny enough my first collection was very similar to my fall 14 collection. It was Asian inspired, using silk saris fabrics. It consisted of lots of fitted bodices with string back tops and matching skirts. It was a very small collection and I took a few pieces folded up in a pretty wire basket and went store to store in LA and Vancouver selling the line. I immediately landed a few accounts and the label organically grew from there. 

Images by Dale Rollings

When you design, who is the woman you have in mind? 

I design for the woman who embraces her femininity. She appreciates her curves and enjoys dressing well. She needs outfits for work that are professional but still flattering, outfits for events that are knock outs, and simple pieces for everyday wear that are comfortable yet attractive. She invests in timeless pieces that can be worn for decades and appreciates well made garments.

Please share something about the Fall/Winter 2014 we just saw on the runway at Vancouver Fashion Week. 

This was a very decadent collection. I want people to indulge themselves and embrace beautiful things, knowing that they deserve to have them. The fabrics consisted of rich silks, brocades and Jacquards in deep colour tones of red, teal, burgundy, magenta and green.

Images by Kuna Photography
What is the must-have piece from your fall collection that should be in everyone's closet? 

The black brocade pants. They are gorgeous, extremely wearable and oh so comfortable.

What is your favourite look from this collection? 

It has to be the red silk skirt with the fun fur bolero. The richness and contrast in the fabrics combined with the feminine cuts of the pieces makes such a strong, powerful statement. 

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In closing I wanted to share this quote from Shelley Klassen's press release as I think it embodies in a nutshell what this very feminine label is all about. "What Klassen does best, accentuate the divine feminine and celebrate a return to decadence." Blushing Designs are available exclusively in Vancouver at the designer's flagship store - Blushing Boutique - located in DT Vancouver at 579 Richards Street - as well as in select boutiques across Canada. For more information go to the website at and be sure to follow Blushing Boutique on Facebook HERE and on twitter at @BlushingBtque.