Kwantlen Polytechnic University - The Show 2014

All runway images by Chris Pike Photography

This spring/summer/fall has put me so far behind on my writing, I wonder if I'll ever catch up. There was a manuscript to finish, a book cover design to finalize, editing, proofing and the purchase and move to a new house after 26 years. Sorting and packing alone took a long time. All this meant many articles were delayed.

With a new year only about 4 weeks away, the time has come to catch up on my writing and this article on Kwantlen's grad fashion show is one I always feel privileged to write. It's also great timing as the school has a Pre-Show Designer Preview this Thursday, Dec. 4th, from 4-7p.m and an Open House/Design Information Session on Dec. 6th from 4:30 - 8:30 p.m where attendees can check out the new Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University's annual Fashion Design grad presentation has been one of my favs since 2007. I haven't missed a single one and I always leave inspired.  The Show 2014 was no exception.  Held in April at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, it offered the final collections from their 37 strong graduates with the range of target clients widely diverse - children, men, women, outerwear, lingerie, swimwear, gowns and the list goes on.

This year I decided to approach the show differently and select ten designers to feature. I want to be clear right from the start that every single person in the audience most likely would have selected a different ten. The strength of the training in this 4-year degree program makes it tough to decide, but somehow I managed.  I tried to give just a little info on each designer chosen and the reason for featuring them.  Runway photos of all 37 collections are on photographer Chris Pike's website HERE. It really worth checking out.

Courtney Tibert - Skyward Pig

Kudos on starting the show with such a strong statement collection and the models embraced the challenge fully. Tibert is inspired by heroines throughout all genres and this season chose to celebrate, "The Zombie Hunters among us...."  Always great to have an edgy designer to bring energy to a show and challenge the audience. I love in your face, I love out there and I love being surprised. This collection had all three.
Shelby Gillingham - NVRLND
Gillingham's goal is to redefine women's motorcycle wear and I think she found a nice balance between wearable and statement making. Each piece could be used many different ways depending how you style it. I found the collection could have a wider use than intended and it all depended on the styling. One could amp it up to edgy rock-n-roll or tone it down to become daywear. These are just a great set of separates to work with whether on or off a motorcycle. 

Jenny Vasilopoulos - U

There were several great lingerie collections in this show.  I chose Vasilopoulos' for the beautiful palette, the excellent use of colour blocking and trim detailing.  The designer was inspired by shadows so created a lovely contrast of light and dark. The overall feel was super sexy with a touch of vintage pin-up tossed in.  Needless to say there was an audible, appreciative intake of breath to be heard from the audience when these beautiful models took the stage.  
Kady Chong - PAUSE.

We've all heard the phrase "Less is More" and Tim Gunn admonishing designers to edit, edit, edit. Well these three looks by Chong embody the best of those sentiments.  Although fairly simple in appearance, the fabrics, palette, proportions, tailoring and overall look on the runway made this one of my favourite collections of the evening. It was interesting to discover there was complexity lurking just behind the scenes. The marbled and geometric prints were actually created by the designer using black beans, avocado peels and tea. Kudos and keep in touch Kady! I have my eye on you.

Lindie Van Vuuren - Van Vuuren
 There were several strong menswear collections seen featuring a wide range of garments. I chose this designer's work for the large, colour button detailing. Called Ek Se! - this F/W 14 collection was inspired by the "Unnamed Brown" diamond discovered in South Africa in 1985.  Menswear can be a tough market as everyone applauds innovation, but the male consumer often is loath to take a chance. Giving them a choice with more subdued looks, but with interesting, unique detailing is a great way to open the door to a more interesting wardrobe.

Connie Leung - noda

I loved all the children's wear collections, so picking just 2 - one boy's and one girl's - was extremely hard.  Why this one?  I found it interesting these tween looks were created in black, white and lace - an unusual choice for this age group that can look old, yet these models looked young and fresh.  Not easy to do. The designer is looking to create designs that accommodate the rapidly changing body in this age group and offers a style balanced between delicate designs and modern finishes. I can see these selling well, but hope the young wearers will pop it up with a great colour such as bright shoes and hair clips.  

Jan Bautista - Maison Beautista

For my second set of menswear, I wanted to feature a collection that pushed the envelop. Beautista looks to fuse fine arts and cultural values in his work - a melding of eccentric design, great craftsmanship and comfort.  Love the colour palette, love the prints and love the three different jacket/coat silhouettes offered.  It would be great to see Western men come out of the dull and drab rut they've been in and take a hint from the animal kingdom.  Men can and should embrace bolder designs and these three are a great starting point.

Julianne Mo - SiiLi
 For boy's wear I just couldn't resist this collection by Mo. For F/W 14, the designer decided to take the boys on a magical journey to discover "The Creature In Me" through fanciful fabrics and cheeky details. All the pieces are practical and boyish, but there were still fun elements incorporated such as the fuzzy accents on the hood of the yellow jacket and sleeves of the sweater.  The sweater also has an unusual asymmetrical neckline that's a nice fashionable touch for mum, but not something a young boy would feel uncomfortable wearing.

Seanna Schmuland - Strong & Free

Schmuland's collection caught my eye for it's very unique aesthetic.  My heritage is Norwegian and these looks have that Northern climate feel. The designer is looking to clothe "...modern Canadian men and women in cold climates who invest in local culture through arts and heritage." What she offered was warm, comfortable outerwear just perfect for those living in places where the is true winter.  The palette was also a nice surprise. These collections are often firmly anchored by black, grey and navy.  It's nice to see a bit of colour, but in tones that still work well with the wintery aesthetic of the designs.

Courtenay Grant - Victory Rolla's
 No surprise on this collection. Vintage styled swimwear on beautiful women is always a hit.  Grant's customers are women who embrace the rockabilly pin-up culture.  Inspiration came from historically referenced designs seen in the cheeky swimwear ads of the 50's and 60's.  Of the three shown, my favourite hands down was the one on the left above. The halter neckline, great detailing at the bust and deep vivid colour give it a luxurious, super sexy feel.

Want to know more about the fashion design program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University?  Check out their website at