Blanche Macdonald - Tia Bai, Funky and Special

Runway photography by Peter Jensen.

Everyone who knows me knows I like to be surprised at shows - it's one of the joys of attending those featuring student grad collections. The best nights are a mix of beautifully made garments interspersed with more conceptual offerings or those with fun silhouettes.  The last Blanche Macdonald show hit the mark.

The fun element started when I headed in to view the portfolios. What I am personally looking for is interesting fashion illustrations.  WHY? Because it gives me an idea of the creativity this designer is bringing to the table. At this stage of the game, their concepts often exceed their construction ability no matter how strong they are - something internships post grad bring out. So it's here I see the depth of their vision.

Right away I was drawn to Tia Bai. This is not traditional fashion illustration. It's young, quirky and truly something I've never seen before. I marked this designer down pre-show to take special note. The pieces on the runway were as unusual as the illustrations, so I wanted to share them with you. While only 3 looks were presented that night, the mix of runway photos with fashion illustrations offered here let you see the wild range of designs created for this collection.

This young designer is firmly in position to reach a new generation of fashion enthusiasts.  It will be fun to see how Tia Bai grows over the next few years as she gains experience and matures in her design work. I'll be watching!

= = = = = = = =

Where were you born, where did you grow up?

 I was born in Tibet and I grew up in ChengDu.

What you like when you were young?

 I was very sensitive to fashion and very interested in it.

What were your interests in High School?

When I was in the high school, I wanted to be a fashion editor working in famous magazine like Elle or Vogue.

Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design.  Was you family supportive?

 I have a big passion for fashion so when I came to Vancouver I decided fashion design was the best program for me . My family was very supportive and wanted me to enjoy my time while I was a student.

Why did you choose to study at Blanche Macdonald Centre

I saw several advertisements on websites and many friends told me great things about Blanche Macdonald, so I decided this school was the best choice for me,

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design.  What was hard for you, what was easy for you, are they any high, low or funny moments you can share?

Looking through my whole program, pattern making was the hardest for me.  Fashion Illustration was the easiest because I always have many ideas I want to work on.

What was the inspiration for your grad collection? 

The inspiration for my collection comes from nature of human beings which has both dark and light sides. I might use a poisonous mushroom for inspiration to create a charming coat in widely contrasting colours to show the beauty outside, but the dark inside. The beauty attracts and yet the mushroom can kill you.

Describe your collection

It’s hard to find one word to describe my collection, I like to create clothing that is funky and special. Everyone can wear my designs and different people wearing the same design can offer it in a unique way that makes them stand out. More than anything, I want the people who wear my clothes to feel  happy .

What is the palette?  What fabrics did you use?

I choose contrasting, strong colours. For the fabrics, vinyl is the main focus with wool fabrics used to create the bright details .

Do you have a favourite look?

 My favorite  look was my first look , the long vinyl baseball jacket with pompom sleeves.

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

I offer one of a kind, funky designs for people to wear that will put a smile on their face.

Where do you go from here?

I’m a stylist in a concept store now and hope to launch my own line in this next year.

Give me a quote on what fashion design means to you if possible?

Fashion easily disappears, style forever —— Yves Saint Laurent

= = = = = = = =

To contact Tia Bai please

For more information on the Fashion Design Program at Blanche Macdonald go to