Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 15 Day 3 - Pouneh Askarian, Paloma Sanchez, Nadia + Zehra and Blushing Designs

Image courtesy of Kuna Photography
Day 3 of runway shows at Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) dawned dark and rainy.  There were tent leaks backstage that challenged everyone from designers to models to volunteers, but everyone rose to the occasion. The show must go on.

A new emcee took the runway this evening who will take us through the rest of the week - Symone Says (wearing a gown by Devil May Wear), one of Vancouver's top gender illusionists (drag queen to say it simply).  She is a force of nature armed with a quick whit who quickly energized the audience and had us all anxious for the shows to begin. No surprise as she is an international performer/host with an impressive resume. The audience went quickly from ruing the rain, to cheering the designs that inspired them.

I adore this image by Sam Stringer with
Helen and Randi. Best shot of my outfit too.
That same energy carried over to the socialization happening between attendees during the breaks. Bigger hugs, wider smiles and tons more photos ops ensued. LOVED IT!  This evening my outfit wasn't as locally oriented, but I hit the mark with one accessory.  Let's start with the basics - a pair of digitally printed leggings by Some Product (local) paired with a tweedy black jacket featuring synthetic leather accents. Both were purchased from Global Atomic in Yaletown.  
Image courtesy of Kuna Photography
A simple white blouse underneath provided the perfect backdrop for my colourful Disney Micky Mouse tie purchased at Value Village - a nod to reuse, recycle.  When picking it - I channeled my amazing most fashionable friend of Yuki and Bee and asked myself, "What would Felix Tavira pick?"  Love you Felix and glad you approved. Topping it all off here a pair of metal lace eyewear frames from Sue Randhawa at The Optical Boutique. Add in a pair of black studded shoes and the outfit was complete. It was an easy look to wear and had a fun factor that suited the evening's mood.

Images courtesy of Sam Stringer

I have several designers to cover today - but mixing it up. Sunny's Bridal had such an extensive and impressive collection with both men's and women's looks, I have decided to write a separate piece on them. Also - as I have written on Blushing Design several times, I have offered a retrospective of her work at the bottom with links to previous articles. Be sure and check out the VFW website for the other amazing designers that showcased this evening - Artees Wear, Rosey Couture, Paola Gamero, and Atsushi Nakashima!

Pouneh Askarian

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography
Pouneh Askarian is one of the many fabulous, talented designers who call Vancouver home. A graduate of both Kwantlen Polytechnic University and the London College of Fashion, it's always a delight when she brings her latest collection to the runway at VFW.  Of her 3 previous appearances, I have covered two here - F/W 13 and F/W 11.  2011 still stands out as my personal favourite and I still covet that red/gray coat (you'll have to check out the link)! Askarian was born in Tehran and her early childhood passion was math and physics. It wasn't until 2000 that she changed her career path to fashion. She is inspired by tradition, innovation, minimalism, culture and shifting from East to West.

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography
Here is an excerpt talking about Askarian’s latest collection, “ 'Gold Peafowl' -  is a journey between Japanese Kimono silhouettes to Middle Eastern nature in a glamorous way. The pieces are mainly in ever-present classis : black and beige and beautiful touches of gold. Materials are a diverse mixture of fabrics from chiffon to leather and shiny cottons. Color will be presented in this collection by the best quality hand made silk from Kashan-Iran. The Embellished laces and “Gold Peafowl” hand embroideries add an extra razzle-dazzle to this collection."

I was honoured to have an opportunity to sit with Paloma Sanchez on Tuesday morning this week and hear her story. It's breathtaking.  A magazine article is coming, but I want to offer just a taste here. Gems became a passion when her uncle took her to see a mine while she was visiting him in South America. She was instantly hooked. But the industry is very exclusive and tight knit, so after becoming certified, it was a full 25 years working for other companies before she opened her first shop and filled it with her beautiful pieces. This is not jewellery in the traditional sense. Sanchez is an artist who has an intimate connection to her raw materials - they speak to her. In the end, what we are offered are one-of-a-kind pieces of art.  And she is involved in every step along the way - from going into the mines to select the perfect raw stones, to final design.

We were treated to a lovely selection of pieces last night, but the runway images didn't do them justice. So I have chosen a few images from her website. Models were dressed in black body suits (except the final model who was in a strapless long back dress) and carried a spot flashlight to illuminated the jewellery. Earring, bracelets and necklaces were featured with a wide variety of gemstones and minerals.  Sanchez's designs are very organic - created in a way to highlight the beauty of each gem.  The finale necklace was created with a large Tanzanite crystal accented by small diamonds. Stunning! This was another moment you could hear the collective intake of breath from the audience.  I can't wait to write more on her journey. 

Images by Ed Ng Photography
Nadia + Zehra interest me as designers partly because there is such a strange distance between there obviously shy personalities when you meet them (met them twice and haven't heard their voices yet) and their in-your-face, loud design aesthetic - “Together We Innovate New Shit”.  Yes, they are twins and use that fact to great advantage. As I interview people for a living - I am drawn to know more. These London-born designers were a hit last season at VFW and rocked it again Day 3. This is a lifestyle brand with a strong twist.
Images by Ed Ng Photography

The show opening was brilliant. It started with the theme from The Adams Family - dum dum dum dum - snap, snap.  The audience smiled and quickly began to snap at the appropriate time. On the projection screen were some of the many quotes used on the tee's - all definitely not for the faint of heart with very sexual references. The first half of the show featured their graphic t-shirts styled with crazy 2 and 3 pointed baseball caps.  Again - shy versus expression through design. really caught my eye.  Then we moved on to more wearable pieces with original prints including smiling lips with fangs. In-your-face and very hip. I am sure this label is rocking the younger market.
Images by Ed Ng Photography
Blushing Designs Retrospective - 

Designer Shelley Klassen and I have known each other a long time. I have covered her and her wonderful boutique at 579 Richards Street in Vancouver both on this site and in the magazine I co-owned from 2007 - 2012.  She has a loyal client base who embrace her aesthetic and creates clothes designed purely and simply for women.  There has been a refocusing of the line over the last few years to embrace younger silhouettes. I am still trying to find time to pop in and pick up that turquoise skirt and black top in the centre image from Sept. 2014.

The other great thing about her boutique is there is workspace is in the back, so fine-tuning can be done on the spot making sure your garment fits you perfectly.  As I have written on her so many times - I am offering pictorial retrospective with links to the previous season's write-ups. I encourage you to check them out - especially April 2014 where there is a Q and A with Klassen. Enjoy!

VFW Mar. 2015

Images courtesy of Dale Rollings

Images courtesy of Ed Ng

Images by Dale Rollings

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Vancouver Fashion Week runs through Sunday. For more information or tix go to