Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 16 -Thursday - Rabia Dastgir, Samantha Rei, Frempc Designs & And She Saw Stars

Image by Ed Ng Photography
Thursday was my day to walk around behind the scenes at Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) and capture images of all the people making this week special.

There are volunteers both front of house and behind the scenes, those manning the bars, a hair room, a make-up room, models EVERYWHERE, those seating attendees, those managing the flow of clothing from a holding area upstairs to backstage, those lining up the models, those working the two bar stations and a Meiomi California Coastal Wines tasting booth upstairs. I didn't get snapshots of them all, but quite a few are represented.

My opening image is special as each of us are wearing a necklace designed by Vancouver jewellery artist Carolyn Bruce. She has a wide range of designs, but her Steampunk creations are my personal favourite.

My outfit this day is mostly local. In addition to my Carolyn Bruce necklace, my tunic and leather look leggings are by JAC by JC (sold in Canada and across Asia) and my skull wrap bracelet on my left wrist was hand made for me by my daughter - Danielle Anderson! My dark grey shoes with spinal column heels are by Hades Footwear and weird edgy, black spiral earrings from a board shop in Maui completed the look.

The shows this night were really eclectic - a wide mix of styles and ethnicities. That makes is hard to decide who to cover as it's like choosing between apples and oranges. I did decide to pull the final show by Eymeric Francois into a separate article, so in the end chose the four below. I think the very diversity of styles represented by these collections is interesting. There is no one way to dress. Embrace your unique style and flaunt it proudly.

Now for the shows I chose to feature today -

Rabia Dastgir

Images by Ed Ng Photography
Pakistan born Rabia Dastgir has a Bachelors in Fashion design from the esteemed Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design and a certificate in fashion from Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. She has always had a keen interest in the nomadic traditional arts and crafts of her country. With the help of her family, she started promoting nomadic arts and embroidery techniques across Pakistan, which helped impoverished rural women become self reliant. She also worked to provide proper schooling at the grass roots level. With a recent move to Vancouver, she felt herself off from her roots and decided to develop her idea on a global scale.

Images by Ed Ng Photography
I loved the uniqueness of this collection and how cultural elements were incorporated into wearable garments. From the designer, "'A Wandering Life'  is inspired by the nomadic norm of moving around. The collection comprises of intricate Baloch and Afghan handwork, involving pieces which took years of practice and skill to reach completion. Having been pushed to be an almost dying art form, the cherished pieces were fused into a western silhouette for the tasteful eye. The Process involved deconstructing the original and reconstructing their culture onto the mannequin for a western market, which exactly mimics the nomadic ritual of adapting and accepting to the cultures of the land they inhabit while they leave behind traces of their art and culture to endure for years to come.”

Samantha Rei

Images by Ed Ng Photography
Minnesota based designer Samantha R. Crossland first honed her skills as an illustrator and painter so she could pursue comic book art. Then she went on to study illustration with her work featured in the Huffington Post, Shojo Beat, the American Gothic and Lolita Bible and Gothic Beauty.  In 2015 she authored and illustrated a how-to book on subculture fashion design called Steampunk and Cosplay Fashion Design and Illustration. ln September of 2013, she launched her second fashion label Samantha Rei. Samantha Rei embodies the sweetness, femininity and attention to detail that has come to be expected from the designer. Samantha strives to help women feel confident, strong and comfortable in their own skin. She believes they can all be beautiful warriors.

Images by Ed Ng Photography

I enjoyed the very unique design aesthetic of this collection and the wonderful combination of textures. Keeping the palette simple allowed the way she used colourful design details as well as the lovely knit elements to really pop.  I think my favourite look personally is the top centre shorter dress with knit piece at the neck. It really had a lovely feel on the runway as did this entire collection. I'm going to have to check out more of Rei's work.

Frempc Designs
Atlanta based fashion designer Cynthia Frempomaah is an African American of Ghanaian heritage who thinks and dreams big. She obtained her BFA from American Intercontinental University in Atlantam Georgia, with a concentration in fashion design and marketing. Her design work is inspired by her African heritage and complemented by a European style with a 21st century vibe. The label strives to offer simple but classy, elegant, standout in a crowd garments. The designer also works directly with her clients to customize “one of a kind outfits” for that special occasion. Attention to detail one of her trademarks.

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery

This collection stood out on the runway for its unique flair. From the designer, "My inspiration for this collection was "Movement" - movement in terms of the changes women go through in life. I feel women have allowed family affairs, careers and life circumstances to Zapp so much out of us which we end up letting ourselves go sometimes. This collection was created to bring back energy and create that environment for women to feel confident, classy and in charge." .The imagery, music, palette and prints brought the feeling of the Caribbean to the runway for me. Most models embraced the ambiance and moved with joy down the runway. Fits were easy and colours were bright. The final model was a fabulous choice. The look was perfect on her and she brought the energy to close the show - dancing and encouraging the audience to show their appreciation. When the Frempomaah did her final walk with this model, their dance moves at the end of the runway brought huge cheers from all in attendance.

And She Saw Stars

Note - centre image is designer LaDonna J. Davis!
Images by Harry Leonard Imagery
Michigan based designer LaDonna J. Davis first attended the University of Michigan Ann Arbor where she earned a degree in aerospace engineering. After graduation she had a 17 year career in the U.S. Airforce. In 2014 she graduated from FIDM in Los Angeles and now works as a fashion designer, photographer, stylist and writer. Her label - And She Saw Stars - features recycled couture.

Images by Harry Leonard Imagery

What we saw on the runway was a truly unique set of garments and unique always catches my eye. From the designer, "I love to work with urban themes, fantasy, and also topics such as Faery, Mermaids, and Myth." I personally would love to be able to find a way to combine discarded textiles like this. Davis' draping technique was particularly well-honed.  I was most drawn to the skirts made from fabric featuring graphic prints. There was also one dress I had my eye on, but at my age it would need a small jacket or sweater. Which one? You'll have to guess. Remember I'm pretty daring.