Vancouver Fashion Week S/S 17 Thursday Shows - Casa Lefay, Clio Sage & Francesca Phipps

Runway Images by Ed Ng Photography

Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) has grown exponentially over the last decade, having to move to ever larger venues as it expanded.  Now in it's 28th consecutive season, the Vancouver audience is being treated to over 100 runway shows featuring local, national and international designers. WOW! And I've been here for 19 of those seasons.  Each time, I see new artists who take my breath away.

I was personally excited to have Vancouver's very own Symone Says step back into the roll of emcee this evening. Tuesday and Wednesday just had a back stage announcer and the audience was much more laid back. Symone brought back the sizzle. From talking with various people in the audience to arranging a men's and then a women's runway walk off, you could feel everyone coming alive and most stayed right through the last show of the evening.

My outfit today showcased four people very dear to me.  The beautiful short kimono jacket is by Patricia Fieldwalker, the reversible pink/grey handbag is by Geir Ness of Laila: The Essence of Norway. Geir created this great bag for one of his Nordstrom events and sold it filled with Laila product. The beautiful mixed metal and gemstone handcrafted earrings are by Pam Jackson of Street Cat Designs. Last but not least, my white blouse and deep Turquoise slacks are by JAC by JC.

Now onto today's shows. The ten designers came from a wide range of international destinations - Mexico, Columbia, Congo/Paris, US, UK and the Philippines - making it very hard to pick just a couple to cover. I want to repeat, there are many incredible designers each day with a wide range of aesthetics. Not a single person in the audience would agree on which should be covered, so be sure and take a moment to check out the other great collections.

Camila X Castillo
Before I begin my coverage, I want to give a shout out to designer Camila X Castillo. While she is not featured below, there was one skirt in her collection I felt compelled to acknowledge - in photos above. The craftsmanship is superb. Created from strips, the skirt moved beautifully and the pattern reminded me of Tahitian skirts used when performing with Poi Balls. There were a couple garments using this technique in her collection, but this was piece was just outstanding.

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Casa Lefay

Casa Lefay is a new label just launched in March 2016 by designer Maria Jose Marroquin. This first collection is very appropriately called Journey from the Tropics.  From her bio - "[Cafe Lefay is] a sustainable collection inspired by the Colombian Caribbean...We want to awaken the adventurous character and mystical bent that inspire the rediscovery of the world through travel and connection with nature." Looks were created in organic Pima cotton with all patterns and prints hand reproductions of watercolor artworks using water based inks. Eco fashion from start to finish.

I was a fan of this show from the opening notes.  A great tropical backdrop, fabulous ethnic music, interesting make-up and phenomenal hair were just the start.  The show was split into four sections. Each featured four unique looks created in a single print. What is difficult to see in these images is the incredible detailing used to create each look - intricate pleats, tucks and seaming were the tools to sculpt the wonderful fit of each garments.  It's only when you get up close that one can really appreciate the expert tailoring and craftsmanship.  Fabulous show from every angle. I hope to see them next season.

Clio Sage

I love being surprised and this show by Brooklyn based Clio Sage did just that. I sat up in my seat and leaned forward often to get a better look.  It was art on the runway and there were a couple pieces I would have loved to snag for myself.  Titled Tesselations, this series debuted in Spring 2016. It has since grown as she added collaborative work created with abstract expressionist painter Addis Goldman. The designer would like to continue to expand it by collaborating with other artists in both traditional arts and new digital mediums. 

It was no surprise to discover Sage's educational background is in architecture.  She has taken her love for 3D shapes and found a way to apply it to creating her apparel line.  Wood, Plexiglass, plastic and cork are laser cut into shapes and then are assembled by hand into one of a kind, unisex garments. Why do I sit through all shows at VFW? Collections like this one are one reason. It was inspiring. I can only hope Clio Sage will come return to Vancouver soon.

Francesca Phipps

Only 22 years of age, UK designer Francesca Phipps has already made her mark. She has received the FDC Young Designer award and her strong design work earned her a spot on the runway at New York Fashion Week. Now working in a boutique in London selling evening gowns and couture pieces, this graduate of De Montfort University loves to push boundaries. From her bio, " I always try to find new innovative silhouettes with a mixture of tailoring and drape. Drapery is a very strong skill for me, something I am always pushing. I am also constantly exploring the experimental use of colour and alternative construction of materials and fabrications."

This show challenged me. I felt an illusive thread underneath that I couldn't quite grab onto. I love getting that feeling. For me fashion is about art and even deeper, about the artist behind the garments we see.  When I feel that pull, that's special. And it usually means I won't sort out that feeling until I sit and do a full interview with the designer. I will be keeping on eye on Phipps.