Vancouver Fashion Week FW 17 - Lesley Hampton

All images by Dale Rollings

Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) is such a busy time for me, that I try not to do a lot of solo articles, but the show by Lesley Hampton needed just that.  I was blown away by her the last time this talented young was here, and then she returned and upped the ante. 

The growth evident since her last show was tremendous and then you add the icing on the cake. She is still a student in design school! I hope your jaw dropped open.  Her work speaks of a designer with much more time in the industry.

There was a second reason I chose to do a solo article as well - her strong message of positive body image as well as the message of you can do it. There are no limits. Hampton's 3 part opening video made both of these messages clear, but it was brought home when the opening model in her show took the runway. If there hadn't been music playing, you would have been able to hear a pin drop.

I also loved that she honoured her First Nation's heritage in the audio chosen to accompany the show. It added a powerful note to an already first class show.  That placed a lot of pressure on her designs to stand up and hold their own.  And they did.  I hope you enjoy this Q and A. With it are runway pics, her opening video a link to the full Tedx Talk by her opening model amputee/ballroom dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis.

This was a truly wonderful show by a rising talent I am so proud to offer media coverage to. Congrats Lesley. I have my eye on you. 

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Can you share a little about your journey to becoming a fashion designer? Any childhood/teen that indicated this might be your future?

I was always a creative child. On weekend, instead of watching morning cartoons like most other kids, I would watch Fashion Television with Glen Baxter and Jeanne Baker telling me all about the new developments in the fashion industry. The summer after high school I completed a fashion design internship at a small design house in Toronto where I was making samples for the store and learned about the grunt work involved with designing and LOVED IT. I completed my honours bachelors degree at the University of Toronto in Visual Art and Art History, and then started my brand.

Where are you studying design? What is hardest about the program? What is your favourite, or comes easiest for you?

I am currently studying fashion design at George Brown College in Toronto. The hardest part about the program is juggling my professional career with my academic career. I started my brand during the first month of my program so its been an ongoing problem to excuse myself from classes to attend lookbook or editorial shoots, or fly to Vancouver for Fashion Week every season. My favourite part is making friendships with other likeminded students, having my friends help me out with my collection and teaching each other new skills as we go is so, so much fun.

Please share a bit about your opening video and the strong message of self love it shares. 

My opening video for VFW was three-fold. The first part was a behind the scenes video of my latest editorial shoot in Toronto's Distillery District. I asked models, who were walking in my show, to send me their thoughts on the importance of body positivity on the runway, and used it as the voiceover during this first section.

The second part was in order to explain to the audience what the Be Body Aware Project is all about, as told by its founder, Irish-born Toronto-based model and academic, Tia Duffy. Be Body Aware project is raising awareness of the psychology of body image through reimagined media and fashion imagery, such as photoshoots and runway shows, to represent and respect bodies of all individuals. 

The third part was a clip of a Ted Talk by Adrianne Haslet-Davis telling her story and how words have incredible impact. Adrianne was third in the world in ballroom dancing in 2013. She was in watching the Boston Marathon finish line during the time of the terrorist attack and lost her left leg, and was told by many that she would never dance again. She did return to the ballroom dance floor and won her first competition back. I found Adrianne on a Vancouver Sun story and on Instagram, and I was incredibly inspired by her story and invited her to Vancouver to walk in my show. I used this section of the pre-runway video to have the audience be introduced to her story, and then I had Adrianne open my show in my first look. I chose to have Adrianne walk for me so that I could bring all types of bodies to the runway, and show people that the ultimate trauma could happen to you, but there is a life after the hospital and you can overcome any adversity and live your dreams! 

Please share about your inspiration for the collection we saw on the runway at VFW.

Through creating the Fall Winter 2017 collection, the message I wanted to convey of rebirth. The colors of the collection are consistent with a sunset leading to the golden hour: the time of day the sky turns a soft gold, this is also the time in trauma cases that is the most crucial period for treatment. This collection will give the wearer the strength to overcome any personal adversity might occur, with each sunset leading to a new day. I believe the runway presentation of this collection, in combination with the music and video components, allowed for the message and concept to be understood.

What was the palette? What fabrics?
The palette of this collection were reminiscent of the colors seen in the sky when the day turns to night.  The black and white fabrics (sequins on mesh, embroidered lace, and black marni scuba neoprene) were to represent the shadows that are created by a low sun in the sky.
The plums and gold floral fabrics (plum organza, and polyurethane finished poly-cotton) were to represent the color of the sky as it transitions into an amazing purple gold as the sun is setting.
The final gold looks (gold palmira sequins lace) were to represent the sun itself as it sets.

Did you create any of these prints? I was especially intrigued by the print on the white fabrics in the first few looks?

I source my fabrics from a Canada-based wholesale fabric and textile company, with some fabric purchases from the retail fabric stores in Toronto. This collection contained a lot of hand sewing; the fabrics were sourced already embroidered or with sequins however I edited and added where necessary to accentuate certain parts of the body for each design. 

Your chose of sound track to accompany gave a wonderful nod to your first nation's heritage. How has that heritage influenced you as a designer?

The runway mix I used for FW17 was from A Tribe Called Red. I use my collections to research various native teachings and throughout the creation of each collection, I increase my understanding of each native teaching and how what I learn from that can be application to the fashion industry, conceptual work, or just everyday life.

What is coming up for you in the next 6 months, the next year?

In the next 6 months I will graduate from my Fashion Design college program, update my brand's business plan, and use my summer to focus on researching Toronto-based production facilities to begin low-quantity production on my SS17 and FW17 collections that come in all sizes. In the next year, I hope to continue to bring more diversity models to the runway for SS18, and I will also hopefully be starting a post-graduate program in fashion production in Toronto.

Email -
Website -
Twitter - @LesleyHampton
Instagram - @Lesley_Hampton