Category Archives: Fashion Shows

Eco Fashion Week 2013: The Scene

Team Sbf @ Eco Fashion Week

Team Sbf @ Eco Fashion Week

Although I have attended the sustainability seminars in the past 2 seasons, this was Style by Fire’s official first time attending the Eco Fashion Week runway shows. They were amazing, and so were all the fabulous fashion folks we met in between the shows. Of course, we always love seeing Marilyn Wilson, who’s always connecting us with the crowd, and we love her for that. We finally met Jennifer Gray, owner of Jennyfleur Loves boutique in Yaletown, and Nicolette Lang Anderson, aka NLA Stylist. Memorable moments include interviewing Tammy Joe, who debuted her first re-worked vintage collection, Young Oak, this season at EFW.

I love the production of EFW and all the eco-centric values it stands for, one of the things I do miss is running onto the runway right after the show to take pictures with everyone. I’m crossing my fingers that in a future season to come, us fashion brats will get that luxury. Until next time I’ll do my part by a) only buying things I love and will wear, b) keep the cash in Canada (difficult, but it must be done), and c) buy less to accomplish a goal (ie buy a nice down vest for work instead of buying a vast array of sweaters).

xo, Miranda

Photos by Aurora Chan

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Eco Fashion Week 2013: My Sister’s Closet, TildArt, Twigg&Hottie

My Sister’s Closet

My Sister’s Closet first opened in the 1990s as a means to connect with community —providing free clothing to women and families escaping domestic violence, unable to return home and needing to start anew. They return to eco-fashion week for the 3rd time this season. The collection titled,“Fearless,” was curated by nine women, including two artisans who have designed unique pieces for the event.

I must say, I was super impressed with the styling. The ladies curated such a creative collection, and I had overheard many conversations during and after the show that would support my personal opinion. The stylists were smart to style the vintage pieces with a rebellious theme, that way they were able to layer in pieces in unexpected ways. The last look was a wedding gown paired with body and face chains. Who would have thought that such a look could be pulled off elegantly? A wide variety of cheery pop-rocker songs, like “I Love Rock n Roll” and Pink’s “So What” played in the background. I felt the styling was done to perfection even more so when I saw the collection afterwards on hangers. I simply could not have imagined styling the outfits like that. Great work, ladies, and we hope you show at Eco Fashion Week next year!

TildArt

Hungarian designer Matild Janosi flew from across the pond to show TildArt, her non-fabric material collection, at Eco Fashion Week. The show was split into two distinct sections: the first used re-purposed materials that looked like rubber tires (the first model brought a bicycle with her down the runway – hint?) and the second was like a surreal film noir fantasy with looks decorated with old-school film strips. To be honest, I didn’t think much of the first collection. Call me eco fashion ignorant, but I couldn’t see how women would like to wear what looked to me like rubber on their bodies. However, I felt like Janosi really turned the show around with the film strip collection. She really worked with way how film flexes and the curved lines it creates. I thought it was creative, cute, and would have worn the dresses to a fancy event like a film festival gala.  And I’m sure everyone was in awe of the glowing jellyfish-like hats.

After the show, Marilyn Wilson asked Janosi if she had packed the film strips separately and had assembled them when she arrived in the city. Of course I had never even thought of that issue. But immediately after learning that her answer was affirmative, I felt that the collection was that much more delightful. Overall, a very playful collection, and I’d I’d like to see Janosi work with non-fabric materials as the base layers in future collections.

Twigg & Hottie

Twigg & Hottie celebrated their 10th year anniversary with the Eco Fashion Week audience as the closing show of the week. Glencora Twigg, Christine Hotten, and Jessica Vaira’s combined efforts, We3, was shown as well as a variety of other local, Canadian, and sustainable brands. The collection was divided into 3 sections to represent the boutique through The Past, The Present, and The Future. For looks in the past, a grad project by one of the owners was shown. There were some really interesting cuts in a few dresses, exactly the type of craftsmanship I expect from this established Main Street boutique. What we have listed as the 18th and 25th images were stellar. Though there isn’t a back picture of #18, I’ll let you know that the denim extends all the way up to her cover her entire back. Is that not genius or what? For #25, you definitely need to see it in action; the way the circular hem flows is quite heavenly. Congrats to Twigg&Hottie and we hope there are many more wonderful decades for you ladies to celebrate!

Photos by Aurora Chan

Words by Miranda Sam

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Eco Fashion Week 2013: Young Oak + Park, Couture Therapy, Dahlia Drive and more

Young Oak + Park

I really loved the look, craftsmanship, and ideas behind Tammy Joe’s first Young Oak collection. Designer Tammy Joe sources vintage pieces from all over the US and locally in Vancouver, then re-constructs them into re-contextualized pieces for the modern woman. After the show, we spoke with Tammy where she informed us that the brand is homonymous with her mother’s name. The name also spoke to her because of the juxtaposition of the two words: newness paired with the imagery of an old oak tree represents her re-construction process perfectly. Park Apparel, on the other hand, is her friend’s hosiery line that she used in the show.

We were surprised to find that most of the styles were constructed from two separate pieces – even some of the jackets were made from two items. Each look was so flawless and the entire collection very cohesive. We also spoke with Tammy about the scalability of producing one-off vintage pieces, and she said she had thought about all the work that goes into producing  unique pieces, but that she loves the process so much she went with it. I love her passion for reworking vintage, love her vintage-contemporary style, and hope to see lots more of her in the future.

Cherry Blossom Design

Cherry Blossom Design is an eco fashion clothing company which began in 2004 and is based on Salt Spring Island, BC.  The clothes are all sewn in Vancouver and screen printed in the Cherry Blossom studio using screens made from reclaimed picture frames and curtain sheers.  The most sustainable and softest fabrics are used, bamboo being the favourite due to its many environmentally friendly properties.  Designer Deanna Milligan is inspired by Chinese brush paintings, as well as the many flora and fauna surrounding the company studio on the island.

Dahlia Drive

Wendy Van Riesen is the one-woman show behind Dahlia Drive. She salvages pre-loved slips, shirts, and fabrics, then brings the garments back to a colourful life by hand-dying, screen printing and embellishing them in various ways. Some printed designs included trees, the human skeletal system, swirls, and abstract prints. One of my favourite pieces was a white 3/4 length sleeve shirt-dress that had a red background and a white tree. Somehow this piece’s tree branches played tribute to the spirit of the skeleton print from other pieces, while being wrapped in a pool of blood-red colour, and in the end captured the spirit of beauty found literally on the inside (of the body) and outside (in our natural environment).

Sally Omeme

An Albertan native, Sally Omeme learned to knit in the early 2000’s which led to her studying at the John Casablancas Institute in 2011. Supported by her instructors, she decided to realize her dream of becoming a knitwear designer and showcased her first collection at the John Casablancas Institute fashion show in May 2012. Watching Kim Cather’s 68 Pound Challenge creations at Vancouver ECO Fashion Week inspired her to experiment with used fabrics to make knitwear. She considers Audrey Hepburn, Carrie Bradshaw and Sarah Burton her style icons.

Couture Therapy

Sarah Couture was born in the small town of Merritt, BC, and has been passionately designing since the age of thirteen. She graduated from Blanche Macdonald in 2002, and after starting a family (her two very lovely little girls walked down the runway with her), she returned to fashion to start her own fashion business, House of Couture. The Couture Therapy ready-to-wear line she showed at Eco-Fashion Week was very street smart. Her ideal client is definitely a woman with attitude, and a whole lot of confidence to back it up. Models walked down the runway with t-shirts reading phrases like, “I heard that you like bad girls…” and “I am FU#@KING crazy but I am FREE.”

But the question is, who doesn’t need some Couture Therapy?

Photos by Aurora Chan

Words by Miranda Sam

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Eco Fashion Week 2013: 68 Pound Challenge featuring Evan Ducharme

The inspiration behind Value Village’s 68 Pound Challenge is the fact that 68 pounds represents the weight of clothing and textiles that an average North American throws away each year.  Emerging designer Evan Ducharme was chosen this year to take on the creative feat of transforming this 68 pounds of fabric from Value Village into a brand new collection.  He was mentored by Kim Cathers, designer of the first two 68 Pound Challenge runway shows.

Ducharme began his passion for designing sustainable fashion early, learning how to sew from his aunt and putting on fashion shows in high school using mostly repurposed garments and textiles that were donated to him.  He studied at the Visual College of Art and Design in Vancouver and later interned at Vancouver Eco Fashion Week, which further instilled his belief in the importance of environmentally responsible practices in fashion.

His Spring/Summer 2014 collection for the challenge was entitled “Halcyon”, denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy or peaceful.  His inspiration came from a myriad of things, including the imagery of 1960’s French films, as well as the need to design clothes free of excessive detail and embellishment.  Being his first foray into menswear, Ducharme aimed to connect his already established vision of the Evan Ducharme woman with that of the man.

Ducharme’s creative vision resulted in an exquisite collection of whites, blacks, and greys.  With clean lines and attention to detail, the minimalistic pieces were both modern and very wearable.  My favourites were his dresses, which were feminine in a non-fussy way and flattering for all body types.  Ducharme successfully transformed thrift into high fashion; I would buy the entire collection if I could!

Words + Photos by Aurora Chan

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Eco Fashion Week 2013: Value Village Thrift Chic Challenge

The thrift retailer Value Village returned for the fourth consecutive season to present a night of fashion that strikes at the core of what Vancouver ECO Fashion Week is all about – the Thrift Chic Challenge involved giving three local stylists a $500 allowance each to create ten runway worthy outfits using  gently used clothing from Value Village.  This fun challenge tested the stylists’ creative juices while utilizing the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Kenneth Wyse

Kenneth Wyse is a freelance stylist, model scout, model, photographer, as well as current judge of the Strike A Pose modelling competition.  His philosophy towards dressing has always been one of universality, discarding the notion that clothes should be classified as male or female.  In line with this attitude of blending gender types, his collection was appropriately called “Kenneth Barbie”.  Both male and female models glided down the runway in streamlined ensembles of various shades of pink.  It brought me back to the new wave 80’s, Miami Vice, and of course, Molly Ringwald in the pivotal teen film “Pretty in Pink”.

Dandilion Wind Opaine

I had just seen Dandilion Wind Opaine’s amazing collection in Vancouver Fashion Week a couple of weeks ago and was excited to see what she had in store for this challenge.  I was not disappointed – she sent down a kaleidoscope of colourful and kooky ensembles down the runway.  A definite sense of playfulness and fearlessness was shown in mishmashing every kind of pattern, colour, and texture together, which all somehow worked beautifully.  I wanted to head straight out to Value Village right after the show; where did she find those colourful leggings, that cool hat, that funky top, I need them now!

Claire Bouvier

Claire Bouvier is the founder of The Claire Closet, an initiative that empowers girls through eco art and fashion, while helping them develop lifelong skills in financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and innovative approaches to tackling social problems.  How great is that!  Bouvier made use of the many vintage dresses and skirts in Value Village and ‘supersized’ them, amping them up with accessories such as glasses, purses, and capes.  Each model sported a huge afro-like hairdo with a clothes hanger jutting out of it.  The overall look was very prim librarian gone off the deep end, in a good way.

Words + Photos by Aurora Chan

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Nicole Bridger’s Male Model Cast Show was ‘Supposed to be a Mind F@#$’

Nicole Bridger

I am not alone. You are not alone. We are not alone. Connect. Trust. Surrender. Each one of us on the same journey. See. See beyond form to see truth. Choose to return to love. Love is our purest state. We are not alone. These are the haunting words that pre-ambled Nicole Bridger’s Fall/Winter 2013 Show hosted at Celebrities.

Once again, Nicole Bridger kicked off Eco-Fashion Week, this time with her Fall/Winter 2013 collection titled “You Are Not Alone.” The idea behind this collection is that we tend to see ourselves as separate from one another, when in reality, we are all connected in this world in many ways. The themes of her collections definitely show continuity from one season to the next, with previous collections called “Be,” “Kali” named after the Hindu goddess of time and change, and “Allowing Grace.”

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Though this time around, Bridger posed some thought-provoking questions about gender and beauty, and challenged societal norms to the audience when she sent an almost all-male cast of models walked down the runway. She blurred the lines with androgyny. “I was hoping that the audience would go through a journey where they’d witness themselves judging, then go ‘Why do I do that? Why do I judge that? Why can’t that be beautiful?,'” said Bridger.

From Nicole Bridger's Facebook page

From Nicole Bridger’s Facebook page

There came moments during the show where I was truly confused with the androgyny. I questioned the gender of a few models, and found myself focusing more on the models than what they were wearing. I was curious, so I asked Nicole whether she had hired an all-male cast. “I chose to put 3 girls in there just to f$#@ with your head a little bit more; it was supposed to be a bit of a mind f*$%,” she said.

Nicole Bridger-transition

The transitions between each look included a moment of connection between the models, whereby the model leaving the stage would extend a hand to connect with the next model through a palm-to-palm touch or a soft brush at the shoulder. The touching represented ‘I see you, I acknowledge you.’ Her “we are not alone” philosophy extends to a world greater than a fashion runway. She talked about how necessary it is to dissolve fear, figure what it is you truly are, allow that love in, and connect with one another in your truest being.

Congrats to Nicole on another great collection, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of Eco Fashion Week has in store for us!

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Catch the closing walk for Nicole Bridger’s “You Are Not Alone” FW2013 collection.

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Hot Fall Looks From Holt Renfrew at FLARE Magazine’s World Runway Tour

Holt Renfrew Fashion Show

Aurora & I had the opportunity to attend the FLARE Magazine World Runway Tour, and the fashions were fabulous! Looks from Holt Renfrew and Pacific Centre were shown on the runway. A full article will be updated in this post soon… we jus wanted to get the pics to you ASAP!

Pacific Centre Fashion Show

FLARE Magazine World Runway Tour Attendees

Photos by Aurora Chan

Words by Miranda Sam

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VCC Fiat Mode XXVI: Student Grad Show Inspired by Traffic, Politics, Candy, Tron & more

Sophia Kim, Chloe Liu, Emily Kan

Sophia Kim, Chloe Liu, Emily Kan Cecilia Xiao, and Ginger Yu

A full spectrum of design philosophies were shown by the graduating class, with each student expressing a distinct voice and an inspirational element clearly interpreted in her work.

Henia Trylowsky was a highlight,  her choice to design the show’s only children’s wear line was refreshing.  Her inspiration, nature with a touch of romance, reflected well in her soft palette of dusty pink, blue grey, and brown.  Each outfit was both practical and elegant without resorting to adult-like stylings such as those worn by the line of Bratz fashion dolls.  The models looked like characters out of a modern fairytale.

Another highlight was Michelle Nguyen.  Through the use of silk jacquards, printed cotton, and wool suiting, she pieced together a cohesive collection of very wearable fun and funky causal ensembles.  This girl has range: we can imagine her work being sold at independent boutiques on Main Street or at more commercial bohemian-styel stores like Anthropologie.

One of the more conceptual collections was shown by Chloe Liu.  Her inspiration was candy and her models indeed looked like delectable frothy bonbons.  Definitely thinking outside of the regular clothing design box, each outfit could pass for a performance art piece.  Using fabrics like silk jacquard to construct bubble shapes and embellish the body with pompoms, bows, and flowers, the audience was transported to a magical land of rainbows and clouds made of cotton candy.  A true confection.

Words by Aurora Chan

I’ve seen my fair share of student grad shows since I started blogging at Style by Fire in 2008, and oftentimes you see how hard they’re trying, but something about the execution just isn’t right. That could have been the tailoring of the garments, the inexperienced models, or they run into technical difficulties. The VCC fashion design grad class showed their collection on Tuesday, Septemeber 25th, 2013. Though there was a minor glitch in the sound system, everything about the collections, designers, and the pride shared by everyone was very positive. Many made mention that their favourite moments of their program was taking fashion illustration class taught by the one and only Lisa Gellert.

The collections were neither too commercial nor too ambitiously esoteric; most had the right blend of concept and wearability. Silk was a popular fabric used by many students, though I was surprised by a ubiquitous use of clear vinyl in the collections. I thought Chin-yu Yu’s earthquake inspired collection was great, we liked the designs of the cut-out dresses and jackets. We also liked Zetta Han’s wearable sandy-coloured 2 piece ‘dress’ comprised of a trapeze top and equally flouncy skirt. One of the most compelling inspirations of the night was from Tannaz Fathi Zadeh. She was inspired by women’s situation in Iraq – how it’s changed over the years and how they have to fight for basic rights. She also used linen, nylon, polyester, and denim with great skill to craft her collection.

Fashion Director Sarah Murray did a fabulous job co-hosting the event, along with all the other staff at VCC. Congratulations to all the design students, we’re looking forward to seeing you produce your own lines!

Words by Miranda Sam
Photos by Aurora Chan

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Off the Runway: Survival of the Fashionest

Vancouver Fashion Week came to a glorious end on the weekend. So while it was all fun and fanciness, I want to touch upon something of a more serious nature: your health & how to survive fashion week.

I actually got sick the days leading up to the opening gala, and at the end of the weeklong affair, I got so exhausted I fell sick again and had to recover for 5 hours due to over-exhaustion. Most of us aren’t housewives just waiting for the day to pass before the party starts. Most of us have day jobs that keep supplying funds for chasing the dream. After 8 hour long work days, there was no way in hell I would have been able to rush home, shower, change, put on runway-worthy makeup, head down to Chinatown, then find cheap and easily available parking!

So, I’ve come up with my own set of survival of the fittest tips & tricks:

  1. Don’t be stupid, bring a jacket. But the real question is where do you store said outerwear? There usually aren’t coat checks. Well, my friends, for any larger scale production of fashion week, photographers usually get a riser for their pit. Now I feel like once I’ve said this, it’ll no longer be a best kept secret, but let’s see how many of you actually get to this far of the article. What I’ve learned is to wear a not-so-fancy jacket and leave it behind the hollow rise. It’s genius! Thank you, partner in crime, Ms Aurora.
  2. Keep your feet comfy. Bring a change of shoes. Now with everyone wearing 4″ heels, you wouldn’t want to be the singled-out one wearing flats. And they’re not that great for your feet either. What I do is bring a pair of foldable shoes – I prefer the Australian Flipsters. I don’t pack them into an envelope clutch, obviously, but in a purse that can give at least an inch or two in depth. So after the show, at least you can walk back to your car without hobbling.
  3. Pack a snack. There’s basically no time before or during that you can really sneak out and get even fast food. Sure it is technically possible, but that also means risk losing your seat (maybe it was VIP in the front row?). Although alcohol and other drinks may be widely available, very rarely is food sold. It’s like these fashion weeks are enforcing covert eating disorders rampant in the industry. Okay, so maybe that’s not the reason why (we all know alcohol and beverages have much higher margin). But do yourself a favour and pack a granola bar, sesame snaps, or whatever’s semi-nutritious and small enough to fit in a clutch.
  4. Make friends. It’s so true, everything you learned in kindergarten still applies to your adult life. Friends will more often than not help you “survive” fashion week. They’ll help you save seats to watch the show or help you fend off unpleasant photographers in the pit so you don’t have to crouch for 15 minutes straight. This in turn will assist with the “Keep your feet comfy” rule.
  5. Make it work. We all need to take Tim Gunn’s overused catch phrase from Project Runway to heart. This tip isn’t about your health, but about the survival of you as an individual/brand/personality in the industry. This whole time Aurora and I managed to wear outfits that cost under $100. The point here is to keep your image and your wallet ‘fit.’ Good hair, extravagant makeup, and pops of colour via lipstick/tights/accessories won’t break the bank and will easily jazz up any fashion week look. You really just have to play around and make it work for you! Either you go Anna Wintour and have the same hair or other constant, wear all black, or face the fact that you do have a lot of stuff in your closet – you just have to get creative with it.

Photos by Aurora | Words by Miranda

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Vancouver Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2014: Ha Sang Beg, Hong Kiyoung, Kaye Morales

Ha Sang Beg

Hong Kiyoung

Kaye Morales

The final day of VFW saw an eclectic mix of international award winning designers, from funky fun to mature elegance.  The designer to end the week was Filipino designer Kaye Morales.  A graduate of Manila’s School of Fashion and the Arts with a background in production and interior design, Morales’ collection for Spring/Summer 2014, called “Debauchery,” was decidedly dark and gothic.  The first model down the runway was carrying a bloodied skull; subsequent models wore symbolic crowns of thorns and fetish-inspired spiky headpieces.  The colour scheme was solidly based in black, blood red, and gold.  A dramatic ending to an amazing week of fashion.

Style by Fire had a fabulous time meeting new designers, bloggers, editors and fans throughout the week, as well as catching up with old friends.  Our passion for fashion was re-ignited by the spectrum of creativity shown and can’t wait for the next week of mayhem to commence again in six months’ time!

Photos and Words by Aurora Chan

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