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VALT Day 2: Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week – Dystopia

The second night of VALT continued the journey of futures from Utopia to Dystopia, a bleak and anarchist nightmare world full of human suffering without respite.  The swashbuckling Aaron Morris, VALT Model Coordinator and Event Host,  guided the audience through this show of darkness with a jovial wink.  This Dystopia doesn’t seem so bad!  At first, that is.

Shiverz Designs

Shiverz Designs is a local online business that specializes in designing fanciful accessories to decorate a woman’s head, including fascinators, hats, masquerade masks, jewelry, and feather hair clips.  It created an equally ornate collection of ensembles to coordinate with their accessories for the VALT runway, each one representing a different character.  There was the flirty burlesque dancer, the lady on the town, the femme fatale, and the elegant lady of the garden, to name a few.  Fantastical.

A.D Designs

A.D Clothing and Costume Design strives to push the boundaries of outerwear, creating costume jackets, vests, and pants to make a woman feel strong and empowered.  Inspired by the insanity and darkest feelings we hold locked up inside ourselves, the models hobbled down the runway in a state of mental mania, bound and restricted by the strappings of their attire.  The jackets represented a high fashion interpretation of the classic straitjacket and could almost be worn to the office….that is if you want to send a strong message to your boss!  Polished insanity.

Jillian Gray

The Art Institute of Vancouver graduate Jillian Gray chose to showcase her graduating collection for VALT, entitled “Slave to the Rhythm,” referring to the Grace Jones album with the same name.  Jones was the inspiration behind her designs with her iconic and androgynous presence.  The overall aesthetic and simple lines of Gray’s pieces struck very close to my heart.  I loved the monochromatic colours and strong lines, with the edginess and interest in the use of contrasting fabrics.  The masculine leather interplayed seamlessly with the softer feminine chiffon.  I would buy the entire collection if I could!  Amazing.

Oculto Steam Masks

Shay Lhea is the mastermind behind Oculto Steam Masks.  She strives to elevate the traditional notion of masks as being merely accessories to full-on disguises that enable the wearer to take on a different persona.  Each luxury piece of wearable art is given an elaborate character profile meant to help breathe life into them.  She designed and constructed a new collection specifically for VALT and the results were conceivably the most mature and honed evolution of her vision.

The models in uniform black business attire strutted down the runway while wielding a weapon specific to their character, ranging from an axe to brass knuckles.  They were given free reign to use their weapons to simulate acts of violence – they threatened the audience, slit their own throats, and slammed the baton on the runway.  The menace was all the more effective by the fact that the audience couldn’t see the models’ faces, but instead were face to face with an emotionless visage.  Darkly disturbing in a good way.

The fashion runway sets were interspersed with another magnetic dance performance by the House of Barnes x Celinski Productions, and the moody pseudo pop music of The Pink Pearl Dragon from Toronto, a return act from the debut VALT.  The world of Dystopia was twisted and tormented, and that has never felt so good.

Words + Photos by Aurora Chan

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VALT Day 1: Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week – Utopia

The Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week[End] (VALT) provides a platform to showcase the creativity of the local alternative fashion industry, bringing together fashion, art, music, dance, culture, and technology into a fully interactive experience over three nights of revelry.  After a highly successful debut in 2012, VALT was back bigger and better over the November 22nd weekend.  This year the theme revolved around the Post-Apocalypse, with three possible futures proceeding over the three consecutive nights – Utopia, Dystopia, and Techtopia.

Rococo Acid Candy

The first night was Utopia, representing the ideal future that is hopeful and optimistic, without any toil or suffering.  With the show hosted by the ethereal Jacqueline Ryan, the evening’s energy was immediately pumped up by the rousing dance performance by the amazing House of Barnes x Celinski Productions.  This was followed up by the equally arresting collection by Rococo Acid Candy.  A confection of colourful and playful creations traipsed down the runway, drawing the audience into the world of Willy Wonka and his sugar high.  Some of the gowns were made of multiple layers of newspaper, while others were downright delectable with jujubes and gum balls stuck onto the bodices.  A collection good enough to eat!


Having just been established in 2013 when the designer behind Zollection moved to Canada, the brand has already developed a very focused and polished vision.  Inspired by art dolls, the collection was a study in boho chic in its many variations and colours, with the models awkwardly stumbling down the runway like the rag dolls that they were.  The overall look with the fingerless gloves made me think of Pygmalion’s street girl Eliza Doolittle.  Beautiful.

Scheherazade Banoo

Scheherazade Banoo specializes in designing costumes for dancers, mainly in the tribal fusion belly dancing arena.  It created a collection of magnificent tribal headdresses for VALT and what can I say, it was jaw dropping.  Elegant and serene models in long robes glided out with crowd stopping art pieces perched on top of their heads, each one more elaborate than the last.  The last model came out on stilts!  And as if the sights weren’t enough, the designer herself was onstage throughout, serenading all of the models a cappella.  Breathtaking.

Milk Tea by Silent Kay

Kari Kanin

Skye Davies

Last but not least, Skye Davies is a local textile experimentalist who draws inspiration for her designs from nature and architectural forms.  Her cohesive collection revealed her innovative dyeing and fabric manipulation techniques, resulting in interesting textures and colour blending.  What I loved was that her pieces seemed very easy and comfortable to wear, flattering for all kinds of body types.  Lovely.

In between the runway sets, the audience was rocking to the tunes of the indie punk-pop band Modern Limits.  A band fronted by an Asian female with a Vidal Sassoon-like haircut, hells yeah!

VALT’s world of Utopia was exuberant and gorgeous; Style by Fire couldn’t wait for more!

Photos + Words by Aurora Chan

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