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My own fashionably late post: Vancouver Fashion Week, part two.

24 Apr

Though the term “fashionably late” was coined before the advent of fashion shows, that expression could easily describe day two of Vancouver Fashion Week. I thought I had arrived just in time for the 6:30 show but soon realized they were running almost two hours behind. The woman decked out in a gorgeous satin yellow blouse next to me quipped, “Did they set the schedule according to Eastern time?”

Lia Pal and her well-dressed gals

The wait, however, was worth it as Seattle-based fashion designer Liuba Palancuic’s first outfit hit the runway. A neutral palette with hints of bright yellow, green and blue comprised her collection. The pieces were mostly structured with high collars, minimal and very wearable.

Melissa Squire and her fun, punky attires

In contrast, the next show featuring Saskatoon designer Melissa Squire was exuberant and flirty. Models sashayed down the catwalk to big band music wearing cute, feminine party dresses. The ensembles were predominantly black but popped with coloured details such as hot pink crinolines, leopard patterns and bronze sequins.

Prom Queenie Luo

As soon as the dreamy instrumental music started to showcase Queenie Luo’s pieces, the audience knew they were in for an ethereal and delicate collection. The show consisted of gorgeous strapless cocktail dresses and formal gowns embellished with feathers, beading, bows, pleats and an abundance of tulle. They were outfits that wouldn’t seem out of place at a wedding or prom – fitting, since the Richmond-based designer is still in high school. Kind of makes me wonder what I was accomplishing at that age.

The highlights of Luo’s collection were definitely the ball gowns. One ensemble paired a full pale pink skirt and tulle draping with a big bow as the top. While most would find it totally unwearable, props to Luo for taking a risk at her first  fashion show.

My favourite of the collection was definitely the black and white gown with a sweetheart neckline that transformed into an all-white dress once the layer of black voile was removed. The two-styles-in-one concept reminded me of Hussein Chalayan’s spring 2007 collection, albeit a little more manual and less experimental. One thing I didn’t like about the show was the makeup. When the first model came out, I seriously thought it was a makeup malfunction. For me, it’s too reminiscent of Nicole Kidman’s face powder problem.


The 50s era with Sarah

If the next two designers’ shows are anything to go by, vibrant orange and metallics will be big for fall. Local designer Sarah Runnalls’ collection is a bit 1950s, gothic and very textured. It featured a few menswear-inspired pieces updated with feminine silhouettes, and panelled ensembles detailed with leather and fur. Her designs can be found at the Ayden Gallery.

Colour-blocking at Pouneh Askarian’s

The last show I saw before I had to bounce was another local designer. Pouneh Askarian’s collection was inspired by a small Iranian tribe who create their own clothes from nature and tend to dye their fabrics in bright colours. The modern-fitted silk outfits were each accessorized with a headpiece that reminded me of Prada’s turbans made popular by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

Overall, it was an interesting mix of designers at fashion week – definitely something for every style. VFW showcasing designs for spring/summer 2012 is expected to hit the city in November.

All non-watermarked photos courtesy of Benjamin Yong. Click here for the full gallery.

Lace me up: A look at Vancouver Fashion Week

16 Apr

Hockey fans aren’t the only ones trying to juggle a jam-packed schedule this week – fashionistas were scrambling to organize their croc-embossed agendas in order to celebrate the city’s 10th anniversary of Vancouver Fashion Week.

With over 30 emerging and established designers showcasing their Fall/Winter 2011 collections, VFW is hailed as the city’s premier fashion event. This year kicked off with an opening gala Tuesday at Sutton Place Hotel where the designers gave the crowd a little taste of their work, each highlighting one piece from their collections.

Sugar and spice…

The fashion shows commenced Wednesday at the Empire Landmark Hotel downtown. Street style photographers would have trouble keeping up with the hordes of stylish individuals entering the lobby through the revolving doors of the hotel on their way downstairs to snag the limited seating.

I got there the first night in time to see the fashion show by Lace Embrace Atelier, a brand specializing in corsets by local designer Melanie Talkington. Much to the delight of the men dragged to the event by their girlfriends, the show opened with a sultry redhead disrobing to reveal a silver satin slip dress. She was met by a male counterpart who helped her into a beautifully embroidered pink and silver corset.

And everything nice

The rest of the show was just as sensual as burlesque music played while models in garters, petticoats, corsets, and dresses that are too gorgeous to just be seen in the bedroom, walked the runway. Now while the idea of a corset usually makes me want to hyperventilate, Talkington’s designs have me reconsidering the garment. Especially when it’s built into a dress like the gold satin piece embellished with dangling beads:

Talkington was the corset designer for Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch and has worked extensively with burlesque artist Dita Von Teese. She opened her first retail store at 219 E. 16th Ave. three years ago in Vancouver.

Stay tuned for a review of fashion shows from day two. In the meantime, tickets are still available for shows on Sunday, which is also the last day of VFW.

All photos courtesy of Benjamin Yong. Click here for the full gallery.

Oscars 2011 roundup: My picks for best-dressed

28 Feb

It’s Hollywood’s most prestigious night of the year and also one where I’m glued to the television set to see what the celebrities are wearing. I have to admit, I look forward to watching the Oscars and Golden Globes – where else can the average person so easily see such a wide display of couture? But I have to say, I’m a little disappointed with this year’s selection of dresses. The majority appeared to play it safe with strapless, a-line gowns in neutrals or red. However, there were a few that stood out during the event and had my eye constantly drawn towards them. My favourite outfits for this year’s Oscars are:

5. Halle Berry in Marchesa

Halle Berry at the 2011 Oscars

Marchesa’s been overdone on red carpets, but Berry’s champagne gown with tulle details and crystal beading complements her skin tone amazingly. Her minimal accessories and nude nail polish really complete the look. And the tulle train brings an ethereal quality to the whole ensemble.

4. Amy Adams in L’Wren Scott

Amy Adams at the 2011 Oscars

The more I see this look, the more I like it – Adams in a heavily sequined blue gown from L’Wren Scott’s fall 2011 collection. I would’ve preferred it without the Cartier necklace, though, as I think the sequins is enough of an embellishment on the dress.

L'Wren Scott fall 2011 runway


3. Anne Hathaway in Atelier Versace

Anne Hathaway hosting the 2011 Oscars

With all her multiple outfit changes throughout the night, the one that grabbed my attention the most was Hathaway’s burgundy Atelier Versace dress from spring/summer 2011. I love how the beading wraps around the bodice and extends down the centre of the front of the silk chiffon dress. I was disappointed she didn’t spend more stage time in this one (although her custom made Lanvin tux and sparkly Brian Atwood pumps was a stunning outfit as well).

Atelier Versace spring 2011


2. Cate Blanchett in Givenchy

Cate Blanchett at the 2011 Oscars

I’m so glad Blanchett took a fashion risk tonight and wore a gown from Givenchy’s spring 2011 couture collection. I thought it was the most unique choice of the evening – the structured shoulder encrusted with yellow and lilac pearls interspersed with crystals. The pleated skirt also flowed in such a gorgeous way when she walked and the back of the dress is amazing as well. Props to the house of Givenchy for creating another dress as memorable as Natalie Portman’s origami-style white frock at the Cannes Film Festival a few years ago.

Givenchy spring 2011

Back of the Givenchy dress


1. Mila Kunis in Elie Saab

Mila Kunis at the 2011 Oscars

It might just be my love for Kunis influencing my pick, but she looked incredible in a lavender silk chiffon gown from Elie Saab’s spring 2011 couture collection. The lace overlays on her chest were a bit strange though – my sister thought they were tattoos at first and I feared a wardrobe malfunction when she took the stage. But I thought it was a flawless look otherwise.

Elie Saab spring 2011 couture runway

Agree or disagree? Comment with your favourites.

[Red-carpet photos from The Fashion Spot. Runway photos from Style.]

Just Like a Circus: BCITMA Fashion Show

15 Feb

New York Fashion Week may well be underway, but Vancouver’s BCIT Marketing Association also played host to a fashion show last Friday at Republic Nightclub. The event, called Cirque d’Etrange, featured a mix of six local well-established and emerging womenswear designers.

Going into the event, I was expecting a more literal translation of the circus theme à la sunaokuwahara’s S/S 08 collection, but was pleasantly surprised to discover a wide range of styles and designs. The show stayed consistent to the circus idea through its use of eye makeup in bright pinks, purples and blues and excessively high updos streaked with the same colours.

The White Stripes (and Dots)

The first designer was Nicole Guzzo, a third-year fashion design and technology student at Kwantlen University. Her line, predominantly red, white and black, pays homage to 1950s pin-up and rockabilly.

Friday I’m in (Carny) Love

The designs from Carny Love by Christie Clayton were constructed using a variety of whimsical prints. The fun, artsy pieces were the most fitting of the night for an event named Cirque d’Etrange. A graduate of Vancouver Community College’s fashion arts program, Clayton also appeared in season two of Project Runway Canada.

Say Hello to the Angels

Miriam Melanson, designer behind the Flaming Angels line, is also owner of the boutique on Main and 27th of the same name. The dark aesthetics in Melanson’s designs wouldn’t look out of place on Helena Bonham Carter’s character in Sweeney Todd. Velvet panels in rich red, blues and purples enhance the pieces in her collection.

Bloomfield of Dreams

Bloomfield by Cyndi Schuring is the most wearable collection of the show. The models sashayed down the runway in casual outfits made from eco-friendly fabrics. My favourite of the Bloomfield set was the patterned silk with a Monet-like quality used for a skirt and dress.

With over two decades in the fashion industry, Schuring believes she knows what women look for:

“My goal is to create clothing that brings out women’s authentic personal style and compliments their body type. The silk fabric was fun to work with and if you look closely at the pattern, it has a city skyline in it. There are so many wonderful colours in the silk print I felt it would compliment many different skin tones and colour preferences of women.”

A Tribe Called Yuki

Like Guzzo, Jamie Carlson is also in her third year of fashion design at Kwantlen University. There’s a bit of a tribal element in Carlson’s line, Yuki. She chooses fabrics that stay structured even though she tends to use a draping process.

Carlson said she lets the underlying idea of her collection and fabrics guide her:

“The theme of my line was contemporary Afro-Caribbean, and I focused on mixing bright colors and geometric shapes with soft lines and neutrals as a reflection of that culture. When I’m designing I’m mostly inspired by process, so I’ll start with a theme and a basic breakdown of what garments and fabrics will compliment the theme. There is a lot of trial and error involved in this process, but the result it yields can be really unexpected.”

Black Swan

The highlight of the night was definitely the collection by Eva Chen Couture. Working mostly with black material accented with muted colours, Chen manages to blend feathers, chiffon, rosettes, and lace tulle into a gorgeous array of dresses.

Partial proceeds of the Cirque d’Etrange event went to Dress for Success, a non-profit organization which helps low-income women prepare for job interviews.