The FW19 season of Vancouver Fashion Week brought serious talent to centre stage, with an incredible range of creative designers from Canada and across the world. Spearheading diversity VFW featured local lines as well as an influx of international designers representing the likes of Australia, France, Russia, Japan, India, Ukraine, and Taiwan.
Japanese designer Emi Jingu showed off the endless artistic possibilities of balloons with her collection ‘Unlimited’. She captivated the audience with her innovative and sophisticated dresses each using the unique material of balloons. Jingu pushes artistic boundaries as she effortlessly coordinates a metallic palette of grey, bronze and gold tones while intricately layering balloons of different dimensions in such a way to create elegant couture silhouettes. Jingu’s dresses featured peplum-styles, slim bodices, and flared skirts, highlighting her extraordinary talents. The eccentric garments were complemented with sleek hairstyles, glossy makeup with ashy tones, and stilettos to encompass the chic futuristic style.
YONFA, a collection from Japanese designer Kim Yonghwa, was the embodiment of accessible, comfortable elegance. In her collection, Yonghwa played with dimensions, offering a range of oversized jackets, crisp calf-length white shirts and sweaters cut at unique yet flattering angles. Yonghwa’s commitment to basic materials, such as wool and cotton, worked in harmony with her flattering silhouettes and elementary palette of white, navy, black and tan, to create looks free from fuss that express comfort, elegance and accessible style.
Local designer Melissa Yin of Mel Elegance presented ‘Celestial’, a resort-wear collection. Melissa is Chinese-Canadian and brings a multicultural aesthetic and minimalist comfort to luxury resort-wear. Inspired by a summer spent in Alaska Delaney National Park, Melissa’s designs were defined by flowing silhouettes and warm floral patterns in silk and linen. The sounds and sights of Alaskan wildlife were reflected through colour and detail in a collection that transitions steadily from black and floral ruffles to white lace. Rounding out the tone of the show were floor-length dresses in soft pinks and bright reds. Thoroughly accessorized, outfits were completed with bright blue and pink straw beach bags.
The Radastyle collection, by Belarusian designer Tatsiana Sychova, was the epitome of timeless, beautiful elegance. ‘Orbit of Time’ utilized classic, flattering silhouettes in sleek fabrics that stood apart with a mastery of fine details. Stunning floating dresses in silk and satin glided down the runway abated by eye-catching necklines, ruffled sleeves, detailed waistlines and hemlines generously cut on the bias. The collection was coherent, elegant, and modest all while being breathtakingly sensual.
Taiwan-based Ming Design Studio by Ching-Ming Chen presented their latest collection, ‘Charm.2015,’ defined by vibrant medleys of colour pieced together in a variety of silhouettes. From peplum skirts to militaristic coats, Ching-Ming has clothed the female form in every way possible. Evoking nostalgia through retro designs, Ching-Ming utilized subtle sheer and cotton fabrics highlighted with velvet accents. Ensembles were completed with natural makeup and white, black, or nude shoes. Many outfits were also paired with petite, brightly-coloured purses suspended at hemline level.
Sorockolita, by Russian designer Viktoriya Stukalova, mastered the aesthetics of Gothic subculture to create a memorable collection that was simultaneously show-stopping yet also featured incredibly wearable pieces. A fine craftswoman, Stukalova incorporated the name of her collection, ‘Black Wing’, into the items with fascinating yet subtle accents such as leather cutouts on blazers that resembled a feathered wing or soft Luneville embroidery. Transporting the audience to the dawn of Gothic culture, the Victorian period, the collection brought back the corset, bodice and ruffled neck juxtaposed with skinny leather pants and stilettos to keep the looks modern and accessible. The collection was exclusively black and white yet nevertheless textured through its mastery of multiple materials such as wool, leather, silk, and cotton. ‘Black Wing’ made Gothic fashionable, sexy, and powerful.
Emelia’s Swimwear, a Canadian brand by Emelie Hausler, transported the audience to a tropical holiday through their collection of luxury swimwear. Energetic and playful models worked the runway wearing flirtatious bikinis, interacting with each other and taking the spontaneous selfie. Hausler draws colour inspiration from her travels, resulting in diverse shades ranging from earthy tones to vibrant and bright hues which caught the eyes of the audience. The reversible swimwear was interlaced with modest mesh inserts, playful zippers and feminine belts and braids, keeping each piece a balance between functional and stylish. The show finished with a dazzling finale as the models strutted down the runway for the last time collectively in head-turning bright fuschia pieces.
HAMON, a Japanese brand created by Kumiko Iwano, showcased innovative and masterful craftsmanship through an extensive line exclusively made from fragments of fabric and materials left over from her last 10 years of production. ‘RE:incarnation’, a collection that spoke to the themes of memory and rebirth, started with a bright, eye-grabbing red dress and moved throughout a rich palette of black, grey and purple to conclude with beautiful white dresses. Most of the items featured one colour but added incredible texture through recycled fabric sewn upon the items in numerous ways, including raw and frayed strips, hemline tassels, patches and folds. Keeping the traditional Kimono silhouette of long jackets and robes with wide sleeves over long pants or skirts, Iwano’s collection looked effortlessly elegant and, while innovative and creative, perfectly comfortable and wearable.
Hometown designer Ryan Li presented his FW19 collection ‘Redeem your soul’. Li has designed a collection of experimental garments that incorporate elements of menswear and tailoring to create an eye-catching final product. Set to futuristic production, the collection established itself as avant-garde yet functional with a line of crisply cut garments in a metallic burgundy hue, which continued to drive the line alongside an exaggerated houndstooth pattern. The influence of menswear in the women’s pieces was evident through structured shoulders and slim but composed silhouettes, with deconstructed sleeves adding depth. Consistent and dark, Li’s experience in atelier’s showed clearly as his collection established a strong tone. A surprise announcement marking Ryan Li as this year’s winner of the Nancy Mak award (a scholarship that recognizes up-and-coming British Columbia based designers awarded by VFW founder Jamal Abdourahman) drew applause from the crowd. Ryan Li will present his collection internationally with Global Fashion Collective.
Jessica Hu’s brand Jessture debuted a collection that stayed true to its label; ‘Cozy Serenity’ was a display of calming colour palettes and relaxed fits that remained remarkably well cut and formal for contemporary casual womenswear. The garments are meant to evoke ‘the feeling of waking leisurely in the afternoon of a long vacation’ and presented an array of soothing hues of lilac, mint and beige throughout. Most pieces were composed of wool and cotton blends with cinched waists and loosely tied belts providing structure to looks. Key pieces included a loosely cut dark green overcoat with faux fur lapels and wool blended cinch bottom lounge pants that exuded a sense of luxurious relaxation. Jessture brought the evening back to earth with a masterful blend of minimalistic cuts that look easily at place on both the boulevard and living room.
Alexandra Zofcin from US brand The House of AmZ presented ‘Self_ A Reflection’, a spiritual and artistic exploration into the emotions and experiences that make up the creation of the individual. Drawing inspiration from nature, this calm collection was made up of deep earthy tones and delicate natural fibres such as fine silks and organzas. Models graced the runway walking on their tiptoes holding delicate flowers, adding to the calmness exuding from the garments. The eco-conscious collection of dresses and blouses featured wing-cap sleeves, silk charmeuse pockets, woven linen, cream coloured culottes and ribbon straps which airily floated along the runway. The brand interweaves different materials and patterns, most notably seen in a remarkable iridescent skirt with hues of dark green and plum mixed with fresh cream-coloured linen.
margot, by Japanese designer Hana Imai, showcased their debut collection of dresses, which was inspired by women and aims to simplify their everyday outfits and lives. Imai uses calm neutrals and soft cotton fabrics to achieve light and airy simplicity. The prairie style dresses featured a wide style of necklines from deep v-necks to off-the-shoulder, and patterns ranging from plaid to polka dots were further lavished with light ruffles, lace, and puff sleeves. Included was a sophisticated take on the classic sweater dress made from soft tan wool. The hair looks were pieced together with low ponytails tied with thick ribbon. The melange of styles harmonized together to create graceful silhouettes, radiating the brand’s goal of simplicity.
Vancouver brand Sunny’s Bridal finished off the night with their dazzling collection ‘The Divine Feminine’. Choreographed to perfection, the show featured five sets of South Asian style lavish dresses, leaving the audience in awe. Each set featured soft silhouettes and colours ranging from fresh pastels and florals, metallics and bold hues, with the final set comprising of all-white, accented with silver sparkles. The luxurious dresses were all embellished with sparkling jewels, catching the light and glimmering as the models sauntered down the runway. Styles included two-piece sets and mermaid and A-line shapes, which were accessorized with detailed tassels, lace, fringes and flowing trains. The extravagant collection was the embodiment of strong women as female anthems played in the background and feminist messages were held on placards.
Carmen Llaguno a luxury womenswear designer from Mexico brought a serene collection to the runway, incorporating femininity and spirituality. ‘The Numinous’ collection with layers of glossy silks in soft creamy colours was sensual and elegant. An artist that celebrates ethical construction and procurement, Carmen designs with grace and care. High-waisted style pants were paired with cropped asymmetric tops and fresh, cleanly cut dresses were complemented with slinky jackets. Ensembles were complete with stylish pointed leather boots and naturally-contoured makeup.
Australian designer Charlotte Terry presented a playful introduction to her line Arlo with the capsule collection ‘Chrysalis’. Drawing inspiration from ideas of metamorphosis, transition and growth, this collection of womenswear is empowering, featuring a diverse run of experimental garments. With texture and colour-play as central focus points, highlights included an oversized jacket with loose stitching detail and a structured apron dress worn over a silk top with tucked sleeves. A dress in midnight blue with ribbons of fabric hanging playfully stood out as another ingenious design in this lively and vibrant collection. Charlotte made a strong impression with Arlo, and is an excellent example of the high-quality global talent on display at Vancouver Fashion Week.
Jessica Chang Chih Yun of Jessica Chang Studio in New York highlighted clever craftmanship for FW19. With a strong background in fine art, Jessica has manipulated fabrics in creative ways for this collection to form structure and silhouette. Jessica’s ensembles move through a colour scheme of white, pale pink, deep purple, and blues. Inspired by ‘Sequences’ and discovering how to document change, even the way the fabrics have been dyed has been carefully considered, the dye developing through exposure to the sun with wrinkles and folds leaving an imprint on the material. Visually intriguing ruffles, pleating, and wrap over elements made for a robust textile narrative.
Images courtesy of Vancouver Fashion Week
Designers in order of appearance left to right
Image 1: Emi Jingu, YONFA, Mel Elegance, Radastyle, Ming Design Studio, Sorockolita, Emelia’s Swimwear, HAMON
Image 2: Ryan Li, Jessture, The House of AmZ, margot, Sunny’s Bridal, Carmen Llaguno, Arlo, Jessica Chang Studio.