This year at Vancouver Fashion Week, there was a runway platform unlike any other: The first-ever collaborative show between Blanche Macdonald and the city’s top-trending sartorial event unfolded under the eyes of the city’s fashion and media industry elite.
From the moment the models began to emerge, it was clear that this showcase was a showstopper. Ten carefully curated Blanche Macdonald Fashion Design alumni from all over the world revealed three looks each to a packed forum of wall-to-runway journalists, bloggers, photographers, industry professionals, and fashion fans.
The audience found themselves whisked from one delight of to the next – first transported to the lively and eccentric world of Alex S. Yu; then to the fabulous collection of Evan Clayton’s magical-girl couturiere; then awed by the hand-formed and dyed wool of Garret Alexander Elphee’s singularly unique creations; then tantalized by the glittering animal prints and feathers put to use by Maryam Asgari. The startling range of stories, aesthetics and influences displayed by this prodigious international set of designers elicited the standing ovation that capped off the inaugural BMC x VFW show.
Alex S. Yu (@alex.s.yu) – Taiwan-born and Canadian-raised Alex S. Yu aimed to blend his worldviews, his nationalities and his cultures together in his collection “THE PERCEIVED ANALOGY.” Leaving us speechless, Alex’s work proved that identity is fascinating, complex, and ever-shifting. His contemporary designs are synonymous with youth and whimsy. Alex was selected as this year’s Nancy Mak Award recipient which celebrates innovation and the evolution of new designers within the industry. With this award, he is also given the opportunity to show his collection in the London or Paris showroom.
Chloe Prusa (@prusadesigns) – We stepped into the boudoir with Chloe Prusa. The Victoria, BC-native designer explored the traditional design techniques of classic lingerie sets, using lace and leather in creative new ways in her collection “UNWEARABLE,” an homage to “classic kink.”
Dasha Volokhova (@dashavolokhova) – Gleaning inspiration from historical costumes, Russian-born Dasha Volokhova’s designs combined old-world aesthetics with new-world fashion. Focusing on intricate needlework and fabric manipulations, Dasha’s designs were nothing less than wearable works of art.
Evan Clayton (@evanclayton) – Taking cues from the classic Japanese “magical girl” trope and serialized manga like Sailor Moon and Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Evan Clayton used patent leather and silk twills to create signature sharp silhouettes for his collection “MAHŌ SHŌJO.” A VFW veteran, BC native and the first-ever recipient of the Nancy Mak Award, Evan’s collections have garnered immense attention from the media and landed a show in Vienna Fashion Week.
Garret Alexander Elphee – For his current collection, Garret Alexander Elphee began with the concept of “sterile yet sexy.” Though that was the springboard for each look, he made sure that each piece was allowed its own natural evolution. Garret’s collection was less a compilation of elements than an expression of how it feels to share the intimacy of artistic expression with the public and that is instantly judged by the masses.
Kari Appelquist – Referencing her Saskatchewan roots and Industrial Engineering background, Kari Appelquist employed a myriad of shapes, tones and textures in contrast with each other to evoke a female empowerment. Her collection used animal elements like ostrich leather and handcrafted embellishments like chain mail to abolish conventional beauty standards in favor of the complex, contradictory and cutting-edge.
Li Liu – Luxurious silks combined with the most delicate of twills and crepe de chine were married in rich bundles and bows for China-based designer Li Liu’s “DREAM OF A GEISHA” collection. Currently completing her Master of Fashion Design in Florence, Li’s designs were based on colourful Asian antiquities for the independent businesswoman.
Maryam Asgari (@maryamfashion.ca) – Born and raised in Tehran, Maryam Asgari expressed her passion for colour and flounce on the runway. In her collection, Maryam combined body-conscious silhouettes with animal elements and signature flourishes of sequins, mesh, knits and paillettes.
Maryam Niyazi (@maryamniyazi1) – Afghanistan-born designer Maryam Niyazi’s collection was first conceived from glancing up at the small, squared mirrors on the ceiling of Columbia Station in New Westminster. Loving the reflection and its repeating pattern, Maryam designed a repeating print that became the focal point of her collection. Through handmade details and clean, simple silhouettes, Maryam invited us into a structure of her own creation.
Sara Armstrong (@sararmstrong) – Sara Armstrong’s new concept collection embodied her loyalty to heritage craftsmanship that she at once subverted with complex geometries and the aid of HRI (Human Robot Interaction). Surrounded by a swell of silks, taffeta and linen, Sara’s collection came to life with no time, season, wearer or size restraints – they simply are. A winner of the Nancy Mak award and previous VFW presenter, the Saskatchewan-native and Blanche Macdonald Fashion Design instructor explored the spaces between success and strain – all in the colourful mode of “thumb-throb red.”
The success of the inaugural BMC x VFM Alumni Fashion Show was a tribute to the hard work of the graduates and staff at Blanche Macdonald, with special mention due to the inspirational leadership of President Lily Lim, the endless efforts of Fashion Director Tyler Udall, Career Director, Fashion Department Mel Watts, Creative Director Kelly Schmidt, Associate Marketing Director Natasha Eng, Social Media and Marketing Coordinators Allie Samborn and Rheanna Miller, and Social Media and Creative Content Coordinators Kendahl Jung and Mohamed Ibrahim Ali.
Infinite gratitude to the backstage team, shoes and accessories coordinated by Danielle Muntain and help by a team of volunteers from the Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing programs. Instructors Jon Hennessey and Lisa Callendar and their volunteer graduates and students from the Blanche Macdonald Makeup and Hair Departments ensured the models looked as spectacular as the collections. Thanks also to our DJ Hana Pesut (Sincerely Hana) for providing an amazing soundtrack to the show.
The entire team at Blanche Macdonald would like to extend its sincerest gratitude to all the staff at Vancouver Fashion Week and our corporate sponsors, Make Up For Ever and Revlon.