Another successful evening of runway shows, with a packed house and an abundance of talent, took place on Friday, September 21. A fairy tale romance unfolded, fascinators fascinated, and bikini beauties had the flash bulbs working overtime.
Designer Trish Connolly presented first with her Charmed collection of princess dresses and wedding gowns. Set to the tinkle of a music box, a dashing and be-masked stranger greeted his “prospective suitors” on the runway with a kiss of the hand. Connolly’s models, young girls and older girls alike, dressed in fairy-tale gowns of organza, lace, and reams of ruffles, flitted along in a sea of dazzling rhinestones. A strapless, floor-length, white gown with a cascading skirt of fine tulle, had all guests enchanted when a tiny dancer unzipped the skirt at mid length, transforming the bride into a ballerina.
Next to show was Michelle Goldie’s Goldie London collection. Goldie London got its humble start in London’s Portobello and Spitalfields markets, and has since grown into a global label of fashion-forward, wearable pieces for the more expressive woman. For her runway outing, Goldie collaborated with Hive Mind Millinery by hat designer Dominique Hanke, a Brit originally from Staffordshire England and now based in Vancouver. Hanke’s colourful fascinators, straw boaters and bowlers, and fedoras topped off Goldie’s chic, cool, dresses, bustiers, and beautifully tailored jackets. A deer-skull and antler creation, paired with a bronze sequin party dress, stole the show.
Third to hit the runway was another memorable collaboration. Jewellery, from mag? (m?g’p?), a creation of the Random Life Project by designer Melinda Ho, was mixed with elegant evening and office wear by Angel Eye of London. Ho took traditional chainmail techniques and twisted them into sleek and funky necklaces, bracelets and earrings, and Angel Eye’s signature “London-inspired” vintage-printed fabrics and designs, were the ideal accompaniment. Scalloped-cut hi-low skirts and dresses, and feminine blouses were accented with m?g’p? ‘s stunning silver designs.
Our next designer is a true story of survival and success. Thanh Nguyen’s amazing story begins in Vietnam, where as a young girl fleeing the war, she was separated from her mother on the boat. Ending up in Holland as a foster child, Nguyen dreamed of one day making beautiful dresses. Her wish came true when she at 18 began her studies as a fashion designer and working part-time as a dressmaker for Holland’s Miss Universe. She eventually opened her own wedding dress shop and lived in Holland for 26 years. Nguyen moved to Vancouver six years ago, and Vancouver Fashion Week is thrilled to have hosted her on Friday night. Thanh Nguyen’s exquisite Lolem collection, displayed on models with bejewled foreheads and gothic make-up, featured crocheted dresses, lace gowns, and assymetrical waistcoats – a testament to her magnificent attention to detail and incredible talent. Her show began with a stunning green cage dress and ended with a well-earned standing ovation.
In stark contrast to Nguyen’s drama-filled exposition, the evening’s next designer brought teeny bikinis and a whole lot of bling. Vancouver-based Nicole Courchaine’s Heiress Swimwear had the flashes flashing and the smart phones in the air as a bevvy of beauties paraded barely-there two-pieces and cut-out maillots. Leaving little to the imagination, many of the pieces in the swimwear line were adorned with gold chains, lace, studs and sparkles, in an array of jewel tones and metallics.
Next on the catwalk was local label Mia Melon, from Aussie designer Mandy Morgan. Mia Melon can best be described as casual street wear and festival favourites, modeled fittingly by girls in beads, bandanas and hippie hair. Jersey-knit dresses, slouchy tops and girly rompers rounded out the playful collection.
Not to be outdone by the first swimwear show of the night, the second, Peruvian designer Sandra Jazmin Higueras’ Qispi Kay Swimwear, held its ground. The South American-themed show began with a video setting the tone with exotic jungle scenes, and leading into a collection of animal print, brightly coloured, and floral bikinis. Faux-leather detailing and string ties added just the right amount of Tarzan to the looks.
Tokyo-based Greek designer Michail Gkinis took center stage next with his sombre, moody Aptform collection. The show’s music was slow and unearthly – an appropriate soundtrack for Gkinis’ post-apocalyptic creations. Models drifted like smoke along the catwalk, their minimal, muted make-up evoking images of lost souls wandering the streets after a natural disaster. Loose-fitting, draped cotton jersey, mesh, and leather, in grey, black and dull blue, felt more like Vancouver Fall/Winter weather than Spring/Summer; perhaps an homage to the “fall” of civilization vibe of his designs.
American designer Jessica L Huang was next with a brilliant collection of elegant meets dominatrix. Leather pants, booty shorts, and jackets showcased Huang’s phenomenal talent for construction, stitch detailing. Haung’s creativity stems from a diverse background in fashion and costume design, illustration, and graphic design. Jessica is currently an independent contractor who’s worked with large companies like, Disney, Warner Brothers, Microsoft, MAC, Chloe, and Old Navy, and it’s apparent why she is in such high demand. Her expert tailoring is second to none, with peplum jackets, modernized jodphurs, and multi-zip skirts being the highlights.
The closing show was reserved for London-based PINGHE. A leading international fashion designer, Ping’s creativity and vision have enabled her to work in the best high fashion houses, including Alexander McQueen. Ping was Design Director for the London headquartered global brand Aftershock for five years, where her biggest fans included Madonna and Uma Thurman. Her collection on Friday night lived up to her reputation, rivalling that of any of the top names in fashion. Models with red-painted eyes in perfectly tailored blazers, black and white printed deep-v blouses, and red and black high-waisted trousers had all eyes glued to what was coming out next.
Reporting by Spindle’s Vancouver Fashion Week Correspondent Natalie Clark