Vancouver Fashion Week: New Talents for SS20

Vancouver Fashion Week is the fastest-growing fashion week in the world and the only industry event that actively seeks out to showcase international award-winning designers from over 25 global fashion capitals. For 33 seasons, VFW has celebrated multiculturalism and up-and-coming designers on their runways. So I’m totally excited to show you what’s next!

Concluding Spring/Summer 2020 of Vancouver Fashion Week was Haus of Zuk. Heavily inspired by drag queens, cosplay, and video game culture, Haus of Zuk designs fantasy creations with child-like characteristics. A trailblazer in the LGBTQ2A+ community, Haus of Zuk’s designs are breaking the status quo of menswear, balancing puerility with sultry, hyper-specialized silhouettes. Its latest collection, FLETCHER, made its mark with animal bone masks adorned with bright flowers, sparkling black tights, and ruffled pastel layers of creamy fabric and chiffon. Padded shoulders and buckles added a masculine touch to the playful figures. From the birds, to the rabbits, to the wolves, Haus of Zuk made the audience go wild, and was a perfect conclusion to this season at Vancouver Fashion Week.

Working with designers from Anna Fendi to Dolce and Gabbana, Davide Grillo, founded his own brand based on the poetics of craftmanship and uniqueness of traditional processes. To end the Italian trilogy, Davide Grillo’s ethereal models floated down the runway in long flowy dresses. The models looked like goddesses as classical italian music echoed throughout the room embodying the timeless and classic nature of the brand. The collection was a wash of pastel colors featuring opulent lace and silk fabrics. Grillo’s extensive background in the fashion industry included being selected as a finalist for Vogue Italia and having his collection at various fashion weeks, makes it an absolute honor to see him at Vancouver Fashion week.

Celine Haddad is a French Lebanese designer whose raison d’etre is to challenge societal norms. Rebellion is a voice of empowerment and inspiration to question tradition. Lilac was the chosen colour for the range of blazers, skirts and see-through tops. The resistance came in the form of utility holsters and belts – nontraditional accessories that represented Haddad’s fight against conformity. An oversized shirt with a cutout back, blazers paired with workout tights, hoodies and shorts – these were Haddad’s imagination of the urban woman.

In the first of a quintet of Bolivian brands to showcase at VFW, Diabla opened the runway with a fashion line inspired by Bolivian traditions, folklore and heritage. With a focus on creating pieces for the modern woman, Diabla’s handmade garments seamlessly blend traditional style with modern functionality. The SS20 collection is filled with beautiful and delicate beading, dazzling fringe and elegant silk and chiffon pieces. The traditional music playing transports onlookers to the Bolivian village where the clothing is created. Diabla’s use of rich jewel tones and shimmering gold lends the collection an undeniable elegance about it. With pants and jackets, evening gowns and shawls all complemented by matching accessories from hand bags to hair pieces and beautifully beaded shoes, Diabla’s SS20 collection has all the pieces a woman needs to complete a fashionable look.

What reasons do we have to be brave? Shined on the screen for Carla Quiroga’s introduction. The next Bolivia-based brand gave the runway a taste of South American style—accented with tassels and ombré effects. Carla Quiroga’s womenswear and menswear was starting with the intention to produce apparel made in Bolivia, in support of the Bolivian labour market. The S/S20 collection mainly consisted of lightweight knits and netting, featuring skirts and pants with a flare we usually see on salsa dancers. The looks infused pastel colors of pinks, purples, mint green, light orange and green, with knitted handbags to match.

The Bolivian duo of Marco Gutiérrez and Daniel Ghetti and their label, Papingo Maminga, are challenging the way Bolivians dress. Their journey to Vancouver played on screen: from dressmaking to visa applications, to flights. A top with an enlarged Bolivian passport print announced their arrival. Kitsch, 80s colour, and rainbow bands wrapped around sleeves and pant legs morphed into a hybrid line of high street and modern fashion. In the middle of the collection was a shift to cocktail gowns and Royal Ascot dresses. They closed with a homage to Bolivia: postcards of tourist attractions were tacked to form a jacket and long hemline skirt.

NARDA Bolivian Handmade presented a captivating collection of luxury handmade shoes. The To Be Seen collection could not be missed. Handcrafted in Bolivia, each piece was a statement of individualistic expression. Inspired by the Panthera Onca or Jaguar that inhabits the Bolivian Amazon. In nature, the Jaguar camouflages itself with rose spots to blend into its jungle habitat. The collection was defined by its refined palette of pinks, nudes and greens. Hints of metallic made up of engraved beef leather meant to mimic jaguar spots refused to blend in with the crowd. A contemporary twist on classic oxfords, platforms and pumps that were eloquent yet unapologetic.

As Bolivia continued to reign on the runway, La Paz based brand La Espina, founded by Vania Rodriguez in 2014, brought ethical fashion to Friday’s show. The native Aymara people live in the high plateaus of the Andes where they worship gods of the earth, wind, and skies. Alax Pacha told the Aymara idea of a “world above” – of deities, divine consciousness, and purity. Models walked barefoot as if touching holy ground. Rodriguez clearly envisioned a young, innocent woman: a white laced dress; a golden pencil skirt; floral headbands. Her most dramatic look ended the train of angelic beings: a beige vinyl jacket with an upturned collar that brought you back down to earth with a touch of defiance.

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