Eco Fashion Week celebrated Season 10 in true eco-style with six days of runway collections by local and international designers, designer meet and greets, an eco-friendly shopping area and a series of panels and conversations, all coordinated by the team led by founder Myriam Laroche.
The 10th season also mixed up the usual format of having all events take place at the Fairmont Waterfront. The opening invitation only event was held at newly launched RYU in Kitsilano amidst the sports garments and athleisure wear. Interspersed within the space were large textile and story boards, where attendees, while noshing and sipping, could learn more about the people and the science that goes into the brand.
Day 2 saw the Balmain Chic Sheets Challenge hit the runway. Eight EFW alumni were tasked with creating garments inspired by the legendary fashion house of Pierre Balmain with 2-4 sets of used bed linens from the Fairmont Hotel. These designers created a wonderfully diverse collection of pieces which are currently on display in CF Pacific Centre and fans of upcycling can vote on their favourite until April 30th.
There were two runway collections that evening. The steampunk and futuristic over-sized statement pieces that we are so familiar with, created by Carolyn Bruce Designs, were shown side by side with newer cutesy pieces which included adorable upcycled handbags and radios adorned with bright red accessories, butterflies and eyeglasses. A new direction?
The second runway was the pinnacle of the evening. Designer Wendy Van Reisen of Dahlia Drive collaborated with renowned Haida Gwaii artist Reg Davidson, to create an eclectic fluttering line of beautiful pieces. Dahlia Drive is known for creating clothing from discarded white curtain sheers and slips upon which various nature and anatomy based images are screened.
For the collection, the two artists collaborated and began their runway collection with a First Nations dancer in a brilliant red button coat and a quartet of women who sang and drummed. A well-deserved standing ovation closed the evening.
Day 3 was a three-part evening starting with designers; then the Value Village sponsored Thrift Chic Challenge and closed the VCAD 81 lbs Challenge. In the first set of designers, Ellen Legro stood out for creating recycling looks for those who participate in winter sports and love the outdoors. Her pieces were earth-toned, warm, and perfect for week-end away in Whistler during ski season.
The ever popular Thrift Chic Challenge, featured three local stylists – Jason Pillay, Nadia Albano, and Natalie Rees – and challenged them to create ten runway outfits with a budget of $500 only using Value Village unsold stock.
Nadia’s collection was lush with texture, patterns and colours which reflected a slightly bourgeois hippy essence and Natalie’s collection incorporated denim, florals and sheers to create a collection that embodied a bohemian look so popular at summer festivals.
The stand-out collection was styled by recent fashion design school graduate Jason Pillay. His collection was incredibly vibrant, texturally alluring, and with diverse styling that oftentimes reflected his own quirky, but striking, style sense that has made him one of the most photographed persons at all of Vancouver’s fashion weeks.
The final Value Village sponsored runway featured a group of grad students from VCAD who were challenged to create a full collection using 81 lbs of unsold garments – the amount the average North American throws into the landfills each year.
Under the guidance of VCAD instructors Jason Matlo, Wen-Chee Liu and Glencora Twigg, the collection had a 1920’s Gatsby theme and the students made the decision to include the accessories – shoes, jewellery and headpieces into the total weight, which made the collection even more amazing.
Day 4 showcased local and international designers including Vancouver’s Laudae bridal collection (sister company to Truvelle Bridal in Gastown) and returning designer Jeff Garner brought his Prophetik collection all the way from Tennessee.
The line was entitled “Ruins & Renaissance” and consisted of a wide range of fabrics that were coloured with all-natural plant and earth-based dyes. The fabrics themselves consisted of hemp silks and denims, vintage French lace and reclaimed leather. The collection was walked to classic country and rock-a-billy tunes which were performed by a duo traveling with the collection, and the evening closed with models and attendees dancing on the runway. Truly a sight to behold.
Day 5 was The EFW Collective Conversation. These panels are part of an ongoing educational series for fashion industry members and the general public that EFW holds each season. It was a day of open dialogue aimed at providing information on the challenges, opportunities and innovations facing the sustainability of the garment and textile industry.
Held at the Waterfall Building in False Creek, Erin Cebula of ET Canada moderated panels which contained guests from Canada and the US, including Tony Shumpert of Value Village, Kyle Ruzinski of Levi and Strauss Co, Vancouver designer Nicole Bridger and Glencora Twigg of VCAD.
This final session concluded with a one-on-one conversation with local footwear designer John Fluevog, who told his life’s story with flare and wit, and as with every fashion week around the globe, by the last day, everyone needed a bit of humour to close it down with a smile.