Day 4 at Vancouver Fashion Week F/W19

Thursday, March 21st, 2019 – Vancouver, BC – From gothic blacks to vibrant colours, Thursday was a night to remember with an eclectic mix of styles.

Thursday night kicked off with Taiwan-based Ming Design Studio by Ching-Ming Chen. Her latest collection, ‘Charm.2015,’ is 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.

Next was GRANDI by designer Grandy of Vancouver. A returning designer, Grandy presented her bold, crayon-inspired collection entitled ‘Essential Colours’. All ensembles were monochrome, completed by small conical headpieces atop voluminous curled hairstyles. Glossy fitted jumpsuits and dresses in every colour of the rainbow were brought to life with the help of matching metallic lipstick and wide-brimmed shades. Grandy has splashed a collection of wonderfully elementary colours onto wardrobe staples.

Lisa Aviva, by US based designer Lisa A. Bleviss, commanded the runway with an intensely accessible yet modestly sensual collection. A size 10 + brand, Bleviss’ collection was a celebration of curves. It presented a selection of elongating dresses and skirts that floated down the runway in muted yet sophisticated colours of army green, camel, and blues. The collection offered fitted yet flattering pieces that did not hide but celebrated a fully figured form. The collection ended on a high with two knit, heel length, cinched at the waist ponchos in reddish pink and rust with dashes of blue, maroon and green. A true testament to careful, creative and innovative craftsmanship, Lisa Aviva made a line that not only looked good on plus sized women but, in fact, looked better on a full form than any size zero counterpart.

Mabu49, a New York based brand created by Ntokozo Fuzunina Kunene, celebrated the designer’s rich African heritage though inspired yet modern pieces. The ‘THAWASA’ collection, meaning Light of the New Moon in Zulu, was named after and inspired by the journey to becoming a traditional healer. While ancient in its inspiration, the collection was nevertheless relevant and youthful with a line of wide-legged, high waisted pants, triangular rompers, and long tunics paired with white sneakers. Simple in colour and deliberately wearable, the collection was nevertheless unique due to its innovative silhouettes, artistic cut-outs, and dramatic necklines.

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 cut outs 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.

Australian designer Francesca Alexander presented CONTINUUM from her brand Frank & Virginia as the night drew on, making a statement with a collection defined by drape and layering with tight-to-figure profiles. Pieces were consistently marked by splashes of vibrant colour that brought an energy to the runway that would prove difficult to emulate. Long skirts and jumpsuits were long and flowing with asymmetrical cuts. Pockets, folds and belts added depth and functionality to the line, and several pieces near the end of the order added a provocative feel with sheer fabrics and tightly cut forms. CONTINUUM was well tailored, vigorous and sexy, and injected a jolt of energy into the Thursday night crowd.

Hometown designer and recent Blanche Macdonald graduate GEROME completed the evening with an electrifying show of streetwear-inspired looks for men and women. The collection featured a wide range of materials and influences- from ice white leather pants matched with fluorescent orange turtlenecks to oversized corduroy puffer jacket and matching brown pants. The soundtrack featured Vancouver-based rap group So Loki and was explosive and visceral, driving models to walk forcefully down the runway. Influences came directly from hip-hop culture with samples of 70’s cuts and futuristic concepts. Although the show was incredibly varied, it stayed true to GEROME’s sense of style, and he earned a standing ovation from the crowd as he danced with his models at the outset of the show.

Filippo Fior /

Day 3 at Vancouver Fashion Week F/W 19

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 – Vancouver, BC – Wednesday was a night with a focus on Canadian designers, from BC to Ontario.

Eight designers from the Vancouver Community College’s Fashion Design & Production Diploma showcased their work to kick off Wednesday’s events. Collections ranged from 60’s inspired menswear to draping southeast Asian linen gowns and tech-focused garments in dark palettes. Each student brought a unique twist to their production, with engaging storylines and explosive soundtracks used throughout. Highlights included a scene straight from the dressing room with Astrid Shapiro, a cinematic display of power and rebirth from Sanaz Azad, and a royal inspired line from Mahnaz Gooya. The works reflected two years of hard work by the cohort, and a strong argument for engaging new fashion designers coming out of Vancouver.

The Atira Women’s Resource Society presented a collection from their EWMA (Enterprising Women Making Art) initiative, which supports women artists and artisans in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The collection turned heads by beginning with multicoloured fur vest pieces and a long flowing aqua gown. Handcrafted accessories showcased the breadth of skills possessed by EWMA members, with various jewellery pieces and a floral and leopard-printed bandana adding depth to looks. Exquisitely woven knits completed a well-varied collection from hardworking artisans in the EWMA’s fourth consecutive year of being featured on the catwalk at Vancouver Fashion Week.

The Nöelziñia line crafted by Ontario based designer Noele Baptista was a striking collection of florals, gentle ruffles and heavy drapes. This rustic assortment was based on the idea of preserving beautiful memories, like flowers pressed between the pages of a treasured book, hence the collections name ‘Fleurs presses’. A violin played in the background while models with flower crowns worn on long, softly curled hair walked the runway in a dream-like trance. The clothing was ethereal and dreamy, the epitome of femininity. Flowers were elegantly pinned on the clothing, punctuating each thoughtfully placed ruffle. A few of the articles were gently frayed at the ends, giving an opulent bohemian feeling. Smooth silk and chiffon with hints of rich velvet created a stunning experience for the audience.

The Su Moda Collection, Ottawa’s first leading modest fashion brand, was created by mother and daughter duo Samra Mohamed & Fathia Mohamed, bringing a powerful eastern influence onto the catwalk. Poised models in long flowing blush tone garments sashayed down the runway to the beat of rich Arabic music. There were stiff materials with intricate golden embroidery merged with pastel tones of silk and linen, which were carefully selected from Dubai, Kuwait and New Delhi creating a beautiful canopy of gorgeous colour and lush fabrics. The models donned luxurious headpieces embellished in eye-catching stones and pearls, with only their eyes visible. Some of their robes were gently tied around their waist, the tassels swaying as they walked, other robes were left open, to flow fiercely behind them. The garments were modest yet eye-catching, creating a breathtaking flow of beautiful pieces of art

Rowes Fashion, a Canadian brand by Rebecca Rowe, showcased a cute and incredibly wearable collection. 'Solid Ground' opened with a short, plaid mini skirt partnered with a lacy, see-through top. It specialized in the pairing of unlikely patterns such as lace, plaid and dark florals throughout. A collection of skirts, cocktail dresses and casual jackets, the collection took simple silhouettes and made them stand-apart through the mix of patterns and small lace detailing on hems and sleeves.

Egyptian designer Nada Marzouk for Authentique transported the audience into an ancient world. 'Divine Adoratrice', inspired by the female-forward Egyptian Dynasty XVIII, fused a number of eye-grabbing details such as silver sequins, midnight sparkles, and graphics that depicted Egyptian architecture. Featuring a number of looks that ranged from day wear to shimmering evening wear, the collection also played with dimensions through juxtaposed hemlines. The line also featured a number of the brand's signature slippers. Despite being inspired by an ancient dynasty, the line was nevertheless accessible to the stylish, modern woman.

Soojinu, a label created by BC-based designer Soojin Woo, drew from Woo's rich Korean heritage to create a unique collection that was inspired by Shamanism. The collection utilized the traditional Shaman colours of red, blue, yellow and green to create a moody and curious showcase. Featuring a range of male and female models, the collection transcended gender roles through placing male models in tight, almost mermaid silhouette skirts in addition to leotards crisscrossed with yellow sequin sashes. Using a variety of materials, such as leather, fur and denim, the beauty and depth of The East was brought to the VFW runway.

Gracing the runway for both the Atira Women’s Resource Society and Rowes Fashion shows, Kidist, an 18-year-old from Toronto, lived her dreams by modelling at Vancouver Fashion Week. Through the Make-A-Wish foundation, Kidist, who is living with an immune deficiency, was able to have her absolute one true wish, to be a fashion model, come true at Vancouver Fashion Week.

Photo credit: Filippo Fior /

Q & A with Fashion Brand Mel Elegance


Mel Elegance

Vancouver based brand

MM: Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?

Mel Elegance is for resort apparel, looking for comfort and minimalism.

MM: What sparked your interest in fashion?

When I was about 5 years old, my mom made a backpack for me using scrap fabric. Ever since then, being a Fashion Designer became my dream.

MM: Can you describe your creative process?

Inspiration followed by drawing, editing, more editing, pattern making, and lastly, sample making.

MM: Where do you find inspiration in your day-to-day life?

Travelling, reading magazines, reading books, watching movies, reading poetry.

MM: What kind of questions do you ask yourself when you begin creating a collection?

I ask myself if the piece is chic and if it is balanced.


MM: How did you learn the business of fashion?

Fashion to me, is more like a hobby. Every collection I design, I focus solely on my inspiration and characters.

MM: How do you find working as a designer in Canada? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?

Working as a designer in Canada, especially in Vancouver, is really hard. Every time I design a collection I can’t find the right supplies!

Yes, the culture affected me a lot.  As a Chinese Canadian, East meet West Culture has made my designs lean more towards Western style informal wear, but with intricate Eastern-inspired details. 

MM: What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?

For me, making samples is like being able to create a Miracle. From idea to reality.  I often struggle to find the clothes that I want to wear so being able to make them makes it easy!


MM: What is the inspiration behind your F/W19 collection to be showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?

My F/W 2019 collection is called: Celestial. The inspiration came from my summer travels to Alaska in Delaney national park. I saw an array of beautiful colors from flowers and the sounds of wildlife were so pleasing to hear! The glaciers peacefully close by, seemed to be smiling back at me.

MM: What is your favourite part of your new collection?

The color palette.

Glacier’s white, vibrant floral colours, and the wildlife’s distinctive grey.

MM: What is your favourite piece from the new collection?

It’s hard to tell. I like every piece from this collection. If I had to choose, the asymmetrical silk skirt would be my favorite because I designed it specifically for myself. I am short so I designed this skirt to make me feel taller and it does just that!

Thank you for telling us about your journey into fashion design. We can't wait to see Melissa Yin show at Vancouver Fashion Week for the F/W19 season.

Check out Melissa Yin at:

Q & A with fashion brand Shamsha Hashwani

MM: Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?

Shamsha Hashwani epitomizes the essence of the powerful, contemporary and sophisticated woman who is deeply inspired by tradition, I believe creating an inspirational fusion buoyed by versatility and a timeless elegance that speaks about my identity and who I am as a creator.


MM: Can you describe your creative process?

I am a very hands-on person; I like to feel and play with different textures and colours of fabric and material. Based on my emotions, my mood and the inspirations I have in mind, I set the tone for the design. Once I have a feel of what I want to create, I work with my team on the illustrations. When the illustrations are complete, we move to the mannequin for placements and an overall look. The next step is making a prototype. After the prototype is finalized, given that the required changes on the design piece are made, we begin the production process (dyeing, embroidery/embellishments, cutting and stitching). Every step is handcrafted.


MM: Where do you find inspiration in your day-to-day life?

Because of my passion to create, I am constantly (many times subconsciously) taking inspiration from my every day life activities. Going to the movies and being inspired by some of the landscapes shown on screen. Visiting the mosque and feeling inspired by the marble designs on the floor, or the architecture on the walls.


MM: What kind of questions do you ask yourself when you begin creating a collection?

The questions that I think are important and that I ask myself when I begin creating a collection are: How will my pieces look on a range of my clientele? Young and mature women. Will they physically feel comfortable with the silhouettes and the handcrafted workmanship? How wearable is it? How versatile are my designs? Are my designs in sync with the current season?


MM: How has your work evolved since you began your own label?

The first few Shamsha Hashwani designs were made in my home and as demand outpaced production, the team of only a few traditional artisans — beaders, embroiders, tailors— became a strong team of 150, that continue to create authentic handcrafted products in the Shamsha Hashwani Atelier located in Karachi. From offering one line of pret wear when I began working from home, I now offer a range of products and designs, which includes formals, bridals, shawls and couture pieces. I have showcased my bridal collections at fashion shows in Pakistan and Bangladesh, held numerous national and international exhibitions, as well as presented pop-up shops with my ready-to-wear lines.


MM: How do you find working as a designer in Pakistan? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?

I could not be happier working as a designer, working on what I love everyday in Pakistan. My work has empowered me, as a woman, a mom, an individual. When I see women of all ages who appreciate my work, feel confident and beautiful in my attire, that gives me happiness. I have received an immense amount of support from my family, friends and my team of employees. Knowing I have a great support system, gives me more confidence and belief in myself and my work. I am very much connected to Pakistan and its culture – and I incorporate my learnings and my perspective of the culture in my work.


MM: What sparked your interest in fashion design?

Since my childhood I loved to dress up. Even among my siblings I was often called the “fashionista” or the “stylist” who loved fashion. However, I never pursued anything until much later. I got married, moved to Pakistan, had kids and that was my focus, my world. Once my kids went off to university, I had more time on my hands and then I began to wonder, what if? What if I tested the market and introduced a line of my own? Without much hesitation and lots of enthusiasm I went for it!



MM: How did you learn the business of fashion?

I never studied fashion, nor did I have any prior experience in the fashion industry. I have always been inspired and passionate about fashion. I am self taught, and through experiences have learned and grown both personally and professionally.


MM: What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?

Passion. Emotions. Challenges. Foremost, my passion for creating is what motivates me to design. Designing is my happy place. For me and for all kinds of artists around the world, art is driven by emotions. My emotions are also very much depicted in my work from the colours I choose, to the types of work and detailing I incorporate. When I create, I feel grounded, I feel like that is my outlet and my way of portraying who I am to the world - my emotions, my personality, my learnings, my perspectives. Through creating, I have learned a lot about myself, who I am and who I strive to be.


MM: What is the inspiration behind your S/S19 collection to be showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?

This collection is very close to my heart, as the collection ‘Shanaz’ is a tribute to my late-mother. Shanaz is a collection showcasing easy to wear, versatile, durable and quality pieces. I have incorporated the colours - green and red, to symbolize Bangladesh my hometown, and green and white, to symbolize Pakistan where I moved to after marriage. Although moving away from home was difficult, it was my mother’s support, teachings and love that taught me how to adapt to a new environment, embrace the culture, build my own nest and make it my own. Most importantly, I have learned to stay true to myself, who I am, and my roots. It is these values that I have taken inspiration from and incorporated into my collection. This will be my debut on a new platform, a new audience and a new culture. My silhouettes are versatile, my  handcrafted workmanship and design concepts are a personification of my mother’s lessons and my love for her. My mother was an artist; I have taken inspiration from some of her paintings depicting beautiful flowers, hence, my designs are specifically focused on floral embroidery. This is my tribute to Shanaz, my memories of her and my never ending love for her.


Thank you Shamsha Hashwani for telling us about your journey into fashion design. We can't wait to see your show at Vancouver Fashion Week for the SS19 season.

Follow Shamsha Hashwani on Instagram @shamshahashwani and check out the website here.