If there was a theme running through Fashion Forecast, the Graduation Show for the Blanche Macdonald Fashion Design Class of 2010, it was one of wild eclecticism.
Luxurious evening gowns enwrapped in chains emerged down the runway after asymmetric avant-garde cutout dresses. Sporty shapes with an energetic vibe sprinkled the line-up followed by elegant historic silhouettes of Victorian-style Duppioni corsets. Frida Kahlo-inspired leather jackets with power shoulders commanded a strong dramatic flare in contrast with a flirtatious, entrancing stream of lingerie.
From the relentlessly wild to the distinctively wearable, in the glamorous surroundings of Vancouver’s Westin Bayshore Hotel, in front of 1,300 fashionistas from across Vancouver, Canada and the world, 43 talented designers and their collections illuminated the runway, proving that their year of creativity and hard work at Blanche Macdonald’s Fashion School was time very well spent.
Blanche Macdonald’s Creative Consultant for Fashion Forecast was Tyler Udall, whose incredible résumé includes stints as Senior Fashion Editor in London for publications including AnOther Magazine, AnOther Man and Dazed and Confused, Contributing Fashion Editor for L’Officiel and Teen Vogue and as Creative Director for the Agency Fred and Associates in New York.
“Graduation shows are a really fascinating time to spy on emerging talent,” enthused Tyler. “There is something to be said for the bright eyed optimism and sense of abandon students put into their debut collections before the wears and tears of the industry instil a seasoned designer’s sense of refinement. From street wear to the evening gowns that verge on couture, students are given equal opportunity to showcase their strengths, identify their weaknesses and ultimately learn so they can take their work to the next level. That’s why seeing such a plethora of aesthetics all melded in to one cohesive show is such a rare treat!
“I absolutely relish the opportunity to see the next generation of the fashion community make their mark. Of course not every look is going to be to your specific taste, but any industry professional with a decent eye could recognize moments of brilliance shining through. What an exciting moment to bear witness to!”
Fashion Program Director and Show Coordinator Peggy Morrison understands exactly what it takes for students, many of whom arrive with minimal design experience, to produce a collection from scratch in a single year.
“Beyond talent, success requires persistence, discipline, focus and sacrifice,” she insists. “It doesn’t come easily or without some degree of struggle. All the grads tonight should be applauded for getting there. If success is defined as a favourable outcome of something attempted, that was very evident in their collections. If it’s about confidence and pride in achievement, that was there too. If it’s about happiness and a good feeling, that showed in the faces of the grads, their friends and families.
“Each graduate has a chosen career path and eventual dream. Many will start design careers as interns and assistants with the ultimate goal of owning their own business. Past graduates have achieved this goal in many parts of the world. Others will enter the film industry as part of wardrobe and costuming departments, working on films and TV series. Others will work as stylists, patternmakers, or create their own companies and go into small production. Some of our many successful graduates have established fashion companies. Whatever the dream of success may be, we know it will be achieved with continued persistence, focus and drive.”
One of the stars of the night was grad Krystal Frizzell, whose collection, a black cotton tailcoat with matching sailor-front pants, and a blouse, corset, capelet, mega-skirt and petticoat creation, blended elements of the Victorian period with punk rock attitude. She was one of two Award-winners for Overall Achievement, and picked up an additional prize for her spectacular punk-infused portfolio.
“I didn’t know the prizes were coming,” Krystal admitted after the show. “I had my suspicions, people were saying I was going to win but I was being modest.
“This year was crazy. It opened my eyes to the different styles and different designers. There are so many places you can take inspiration from. The Victorian era really drew me in. I tried to relate that to music. I need to really look at the fabrics, to see and feel them, to know what to make. I found that teal Duppioni silk that pretty much inspired everything I designed in that collection.
“Now that I’ve graduated I have an internship at elika designs and I’m a TA at Blanche Macdonald for Pattern Making, which is an amazing opportunity. I want to strengthen my brand image, decide what I’m going to be making then start on my own line.”
Another prize-winner was Stella Ho, whose intricate hand-knit cowl scarf, wrist-warmers, and leggings were exquisite enhancements to her royal blue scallop-edged silk tunic and cropped shawl-collared jacket. Not surprisingly, Stella picked up her award for Special Achievement in Garment Construction.
“I love winter and winter clothing,” explained Stella. “I decided to design a collection that was for the winter season, inspired by ballet. I chose to do a contrast between my favourite fabrics. I love knits and the softness of silk, so my entire collection is either 100% wool or 100% silk. And I decided to hand-knit the accessories.
“I learnt so much this year. Peggy Morrison and Donna Baldock are legends! I didn’t have previous design experience but I’ve always had a passion for fashion. My parents wanted me to go into something more stable and get a degree and a job. After I did all that, I went for fashion!
“I’m currently interning for Angela Chen. I worked on her spring/summer 2011 collection, and next I’m working on her winter collection.”
One of the proudest award winners on the night was Katsuki Shimizu. The one-time baseball prospect came to Blanche Macdonald from Japan with minimal fashion experience but an unquenchable desire to learn. He was named the year’s Most Improved Student, and his impeccable suede zip-front cape draped over a white lace button up blouse and cropped pants, and his military-inspired one-shoulder/single-sleeved green jumpsuit screamed of-the-moment chic.
“I don’t remember anything about it!” he laughed in the calm of the backstage after the show. “I was so nervous. Now it’s over I’m really happy. My teachers told me that they’re really proud of me. I almost cried.
“The collection was military-inspired. I like pants for women rather than skirts. I like the silhouettes – how the body curves. That’s where the inspiration came from. It looked great on the models and I was very happy with it.
“The year went so fast. I have a lot of memories. I came to the fashion show last year and I was so motivated by what I saw. I knew I was going to be here the next year. I like the people here. I had to ask a lot of questions every week. I had never done sewing or pattern making, and my English wasn’t perfect. After Donna’s class I’d go into her office and she’d take the time to help me out. That’s how we got to know each other.”
Blanche Macdonald Centre opened in 1960, making 2010 its 50th anniversary. Voted ‘Best College for Fashion and Style’ in the Georgia Straight’s Best of Vancouver 2010 issue, the institution has distinguished itself as a leader in its field. The institute offers two Fashion diploma programs: Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising. Graduates have gone on to be hugely successful and recognized in the local, national, and international scenes.
Some Fashion Design graduates include Dace Moore from the media favourite DACE line, Theola Wong, senior apparel designer at Columbia Sportswear, Tenille Magnusson, the in-house designer for Artizia’s Wilfred line, Shannon Wilson, designer and owner of Lululemon, and Lisa Malcic, whose Beba Bean designs are carried at Barney’s New York, Nordstroms and who just secured a major investment from two of the venture capitalists on CBC’s acclaimed entrepreneurial show, Dragon’s Den.
Fashion Merchandising graduates include top fashion stylists, Amy Lu Cameron, whose work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Fashion and Interview magazine, Nicole Bampton, Regional Sales Manager for Sixty Canada, and Leila Bani whose styling credits list supermodel Coco Rocha, Diana Krall, Gillian Anderson and Ellen Page.
2010 Fashion Design Award Winners
Overall Achievement: Krystal Frizzell and Hana Chiang
Special Achievement for Portfolio Presentation: Krystal Frizzell
Special Recognition for Portfolio Presentation: Whitney Phuong and Sabrina Tang
Special Achievement in Illustration: Catherine Murray
Special Achievement in Design: Jill Kelsea
Special Achievement in Pattern Making: Jill Kelsea and Whitney Phuong
Special Achievement in Garment Construction: Stella Ho
Special Recognition for Garment Construction: Kate MacDonald
Most Improved Student: Katsuki Shimizu