Opinion Column

Vancouver does fashion week with flare 0

SARAH ROWLAND
London-based Russian designer Olya Shishkina (centre) showcasing her latest collections on models Leticia Canales, Victoria Kozik, Lucy Zhu and Raven West at VFW. (SARAH ROWLAND/24 HOURS)

London-based Russian designer Olya Shishkina (centre) showcasing her latest collections on models Leticia Canales, Victoria Kozik, Lucy Zhu and Raven West at VFW. (SARAH ROWLAND/24 HOURS)

This year, Vancouver Fashion Week tried a new venue on for size - the Chinese Cultural Centre - and I must say it's a way better fit than the makeshift runways of yesteryear. Not just because of the balcony sight lines and more spacious layout, but because the multicultural vibe of Chinatown lends itself well to a fashion week that's always had a strong focus on international talent.

March 20 - 25, VFW hosted an eclectic mix of up-and-coming fashion designers from around the world. One of the more highly anticipated showcases was the Canadian premiere of Xsenia & Olya, a London-based label headed up by two grads from Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design (the prestigious British fashion school that boasts such notable alumni as Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney).

And then there was VFW vet, Ha Sang Beg, a Korean designer with a rep for creating unapologetically absurd clothing. For example, the collection he showcased Saturday consisted of criss-crossing chains, dangling pompoms and panels of mismatched plaids.

On the local film front, the big story this week was the inaugural Wide Angle Media Festival, a celebration dedicated to presenting and producing works by artists with disabilities. The red-carpet event kicked off at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre with a screening of five original short films including the gritty war drama, Will, as well as Beauty School.

All involved seemed totally pumped about this four-day labour of love. The reception was more like a lively reunion among old friends than an industry schmooze fest.

The other big event was the "Beauty Night Out" fundraiser at the Dermalogica Training Centre downtown. Guests were regaled with wine, appies and various mini spa treatments. Proceeds went to Beauty Night Society, a local organization that gives life-changing makeovers to women living in poverty. Suffice to say there were smiles all around, as the ladies in attendance enjoyed getting pampered whilst supporting a great


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