Category Archives: Fashion & Beauty

Green Embassy of Australia highlights B.C. First Nation’s plight with Kinder Morgan

Australian designer Kuvan- Mills with the great-grandchildren of Chief Dan George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation, BC, Canada. (Photo left by Arun Nevader / photo right by Dustin Photography)

Vancouver, B.C. — World Water Week has just concluded and although many events took place around the world close to rivers, oceans and streams, the fashion runway may be one of the last places on people’s minds when it comes to water and conservation.  Enter Zuhal Kuvan-Mills from Australia and her Green Embassy ‘ Empty Oceans’ collection…

Environmental activist, fashion designer and artist Kuvan-Mills believes art and fashion impact our emotions and can move us to value our blue planet. Currently supporting the world’s leading direct action ocean conservation organization, Sea Shepherd (Australia) she said she was compelled to return to west-coast Canada for Vancouver Fashion Week after hearing about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion and its threat to local waters.  This is the Perth designer’s fourth time down the runway of Vancouver Fashion Week, and her Empty Ocean’s collection is in perfect sync with water conservation, and she wanted to share that with the Vancouver audience.

Zuhal Kuvan-Mills wears a Sea Shepherd Australia t-shirt with her models at Vancouver Fashion Week on March 26, 2017 (Photo: Dustin Photography)


“Vancouver has such a rich and beautiful coastline that should be protected for generations to come. I know that the First Peoples of its territory are as connected to their land and water,”  said Kuvan-Mills who connected with Charlene Aleck of Tsleil-Waututh First Nation during her stay.  Aleck’s daughter Ocean and granddaughter Maya, ad her niece Jasmine were asked to walk the runway.  The three, are the great (and great-great) grandchildren of a the late native leader, Chief Dan George.  The Tsleil-Waututh Nation is a Coast Salish band whose Indian reserve is located on Burrard Inlet in the southeast area of the District of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The Green Embassy runway show opened with a poignant video by Conservation International which reminded us of the beauty of the ocean, and why we need her. As the video closed,  the First Nation youth walked together down the runway in their traditional regalia covered by one large fishing net.

Maya, Ocean, and Jasmine of Tsleil-Waututh Nation on the runway for Green Embassy’s “Empty Oceans” collection at Vancouver Fashion Week (Photo: Arun Nevader)

“I am grateful to the work of Zuhal Kuvan-Mills,” said Charlee Aleck, who is an elected Councillor for her nation after the runway show, “‘Empty Oceans’ brings awareness to how we are treating/polluting our oceans, and the state of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. She shares our concern and the imminent threats to our salmon bearing rivers and Salish Sea from the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. ‘What will we leave our children?’ Empty nets?” continued Aleck. “I feel truly blessed to have met this beautiful soul, the passion Zuhal has put into this very important message – water is life!”

“I aim to support and help indigenous communities across the world,” says Zuhal. “The children under the fishing net represents the future of the First Nations, they are being destroyed by all types of abuse and destruction to oceans,” said Kuvan-Mills. “Black coloured fish net was selected to represent death and destruction to the natural environment (coastal waters) for First Nations. It was also over the children like a black cloud as now they are under great danger of losing their coastal waters to pollution with yet another Kinder Morgan pipeline.”

(Photos: Dustin Photography)


It is her hope to create a collaborative event between the First Peoples of both Canada and Australia whereupon dance, music, fashion and the arts can be shared.

Models graced the runway to a mix of sounds of First Nation drumbeats and Aboriginal didgeridoo. Fabrics were soft and flowing like water, in blues and ocean colours, or light and creamy like the sand and sea. Bow-ties, bows, sashes or sleeves were made from re-purposed fishing net remnants. Some dresses were made of recycled polyester sourced from trash, plastic bottles, ad drift / ghost fishing nets. There was the lightest of silk pieces that whispered down the runway, while the woven items were strong and edgy like the ocean’s coral and shells, or soft and warm like the sun’s reflection on the shoreline.

The fabric of many of the coats, jackets, hats and vests were collected, hand spun, processed and dyed by Kuvan-Mills herself on her farm in Perth where she raises alpacas, a domesticated species of South American camelid, similar to the llama. Her dyes are made from vegetation, like flowers, leaves, or vegetables, finding inspiration within the textile crafting traditions of ancient times.

(Photos by Arun Nevader)


Green Embassy is Australia’s first internationally recognized organic fashion label who base their work on the protection of nature, and natural resources, while focusing on bringing public attention and education to environmental issues.

In November 2017, Kuvan-Mills will launch the inaugural Australia Eco Fashion Week in Perth. During her stay in Vancouver she explained her methods at Kwantlen University and Blanche Macdonald, and met with many designers, to inspire them to turn toward ‘slow fashion’ and join her for the event.

Green Embassy has been seen on the runway in Paris, London, Beijing and Vancouver, and with more and more concern being placed on fast fashion and the environment, Kuvan-Mills is quickly becoming a sought after guest speaker, and has been interviewed for television on SBS World News and national radio on ABC, Australia. In 2016, the Empty Oceans collection caught the attention of Pamela Anderson, who has her own foundation to help environmental causes.

Real people – non models wear Green Embassy at Vancouver Fashion Week. (Photos by Arun Nevader)


Kuvan-Mills’ commitment to sustainability, organic agriculture, art and slow fashion is expressed in each extraordinary textile piece as a labour of love.

I am so very proud to be connected to this show and that my daughters were able to walk for this amazing designer who has so much heart, passion and vision… I look forward to visiting her  in Australia.

(Photos by Arun Nevader)


Listen to a short clip of the designer talking about her dying process at a Vancouver media event.

Watch video of part of the finale walk on the runway at VFW.

Me wearing Green Embassy at Vancouver Fashion Week. The show was on my birthday on March 26! In the photo taken by Victoria Clements I am holding a Harl Taylor BAG made from natural fibres from The Bahamas. The photo on right is the same vest for a photo I included in my article “Am I Anti-Pipeline” written on my blog about my thoughts around pipelines. It was taken on Burrard Inlet where I dragon boat and where the Kinder Morgan station is.

Read  Am I Anti-Pipeline?


Connect with Green Embassy:

greenembassy.com.au/

facebook.com/greenembassyfashion

twitter.com/greenembassyau

Edgy artists to converge at #VALT2015 (Vancouver Alternative Arts & Fashion Week)

Valt-2015I checked out Vancouver Alternative Arts & Fashion Week (VALT) for the first time last year and I loved my experience.  VALT is not your usual fashion show, and the organizers are proud of that difference.  This event brings you the quirky, unusual, and edgy ‘as the norm’, and it’s becoming quite addictive.

Now in its fourth year, #VALT2015 will be held at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver from November 20-22 and the three nights will depicts themes such as Terrestria, Celestia, and Aquatica.  The audience is being encouraged to dress relative to the themes of earth, sky, water on those specific nights.

“VALT differs from more traditional fashion weeks in several ways, with the most obvious being that fashion is not the entire focus of the event,” explains Kat Ferneyhough, Creative Director. “We host a visual art exhibition, screen short films, as well as present live musical acts and performance art pieces. VALT is about living in an Alternative Fashion, and it is so much more than simply showing unique clothes.”

On Friday, November 20th,  “Terrestria showcases, featuring lush forests, arid deserts, tropical flora, vast tundras, epic mountains, spacious valleys, tectonic plates and volcanic eruptions. Terrestria is slow to change, but complex and deeply interconnected. It is bound by gravity but has created creatures that are not. It is harsh one moment, loving the next, but in the end, Terrestria is home. “
Celestia follows on Saturday, November 21, with “clear blue skies, star sprinkled nights, storms, thunder, lighting, wind, rain, the vacuum of space, nebulae, suns and black holes. Celestia is the unknown heights to which we ever aspire. It is a perpetual mystery, but without Celestia, we would have no dreams for more. “
The weekend will conclude with Aquatica on Sunday, November 22, boasting cerulean waters, glass-still lakes, ponds full of lotus flowers, oceans as far as the eye can see, violent tsunamis and impossibly dark depths. “It is the magical and the terrifying. Aquatica is the unfathomable adventure that lurks just a little too close for comfort.”
Here’s the 3-day schedule:

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2015 ~ TERRESTRIA
6PM – Doors Open, 7PM – Show Starts
19+ Event – ID Required#VALT2015NIGHT 1 ~ Theme: TERRESTRIA — Lush forests, arid deserts, tropical flora, vast tundras, epic mountains, spacious valleys, tectonic plates and volcanic eruptions. Terrestria is slow to change, but complex and deeply interconnected. It is bound by gravity but has created creatures that are not. It is harsh one moment, loving the next, but in the end, Terrestria is home.FEATURED DESIGNERS (listed alphabetically):By Trish P., Cavell, Nicole Rose Design, NoSoda Clothing, Protagonist Menswear, Trish Chung.FEATURED PERFORMERS:Kieron Rhys Lillo – MCCelestial Renee, Rainbow Road, AppleCat, Irene Eaves.

FEATURED FILM: Ceci n’est pas un Collier by German Prieto.

FEATURED ARTISTS (listed alphabetically): Áki Jónasson & Alicia Palmar, Alanna Rose Whitney, Andrew Macklin, Erik Zepka, Famous Empty Sky, Flavia Chan, House of Barnes, Irene Eaves, Jenn Brisson, Kaz Simpson, Lydia Fu, Megan Majewski, Nina Pak, Phresha, Shayne Zwickel, Starsha Battrick, Suzann Kingston, Triptych Taylor.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2015 ~ CELESTIA

6PM – Doors Open, 7PM – Show Starts
19+ Event – ID Required

#VALT2015 NIGHT 2 ~ Theme:  CELESTIA — Clear blue skies, star sprinkled nights, storms, thunder, lighting, wind, rain, the vacuum of space, nebulae, suns and black holes. Celestia is the unknown heights to which we ever aspire. It is a perpetual mystery, but without Celestia, we would have no dreams for more.

FEATURED DESIGNERS (listed alphabetically):Beauty By Impairment Designs & Drafted Eminence, Carolyn Bruce Designs – Steampunk Jewelry, Lapin Rouge, RadioactiveNerd, Sandra.

FEATURED PERFORMERS:Tristan Risk – MC, Kevin Shazam Li, Quantum Council, Coastline Pilot, Artist Jennifer Little & Miss Morgane.FEATURED ARTISTS (listed alphabetically):Áki Jónasson & Alicia Palmar, Alanna Rose Whitney, Andrew Macklin, Erik Zepka, Famous Empty Sky, Flavia Chan, House of Barnes, Irene Eaves, Jenn Brisson, Kaz Simpson, Lydia Fu, Megan Majewski, Nina Pak, Phresha, Shayne Zwickel, Starsha Battrick, Suzann Kingston, Triptych Taylor.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2015 ~ AQUATICA
6PM – Doors Open, 7PM – Show Starts
19+ Event – ID Required

#VALT2015 NIGHT 3 ~ Theme: AQUATICA — Cerulean waters, glass-still lakes, ponds full of lotus flowers, oceans as far as the eye can see, violent tsunamis and impossibly dark depths. It is the magical and the terrifying. Aquatica is the unfathomable adventure that lurks just a little too close for comfort.

FEATURED DESIGNERS (listed alphabetically):A.M.K, By Trish P., Marjan Rabbani, MJ Paterson, The Slug and Kraken – Starchild Creations, Zollection.

FEATURED PERFORMERS:Ivana Phoque – MC, Dezi: Performer/Artist, Messica Wild, SpeakerFace, Aaron White & Oceana, , Mermaid of the Canadian Pacific.

FEATURED ARTISTS (listed alphabetically):Áki Jónasson & Alicia Palmar, Alanna Rose Whitney, Andrew Macklin, Erik Zepka , Famous Empty Sky, Flavia Chan, House of Barnes, Irene Eaves , Jenn Brisson, Kaz Simpson, Lydia Fu, Megan Majewski, Nina Pak, Phresha, Shayne Zwickel, Starsha Battrick, Suzann Kingston, Triptych Taylor.

Tickets range from $25/evening, $60/weekend pass and $150/VIP weekend pass, and tickets are ONLY available in advance this year! More information about #VALT2015 can be found at www.VALT.caVALT’s mission is to provide an enriching alternative to the commercial fashion and gallery experience, to celebrate and promote the creativity of emerging artists & designers, and to nurture and promote the arts and fashion culture of Vancouver. VALT is run by the Style, Entertainment, Art & Media Society – SEAMS, a non-profit organization focusing on the development of local arts programming that assists emerging and fringe artists of every medium and media in the province of BC, while fostering a community of culture appreciation.

#VALT2015 Venue: Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver (50 East Pender Street, Vancouver, BC – Map: https://goo.gl/maps/mHSFzS3QZWB2)
19+ Event (ID Required) – Doors Open 6PM, Shows 7-11PM – Dress to each theme and be part of the immersive art experience!

Fashion Show to Raise Funds for Canada’s Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women

fashion-speak-kamloops
Aboriginal beauty and 2015 Mrs. Universe, Ashley Callingbull, will grace the runway at Fashion Speaks, a show to raise funds and awareness for families of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls of Canada on September 16, 2015 in Kamloops, BC. Ashley Callingbull will be vying for Mrs. Universe in Belarus this August.

A  fundraising fashion show called Fashion Speaks set to raise funds and awareness for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, Girls and Families of Canada will take place on Wednesday evening, September 16th at the Kamloops Indian Band Powwow Grounds in Kamloops, BC.   A four directions runway will showcase Aboriginal couture fashions, footwear, and accessories.

Designers to be featured are: Earthline Contemporary Aboriginal; Fashions by Shannon Kilroy; Cree Nisgaa Clothing by Linda Lava; First Lady by Jill Setah; Rev/Evo Designs by Nadine Spence; Ab-original Threadz by Teresa Walker; Ringing Bell Robes by Lyn Kay; Touch of Culture by Pam Baker; and Timeless Shadows by Tracey George Heese.

Chief Shane Gottfriedson is said to be providing the welcome, and other speakers will include Diena Jules, the RCMP among others yet to be announced. The event will also feature designer/artists sales booths, information tables, and displays.  A silent auction will be held, with items donated items from across North America.

Ashley Callingbull who  represented Canada in the 2015 Mrs. Universe pageant and won will be the special guest model and there are opportunities for both male and female models to participate. Organizers are seeking volunteers to assist with the event.

The event Facebook page states that the Fashion Speaks event will:

Speak to all our thoughts of hope and wishes for a better future, for our aboriginal females, babies, girls, youth and elders,

Speak by remembering the loss of so many of our aboriginal women and girls gone missing and murdered, and their families,

Speak to us all of every nationality and gender to work together as family, community and as Nations to protect our women and girls of Canada.

Speak to all four directions and the creator to protect us all and to support each-other on this journey to be treated with respect on our mother land.

Speak to ourselves to be honoured and proud to be aboriginal, that we can all make a difference and change for a healthier future, we are all worth it.

More information and applications for the event can be found at http://www.headhuntershair.com/ or contact Kim Coltman of Headhunters Hair-salon and Wellness Center by email kgcoltman@hotmail.ca

Organizers say they  are proud and honoured to have partnered with the Kamloops Indian Band, His & Her Photography, Main Street Clothing, The Zoo Ice Cream Parlor, CIFM-FM, CKBZ-FM, and CFJC TV.  All proceeds will go to Families of Sisters in Spirit

ReMatriate wants to take back ‘visual identity’ of First Nations women

A Yukon woman is part of a national group fighting back against the misappropriation of indigenous images and labels in pop culture.

Claire Anderson, a lawyer in Whitehorse, is a member of ReMatriate, a collective of women from different First Nations across the country using photography and social media to take back control of their “visual identity.”

The tipping point came when a Canadian designer announced its new fashion line called D-Squaw, which its website stated was inspired by “Canadian Indian tribes.”

That provoked a group of women to start talking about how they could create awareness around use of the word “squaw,” said Kelly Edzerza-Bapty, a member of the collective who lives in Vancouver.

Read more at ReMatriate wants to take back ‘visual identity’ of First Nations – North – CBC News.

Vancouver Fashion Week FW15 to open March 16th

Vancouver Fashion Week will be returning for its 25th consecutive season from Monday, March 16th through Sunday, March 22nd and returns to its downtown venue at Queen Elizabeth Plaza. The seven day event will launch Fall/Winter 2015 collections of designers from across the globe and will feature Canada’s most exciting talent.

The Opening Gala on Monday, March 16th will kick-start the week of nightly runway shows presenting over 30 designers from all over the world.

Vancouver Fashion Week founder Jamal Abdourahman is thrilled with the breadth of creative expression promised from new and returning designers.

“We are looking forward to sharing amazing talent this season. We love to celebrate the diversity of the fashion culture, and Vancouver provides the perfect platform to support emerging talent,” said Abdourahman.

Among the top returning designers is Noe Bernacelli of Peru, whose international style and exquisite designs have been greatly received by Vancouver audiences. He will be joined by Shravan Kumar of India who again wowed the VFW crowd last season with his extensive collection for men and women.

Also returning is South Korea designer Hong Kiyoung, who is widely recognized for his witty luxury streetwear, which experiments with silhouettes and colourful prints.

Designs from left to right: Noe Bernacelli (Peru), Connally McDougall (Canada), and Hong Kiyoung (China).
Designs from left to right: Noe Bernacelli (Peru), Connally McDougall (Canada), and Hong Kiyoung (China).

Every season, Vancouver Fashion Week continues to push its boundaries. The Fall/Winter 2015 installment welcomes Chinese designer ILOVECHOC who mixes cartoon designs with luxury fabrics. Also appearing will be Korean company JUKOjulie which has been greatly welcomed into the New York fashion scene; and designer Paloma Sanchez, recognized among the top 30 jewelry designers in the world (‘Unique Book; The Best Jewelry Designers’).

VFW continues to support the city’s homegrown talent with the return of local designers Connally McDougall, Grandi’s Atelier and Sara Armstrong.

Connally McDougall will be opening, and has become a local favourite.  “I am over the moon,” said the young designer who is based out of Vancouver, Canada and the UK.  “This is not only my largest and most ambitious collection, it’s my first season showing both mens’ and womens’ wear. It is also my most emotionally charged collection, and I am dedicating it to my younger sister, Morrigan.”  15% of her proceeds will go to Vancouver Island Health Eating Disorders Centre.  Check out her last runway show at VFW featured on Vogue.uk.  As one fan commented on her line, “Real clothes, for real women.”

Canadian Connally McDougall will be opening VFW FW15 and proceeds of her collection are going to the Vancouver Island Health Eating Disorder Center, in dedication to her sister.  (Photo: VFW)
Canadian Connally McDougall will be opening VFW FW15 and part proceeds of her collection are going to the Vancouver Island Health Eating Disorder Center, in dedication to her sister. (Photo: VFW)

Confirmed designers thus far for VFW FW15 are: Alex S. Yu; Aniimiism; Artees Wear; Atsushi Nakashima; Blushing Designs; Connally McDougall; Dervish Dubai; Fesvedy; Grandi’s Atelier; Hans Gallo Pohl; Haveney; Hong Kiyoung; ILOVECHOC; JFG Designs; JY Kim; Kate Miles; Laurence Pirnay; LaSalle College; Nadia + Zehra; Narumi; Nasty Habit; Noe Bernacelli; NIGHT X DAY; Ophelia Song; Paloma Sanchez; Paola Gamero; Rosey Couture; Sara Armstrong; Sofia Clothing; Sunny’s Bridal Gallery; Teresa Farese; Theresa Chen; and YKS by YongKyunShin.

Anyone can attend Vancouver Fashion Week and tickets are available from their website. If you are unable to attend, you can always catch the shows via Livestream. Keep up to date on VFW Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Vancouver Fashion Week was established in 2001 by Jamal Abdourahman. Sponsors for FW15 thus far include: Tentnology, LaSalle College, Loig’s Music Lab, Universe and Skye my Berry Pie.

Website: vanfashionweek.com
Feature photo by Sylvester Law.

Petite model fits just right, in Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week[end]

 

This was my first time attending Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week[end], and I’d been encouraged to do so by several friends, but it was my new 25 year old Bahamian friend, Lindsay Braynen who pushed me to come see her in the event. My friend Melissa also encouraged me to go along with her. I was very impressed with the entire production. I met Lindsay recently via the “Bahamians in Vancouver” Facebook group. She is now actively modeling and dancing in Canada after she moved to Vancouver, B.C. nearly 5 years ago to attend the Emily Carr University of Art + Design to study illustration.

Braynen who was born in Nassau, lived on Paradise Island, and is a Queen’s College Comet of 2006. She goes by “Androsia Wilde” in the Vancouver modeling and dance industry and says she chose the name to reflect her ties to home. For those not familiar, “Androsia” is a bright and colourful batik fabric The Bahamas is famous for.

Braynen is a petite model, but with her dancing abilities she has been able to explore more options. She’s used her past experiences as a dancer, model and martial artist to conquer the world of burlesque, recently making her lauded Nerdlesque debut as Lando Calrissian in Vancouver-based group Geekenders’ sold-out production of ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strips Back’ in May 2014.

While the modeling industry expects models to be of a certain height, there is one Vancouver event where size does not matter, and that’s the Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week[end]. Dubbed “VALT”, the three night event also features visual artists, filmmakers, musical acts and performers. For example, this year’s closing night showcased beautiful and edgy fashions from a handful of designers, an acrobatic troupe, a performance by a poet / songwriter/ harpist, an art exhibit and a short film, making it for a wonderful eclectic fashion arts experience.

Some of Lindsay's modeling portfolio
Some of Lindsay’s modeling portfolio

VALT is in its third year and Linsday said she’s proud to have been with the show since it’s inception.

“VALT is important to me and my career as a model, because I’m not the average model aesthetic – my skills or my talents will never be looked at in mainstream fashion because I am too small, not proportioned exactly right, or I’ve even being told that I’m not ‘exotic’ enough as a black model [yes it’s happened!]”

“The girls and gents that have walked in VALT are short, tall, plus-sized, slender, tattooed, pierced, and there have different ideas of masculinity and femininity. All are allowed to just BE – no apologies or excuses for who we are. We’re allowed to be ourselves, which is a freedom that I’ve cherished every time a designer asks me to walk for them,” said Braynen.

About VALT: Vancouver Alternative Fashion Week[End] provides Vancouver’s wildly explosive underground arts scene with a unique departure from typical arts affairs. This three-day event boasts over 50 jury-selected artists, musicians, performers and designers, in a celebration and promotion of unbridled creativity. VALT encompasses wearable art, music (from solo musicians to full contemporary bands to electronic artists), drawing, painting, mixed-media works, sculpture, film (documentary, art film and narrative), performance art (from short theatrical works, to interpretive dance and beyond), photography and interactive installations. More info: http://www.valt.ca

(Photos at top by Patrick Parenteau)

Antti Asplund HETEROPHOBIA closes Vancouver Fashion Week

(Feature photos above: left by Robbin Whachell / right by Sam Stringer)

It was not your typical closing show for a fashion week, but it was indeed memorable. Many of us were wondering about this new Finnish designer, Antti Asplund and with such a unique design name, Heterophobia,  the show was highly anticipated.  As the team for Vancouver Fashion Week readied for the final show, a few center seats across from me were held open. A blond man in a cap and street clothes, wearing a bandana around his neck was ushered in and he carried a bouquet of flowers and a white pillow.  I later learned he was Henri Pohjanhovi, the designer’s marketing manager. The two seats next to him remained open (well sort of) throughout the lengthy, but most-interesting fashion display that followed.

The show was bright and colourful and at most times quite outrageous with an array of accessories like household nylon dusters, army gas masks, grenades, painted bags, shoes and fabrics. The show was set against a video backdrop that featured Asplund and his muse Hiu Lume, which was directed and filmed by a Finnish artist Andre Pozusis, and edited by Katariina Nordfors. It’s message however was not clear to me at the time.

Photos: Dale Rollings / Vancouver Fashion Week
HETEROPHOBIA (Photos by Dale Rollings) Vancouver Fashion Week, Canada CLICK TO VIEW LARGE

“The video is based on my text about equality and it keeps evolving for every show,” Asplund told me. “In Berlin it included a part in German, in Finland it had some lines in Finnish and for Vancouver I wrote French text.  The video and catwalk show in Vancouver were extended with a new part called Colourless Clan which deals with issues of violence on the streets, and racism that is still in the air in North America and all around the world.  It tells about coping with the fear of being different – that’s what the word HETEROPHOBIA stands for,” said Asplund.

The show was also dark and ghoulish at times. What struck me first was the simplicity of much of the collection, there were signature T’s and undies, and the use of cotton and nylon fabrics had unfinished edges and loose threads, but it all seemed to be part of ‘the look’.  A piece that stood out for me was the army fatigue jacket that was piled with ripped fabrics. I enjoyed the rainbow coloured pastel quilted plaid outfits with the ‘Elmer Fudd’ hats.

I had 70 cents on my personal account. But I had a dream and a strong vision…

Antti Asplund introduced his Heterophobia collection earlier this year at the Berlin Fashion Week. “The show was a great success with the Finnish fashion designer receiving resale agreements and offers of cooperation from all around the world,” says the designer’s website.

Asplund said his career  changed dramatically when he designed a small collection of products on a 70 cent budget to be sold at a Pride Week in Helsinki. “I collected all plain clothes I had for the shoot and got a printer from my beautiful downstairs’ neighbour. I loaned money from my mother to buy paper to iron prints on tees and briefs. We shot the campaign photos with Laura Vartio and photographer Andre Pozusis, we modeled and were styled identical without gender – Eetu Heinonen covered my blonde hair with brown braided wig. I wanted to abandon my self-image and become anonymous for the collection to send a visual message about equality.”

Photos by Dale Rollings / Vancouver Fashion Week
HETEROPHOBIA (Photos by Dale Rollings) Vancouver Fashion Week, Canada CLICK TO VIEW LARGE

It was a prominent time in Finland, as the designer wrote, “Finnish government put a black cloud on the LGBT community on Wednesday when they decided not to pass the bill of equal rights of same-sex marriage to the parliament … The cloud vanished on Saturday when 20,000 people of all genders and sexual orientation became one big colourful group. We sold out of every single item that day and got a long reservation list.”  It was after that, that he was invited to Berlin Fashion Week.

After revealing the collection, Asplund received support from a large number of businesses, design professionals and individuals. Asplund’s friends formed a colorful group of people, which the designer calls ‘his caravan,’ his team of 40 people who he has collaborated and worked with, which pursues acts of guerrilla marketing for the brand by moving the show in spectacular outfits around, being live advertisements for the collection.

During the Vancouver Fashion Week show, one model dressed in a nylon white fleece outfit and hat, carrying a stuffed panda bear, stopped in front of the man with the empty seats and handed the bear to him. The panda took  it’s rightful place on the pillow next to him, while we all sat in wonder.

HETEROPHOBIA (Photos by Dale Rollings) Vancouver Fashion Week, Canada
HETEROPHOBIA (Photos by Dale Rollings) Vancouver Fashion Week, Canada CLICK TO VIEW LARGE

I wanted to abandon my self-image and become anonymous for the collection to send a visual message about equality…

The show ended on a colourful note with sailor-themed striped tight outfits and models carrying various country flags until the rainbow flag was carried out by Asplund himself.  Asplund proudly waved the flag down the runway where he stopped to give a big kiss to the male model before him.  When the entourage of models paraded out for the final walk,  confetti cans were ignited perhaps declaring, “The rainbow coloured celebration of unlimited love with the Caravan of Equality.”

 “The rainbow coloured celebration of unlimited love with the Caravan of Equality” quoted one fan in Europe.
“The rainbow coloured celebration of unlimited love with the Caravan of Equality” quoted one fan in Europe.

From Vancouver, the Caravan continued to Los Angeles and then on to New York.  Asplund and Pozusis are working on his first art exhibition called Come Back to Dark – based upon his poems about the darkness and rebirth as an artist. The exhibition combines texts, songs, videos, photography and performance.  His couture collections are based on these works.

Oh, and about that panda?!  After I asked Asplund he said, “Caravan Panda is our mascot. He’s been traveling with us since the very beginning and has visited Berlin, London, Vancouver and now Los Angeles.” Panda even has his own twitter account at https://twitter.com/caravanpanda. “He is an essential part of Heterophobia performances both on the catwalk and in everyday life. He always gets the front row seat. Panda is a mischievous character, often vain and nonchalantly #unimpressed at the mundane and ordinary – unlike the rest of the Caravan…”

Caravan Panda on Instagram: #caravanpanda #unimpressed again #usa #losangeles #comingtoamerica #dolcegabbana #marlboro #HETEROPHOBIA #asplundcaravan
Caravan Panda posted on “anttiasplund” Instagram just days after Vancouver Fashion Week: #caravanpanda #unimpressed again #usa #losangeles #comingtoamerica #dolcegabbana #marlboro #HETEROPHOBIA #asplundcaravan

Green Embassy returns to Vancouver Fashion Week

I was honoured to attend an Artist’s Talk hosted by Helen Siwak of Kitsilano Kitty’s Closet over the weekend to hear Zuhal Kuvan-Mills (seen above left)  a Turkish-born Australian visual artist, textile and organic certified (GOTS) haute-couture fashion designer speak about her product and inspirations, “Beyond the Design.”  The Australian Honorary Consul Kevin Lamb even attended to show his support.

I met Zuhal last season at Vancouver Fashion Week and was in awe of her unique pieces made from felt and weaving of the alpaca she raises in Perth, Australia. “I am a farmer and a scientist first,” she said.  Zuhal graduated in 1986 from Istanbul University as a veterinarian surgeon.  She went on to lecture in animal science and conservation.

GE_fabricHer two labels, Green Embassy and  Atelier Zuhal are internationally certified with Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) certification. She specializes in handmade textiles using certified organic alpaca and merino fibres, and Green Embassy, a cutting-edge ‘slow fashion’ clothing label employing earth-friendly, hand-crafted techniques.  Green Embassy is organic, eco-friendly, and has a zero-waste policy.  “At the end of the year I may only have that much waste,” said Zuhal pointing to a small living room wasted bin.

It was her love for contemporary  art , that had her study at University of Creative Arts in  Farnham–England and  Curtin University in WA and earned her a Visual Arts degree, winning several awards.  She started Green Embassy in 2013.

“It was attending Vancouver Fashion Week that really got things going for me,” said Zuhal. Her Green Embassy’s first collection “Regeneration’’ went on to show at Eco -luxe London during the London Fashion week and Seattle Eco Show,  Beijing PLITZS New York Fashion Week, New Zealand  Eco-Fashion Week.

Green Embassy will be seen at the end of September, 2014 at World Fashion Week in Paris, France, representing her country (Australia)and is said to be the only ‘eco’ designer to attend this year.

Deborah Bonar, (Aboriginal Heritage Gija and Yamatji ) Western Australian artist.
Green Embassy has been collaborating with Deborah Bonar, Western Australian artist.

This season the biggest change I’ve seen in her work is the use of silk fabrics, offering up cooler pieces to be worn in spring and summer.  In her leaf colourization process she rolls eucalyptus leaves within the fabric and boils it.  The effect is colourful, rich and warm, and tells a story of the earth and nature.  “I’ve been inspired recently by First Nations designs,” said Zuhal and has since been collaborating with Deborah Bonar, (Aboriginal Heritage Gija and Yamatji ) Western Australian artist. Some of those collaborations will be seen on the runway this week in Vancouver.

Green Embassy has also launched an accessories line within her, “Connected to Land” line that use any or a variety of knitted copper wire, GOTS certified organic cotton fabric, natural silk organza eco-printed with eucalyptus leaves, agate stones, and beads.  Each, like her clothing, are unique pieces of artwork.

“I am an artist that makes clothes,” insists Zuhal, “I am not a fashion designer.”

That said, artist or designer,   I am very excited to see her next ‘group of work’ on Thursday, September 18th when her pieces hit the runway at Vancouver Fashion Week!

Green-Emb-Collage

Vancouver Fashion Week to kick off with sparkling Opening Gala

Vancouver Fashion Week is set to kick off off with a sparkling Opening Gala on Monday, September 15th at the Queen Elizabeth Plaza. The Gala, hosted by Vancouver’s own Mary Zilba (cast member of The Real Housewives of Vancouver and seen above in her line LotusActiva) will be co presenting with MC Anthony Lewis. Additional guest speakers will include Vancouver’s public speaker, traveler and activist, Patti De Sante.

The doors will open to guests, media and designers at 6:30 pm. Introductions, speeches and designer showcases will start at 8pm and go on into the early evening. Shuttles will be provided to transport guests to the official after party at The Donnelly Group’s Republic nightclub.

The gala will not only address the start of Vancouver Fashion Week, but welcomes and celebrates the number of international designers, buyers, media and guests to the city. Vogue UK, Elle Italy, Harper’s Bazaar Argentina, WGSN are just some of the international media presence that will provide a glimpse of the arts, culture and distinctive fashion status within Vancouver’s creative community. In addition to VFW’s global media coverage, Vancouver will be welcoming over 70 international designers established and emerging, representing over 25 countries worldwide.

VFW founder Jamal Abdourahman is thrilled to be leveraging the biggest fashion week Vancouver has ever seen. The Opening Gala will just be a taste of the amazing week of emerging talent, innovative fashion and international media attention to follow.

Live streaming platforms, in conjunction with Van City Pulse, will host interviews with designers throughout the 7-day event. Backstage access and designer clips can be attained by contacting the media team, all contact detailed below. Hashtag campaigns (mainly #vanfashionweek) will unite all social activity that will appear on the screens in the intervals between shows where the guests will be able to see their images and activity on the LED runway screen.

More information: vanfashionweek.com

Related: Vancouver Fashion Week moves to new venue

Screen shot 2014-09-10 at 9.09.35 PM

New Footwear Company Specializes in Custom Hand Crafted One-of-a-Kind Shoes

Palm Springs, CA (September 10, 2014) – Good news for everyone who has a recurring shoe fantasy: Debra Hovel Footwear can fulfill every shoe fanatic’s fantasy and create their one-of-a-kind, hand crafted pair of dream shoes

Palm Springs artisan shoemaker, Debra Hovel, has announced her new bespoke footwear studio offering custom, completely hand crafted shoes made with each clients’ personally selected components. The focus of Debra Hovel Footwear is to provide special occasion shoes for weddings and milestone events.

Debra Hovel Footwear takes the fun, elegance and unique personality of shoes to new heights. Debra Hovel personally hand crafts exquisite one-of-a-kind shoes that have a flair for drama and theatricality that are each showstoppers. “My shoes are inspired by vintage fashion shoes, European royal court shoes, as well as various vintage ethnic footwear,” states Hovel. “However, I can also create cutting-edge contemporary shoe designs to suit everyone’s personal style and taste.”

Her studio is fully stocked with an exciting variety of extraordinary components — racks of leather, skins, furs, fabrics and trim that clients can choose from. Using decorative components such as vintage buckles, buttons, gems, lace, antique textiles, fur, and a wide variety of trims, each shoe is uniquely individual.

“I focus on creating shoes for milestone special events like weddings, anniversaries or other special occasions. I may incorporate your grandmother’s lace, buttons from your mother’s wedding gown, or other meaningful personal artifacts that make my shoes especially memorable for each client.”

Debra Hovel Footwear prides itself on fine craftsmanship, extravagant details and the expert hand crafting of each pair of shoes — never to-be-duplicated.  “My clients have the privilege of owning a pair of shoes that no one else on the planet will ever have,” Hovel adds.
IMG_2798
Debra Hovel Footwear is a nominee in the 2014 Martha Stewart American Made Awards that honor artisans, small-business owners, and creative entrepreneurs in the fields of crafts, design, food, and style.  The panel of judges is led by design maven Martha Stewart plus a team of editors from Martha Stewart publications, and experts from the fashion world.
Online voting by the public will take place from September 15 – October 13, 2014.

http://www.marthastewart.com/americanmade/search/debra hovel

Hovel and her husband Richard Hovel have a successful national retail design consultancy firm, hovelgroup, founded in 1997.  They provide retail design, graphics, product development, branding services and cultural trend research to a variety of national clients such as Target, Sears, Kmart, Best Buy, OfficeMax, and Brookstone. Originally based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, hovelgroup is now based in Palm Springs, California where they relocated in 2010.

Debra Hovel is among only a handful of women who are members of The Honourable Cordwainer Company, a shoemaker guild that has its roots in England and dates back hundreds of years. The guild, which holds annual international conferences, is dedicated to discovering and preserving the skills, technology, and history of boot and shoemaking.

Visit DebraHovelFootwear.com