Vancouver Fashion Week forecasts haute looks for spring and summer 2014

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Victoria’s leaves are beginning to fall and cooler breezes are blowing across campus, but over on the mainland temperatures were rising at Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW). From Sept.16–21, VFW, one of Western Canada’s premier fashion events, drew designers, models, and fashion fiends from all over the globe. And while it may be hard to focus on short shorts and bikinis as the mercury drops, this year’s crop of international designers provided more than a little incentive to come out of hibernation with a flourish when spring rolls around.

The catwalks at the Sept. 20 and 21 International and Established Designers Shows were teeming with incredibly diverse collections inspired by delicate ballerinas, ’80s glam rock, and everything in between. Sheer fabrics, airy chiffon, and ultra-feminine ruffles flounced down the runway at designer Dong De Xi’s show (China), while 1950s vintage styles paraded past in navy, white, and red patterns at Fever (England). When asked about the inspiration for his elegant clothing, Dong De Xi referenced ballet and “a feminine, familial love between mother and daughter.” From sketchbook to catwalk he says his collection took “10 days of designing and three months of sewing.” One only needs to glimpse the intricate details, such as tiny hand-sewn purple silk flowers on a white silk-and-chiffon gown, to appreciate the time and patience needed to create such a lovely confection.

Unlike its predecessors, this season’s colour and texture palette proved to be quite vast and experimental, with each designer showcasing new and unexpected combinations for attendees to devour. No combination proved too wild, so if you want to pair an intensely ruched red chiffon blouse with black leather shorts and a gold filigree necklace, as seen at Kaye Morales’ (Philippines) S&M inspired “Debauchery” show, then go for it. Showing for the first time at VFW, Morales said her dramatic “Debauchery” collection was inspired by exactly that. “It’s a reflection of pain and suffering. I wanted to turn nightmares into something beautiful.”

Maybe a neon yellow pin-tucked sundress with matte fuchsia lips from the Uwi Twins (Canada) is more your speed? Rwanda-born identical twins Reuben and Levi Uwi said they “started designing at 18, with no formal training,” which you’d never guess based on the skill shown in the clean cuts of their clothing and forward-thinking pieces like male leggings. “We signed with HBC [Hudson’s Bay Company] at 19, and we’ve been doing this for seven years. If you have a passion, you should follow it,” said Reuben Uwi. The audience must have agreed, because these two Canucks received a raucous double round of cheers post-show.

If neon’s not your thing, perhaps you’d rather sheath your legs in vibrant floral silk and compliment it with a sheer, black collared top and leather suspenders like the models on the Celestial (Mexico) runway? Just be prepared to turn some heads, whatever you choose.

Should you happen to be into embellished clothing and accessories, the spring and summer of 2014 is the season for you. Be prepared to shine (literally) in gunmetal sequin paneled dresses, tops and pants from Goldie (England), and show a little leg with shorts and skirts featuring hyper-exposed zippers at the thigh from Hong Kiyoung’s (South Korea) “Frankenstein” line.

It’s all about mixing and matching as far outside the box as you can get, with a lot of emphasis being placed on sheer fabrics, feminine-yet-geometric shapes, vibrant pops of colour, and sparkling embellished accents. Traditional Oxford shoes walked alongside sky-high nude pumps and futuristic wedges, while men’s footwear dabbled in the formalized sneaker—a dress shoe-sneaker hybrid.

In the hair and makeup categories, no combination was too bold for this show. Hungarian designer Lilla Csefalvay painted a vibrant matte candy pink on her models’ lips, with a soft peach flush on the cheeks, and shimmering beige eyeshadow patted on the eyelids. Eye-popping gold sparkles coated lips at Amanda Designs’ (U.K.) bridal show, while other designers opted for luminous skin, almost bare or mattified lips, and eyes crisply lined with a black cat-eye flick, hinting at a massive movement towards classical-beauty looks.

Even the humble ponytail received its fair share of attention, with concealed elastics adding a little glamour to this staple hairstyle. For nights out, consider an artfully messy chignon with a deep side part or loose curls left down, with volume backcombed in at the crown of your head. Tweak these styles to fit your taste and don’t be afraid to attract attention. After all, this season’s designers sure weren’t.

And don’t worry about the second-semester midterm doldrums to come. With so many vibrant trends to choose from, the coming spring and summer seasons are sure to keep sartorialists and fashion fanatics wrapped up in haute thoughts all winter long.

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