Peering behind ‘The Show’

April 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Caitlin Butcher holds up a shirt from her collection, Patience For Now. The blue in the iris of the eye has been hand-dyed. (Photo by Lucas Meneses-Skoda)

After all the glamour and glitz displayed on the runway of The Show 2011, a fashion show produced by fourth-year fashion students, it’s hard to imagine the tears and sweat that made went into making the garments so fabulous.

In fact, there’s an entire years worth from a class of 32 students.

Caitlin Butcher, one of these fourth-year students, said the amount of preparation that goes into such an event is incredible.

“There’s so much to do and so little time,” she said.

The Show is the end product of the entire fourth year of the fashion design and technology program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

From September until April, students learn all aspects of what is needed to run a clothing line and a fashion show in the real world. They begin by creating a niche market and designing three complete outfits. The most important part of this step is proving that this niche exists and is underserved in the fashion world.

“A lot of people come into the program thinking ‘Oh, I love clothes, and I like to draw clothes’ and that’s kind of where I was in first year. I didn’t have much experience in the industry,” she said.

But by the time fourth year comes around, this all changes.

Everything becomes real-life based. If the instructors do not think your niche is developed enough, you have to repeat fourth year. It’s as simple as that.

“It can definitely get a little crazy,” Butcher said.

Caitlin Butcher sews a missing button back onto a hand-made slip before displaying it on a mannequin. (Photo by Lucas Meneses-Skoda)

The next step is hand-sewing each garment, a process which can take months.

Butcher created her pieces for “women working in the creative field.” She describes them as fun investment garments for artists and musicians.

With 11 separate pieces in the collection, Butcher said the most surprising thing for her has been “the details that go into producing garments, especially for production.”

“Before I came into the program, I used to make clothes for myself and would cover up any mistakes, and little holes, but I can’t do that anymore,” she said.

Her line, titled Patience For Now, is “a reminder to myself to take it slow and be patient.” Mistakes can happen and as she has learned, and freaking out is not always the best option.

She said one of her worst moments was during an assignment to make tailored coats for The Bay. Butcher had spent 80 hours sewing the garment and, just as she was finishing it, her arm slipped and she ripped a hole in the lining. Everything had to be re-done.

“It’s those kinds of frustrating things that bring you to tears,” she said.

In the end though, Butcher says it is all worth it.

“The process is always so fun, and actually seeing the final product when it becomes tangible — that is so rewarding,” she said.

“It starts as this little idea in your head and then you go through all these motions and it’s tons and tons of work and lots of sleepless nights and sometimes tears when things don’t work out, but it’s just really rewarding.”

Caitlin Butcher has sketched out complete outfits for her line, Patience For Now. (Photo by Lucas Meneses-Skoda)

A complete outfit designed and made by Caitlin Butcher. The sweater has been hand-knitted and hand-dyed. (Photo by Lucas Meneses-Skoda)

RELATED: High fashion night after months of hard work

Kwantlen fashion students finalists in Télio design competition

December 11, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Fashion students pose with some of their work

Earl Mabaquiao (left), Kristin Yip and Laura Nickel pose with some of the work they have done for school. None of the three have begun the creation of their garment yet. (Photo by Josh Saggau)

For most students the semester is winding down, but for three of the fashion department’s top students, the work is just beginning.

Earl Mabaquiao, Kristin Yip and Laura Nickel have been named three of 25 finalists in the 2001 Télio Design Competition.

They now have just five days, once their schoolwork is done, to complete a garment they designed for the competition, which will be held in February. The competition, put on be Montreal-based textile company Télio, invites fashion students from across Canada to design and, now that they have been named finalists, create a garment, which will be presented to judges during Montreal Fashion Week.

“Part of the thing that’s also stressful about the competition is that we’re students, and part of the competition rules is that we can’t ask for help from anyone else, so we have to figure everything out on our own. We’ve all done these crazy designs, not thinking that were actually going to get in and now we have to make it on our own,” said Nickel.

But the trio is excited to showcase what they can do.

“It’s a pretty big deal for us, especially as students. It’s a great opportunity. I think one of the best opportunities as a student in Canada, to show at this event, because it’s a national competition and we have so many opportunities in winning the competition. Also, just in being place in those sort of circumstances, getting to talk with media, getting to talk with industry professionals, doing that networking, making those connections, and then also it’s a super-fun opportunity for most of us who don’t have the opportunity to travel, to have someone put us up in Montreal. Fly us out there and put us up and wine us and dine us. It’s really fun,” said Nickel.

Following the Montreal Fashion Week, Télio will announce five winners of scholarships totaling $10,000. The will be awarded based on the student’s ability to show creativity, use technical skills and capture the theme of the competition: Great Canadian North.

“I was inspired by the Aurora Borealis and its beauty. I wanted to take that beauty and take a still picture of it in the form of a garment,” said Yip.

Mabaquiao drew his inspiration for the weather of the north, while Nickel’s inspiration for her design came from the imperfections found in the north.

“There’s all these cracks and crevices and there’s such a rawness about it… These are the things we find so beautiful about the north,” said Nickel.

With the semester wrapping up and the university closing for winter break, the three finalist don’t have much time to complete their intricate designs before the competition. Because the fashion week and competition have been pushed up a month, the trio won’t have much time in the new year to complete their work.

“We don’t want to leave it ’til January,” said Yip.

Although the stress is clearly beginning to mount for them, with schoolwork to take care of before the start their garment, they have not lost their enthusiasm.

“At the end of the day, we are showing at Montreal Fashion Week, and to do that as students and someone else is giving us that opportunity, it’s great. It’s exciting but we just have to deliver because our names are attached to it,” said Mabaquiao.

The three garments designed by the winning trio for the TELIO competition.

Design sketches by the three finalist for the TÉLIO Design Competition. (Photo composite by Josh Saggau)

Olivia Lovenmark: Style struck

November 14, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Photo by Jamie Hodge.

Olivia Lovenmark isn’t just typical fashion-obsessed Vancouverite: She is style struck.

At 22, she’s working two jobs, penning entries for her blog Style Struck and hoping to launch her career in public relations.

Lovenmark’s fashion sense was there even as a child. “My aunt made my sister and I these pink jeans with bunnies on them and even as a five-year-old, I was like ‘there’s no way I’m wearing these.’”

After high school, Lovenmark enrolled in Kwantlen’s Fashion Design and Technology degree program. After a year, she realized design wasn’t for her. She took a year off and then went into fashion marketing and eventually the public relations program at BCIT.

“A short-term goal of mine would be doing public relations for Holt Renfrew. That’d be amazing,” she said.

A few of her favourite designers are Michael Kors, Karl Lagerfeld and Carolina Herrera. Her favourite local spots for shopping are Zara, Browns and Holt Renfrew. Lovenmark describes her style as “constantly changing.”

She claims to have two alter-egos when it comes to her fashion sense. One resembles her blog: more frivolous, sparkly and fun. The other is her more casual everyday look, with tailored jackets and ties.

“I really love androgynous clothing. I just really like men’s apparel, it’s got more structure to it and it’s a more thoughtful design.”

She claims her guilty pleasures are donuts and shoes. As a proud owner of more than a hundred pairs of shoes, she says, “I have a weakness for expensive shoes, but I also have a knack for finding designer shoes on sale.”

But lately her wallet has been given a break from the designer brands.

“I’ve been very fortunate lately to receive free clothes because of my blog. They see me talking about their brand and send me clothes to help promote their label, by blogging about their clothing and advertising for them,” she said.

She’s had her blog for two years and she’s been receiving clothes from a number of designers for about a year.

“It’s about building experiences. I worked for Guess by Marciano and by working for that brand or other brands, it really builds your credibility and people start to notice that and want you to wear their clothing, too,” she said.

Photo by Jamie Hodge

Lovenmark blogs about everything fashion-related — what she wears, what’s in style, events she attends and people in the fashion industry she meets.

One of the biggest fashion faux pas, in her opinion, is when women show too much skin.

“I think that girls should cover up more, and leave a bit more to the imagination,” she said. “You can still look sexy and fashionable without showing too much.”

Lovenmark is a big believer in the power of social media to help build a personal brand.

“Social media is the new way of communicating; it’s here to stay. I was listening to this speaker earlier this week who describes social media as a cultural shift and I think that’s so spot on. As a blogger, your whole life is on social media, on Facebook, Twitter and your blog,” she said.

The key to being successful is being able to meet people in the industry and network through social media, she said.

“It’s a free platform to express yourself and kind of brand yourself as an expert in your field, I don’t have the capital behind me to start my own business, but with my blog I can show off what I do and people can find me and see what I’m about,” she said.

One of the biggest perks of her fashion blog are that it has opened the door to meeting other interesting people in the field.

“One of the best highlights for me is having the opportunity to meet so many cool people. I’ve been able to meet Judy Becker, Lisa Tant of Flare Magazine and Adrian Mainella from Fashion File. Being able to meet these people and talk to them, when I’ve looked up to them for so long, is an amazing experience, whether they’ve seen my blog or not,” she said.

Armani Exchange has just opened a new store in Oakridge and, of course, Lovenmark is going to be at the grand opening.

“They dressed me for it, so I’m going to wear Armani and promote the brand,” she said. “I really like working tandem with brands like that. For them, it’s good to have someone wearing their brand who blogs about it all the time and, of course, I like it because it builds my credibility. It shows that I’m working with established brands.”

Of all the opportunities Lovenmark has had available to her in the fashion industry, she said it’s all because of Style Struck.

Fashion isn’t all glamour

November 1, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Andee Jasper, third-year Kwantlen fashion design student, models examples of her work. Photo by: Lucas Meneses-Skoda

Fashion is not all glitter and glamour at Kwantlen. Andee Jasper, a third-year fashion design student, has learned that becoming a fashion designer isn’t as easy as it was fantasizing about.

“Coming into the program was an eye-shocker. It’s marketing… You don’t just make a pretty gown and put it on a model and take a picture and think you’re a designer,” said the 20-year-old Jasper.

“It’s one thing for me to be like, ‘Oh that dress is pretty, lets make it,’ and its another thing for me to be like, ‘How can my target market wear this, and where’s she going to wear it to, and how much is she willing to pay.’”

Kwantlen’s Bachelor of Design, Fashion & Technology program is the only one of its kind in western Canada and has become known as a prominent stepping-stone to get eager students into the industry.

“Kwantlen is known for their niche markets… and that’s why we get jobs and that’s why we start our own businesses,” she said.

Jasper defines a niche market as: “finding a really small market, like a specific target market and selling your clothes to those types of people.”

Throughout the four-year degree program, fashion students acquire the marketing and production that lead to The Show, which is put on by all fourth-year students at the River Rock Casino Resort Theatre and which attracts hundreds of employers in the Vancouver fashion scene.

“Everything we learn goes into fourth year,” Jasper said.

“I think a lot of people who like fashion, its typically what they think, like, ‘Oh its so easy, I can draw and I can sew and make things like pretty things.’ But its like no… reality hits you and you’re like ‘shit.’ You get to do pattern-making and things from all aspects, so its eye-opening that way… the amount of work that goes into producing garments.”

Jasper’s career goal is to start her own clothing line, common to many aspiring fashion designers, but from her experience at Kwantlen, has understood that it won’t happen right out of university.

“I know the amount of work that goes into it… so I’ll slowly build up to it,” she said.

For now, Jasper continues to work hard, spending almost her entire days at the Richmond Campus in the design classrooms or the computer lab, and preparing for her internship next semester.

“It seems like a lot of hard work, and yeah, it’s really tedious sometimes, but you’re still doing what you love.”

It’s a fashionable life for Kwantlen student Sara Lanyon

December 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Kwantlen Chronicle reporter Kristi Jut caught up with fellow student Sara Lanyon to talk about the school’s fashion-design program and where it’s taking her career. Lanyon talks about her own clothing collection, Radii, and her involvement in up-and-coming headwear company, Vivo Headwear.

The fashionable folk

April 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Kwantlen’s fashion students showed off their creations at their annual fashion show, Wednesday, April 1, at River Rock, and reporter Alicia-Rae Light was there to capture the moment, and the creativity of the students. Her photo slideshow, with a soundtrack by the duo Lights Go Blue:

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Fashion student show their sense of style

December 5, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

(From left) Niki Chung, Carolyn Chow and Janis Brunk, all fourth year Fashion Design students, fundraise for the Julie Hobart SOS scholarship, in the Richmond Kwantlen rotunda on Dec. 4. (Keira Simmons photo)

(From left) Niki Chung, Carolyn Chow and Janis Brunk, all fourth year Fashion Design students, raise funds for the Julie Hobart SOS scholarship, in the Richmond Kwantlen rotunda on Dec. 4. (Keira Simmons photo)

Kwantlen’s Fashion Design program put on an stylish display Dec. 4, in and around the Richmond Kwantlen rotunda.

The rotunda and a second-floor corridor were full of bright colors and unique designs, and the students who created them. The goal of the display was to allow other students to view the fourth-year students’ portfolios, and to promote the Fashion Design program.

Fourth-year students Niki Chung, Carolyn Chow and Janis Brunke were also fundraising for the new Julie Hobart “SOS” scholarship by selling “wing” necklaces. The necklaces were designed by a Kwantlen grad and local designer of “Mimi & Marge.” Necklaces remain on sale for $50. The proceeds will go towards the scholarship and the Fashion Design program.

A number of colourful, whimsical designs were on display on the second floor of the Richmond campus. (Alexander Nkrumah photo.)

A number of colourful, whimsical designs were on display on the second floor of the Richmond campus. (Alexander Nkrumah photo.)

Fashion students mingle amid the display of their work and their portfolios. (Alexander Nkrumah photo)

Fashion students mingle amid the display of their work and their portfolios. (Alexander Nkrumah photo)

Fashion student dresses staff for Parade of Lost Souls

November 1, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Above & below: Fourth-year Kwantlen fashion student Rachel Zaharik, at work on the costumes for staff at the La Rocca Italian dining lounge for the annual Commercial Drive Parade of Lost Souls. (Alicia-Rae Light photos)


La Rocca Italian dining lounge staff in their Moulin Rouge-inspired finery. (Alicia-Rae Light photo)

Tens of thousands of Vancouverite’s dressed as ghouls and gremlins and ghosts paraded along Vancouver’s Commercial Drive in the spirit of Halloween for the annual Parade of Lost souls on Oct. 25, amid conga drummers, Hare Krishna chanters, Morris dancers, fire dancers and costumed wanderers.

“The parade of lost souls is one of Vancouver’s best entertaining parades,” said Stuart Ritchie, one of the Bowen Black Sheep Morris dancers. “It’s our third year in a row performing here and it’s is always full of music and costumes. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of bad stuff happening here, it seems to be actually an event that works well in Vancouver.”

The parade derives from the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead and is organized by the Public Dreams Society. Over the years it has become an event with all sorts of artistic expression, combining music, costumes, fire, dance, performers and art, creating a fantastic evening for people of all ages.

Not everything happens on the street, though.

At 1565 Commercial Dr., there’s a line-up outside the door of La Rocca Italian dining lounge. Inside, the customers aren’t the usual sorts: there’s a table full of skeletons, one full of clowns and another with witches and warlocks. All the diners are being served by characters from Baez Luhrmanns’s movie, Moulin Rouge, created by 24-year-old Rachel Zaharik, a fourth-year Fashion Design and Marketing student at Kwantlen.

She came up with the idea after recently watching Moulin Rouge. “It was easy to figure out costumes for, and I love the movie so I thought it would be perfect,” said Zaharik.

“I bought the patterns. I didn’t design these patterns as I usually would have, I was in a rush,” said Zaharik, as she explained how she created six women’s costumes, a bartender’s costume and the general manager’s costume, all as a favour to the restaurant, and al in a very short period of time between schoolwork and classes.

She used broad cloth and leftovers for most of the costumes, as well as sequined fabric for the bartender’s vest. The general manager’s costume consists of a black suit jacket with tails and a red vest underneath. Servers wore v-neck sleeveless tops in their choice of colour, with lace trimming, and black skirts with gathered fabric at the back, creating a burlesque look.

“Kwantlen’s fashion program is one of the best in Canada. It’s recognized within the fashion industry, but not so much within the general community, which is too bad,” said Zaharick. “Students come out of this program much more prepared than (those in) the shorter programs.”