Fashion chooses a Night Out in Vancouver

FNO’s fashion show at CBC Studio 40 showcased local talent and international brands. It marked the kick off of Vancouver’s first foray into Fashion Night Out. What started in New York four years ago has now spread to over 500 cities all over the globe. FNO is a global initiative sponsored by Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America as a way to celebrate fashion and support the industry. It is basically about getting shoppers into stores. Retailers open their doors at night to host musical performances, designer appearances, celebrity guests, gifts and discounts. It is all about restoring consumer confidence and getting us spending again in this economically shaky climate.

Internationally Vancouver is not known for its fashion. We are more of a hiking boots and yoga pants city, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It is exciting to see Vancouverites celebrate impractical fashion, if only for one night. I arrived early and witnessed a line up that wrapped around three sides of the CBC Studio 40 building. In the sweltering heat the fashion lovers of Vancouver were immaculately dressed and patiently hoping to get inside. I said a quick prayer to our lady of high fashion as I skipped the queue and received my press pass. I was already feeling a little out of step and underdressed. I had gone for monochrome patterned skinny jeans and a red shirt while most of the glossy people around me looked like they were ready for a day at the races.

Soon I was packed into the press pit, admiring the sleek white catwalk that was framed by a backdrop of gauzy drapes with a candy-coloured kaleidoscopic pattern projected on it. As a small fraction of the public waiting outside filtered in I spotted director of FNO Vancouver Florence Leung in a striking burnt red leather dress. With DJ Yurie on the decks the show kicked off with a collection from Jason Matlo. It was entitled Babe in large, pink letters.  It had nothing to do with the kids’ movie and everything to do with girls looking cute. A local designer, his collection was full of fresh and pretty party dresses with a minimalist touch. The models were draped in beautiful jewel tones. There was a lot of mauve and rich blue. The dresses were sleek and minimal and draped in a flattering way on the body. This combined with the many one-shouldered dresses gave a Grecian vibe to the collection. These were dresses to bring us into the winter party season. A few flashes of sequins reminded us that Christmas is coming.

Next up was the international brand French Connection. All the models hair had been styled for the show in a slicked back style with structures top knots. This suited French Connection very well and there was a definite retro feel to the collection. Black, sequined clingy dresses conjured up a 1930’s Great Gatsby kind of glamour. The collection was sophisticated and structured. The French Connection girl is always well put together. There was a great monochrome, modernist work dress, classic autumnal colours abounded from aubergine to deep red and the highlight was a long sleeved body-con dress in a swirling pink and blue paisley print. We also got to see some menswear. The menswear was classic and conservative, with the country squire in tweed cap and wellingtons and the sailor in navy and a Breton shirt. All very preppy and well tailored.

Wear Else on West 4th offered up a luxurious collection. There were metallic tailored suits paired with 1930’s heels. There were clean lined dresses in leather and metallic materials. This collection seemed like it was for a powerful woman who enjoys the finer things in life. One of my favourites was the Balmain-esque gold sequined tunic over leather leggings, a very glamorous fall outfit. I also enjoyed the amount of knitwear on display. Fur collars and cosy knits, the sheer amount of textures was intoxicating.

Daryl White had the most unique collection of the night. It started off with a video by Vancouver pop singer Peter Breeze. It was reminiscent of a Lady Gaga video and conjured up the dirty side of Hollywood dreams. This set the tone for the collection. The male models wore masks and tape over their mouths with a lipstick pout drawn on it. It felt like they represented the faceless hordes of young people trying to make it in Hollywood. The clothing was provocative and exuberant. Denim jackets and hot pants were customized and distressed to the max. It was an explosion of studs, glitter, paint and tie dye. The collection also played with male sexuality. The models looked a bit like rent boys with their exposed chests and black tape over their nipples. There was plenty of humour and the whole thing bristled with artistic energy. In a city not known for making bold fashion choices, White’s clothes are refreshingly playful

Another highlight of the night was Evan Ducharme, winner of Fashion’s Night Out Fashion Design Competition. Ducharme had a posse of supportive friends in the crowd who whooped and cheered any time his name was mentioned. This lively display was a nice departure from the sometimes stuffy atmosphere at a runway show. To the sounds of Lana Del Rey, Ducharme’s models walked in an elegant array of separates and evening wear. It channelled old Hollywood glamour. Lots of pencil skirts and evening wear. There was a gorgeous Cinderella style dress with a mustard voile skirt and teal bodice. I can imagine a dreamy 50’s housewife loving it. Another highlight of Ducharme’s collection was a long-sleeved black dress complete with a train that flowed sinuously around the model. Altogether it was a beautiful collection from a deserved winner.

Collections from Jacqueline Conair, Miss Sixty, Marilyn’s of West Vancouver and Pilars rounded off the glitzy evening. Hopefully next year’s FNO fashion show will be even bigger and give more of a platform for the talented designers in this city.

Jessica O'Brien

Jessica O'Brien

Jessica O'Brien fills many the happy hour as contributing editor and writer for the Vancouver Weekly. She can be found eating all the nibbles at book launches or getting lost in tiny secondhand book stores. Follow her on twitter @jesso_brien