VFW Day 3: Malene Grotrian

Note: This post is also cross-posted at Stylefinds, where you'll find comprehensive VFW coverage!

Some designers design for waifs; Malene Grotrian designs clothes for women. This was evident on Saturday evening at VFW when Malene presented her F/W 09 collection of flowing garments and signature bustiers, all made from sumptuous Italian fabrics. These were clothes meant to hide "wobbly bits," flatter the female form, and enhance an hourglass figure.

There were so many covetable mix-and-match pieces that could be combined to create unique evening looks: a flowing trouser, a halter top with off-the-shoulder details, batwing dresses in multiple fabrications or with a lapel, slinky fishtail hem dresses, a full-bodied black skirt reminiscent of Dior's New Look. These looks were styled with jewelry by Justine Brooks. (That's Justine's necklace in the first picture--peacock feathers encased in windows made of diamond-shaped sterling silver and glass.) My personal favourites included a white high-waisted skirt and strapless black lace top (think Grace Kelly in Rear Window) and a black wool sheath with white embroidered roses.

Malene's signature piece is the bustier, as I mentioned in this post. In her F/W collection, it was interesting to see her push the possibilities of this garment beyond the strapless versions most of us are used to seeing. The halter tops with off-the-shoulder detailing featured metal boning, as did the high-waisted skirts.

The highlight of the show was surely the full-length ballgown skirts. I asked Malene afterwards if there was a hoop skirt underneath, and she explained that it was all done with tulle. That would explain how these skirts seemed to glide down the runway and move with the models.

All photos by Yvonne Chew. Thanks Yvonne!

VFW Day 3: Clothilde

Note: This post is also cross-posted at Stylefinds, where you'll find comprehensive VFW coverage!

This Los Angeles-based clothing label showed a mini collection of silky, loose-fitting dresses in different patterns and silhouettes. Standouts in this show included the wrap dresses and the apron dresses (which would work equally well layered over a plain white tee).

All photos by Yvonne Chew. Thanks Yvonne!

VFW Day 3: Vixen Little

Note: This post is also cross-posted at Stylefinds, where you'll find comprehensive VFW coverage!

I wish more information had been available about Vixen Little because this elusive label's Saturday show definitely intrigued me. My Googling skills couldn't track down a website, but they did yield this blurb from The Province:

"Vancouver-based designer Shellie Park unveils her fall '09 Vixen Little collection at Vancouver Fashion Week this Saturday (3 p.m. at Storyeum in Gastown).
Vixen Little's fall line is a blend of knits, Swiss brocades, and silk/wool separates.
Inspired by the ever-changing landscapes of the West Coast, the collection fuses classic lines with modern textiles, offering a new take on the age old dilemma of what to wear to work."

Shellie's clothes are definitely unlike any workwear I've ever seen--part futuristic femme fatale and part Rumi. The show opened with a close-fitting silver sheath with an exposed zipper down one side. Models strode down the catwalk sporting dramatic blocks of colour across the eyes as a rock remix of "Feeling Good" played. The navy blue knitwear pieces (a tiered bubble skirt with suspenders, a snug-fitting poncho worn as a top) were edgy and unusual yet surprisingly wearable. My favourite look, though, was the cape jacket and short suit.

All photos by Yvonne Chew. Thanks Yvonne!

VFW Day 3: Soulface Studios

Note: This post is also cross-posted at Stylefinds, where you'll find comprehensive VFW coverage!

Soulface Studios showed Indian-inspired apparel that combined contemporary cuts with traditional influences. These clothes would be great for a young woman of Indian descent or someone who's been inspired by Slumdog Millionaire to try something new. Despite the cultural references throughout the collection, the loose-cut paisley halter dress and LBD definitely have cross-cultural appeal; I can picture either of these dresses making an appearance at a summer patio party.

All photos by Yvonne Chew. Thanks Yvonne!

Links à la Mode

39thandbroadway.com - Thought it was hard picking a job interview outfit, well, what do you wear if you’re interviewing for a fashion job?
A Few Goody GumDrops - A Few Goody Gumdrops scoops an interview with handbag designer’s Be and D about the re-launch of the Garbo bag!
Breakfast at Saks - A little slice of heaven: Erin Wasson’s Venice Beach Tree House
Consume or Consumed - Soleful Shopping: Negotiating Men’s Footwear (Guest Men’s Fashion Entry)
Dogmom’s Dish - Norma Kamali NK: Spring Blossoms In Unexpected Places
dramatis personae - Curious About Corsetry {part 1}: Answers to Your Most Basic Questions
Fasshonaburu - How to rock multiple brights this spring
fete a fete - DL1961’s 4-way stretch denim slims and shapes
Independent Fashion Bloggers - How essential is twitter to your blog?
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fashion - Virtual Shopping Cart: Urban Outfitters
misslikey - misslikey is still zipping
Munique Fashions - Twinset and pearls with a modern twist
Or False Glitter - fall/winter 09 inspired hair style tried at home!
reLYME - Studs were all over the runway this season…a few cheaper and more girly alternatives.
Retro Chick - Ethical Design Spotlight - Tammam
Solo Lisa - Tips to take with you when shopping for clutches
Star Fashion Addict - Summer Trend Jumpsuits and Rompers
Style Eyes Fashion Blog - Cheer yourself up with a little lipstick therapy
Style Symmetry - The Best Thrifting Tip I Can Give You
THE COVETED - The Elegant Punks an interview with Felder Felder
Thrift Eye - Making a circle scarf, then turning it into a circle dress!

The full version of Links à la Mode is in the IFB forums...there’s a lot of great posts there too.

VFW Day 2: A Night In Shanghai With Helen Lee

Note: This post is also cross-posted at Stylefinds, where you'll find comprehensive coverage of VFW shows and events!

When I met Helen Lee at the VFW Opening Gala, she struck me as being small of stature, soft of voice, and sweet in her demeanour. But beneath this delicate exterior was an edgy toughness and a tremendous talent. How else do you explain what she was wearing that night--the leather jacket, Thomas Wylde skull clutch, and the black oxford heels that exuded rock star confidence? Or the beautiful qipao in coated cotton with cutouts that her model was wearing, so in line with the current bondage dressing trend?

My impressions of Helen were confirmed when I attended A Night In Shanghai Friday night and saw her collection for VFW. Drawing on a neutral palette of gray, black, and camel with the occasional pop of colour, Helen's collection fuses traditional Chinese motifs with contemporary sophistication and all-out rock star glamour.

The show featured two qipao mini dresses--the one that caught my eye at Opening Gala (which was the opening look on the runway), and a tight-fitting gold number with a dropped waist and dramatic ruffle on one shoulder. Chinese motifs surfaced in other ways, appearing as a cluster of flowers adorning the sleeves of a sleek evening jacket or on a pair of elbow-length leather gloves. One asymmetrical one-shoulder dress had a fuchsia strap fastened at the back by traditional knotted buttons.

Helen's masterful eye for detail made the clothes a delight to look at, particularly the menswear. A camel blazer for men looked like an ordinary blazer until, close up, you could see that the hem had been trimmed by a wide satin band. Another men's blazer appeared to be a plain black blazer trimmed with white piping; front-row audience members, however, would've noticed the white piping was in fact a contrasting topstitch. An ordinary button-down was made intriguing by the asymmetrically placed buttons.

Although the tone of the collection was consistent, the mix of materials, patterns, and textures was eclectic. Satin, latex-style coated cotton, regular cotton, cozy sweater knits, leather, sequins, sheer nylon, lace, fur, camouflage, beaded statement bib necklaces--these were all juxtaposed against each other to great effect in various ensembles. One of my favourite looks combined a sheer bodysuit, gray sweater shrug bedecked with black stones, and leather pants.

Enthusiastic applause greeted Helen Lee when she came out on the catwalk, perfectly embodying her own design aesthetic by wearing leather and lace together.

Helen and her husband pose for a picture together after the show.

All photos in this post by Yvonne Chew. Thanks Yvonne!

VFW Day 2: Shanghai Nights, Vancouver Boutiques

Note: This post has also been cross-posted at Stylefinds, where you'll find more comprehensive coverage of VFW shows and parties!

An event like VFW couldn't take place without the generous support of sponsors such as local businesses and independent retailers. Several of these retailers presented mini runway shows of their latest spring looks at A Night In Shanghai on Friday night.

Remix Fashion

Remix presented a variety of shift and mini dresses with Asian-inspired prints. Models were styled with dramatic Chinese paper fans, bouffant buns on the side or top of the head, and metallic gunmetal eyeshadow. My favourite look was a yoke neckline patterned shift dress done in shiny coated cotton.

Tokyo Cop

Bright colours reigned during the Tokyo Cop segment as the opening ensemble featured lime green, yellow, orange, and floral--very spring-like! Short skirts were paired with thigh-high neon socks and heels. Standouts included a couple of demure party frocks and psychedelic zebra-print leggings. However, as an avid Chanel lover who believes nothing compares to the real deal, I cringed at the sight of a gray satin dress styled with a white 2.55 knockoff.


So fresh, so clean. Lushuz sent neutral ensembles paired with metallic accessories and flat gladiator sandals down the catwalk. My personal favourite was the sun dress with an abstract blue angel fish print.


This Aberdeen Centre retailer showed ultra-girly looks that were a little bit Blair Waldorf, a little bit gothic Lolita.

4th Ave

4th Ave featured bohemian print frocks paired with structured Gaya handbags in bright patent leather. The standout ensemble for me was a gray sheath dress with hip panels, styled with a thick belt and statement necklace.

All photos in this post are by Yvonne Chew. Thanks Yvonne!

VFW Coverage Continues

Aurora Chan of Style by Fire, Serena Mason of Stylefinds, and I pose at the VFW Opening Gala.

Weekends aren't the most happening time of the week on this little blog, but I urge you to keep checking back. Vancouver Fashion Week is in full swing and I'll be publishing coverage of the shows I'm attending here and on Stylefinds. Exciting!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Photo by Yvonne Chew

P.S. Second Coutorture mention of the week, this time for coverage of the VFW Opening Gala. Yay!

VFW Opening Gala

Note: This post was originally published on Stylefinds.

Guests mingled and nibbled on chocolate in Leone.

Vancouver Fashion Week kicked things off on a strong note at Leone last night. The press, along with some of Vancouver's most fashionable, gathered in the upscale store for the Opening Gala, chatting with designers about their work and getting a close look at the jewelry and apparel to be featured on the runway. Guests indulged in fine chocolates and wine while models circulated the room showing off designs from 15 jewelry designers and 20 apparel designers.

Justine Brooks

Justine Brooks designs jewelry under her own name and is participating in VFW for the first time. Her nature-inspired statement necklaces and earrings are made with sterling silver, peacock feathers, and stones sourced from Shanghai and Cairo. Here she wears a necklace and ring she designed and an ensemble by Malene Grotrian.

Malene Grotrian halter and ballgown skirt. Earrings and bracelet by Justine Brooks.

Speaking of VFW newcomers, Danish-born Vancouver-based designer Malene Grotrian will be making her VFW runway debut this Saturday. Her show will be wrapping up a day focused on international labels and designers: Turnover (Amsterdam), Lauren Vidal (Paris), Joseph Domingo (San Francisco), Helen Lee (Shanghai), and Clothilde (LA). I have to admit, I have a soft spot for Malene and her designs after being invited to her studio for an exclusive show. Malene explains that this time around her clothes were inspired by the classic feminine glamour of the 20s and 40s, but with an "edgy and raw twist." As always, though, her pieces will feature luxe Italian fabrics and an eye for detail.

Malene Grotrian talks about the designs in her upcoming show.

Kerianne Taves of Innergypsy Design was also there to showcase her sterling silver creations. I admired the fluid lines and sculptural quality of her work when I saw the silver multi-chain necklace on a model, but I was very impressed with the other pieces she had on hand. My favourite? A multi-strand choker featuring a silver plate imprinted with Audrey Hepburn's face.

Kerianne Taves stands between two models sporting her jewelry.

Helen Lee was born and raised in Shanghai where she is well-established as a designer, and has been featured in various publications such as Chinese Vogue and Chinese Elle. Nowadays she divides her time between Shanghai and Vancouver because her husband is based here, but this is the first time she has shown her evening wear overseas. Helen will be the featured designer at VFW's A Night In Shanghai this Friday. If her edgy qipao done with shiny black material and side cutouts is any indication of what's to come, her show should be tremendous.

Helen Lee poses next to model Fei Ren, who wears Helen's edgy interpretation of the traditional qipao dress.

All photos in this post except the last one are by Yvonne Chew. Thanks Yvonne!

Tidbits And A Tag For Your Wednesday?

I'm a couple days late mentioning this, but I was featured in the Blogger Spotlight portion of this week's IFB newsletter! My heartfelt thanks goes out to Najeema, Eyeliah, Retro Chick, Star Fashion, and Breakfast at Saks for this honour. For that matter, my heartfelt thanks to those of you who continue to read my blog.

I'm also over the moon about getting my first Coutorture mention for Solo Lisa. (My first Coutorture mention ever occurred when I published my interview with Two of Hearts on Stylefinds.)

Welcome, first-time visitors! I hope you enjoy yourselves while you're here. I'm sorry I don't have cookies for you, but my cooking skills are rubbish anyway. You wouldn't want what I bake.

Onto the tag portion of this post...

Little Bow Prep tagged me last week to show my heart through...

One picture

View of Guanajuato, taken on my summer trip to Mexico in 2006.

One poem

"Fable" by Octavio Paz

The age of fire and the age of air
The youth of water springing
From green to yellow
From yellow to red
From dream to vigil
From desire to act
You needed only one step and that taken without effort
The insects then were jewels who were alive
The heat lay down to rest at the edge of the pool
Rain was the light hair of a willow tree
There was a tree growing within your hand
And as it grew it sang laughed prophesied
It cast the spells that cover space with wings
There were the simple miracles called birds
Everything belonged to everyone
Everyone was everything
Only one word existed immense without opposite
A word like a sun
One day it exploded into the smallest fragments
They were the words of the language that we speak
They are the splintered mirrors where the world can see
itself slaughtered.

One item of clothing

Gray gown from the Chanel Fall 2008 couture collection. Original pics from style.com

One song

One place

London. Photo by Dmitry B.

One Disney princess

One quote

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.

-"Ulysses" by Tennyson

I tag whoever's interested in doing this tag! It's a pretty fun exercise in self-reflection.

Stay tuned over the next couple of days. Vancouver Fashion Week is starting and I'll be covering parties and shows here and on Stylefinds. Opening gala is tonight. :-)

That's So Clutch

A couple weeks ago, one reader asked me for suggestions on shopping for clutches. Ah clutches...in my experience, choosing a great one requires you to consider a few more factors than just choosing a handbag:

Be honest with yourself about how clumsy you are. Are you likely to misplace or lose things on a day-to-day basis? How about after a few drinks? If you answered "yes" to either question, consider a clutch with a shoulder strap or wrist strap that can be detached or tucked away; use the strap when you're sick of carrying the clutch so you don't put it down somewhere and forget about it.

Consider the occasion you'll be using a clutch for. If you're going to your cousin's wedding reception or some swanky gala, a dressier number with satin, beads, or sequins will look lovely. For bar-hopping or clubbing, I suggest avoiding satin and getting something in leather, patent, treated canvas, or some sort of synthetic material. Easy-to-stain satin plus spilled drinks and sticky tabletops equal a recipe for disaster.

Pare it down to the essentials. What do you HAVE to have with you to feel prepared and glamorous for a big night out? Everyone has a different list of essentials. (Mine consists of cell phone, lip gloss, keys, blotting papers, ID, credit/debit cards, cash, and a bus pass.) Have these items with you when you go clutch-shopping and try putting them into a clutch candidate.

Look for practical compartments and an accomodating shape. Resist the urge to buy an oversized wallet and use it as a clutch. Such wallets aren't meant to hold lumpy, unwieldy objects (e.g. cell phone, a tampon, a compact) and feature a lot of small card slots and compartments you likely won't use.

Now, on to the eye candy portion of this post--some droolworthy clutches for your consideration. Enjoy!

'Parker' leather clutch (Coach), $198. Leather, pleat details, and just a touch of hardware make this number the epitome of quiet luxe. Its sleek and versatile design goes well with clubbing gear and cocktail dresses.

'Parker' sequins large wristlet (Coach), $198. The ubiquitous Coach logo looks like a cool geometric all-over pattern when done in 2 different types of black sequins.

'Haronover' (Aldo), $35. Weird name aside (doesn't it sound like "hare run over" when you say it in your head?!), this clutch is pretty cool for chicas on a budget. The purple faux croc and turnlock clasp make it look a lot more expensive than its humble price tag.

Plissé frame clutch (Nordstrom), $88. If you're going to do dressy satin, this is the way to do it! This clutch's pleats and ladylike frame silhouette lend it classic and enduring appeal. The Plissé is also available in purple and black, but this aqua colour is simply stunning, don't you think?

'Quarnasopra' (Aldo), $35. Not a fan of pleats? Big bows also work as evening embellishments.

Kimchi Blue keyhole wallet (Urban Outfitters), $28. The compartments on this clutch make me so happy--just the right number of card slots, zippered pockets, and a kisslock compartment on the back that looks like it might fit a lip balm and a cell phone.

Need more advice? Check out my post on shopping for a purse you'll love here.

Do you have any tips for clutch-shopping?
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