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!


  1. great coverage of Vancouver Fashion Week! It looks like a fantastic event :)The designers look very talented and I can't wait to see more from them!

  2. Fab photos and fashions, darling! Loving that first ruffly dress!


  3. Love it! That event was tres fun. Next time I'm not gonna wear any high maintenance lip gloss aka that ridiculously hard to maintain YSL black.

    It's kinda cool reading event coverage from different people so you can see through a new lens. Can't wait to see what you've got for Saturday!

  4. those peacock earrings are lovely!

  5. I really enjoyed reading your review of your local fashion week!

  6. I adore the dress Justine Brooks is wearing and Malene Grotrian's blazer!

    Lovely photos!

  7. Ooh, this looks and sounds like a wonderful time!

  8. This is too fabulous =]

    And I will have Guys & Dolls choreography & music stuck in my head for weeks, if not more, to come! All this week the songs have been popping into my head, along with the accompanying choreo.

    I do miss it!

    La C.

  9. Looks like fun! Love the jewelry. Looking forward to more!

  10. Thanks for sharing VFW!

    Congrats on the IFB spotlight, very much deserved!!!!! :-)

    I'm holding off on any photos of myself on the blog just yet....hm...actually, I have questions for you about that! I will e-mail it!

  11. hope to see you around the shows lisa!!

  12. Great post, thanks for covering this! It's always interesting to read about fashion events from different cities, with so much focus on the fashion capitals.

  13. Wow, Justine looks so fabulous!! And I am in love with all the jewelry.

  14. I LOVE that silver necklace! Just gorgeous!

  15. I love the hair on the Innergypsy model! It´s some how ´Flock of Seagulls´ yet sexy. If such a thing is possible.

  16. The cutout dress looks interesting

  17. Great coverage! That qipao dress look really edgy, I hope you're covering her show ;)


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