Blanche Macdonald 2009 Grad Show

Last week, well-wishers and fashion fans gathered at the Westin Bayshore to congratulate another group of Blanche Macdonald fashion design grads while admiring their collections. Titled "Line and Form," this year's show was the largest in the school's history with forty-nine graduates exhibiting 2-3 outfits each. After seeing last year's show and covering it for Style By Fire, I was eager to attend again, this time covering the show for Solo Lisa. Although the collections were so different it was hard to pick out as many themes as I did last year, overall I did see some recurring motifs.

Damsels in distress

In keeping with the rocker chic trends ruling runways and fashion blogs, many of the grad collections featured distressed finishes and rips and tears. Natalie Ng sent asymmetrical jean shorts with tears down the runway, while Breanna Reid created laddered zip-up leggings that gave the appearance of rough n' tumble rocker chic to the entire ensemble. Mickell Orbe's collection juxtaposed distressing with artful draping, chiffon detailing, and two au courant trends (the strong shoulder and the harem trouser), all done in khaki tones.

Hip, hip, hooray

Trousers, skirts, and dresses in several student collections accentuated the hip with draping, stuffed panels, and other techniques. Adrienne Larocque did a twill high-waisted skirt with a side cowl, while Letitia Velasco and Sarah Beverly Runnalls both designed dresses that emphasized the hip. Kelsey Shein created a cream hemp silk pantsuit with wide-hipped pants.

Strong shoulders

Blanche Macdonald grads one-upped Balmain's strong shoulder craze by referencing a strong shoulder look from the turn of century: the leg o' mutton sleeve. Desiree Henke's collection included a dark olive hoodied jacket with stuffed shoulders down the runway. Kelsey Shein chose to do a chocolate brown leather jacket with leg o' mutton sleeves.

All in one

Jumpsuits were prominent in many of the collections shown that night. Katie Bedford (one of Stylefinds's own girls and my front-row companion at Vancouver Fashion Week) had one that combined chocolate brown linen, teal silk insets and piping, and a lily applique detail. Sayaka Toyoda's version featured raglan sleeves with a black waistband and exposed gold zippers. Gisella Macabeo's blue low-cut jersey jumpsuit with a yellow-lined hood and a cutout back was dramatic and memorable.

French femmes

Some students turned to classic chic and femininity for inspiration. Katie Bedford's collection combined whimsy with well-executed ladylike silhouettes full of darling details--a pleated placket down a skirt, contrasting fabric insets, and floral appliques. Desiree Henke accessorized her collection with berets and knee socks which, when combined with the lightweight coats and pleated skirt, evoked images of a chic Parisian school girl. Marianne Chow's collection of black and ivory evening wear separates with exquisitely executed ruffles was reminiscent of Chanel.

Fun, fun, fun

Some designers demonstrated such a cheeky sense of humour and wonderful creativity it was hard not to grin. Lindsay Dobson's collection of evening dresses--seemingly inspired by high school math class-- featured sculpted hemlines reminiscent of sine/cosine curves, pyramids, and cones. Andrea Bagnas created a "tea party table" ensemble complete with tea bag tags dangling from a full tulle skirt and a teapot purse. Mady Bone channeled Tim Burton (and her own surname) with a collection featuring black and purple stripes and skeletal embellishments. (I actually laughed out loud at the black pencil skirt with two bony hands cupping the butt.)

Ladies of the night

Fans of evening wear, rejoice! Here are my favourite dresses from the night. Nadine Chong's strapless "peacock" cocktail dress was trimmed in hand-appliqued peacock feathers. The peacock green backless gown with appliqued pleating crisscrossing around the front and back of the dress and cutout details by Nina Liu took my breath away and demonstrated her mastery of a difficult technique.

All photos in this post by Wayne Mah.


  1. some very impressive pieces here!

  2. It was pleasure seeing you at the show too Lisa! xo

  3. SO much gorgeousness! I can't get over that cowl-necked j-suit.

  4. What a fantastic recap! I love these different looks... that hooded jumpsuit is stunning and I love the tea party dress. There's definitey a lot of fresh new design talent out there!

  5. some of these pieces are gorgeous!

  6. great coverage, as always! love the deconstructed look of the "damsel in distress" but my fav is by far the peacock frock hahaha, yeah I had to rhyme, couldn't resist!

  7. WOW! I Love the skirt with the skeleton hands ;)


  8. wow, such talent young blood entering the fashion industry!

    I can definitely see the trends that you've picked out in the collections. My favorites are the jumpsuit and that stunning peacock dress!

  9. In LOVE with that hooded jumpsuit!

  10. that peacock dress is beautiful. I also love the black waist coat with the white tulle skirt. it's gorgeous!

  11. Great coverage of the show, Lisa! I'm always so impressed by the work of design students: creatives without a huge budget creating beautiful, unique pieces. Thanks for sharing these photos!

  12. Your coverage of the Blanche show is incredible! Thanks Lisa.

  13. wow, love a lot of these looks! my favorite piece was the distressed shorts in the first photo- such a great idea for 2 different lengths. now i want to diy!

  14. wow wow so beautiful i love the peacock dress

  15. I was at this show! Nice stuff.

    fashion on edge

  16. Hey, thanks for comming to the show I'm glad you enjoyed my looks along with some of my class mates looks.
    Désirée Henke

  17. A real good line of evening dresses. And I have to agree, the Peacock Frock is quite a shock. Ha! There another rhyme. :)


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