VFW FW 2010: Retarded Velvet

When I first heard about fledgling label Retarded Velvet and its debut at Vancouver Fashion Week, my reaction was something like "Huh?! That name can't be right." After all, it was hard to reconcile such a name with the design duo behind it. Theresa James ("Holiday") and Roger Prince ("Capital") graduated from Blanche Macdonald with honours and thought-provoking grad collections. She's a former human rights lawyer for the UN, he has a background in home renovation and interior design. I still remember how well-spoken and intelligent Theresa was when I interviewed her for Vancouver Fashion eZine last year.

The name may have been an unexpected shock, but I'm pleased to report that Retarded Velvet's debut collection has Theresa and Roger written all over it. Its aesthetic is thought-provoking,'80s-inspired, eclectic, and exuberant--or "Rick James in Rajasthan, Grace Jones in Goa," as the designers put it.

Drawing on a colour palette of fuchsia, purple, yellow, and black, the clothes were full of unexpected surprises that demonstrated the designers' attention to detail. I loved the risks they took with construction techniques and asymmetry. Pleated puffs usually seen on shoulders graced the hips of skirts and bottoms. Insets in contrasting fabrics appeared on bolero jackets and trousers. Jumpsuits have become trendy and somewhat ubiquitous in the last few seasons, but RV's version looked fresh with its jodphur bottom. My favourites were the sheath dress with black insets, the skinny trouser with ruched insets, and the dress with a floating yoke neckline.

Regarding Theresa's grad collection, I wrote for Vancouver Fashion eZine: "James's graduate collection was inspired by the notion of parallel universes and re-examining the ordinary: 'I wanted to take really conventional fashion elements and use them in an unconventional way.' Thus a pair of yellow pants unexpectedly becomes a halter top, dozens of zippers merge into a voluminous green skirt, and the human torso is deconstructed into a sleeve, a bra top, and a corset which can be worn together or separately." These same deconstructionist tendencies were apparent in the one-sleeve jackets. One particularly stunning number had a black-and-white pattern on top and a yellow lining. One side of the jacket was a typical bolero, while the other side had a full-length ruffle cascading down the torso.

If the pieces presented on the runway are anything to go by, Retarded Velvet was a smart move for Theresa and Roger. Congratulations to the talented pair on a stellar debut collection.

All runway photos by Wayne Mah.

P.S. Don't forget about my Sex and the City tour tickets giveaway! Remember that the tickets don't expire, so even if you're thinking about going to New York you should go for it. Click here for the full rules and to enter. Good luck!


  1. I love that name Retarded Velvet!!!! Having grown up in the 80's, I clearly remember those punk and post-punk days!! Time to take my Doc Martens out of the closet?!

  2. Lisa, I finally had a chance to look at Necklush as you recommended. I must say all the pieces are cute. Thanks so much.

  3. I wanted to give it a benefit of the doubt after hearing that label's controversial name. BUt after seeing the clothes - still not feeling it. That b/w print and the bright colours are intriguing but the clothes look unflattering and poorly constructed. Especially the jackets.

    Maybe it looked better in person?

  4. Anya, I'll be the first to admit these aren't clothes that photograph well. They look much better in motion.

  5. Love these looks and the cheeky name!



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