Category Archives: Canadian Style

Students, design what YOU want to wear.

Wednesday night was the Arts Institute of Vancouver student fashion show, one of my first “fashion” events in Vancouver. (actually, it was in Coquitlam…and I won’t say that is Vancouver, because it is clearly not.)

I wore my Finsk Purple cut out booties for the first time:


Image courtesy of

Student shows are usually all quite similar, unless you are at some of the great fashion schools (for me that means Central Saint Martins College in London, Royal College of Art in London, Royal Academy in Antwerp, and a few others.) You get a lot of evening wear, some wedding dresses, and a lot of outfits that students have been dreaming about making since they were kids. There doesn’t seem to be enough reflection on what society actually needs, and what is going to get you a job. How many jobs are there designing wedding dresses? Probably not many, compared to the number of jobs designing jeans, or casualwear, or tailoring.

If I were to teach design again, which I haven’t really done in some time, I would tell the students the following:

1-Design something someone actually will want to wear, preferably you.

2-Dont design evening wear unless you are going to design something that isn’t already available in a thousand stores. Seriously.

3-Dont design wedding gowns. EVER.

4-Don’t style your models with up-dos, hair pieces, head feathers, or anything like that. EVER. EVER. EVER.

I went to the show with my friend Jason, who runs his own company. We studied fashion together in Vancouver 15 years ago, and we both admitted to having designed student fashion collection that, on reflection, were pretty tragic. The difference was, we didn’t have access to high fashion, unless we bought expensive magazines. Student these days can find out what everyone is doing through the click of the mouse, so there is no reason to design something that isn’t NOW. The strangest thing was, after each students designs were on the catwalk, they came out and did a bow. Nearly all the students were wearing outfits that were more interesting and exciting than their catwalk looks. Maybe they are looking in the wrong places for inspiration.

Here are some show highlights: (excuse the crappy photos, I am still trying to get used to trying to shoot catwalk shows from the side)

Krista Brown had a really amazing silhouette with this dress.


This would have been fantastic with a more modern hairdo, something a bit slick to contrast the the puffiness of the dress.

I also like Savannah Qiu’s puffy shoulders here.


Yvonne Xie designed a great dress inspired from an old-fashioned nightie, shame the shot is from the back.


And the highlight for me was Rachel Bernado’s little summer outfits. Everything she designed was wearable and fun, she gets my top prize. Here is an example of a student designing something that is relevant to today, and looks cool on the catwalk.

(again, sorry for the rubbish images)




If only the models had been wearing pony tails and plimsoles.


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Filed under Canadian Style, Education, My Collection