Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Week kicks off with stellar collections and re-styled Value Village wears

Photography by Jason Hargrove
Photography by Jason Hargrove

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Mother Nature clearly approved of the kick-off to the Fall 2012 edition of Eco Fashion Week. She gave a long, wet, chillier-than-usual Vancouver winter its first dry spring high of 16 degrees. The runway, set atop an iceless 2010 Olympiad legacy rink in Robson Square, warmed up with a show featuring no new clothing.

It was stylists, not designers who took centre stage using some $500 worth of pre-loved Value Village finds. Sarah La Greca and Deanna Palkowski styled 21 waste-not, wide-ranging looks from pastel-on-pastel and print-on-print to ‘70s rock and ‘80s glam sent out to a Grimes soundtrack. My favourite: a Chinoiserie smoking jacket that wouldn’t have been out of place in Jason Wu’s fall collection, followed by a Cher Horowitz-esque pastel blue pleather jacket worn over a ladylike ivory ensemble—albeit more spring than fall—and a double scoop of polka dots on a blouse and pencil skirt.

Next, Eco Fashion Week founder Miriam Laroche styled her pick of pre-loved threads. There were rich, clashing colours overall, with tartan skirts atop sequins tops, and scarves reworked as tops, skirts and finally a whole cocktail dress. A little ‘80s Yves Saint Laurent meets ‘80s Ralph Lauren meets present day Marc Jacobs, perhaps. In fact, one actual YSL dress of yore, magenta with abstracted roses, traveled the runway for a second time.

Perhaps I’ve been reading too many dystopian teen novels, but could all-vintage be the post-apocalyptic future of fashion? There were even contestants in attendance, of the Miss World variety that is.

It got even more apocalyptic, and punk too, yet new and never-worn at Unlokk by Eason Wang. The young Shanghai-born designer, a former Blanche Macdonald student, opened his presentation with a conceptual video of a girl in a gas mask struggling to come untied then staggering through a distorted forest. The clothes, both men’s and women’s, showed sparks of creativity but lacked polish. A cape-type topper with sharp, angular shoulders reminiscent of armor I liked, a shaggy Sasquatch hair hem on a dress I did not.

Next was Snap, a line from Whistler-based F As In Frank that reworks men’s vintage pieces for women. A remix of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” was selected and aptly sums up their aesthetic. It was all very Grunge Prairie Western corralling plaid, denim, lace, floral and sweats.

Eponymous jewellery line Bitru Fariel ended the evening. To say her handcrafted baubles are statement pieces is an understatement. There was a necklace of batteries bunched and wrapped in wire, what looked like white electrical cable coiled into two breasts, and coral and wire shaped like a skeleton as a finale. Not to beat a dead comparison, but these too befit a fictional Hunger Games’ Capitol.

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