It’s Day 4 of Vancouver Fashion Week, and I’m watching a ballerina get situated on the runway inside a clear plastic blow-up bubble. It’s during a break in between shows so the lights are down but the ballerina and the two crew members helping her are clearly visible to the onlooking crowd. It’s a glimpse into the work it takes to pull off the unique and daring shows the week is known for — and a charming peek behind the lo-fi curtain of VFW.
The ballerina-in-a-bubble belongs to Vancouver designer Erwen, whose fall/winter 2019 lineup is part streetwear, part performance, and part art collection (the models carried framed paintings as accessories). The show was a fun and fitting expression of the designer’s clothing and a prime example of the eccentricity you’ll find on Vancouver’s runway.
Vancouver Fashion Week, which ran from March 18 to 24, featured a mix of local and international designers, as well as fresh-faced fashion school graduates. Their shows highlighted bold knits, embellished hoodies, restructured saris, brightly coloured blazers, and proof that the jumpsuit trend isn’t going anywhere, thankfully. There were wide-ranging designs from cultures around the world, including an appearance by the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia (one of my favourite shows of the week).
VFW isn’t perfect. It’s battling a commitment to inclusion and its pledge to promote international designers, who sometimes aren’t as dedicated to diversity as the week’s organizers are. Like every other fashion week, it’s struggling to stay relevant, and on top of all that, it’s been dodging recent rumours that organizers overwork volunteers.
Vancouver Fashion Week may not be as well-known as Milan, Paris, New York, or even Toronto, but in the midst of some of the same problems, and just like the other weeks, the shows went on. Over 25 countries represented with designers hailing from Australia, France, Russia, Japan, India, Ukraine, Taiwan, and more, VFW brought the global fashion perspective it prides itself on.
Click through for 25 must-see looks from Vancouver Fashion Week.