Wednesday, September 20, 2017

For a designer, enrolled at Vancouver community college, Vancouver fashion week was an amazing experience. The designs were truly inspirational. 

The garments that I chose to illustrate were the ones that really spoke to me with fluid movement when the model walked down the runway. One of my favorite fabrics was a sheer one, made into a skirt with a boldly colored lining that accentuated the model's legs and drew the eye back up to the shape and movement of the whole look. With so many stunning outfits to choose from it was hard for me to pick which ones to illustrate when I'd start one illustration, another glamorous style immediately appeared on the runway. I wanted to capture them all. A sketch is only the first step in the process. Color, details, title/name, date, background, and maybe even a frame. Art in the making. 

Emmalyn McKenna

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Photos and Writing by Dianna Drahanchuk

Unlike Colleen, the Metrotown Burnaby store grand opening was my first visit to a MUJI store. The store was packed with lovely things and wall to wall people. I visited again a week after they opened and people were still a lined-up to get in. Such a surprising array of items from household accessories, cleaning implements and storage containers, furniture and furnishings, food, tableware, beauty and stationery products plus clothing for adults and children, and that is not the full list of elegantly designed articles. The design ethic to produce low price, good quality, anonymous, nature oriented pieces without unnecessary complexity and simplicity in packaging is deeply rooted in the Japanese culture. MUJI’s aim is to promote environmentally pure, simpler, natural living to help improve Canada's lifestyle.

Colleen eyeing the children's clothing section

Calligraphy artist Kisyuu preparing for her performance in front of a rapt audience

After the dignitaries opening speeches, the presentations by the artists showed equal thoughtfulness. The poet Soramaru Takayama read a poem created especially for MUJI in Japanese while an english translation was projected on a screen. I was immediately reminded of MUJI's flannel shirts when he said the fabric “softly settles on the skin”. (His website: Impressively, the calligraphy artist who became a master at the age of 18,  does her work to create a bridge through art to create inner and outer peace. A traditional sake barrel opening symbolized blessings of health and happiness.

Poet Soramaru Takayama testing the furniture

There are 850 MUJI stores worldwide, the Metrotown Burnaby store is the first in British Columbia. At around 8,000 square feet, it is the largest store in Canada. However that will change in 2018 when their new store opens on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver which will be even larger. And happily this one is even closer to home.

A runway show at Vancouver Fashion Week is a Grad Show for Vancouver Community College Fashion Program Student Designers. Capital S for Students because each class is a group of passionate, confident Designers, ready to specialize in many areas of Design, and eager to display their talents, locally and internationally. Their intended audience is usually younger and edgier than I am, but they always tell me that great design is adaptable and yes, I can wear it. I love the faux feathers, graphics, pockets, pleats and color, more color, please.

This group of 9, tells me that they are a close knit class, one that has worked in two's and three's to learn from each other. Some started with no sewing skills at all, brave souls. Others had one idea for their future and have now changed direction. They have the design skills as well as social media experience and some will help me with illustrations, photos and blogging during Vancouver Fashion Week, Can't wait to see their show on Sept 20th and then on the red carpet and fashion wall for photo ops.

Sarah Murray, Co-ordinator, Fashion, Recruitment, Industry Relations (VCC) Andrea Korens, Co-ordinator Fashion Education welcomed me to a busy evening of final checks on the garments and meeting the Students. Not in the photo, but often mentioned, is Lisa Gellert, Teacher. In fact, Ryan
Manahan, said that he referenced her cool style of dressing when he designed a bishop sleeve for his black and white bold graphic shirt. Great tribute to Teacher and Program, right?

These Designers and their signature pieces can be found on the VCC website here.

Watch for: exquisite embroidery, couture, cutouts, fabric design, men's wear with raw denim, bold graphics, lingerie and sportswear - multi function lines, texture, birds and flowers, Art, Future...
A few of my photos, especially the one of the group, tell this creative story.

Thanks: Ilin Hosseinpour, Angela Leung, Ryan Manahan, Minyi Li, Elam Safaei (not in photo but previously interviewed here:, Jessica Solomon, Selena Werner-Bellon, Yu-Ting Yeth

Monday, September 4, 2017

Writing and photos by Dianna Drahanchuk

It was a smoky but beautiful day for 27 artists to show their exquisite stuff to a rapt audience at the Slow Clothes: the Art of Fashion show put on by Wearable Arts Vancouver

Alice Philips felted the astounding geometric black and white patterned coat and hat and the brilliant orange shawl and hat She sourced and dyed wool from New Zealand. The Japanese motif handbag is by Carolyn Bruce.

Another texted design is this flowing topper by Fariba Mirzai, “clothing from nature to fit your soul” The hand-made lace back spells out a poem by the Persian calligraphy by poet Rumi. 

Dianna Drahanchuk at the event
This beautiful gala coming up at the Hotel Vancouver, October 20, 2017, supports youth at risk, a very important part of the Help Change My City Alliance. September 24, in the stunning LeSoleil Fine Art Gallery. we were surrounded by Artistic accomplishment as well as by a huge group of supporters who make the Gala such a well attended, successful charity fundraiser. Alpha B. Kirabira, Founder and Producer, talked about his team's work in schools and in the greater community, to teach youth that they have something valuable to contribute and to develop skills to share that. At the youth presentations, role models, often local, tell their stories and strategies for achievement. Youth performance groups show how their talents keep them actively involved in school and community and again, how to contribute to the making of a thriving city. Christine Michelle, Assistant Producer and Sarah, Social  Media magician for LBD, talked to each of us and welcomed us to the evening as well as to the Gala, for which we will all wear our best black. And we also met Owen, who will model in the LBD fashion show, likely looking fantastic in jewellery and/or accessories by Carolyn Bruce. Carolyn and Dianna Drahanchuk are wearing two magnificent pieces, as many of us will when we hit the red carpet at Little Black Dress Gala, October 20th. Alison Kent has already designed the fabric for the fashion show dresses. Her designs are unique, special for a very special occasion.
Thank you for the music, Derek Pitts! Marvelous background and dance music kept the mood bright and the energy levels high, all evening.

So please save the date, October 20th! Tickets available now on Eventbrite. Dress up and support our youth. Here are a few of the many highlights from #LBDGALA  2016 and 2017!

Alpha Kirabira


Carolyn Bruce and Dianna Drahanchuk wearing Carolyn Bruce designs

Graciously hosted by Le Soleil Fine Art Gallery

Derek Pitts


Monday, August 28, 2017

Photos and writing by Dianna Drahanchuk

“Colour Trends for Fall 2017” was held in the bright Personal Shopping office located in a remote corner of the third floor in the Hudson’s Bay in downtown Vancouver. Gracious hostesses Katherine Lazaruk and Stefania Savluc, both graduates of Langara’s Image Consulting program, warmed up the intimate group with a tasty glass of wine. Stefania office, that comes with 2 fitting rooms and tiny kitchen, is where she provides complimentary private fashion consultations and new brand promotion. Katherine, who transitioned from being an opera diva to an image consultant, heads an enterprise called icu consulting that concentrates on “intensive care for your image”. See her website here

Katherine started off by introducing us to the 2017 fall Pantone colour report used by fashion, furniture, paint and textile businesses. She went on describe the kinds of consultations she in normally involved in, for example converting everyday apparel into more businesslike attire, filling holes in a clothing collection, purging wardrobes to have less but smarter clothing, or assessing one’s most flattering hues using colour flow palettes from a selection of 10. When she focuses on corporate wear, she likes her client to look authoritative and approachable but also to reflect the individual’s personality. She says that colour is a leadership tool expressing one’s alignment and intention.

Katherine and Stefania lined up a rack of clothing to demonstrate fall trends in colour, texture, pattern and style. Textures one can expect to see in fall are velvet, corduroy and shine. Pattern can be retro-inspired like a 70’s couch, curvy lines and patterns, or romantic and classic florals drawn from the Victorian age. Expect to see fluff and puff. Pant suits are making a come-back with more extreme shoulders than in recent years.

Thanks Katherine and Stefania for excellent pointers on how to make your wardrobe the best it can be for this upcoming Fall season!
Written by Colleen Tsoukalas
Photos by Luke Tsoukalas

The festival actually takes place as a series of events over a couple of weeks and the murals are visible throughout the year. Lucky us! We went on Saturday, the 12th and what a day it was. I always dress colorfully, in keeping with the dynamic paintings on walls, dumpsters, furniture, mannequins, windows, and in company with everyone else who dresses for the murals. My entire outfit: top, skirt, shoes and bag are from our fabulous boutique thrift for a great cause: MySister's Closet, Seymour and Helmcken, Vancouver.

We spent most of the day walking up Main Street and enjoying the music and food trucks along the way. I cannot say enough about how neighborhoods are brightened and creatively defined  by murals. It is such a visual world and every picture leads to conversation. People talk while the murals are in process and this year, especially, families participated in painting, writing, photography, socializing, eating, dancing, singing and more. 78 Artists, but really, everyone was invited to be an artist for a day and to keep on looking every day. The Mural Fest, a street party for the city. Thanks to our spectacular creatives and to the ladders that hold them.

Here's last year's murals. See they keep on growing!

Shopping at Muji Japan and New York were both incredible experiences. "Nature, naturally Muji" is a great motto for stores where you can find everything you need for home, family, work and leisure, all in a peaceful oasis of organization and beauty. And did I mention that shoppers are always enthusiastically welcomed and help is readily available. At the store opening, Friday August 25, we were thanked for our patience, since the first Muji store in Canada, came to Toronto. Finally, it is here, the largest store and one that invites you to enjoy a cultural shopping experience. It is all in the details: the exquisite mini catalogue that could grace any coffee table, the visual of how a sock should fit, the gift wrapping station and the stamps for your packages, the artfully arranged table settings, the complete bedroom with shelves, bedding and even a clock, so much to attract and nothing to distract.

The VIP store opening made every guest a VIP. Welcomed with a Muji shopping bag, we had our notebook and famous Muji pen ready to record wish lists and highlights. MC Yurie Hoyoyon  introduced us to our hosts from Muji Japan, Muji Canada, The Japanese Consulate, The Mayor of Burnaby, Manager of Metropolis, Metrotown, to the artists: Sora (Opening Poem), Japanese Calligrapher: Kisyuu, Yasuko Takahashi (Tea Ceremony) and thanked many sponsors, including YK3 Saki Producers Inc., and ICHIYO's Matcha Bar for the Matcha Tea.

A shelf of Muji suitcases, efficient and elegant, reminded me that Muji is everywhere in the world and that a Muji store will always offer product, peace, comfort, art and culture. Naturally, I will return. Muji's brand philosophy is represented here: MU = No/Nothing Zero, SHIRUSHI - Mark/Stamp/Brand, RYO - Good/Right, HIN - Product. So, no brand name or logo stamped on everything, ethical product, and quality products right down the line.

Thanks for a wonderful introduction to Muji, here, so close to home.

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