Saturday, November 25, 2023

Kanayu Rebecca Baker-Grenier Award Winning Designer Shines at Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week Red Dress Event Nov 20, 2023

I first saw Rebecca's impressive designs at Copper & Cocktails,  #copperandcocktails, Oct 7,  at Vancouver Art Gallery. Note that there was a fantastic show, at the gallery, this Spring: FASHION FICTIONS, featuring many Indigenous Designers. The Copper & Cocktails event then is well placed at the gallery and is so important because it is a preview of the Fashion, Art and Performance that was showcased at Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week Nov 20-25 at Queen Elizabeth theatre. In the gallery's cavernous, shadowy rooftop space, Rebecca's clothing for women and men, was a powerful statement, especially because the models (Supernaturals Modelling) were elevated on blocks, and radiated confidence and cultural pride. I loved that the colours were soft but strong, cream, copper, belted, tiered, complex and flattering. My favourites were the coats and jackets, with touches of pattern on the collar, or some design on the front and then full design on the back. The Chilkat woven overlay on one of the dresses, was both ceremonial and modern. Rebecca says that she will be bringing more of this into her future collections. See my instagram reels here and here to see my coverage of the events!

So much has been written about Rebecca. She was recently featured in Vogue Magazine for The Red Dress Event Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week. Her first collection debuted at New York Fashion Week. Imagine! Fashion Writers, Marilyn R. Wilson and Andrew Jackson, Dress The Part, have interviewed her. You can also see more Vancouver Fashion Week as she was shining there, this season.

Kanayu, is Rebecca's brand, one that is designed to strengthen and empower people and the Art Form. From the Skowkale Territory, B.C., Rebecca is Kwakiutl/Dzawada'enuxwl/Skwxwu7mesh and brings her culture and history into her Art and Fashion. Her quiet, confident vision was very much in evidence as she met with me, in her busy dressing room, on the evening of her show. The door kept opening, phone was buzzing and her "We Are Warriors" lay spread around her, waiting for its chance to shimmer and dance down the runway. There was energy and the sense that all was well done and ready. This is Rebeca Baker -Grenier!

Q. What inspires you when you are creating?

A, My culture and nature around me are strongly reflected. Copper is in the copper shields and there are the colours of metal, soft blues, flecks of gold, greys. The sounds of trees, water and birds, create atmosphere. Wherever I am, they are there.

Q. How are your designs a reflection of what is happening in society today?

A. My "We Are Warriors" Collection, is from my heritage of fighting to protect the land and our culture and the strength and resilience needed to fight colonization and to work endlessly for revitalization and representation. We need to take time to reflect and to build for the next generation.

Q.Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Is continuing your Brand important?

A. The Fashion comes from within. The Brand will expand to make it even more accessible, more ready to wear for everyone. I plan to explore Chalkat weaving more.

Q. Your first collection was at New York Fashion Week. Who was most influential in getting you there?

A. "I saw an application and I applied." You have to look for opportunities. Himikalas Pam Baker has been instrumental, a true mentor/teacher and I apprenticed with her for one year. She has built my self confidence and has been the 'push' in my journey. She is Family.

Q. You are a long time POW WOW Dancer. You are also Artistic Associate for the Dancers of DAMELAHAMID and the Festival Associate for Coastal Dance Festival.How does dance influence your Art?

A. Dance is a form of Art. It is who we are. It is stories through movement. You can see warrior history and regalia in the wood, copper and leather designs in my collection. Family comes into this, too. My husband is one of the dancers in my show, this time. 

Thank you to Rebecca Baker-Grenier for her time and her words of wisdom. I bow to her Art, her Fashion and to the movement I see in each piece. This is a Designer who has much to share with all of us. Note that that the two photos of the red cape she designed, are worn by Cree Model Owen Unruh @owenunruh who is two spirit and was chosen to wear red to honour murdered and missing Indigenous 2 spirit people.

Rebecca Baker-Grenier

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Vancouver Fashion Week - Originator Awards Oct. 17, 2023 Why Awards Matter

When Vancouver Fashion Week opens its first evening with its special welcome to the week, by Sarah Murray and then, Deborah Baker drums and sings us into celebrating this land and people, and this sets the stage for us to meet the Originators: the Designers, Artists, Writers, Makers, Inventors and Entrepreneurs who are being recognized for their major contributions to the Industry and to the Community. And so to all of you, winners and nominees, from past years, today and in the future, we see you, we celebrate your achievements and are honoured to be in your company, if only briefly, here, remembered in evenings like this.

Categories are: Retailer, Teacher, Journalist, Photographer, Stylist, Hair/Makeup, Designer, Wholesaler and Special Recognition. I love this last category as it is open ended and extends the possibilities for additional categories.

Observations about a few past Winners:

Plum Clothing: Was my go to lunch break store when I worked nearby. Gorgeous displays and current trends in a range of sizes (Yes) and full of shoppers.

Teacher: Lisa Gellert is always mentioned by VCC Fashion Students, when I interview them. I see her at every show and she is surrounded. I met her at Nordstrom and she knew the best places to look. Peggy Morrison, Blanche Macdonald Fashion was fellow fashionista and writer, Dianna Drahanchuk's favourite Teacher and when I walk by the school, I think of her. I also have seen her at most shows and she, too is surrounded. 

Journalist:  Susie Wall and Lisa Tant are still writing and are very much in evidence in our community. They keep us on trend and looking at colour and design.

Photographer: Angela Fama is very well known in the fashion and film communities. Every season, I try to do a post or a reel of photos of our iconic FW Photographers. They all deserve to be here. I am taller for them.

Hair/Make-up: I haven't been behind the scenes that much but this time, I spent time with Donna Baker Brightingham Founder/Creator of Bully Blocker, and, I am forever transformed. Big fan, too, of VCC hair salon whose Students truly demonstrate the VCC Effect.

Designer: John Fluevog - Will never forget the many store events, especially one with Ivan Sayers and his vintage collection paired with matching vintage and modern Fluevog Shoes.   Also, I have two pairs of Fluevogs, which I have worn recently and to many previous FWs.

Special Recognition: Ivan Sayers got his award for his vast vintage clothing collection and sharing it with so many, through his monthly events at SMOC and with anyone who phones to make an appt. New Documentary out about him, Melanie Talkington of Lace Embrace and Claus Yahnke Collection. 'Ravishing Rags...A collaboration of Telus Originals, SMOCCanazWest and Museum of Vancouver.

Writer Marilyn R. Wilson is noted for her fabulous Designer interviews, in advance of Vancouver Fashion Week, and for her blog, Olio by Marilyn and for her support of us all, during each fashion week extravaganza. 

Observations about a few of this year's Winners:

Posting my photos of those in the spotlight this time.They are all Award winners every day. Note that Himikalas Pamela Baker @himikalas, got the Designer Award and is a Teacher and Mentor to so many. She has had her designs at the Vancouver Art Gallery, recently and has been at VIFW, since the beginning. Deborah Baker, Artist, and spectacular, Award Winning new Designer, Rebecca Baker G graced the runway, Sunday, Oct 22. 

Teacher Award this time is for Nargas Khabazha, whom I met when I visited Lasalle College Vancouver. Tape measure around her neck, she came out to meet me.So loved by her Students and I wish I had known her when I got to be Costume Mom for my kid's skating club. Note: I don't know how to sew. And nominee Julie Berg, who so elegantly and passionately is there for Design and Student Designers...what a talented staff and that is reflected in your shows. I include a photo of Eduardo Ramos, who "showed his grad collection at Vancouver Fashion Week in 2022 and in Paris, London and Milan." Student, Designer, Instructor...the world.


Note that Sarah Murray often wears designs by @vccfashion and this fabulous black dress is by VCC Alumni Tia Rose Apparel (@tiaroseapparel)

Sarah Murray and Deborah Baker

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Designer Manuel Manujzra, Manuel Creative House: Another Talented Fashion Grad From Mexico to JCI Institute, Vancouver

It has always been fascinating to watch our Fashion Design Schools Grad Shows and attend events and show them off. Emerging Designers are our future and although he won't be at Vancouver Fashion Week, this time, we will see Manuel Manujzra in the spotlight, soon. He took time out of his extremely busy schedule for this interview. 

Q: What brought you to JCI Institute, in Vancouver?

A: Well, I wanted a short program in Fashion Design and JCI caught my eye.The help they have provided from day 1, has been truly invaluable, and I'm sincerely grateful for their exceptional guidance and support.

Q: Has Fashion always been your goal and do you have other skills and interests?

A: Fashion has been a passion of mine for a while, but my path has its twists and turns. I started out in the Film Industry in Mexico, working as an Art Director, for about a year. But then, something clicked, and I found my calling in Make-Up FX, That's what brought me to Vancouver. Then, during the pandemic, I stumbled upon ahold sewing machine, at home, grabbed a sewing book, and haven't stopped since. I've dabbled in everything from 3D Modelling to Make-Up Artistry. I'm just naturally curious and love trying new things.

Q: Describe your Brand and who wears it. Are your cultural heritage and language and inspiration for your work?

A: I run Manuel Creative House and under that umbrella, you will find Physalis for women and Lyria for jewelry. We're all about blending sustainability with luxury in a way that is truly appealing.

Physalia is launching soon. It is high end Fashion with an edgy and chic touch. We use 100% silken various forms like charmeuse and organza. We use natural pigments for dyeing and minimize water waste.

Our Physalia embodies modern luxury with a playful twist. Our customers are confident, modern women who appreciate sophistication with a bit of fun. 

And yes, my cultural heritage definitely shines through my designs. It is my way of sharing myself with the world.

Q: Have your shown your Designs here or at fashion weeks elsewhere in the world?

A. You know, I haven't had the opportunity to do any fashion shows yet. But I.m really excited about the idea of organizing non-profit trunk shows. It's about giving back to the community and supporting young people dealing with issues such as homelessness. We want to make our Brand visually captivating while doing something good for everyone.

Q: What is your future and will you be at @vancouverfashionweek? 

A: I would love to be there, in the future, sharing my work for the world to see. As for the future of Manuel Creative House, it involves sticking to the 2024/2025 plan. That means finding buyers for Physalia and developing our other two brands, one focusing on gender-neutrals and another that is dedicated to supporting Indigenous Artisans in Mexico.

My next big step is finding a partner who can handle the business side of things, allowing me to fully immerse myself in my creative endeavours.

Thanks to you and your readers for interviewing me.

Thank you Manuel Manujzra and we wish you great success, now and in the future.

Thanks to Melanie Mcintosh for connecting me with the wonderful JCI institute and new Designers. These fantastic photos are by Matthew Burditt, Photographer:

Designer Manuel Manujzra @manujzrs

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Kiwa Anraku - WA Studio KIWA From Japan - Vancouver Fashion Week SS24 Oct 19 at 6:50-7:10

I have been to Tokyo Fashion Week and would love to go again. Kimono culture, ancient and modern co-exist magnificently in Art and Fashion, there and the craftsmanship is always evident in clothing and accessories. Even the invitations are beautiful. I try my best to see every show and to meet the Designers. Terry Sasaki, in Vancouver, is a local Designer/Artist and many of us wear his work when we know he will be at the shows. When he told me about Kiwa, I was excited to interview her. Here is what she has to say about her designs and her show, Thurs. Oct 19 at Vancouver Fashion Week.

Q: How long have you been designing and where else have you exhibited your work?

A: We started exhibiting and selling our work in West Shinjuku, Japan, in 2003 so this is our 20th year! Until now, we have presented our own stage performances once a year, combining fashion shows with theatre, music and dance. This will be the first time, we will focus exclusively on Fashion, in our runway show.

Q: What is the theme/focus of your Collection?

A: The focus is on Kimonos, which when recycled can be upcycled into custom-made, one of a kind fashion, featuring kimono patterns made into the unique designs that are the KIWA brand. Kimono Culture, like Waka, a classic Japanese Literature, transcends time and space and resonates with people, past and present. Our designs make full use of the kimono fabric and using the techniques of split knitting, slash quilting and patchwork; the fabric and pattern become modern formal and informal wear.

Q: How did you get to Vancouver Fashion Week?

A: Our participation in VFW began when were contacted by Ms Tashiro, Designer Coordinator, VFW MANAGEMENT INC. She was attracted by our website and instagram. We are excited about this great opportunity.

Q: We all know Designer/Artist Terry Sasaki as he often comes to VFW to see Japanese Designers.

A: We met through Yusuka Yamashita, a Jewellery Designer and talked about Vancouver Fashion Week and the possibility of meeting in Vancouver.

Q: What are you looking forward to at VFW and in Vancouver? 

A: I am grateful to be part of Vancouver Fashion Week. First of all, I know I will enjoy seeing the show, myself. Each kimono has a story behind it. I listened to the story and added my interpretation to each design. I hope many people will get to know Kimono culture. I also look forward to meeting many new people and gaining a lot of inspiration.

Sugoi and Arigato, Kiwa. I will also come to the Designer Gallery (Showroom) on Friday, Oct 20 - 4:30 - 8:30 to see your designs up close.

Credit: Shuto Mikio

Credit: Shuto Mikio

Photo credit: Miyoshi Iwesawa
Model: Shino

Photo credit: Yoshiya Yamazaki
Model: @Flairshow

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Satomi, El Beso: Japanese Fashion Design for Music, TV, Movies, Animae and Magic

I saw Satomi, El Beso at Vancouver Fashion Week, last season and was astonished by this dynamic package of animation, music, costume and design. The team was at New York Fashion Week, and dazzled that runway as they did ours, in Vancouver. Although Satomi will not be here for this season, Oct 17-22, I asked for an interview as I knew she would tell me more about the brand as well as provide excellent photog. And she has. Here is it, Satomi, El Beso, all the way from Japan. More on her Instagram here

Here is her interview:

Q: What attracted you to Fashion and Japanese idol Culture?

A: From a young age, I  liked music so much and have always been excited about the artists' costumes in  music videos. So I decided to make special clothes, such as full-tailored clothes, movie costumes, artist costumes and commercial costumes.

Suddenly I got  orders for the Stars'  costumes. Since then, I have provided costumes for  many idols .Japanese idols work really hard; they dance and sing like crazy. Apart from singing skills, Japanese idols are very inspirational. When I realized that they are give so much energy to men and women of all ages, .I was impressed and fell in love with these idols.

Q: Satomi El Beso - does that name have a special meaning?

A: I took from the lyrics "a hot kiss like blowing my inferiority complex away". I believe that kissing maximizes a person's sense of affirmation, gives them confidence and  lets them shine. I mean, when people wear my clothes, they can shine, maybe a bit like being in love. They are confident Stars.

Q: How did you meet up with Kenta Matsukuma and Limo, the Japanese Makeup/headpiece Artist?

A: Kenta Matsukuma was a classmate when I was in high school. But I couldn’t connect with him since he had become a very famous music producer in Japan. A runway show of my collection at Vancouver Fashion Week, promised to be interesting and impressive.chance to collaborate. I thought, if I could confidently work with him, this would be my big break. We work really effectively together and that's why the show in Vancouver was  successful. This proved to be true in New York, too.

I met Limo in the photo shooting for my personal exhibition. At that time, she worked as a hair and makeup artist. As I was young, at the beginning of my career,  her talent and her ideas just amazed me. She was initially confused by my direction which goes back and forth. But fortunately, the shoot was a great success .From that time on, Limo has become a contemporary artist. I love her work. That's why I made an offer to her for New York Fashion Week.

 Q: Do you play any musical instruments?

A: I've only played the piano since I was in elementary school. When I was in junior high school, I tried to compose music with a synthesizer, but it didn't work for me. So I respect people who can make music. I don't play the piano now because I am so busy with my work, but I always listen to music at my atelier. My son is absorbed in composing music and playing drums and sometimes I use his music on Instagram.

Q: You have been designing for 20 years? Have you seen a lot of changes over the 20 years?

A: Originally trained as a programmer, I used to work for a TV station. I started making clothes, using my own ideas and have not been to Design school..It's been really hard for me until now. I learned sewing skills from books. I had my children before I became fully professional. When my first child was born, I decided that I would combine career  and motherhood, and  be a woman who makes my family proud. In the meantime, I received an offer to make a costume for TV commercial. In response to that, job offers started to increase. During the day, I used to go to the park with my children and work from midnight to early morning. Now that my children have grown up, I have the opportunity to finally explore the world.

Q: Your designs are for women and men. What are you favourite pieces to design?

A: I think femininity and masculinity are necessary to live.That's when you look inside, not outside. I want to continue making costumes that support confident self expression.

Q: How did you get to Vancouver Fashion Week and what are your best memories of that?

A: I knew it was a big chance for me. I had been nervous all the time because my intention was  to create  music and a stage performance instead of an ordinary runway. My actual goal was to get a standing ovation from the audience. (Colleen says her section clapped, cheered and stood up.) When I can get back to Canada, in the future, I am definitely planning for more ovations for my work.

My best memory in Vancouver is the very delicious food provided by the CEO of VFW. BTW, another of the people I met in Vancouver told me he makes costumes. I also want to work for stage productions and artists as a costume designer and producer in Canada. 

WOWI How lucky we would be to have Satomi here, in Vancouver! Thank you for your story and your fantastic creativity! Here's hoping we see you in 2024.

Here are my favourite photos I took of her collection:

Here Satomi's professional collection photos: Photo of Kenta Matsukuma and me, and Limo, below, is by Yosuke Nakajima( Others by Getty

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