BC Fashion Week ready to strut its stuff

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      Last spring, while top models strutted down runways in New York, London, Milan, and Paris, Vancouver's catwalks sat empty–not because our city isn't a fashion destination, but because for the first time in four seasons, BC Fashion Week failed to materialize.

      "There's a lack of available venues in April, and because we need high ceilings and a long enough room to accommodate a runway, in the end, we were forced to call the whole season off," explains Vladimir Markovich, creative director of the biannual event.

      Thankfully, after the one-season hiatus that left local fashion editors and buyers scrambling to schedule their own go-sees with designers, this month heralds the return of BC Fashion Week. The event, which runs from September 24 to 29, principally at Performance Works, is the largest of its kind in Western Canada. It was cofounded by Markovich and executive director Debra Walker as a way for local talent to collectively showcase their work each season.

      This fall, the event brings new developments, such as the fact that fashion shows will be available to viewers around the globe via live streaming at www.arc2.tv . "This Web site will bring the designers' shows to buyers who couldn't travel to Canada for the event," Markovich told the Straight . This season also marks the first in which the BCFW Daily –which, like New York's Fashion Week Daily , provides show reviews, behind-the-scenes gossip, and of course a who's who–will be available on-line, boosting its already-impressive print circulation of more than 10,000. Also significant is a new partnership with Portobello West ( www.portobellowest.com ), which will be open an additional two days this month during fashion week.

      Elroy Apparel

      Jacqueline Conoir

      Veegy by Veronica Guan

      Nicole Bridger

      Evan & Dean

      As well during BC Fashion Week, the inaugural Generation Next award will be given. The award is designed to support the best up-and-coming designers by offering them a fashion show at the spring 2008 BC Fashion Week, public-relations services, and an editorial in a leading fashion or lifestyle magazine. "Generation Next is our chance to mentor, nurture, and encourage those new to the business," says Markovich. "We hope that with every season, we can assist a new designer in developing his or her brand."

      More than 25 hopefuls applied for the award, and the three finalists are Mia Melon ( www.miamelon.com ), Nicole Bridger ( www.nicolebridger.com ), and Elroy Apparel ( www.elroyapparel.com ). They will be featured, and a winner chosen, at the Generation Next show on September 27. (Tickets cost $20 and are available at Twigg & Hottie [3671 Main Street], Liquid Clothing [2050 West 4th Avenue], and Dream Apparel and Articles for People [311 West Cordova Street].)

      BC Fashion Week will also feature the designs of several well-established Vancouver favourites: Jacqueline Conoir ( www.jcstudio.ca ) and Anna Kosturova ( www.annakosturova.com ), whose crocheted swimwear has been featured in Sports Illustrated 's swimsuit issue. There will also be presentations by rising stars Christina Darling ( www.christinaculver.com ), Veegy by Veronica Guan ( www.veegy.com/eng/ ), and Evan & Dean ( www.evananddean.com ), who, according to Markovich, "has a really different spring collection.”¦I think people are going to be surprised and amazed by their line."

      As for BC Fashion Week itself, Markovich says it's here to stay, pending a final venue for spring. In fact, his goal is to obtain a corporate title sponsorship that could help fund a massive, Bryant Park–inspired tent at Library Square–a permanent home for BC Fashion Week.

      More information on the week, including a schedule, is available at www.bcfashionweek.com

      Look for Vancouver favourite Anna Kosturova's crocheted swimwear not surprisingly, featured in Sports Illustrated 's swimsuit issue

      Ginni Kelley's inspired East-meets-West fusion styles to make their appearance at BC Fashion Week.