Fashion Student Spotlight: Sam Stringer makes conversational art pieces with Vesuvius

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      By Yuliya Yaramenko

      Sam Stringer uses fashion as artistic expression, combining couture design with photography. Her work is a collection of unique pieces that showcase the artistry behind fashion. It also celebrates local artists and aims to put value back into clothing.

      Vesuvius, Stringer’s graduate collection, showcases luxurious evening gowns for black-tie events. The gowns combine traditional mastery with modern aesthetic. Stringer’s signature dress, Joan, was created in collaboration with local artist Jack Wass, and reinvents his original painting, “Come Home”, into a unique gown.

      Vesuvius will be unveiled at 2016 The Show: The Final Cut, presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc., on April 6 and 7 at the Imperial Vancouver (319 Main Street). Thirty-five other lines by Kwantlen Polytechnic University fashion design and technology students will also be showcased.

      For event details, visit, or follow @kpu_fashion on Twitter and @kputheshow on Instagram.

      Yuliya Yaramenko: Describe your collection.

      Sam Stringer: Vesuvius is a collection of artistic evening gowns for women who attend charity and black-tie events.

      YY: What was the inspiration behind your line?

      SS: I work as a photographer for fashion shows and editorials. By going to all these shows and award galas, I realized that there were a lot of motivated, self-made entrepreneurial women who had to attend a lot of these events in a year for networking and branding. When they went to look for gowns for the events, they weren’t given many options in Vancouver: most ended up purchasing their pieces from other cities when they travelled on business. The women at these events are looking to sell their brand and their personality through what they wear; they are not happy just picking out a dress from B-grade shops that 10 other women will be wearing, and which has no meaning to them.

      YY: Can you tell me about your creative process?

      SS: I have probably the most backwards creative process that you could think of as a design student. I’m really inspired by fabric: I go fabric shopping and as soon as I see the fabric, I get ideas in my head and start to try to sketch them out. While I’m sketching them, I see images in my head of photographs and editorials of women wearing my designs. I see things in photographs rather than drawings. I get so excited by the sewing that sometimes I forget to draft and most of my pieces end up fully draped instead. I love draping because it’s so hands-on, and I can get so involved in the work and control every detail—it’s my favorite part of the process.

      YY: What have you learned at KPU?

      SS: I have learned that teamwork and camaraderie go a long way, and that having a support system of friends, teachers, and guest speakers is probably the most efficient part of learning. I’ve found that I’m actually really fueled by collaboration, which I didn’t know until I attended KPU. I always knew that I was a social person, but I didn’t realize that I craved collaboration.

      YY: What aspect of design are you most passionate about?

      SS: Storytelling. Photography has really influenced my design and vice versa. The reason I love both so much is you really get to tell a story with what you do. With photography, you can create so many different characters and can develop and express so many things in one photograph. In design you can incorporate so much mastery in a piece and it says so much about who you are. I hate making clothes for the sake of clothes. I want to make conversational art pieces and put value back into clothing.

      YY: What makes you unique as a designer?

      SS: I think it’s my fusion of photography, art, and fashion that really sets me apart. I really like to put a lot of value in my product, whether that is a photograph or a couture gown. And I think that my collaboration with other people sets me apart because I like to harness the creativity of other people to further all of our careers. For example, I worked with a local artist for Vesuvius and the process of working with another individual in a completely different medium gives my designs more strength.

      Yuliya Yaramenko is a final-year fashion design and technology student at KPU’s Wilson School of Design.

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