No models with deadened stares risking life and limb in sample-sized platforms. No impossible measurements feeding my body-image neurosis. No hipper-than-hip scenesters tweeting frantically in the front row.
Instead, Talia Designs’ recent 2012 spring-summer showcase at Heritage Hall featured healthy, happy women of all ages, shapes, and sizes strutting down the runway to the infectiously rhythmic world beats of Diva Drum, a local percussion trio. And rather than announce the outfits, the emcee talked about each model’s greatest accomplishment as she made her catwalk debut. So yeah, it definitely wasn’t your average fashion show. But according to the label’s designer, Nurit Perla, her shows rarely are.
“I never speak about my clothes—it’s boring,” says Perla, who chatted with the Straight right after her show. “I’d rather talk about the women behind the clothes.”
For this reason and others, Perla has some of the most loyal clients I’ve ever seen. The place was packed with regular customers who can’t get enough of her whimsical, always figure-flattering, flowing, layered pieces.
There was so much love in the air, the night felt one part folk fest, one part women’s-day celebration, and one part bon voyage party. A lot of Perla’s faithful followers weren’t just there to shop; many were there to say goodbye. That’s because after living in Canada for nine years, the East Van designer has decided to move back to her home country of Israel, where she plans to launch her label with the same community-minded spirit as she did here.
“I’m going to divide my life between the two countries,” says Perla, who, through the help of a friend, will continue selling her clothing in Vancouver by appointment at email@example.com. (Her website is at www.talia-designer-clothes.com/.) “I’m still going to do the shows here, and I’m going to have my studio. So it should be easy for me to divide.”
But judging by all the friends she’s made here, it wasn’t an easy decision for her.
“I’m always torn,” she continues. “As an immigrant, you leave part of your heart in your country. But my kids are old enough now, so I can do it.… And I actually think it will be very inspiring; I can get inspired by the two countries.”
In terms of inspirations this season, Perla says she had a few, including none other than the late, great style icon Audrey Hepburn. Thus the Audrey dress ($165), which is probably the biggest deviation from Perla’s signature style, for the simple reason that the black-trimmed coral rayon A-line dress is a stand-alone piece. That’s very different from her core line of pantaloons, a staple in any Talia fan’s wardrobe. So are the crossover pants: pedal pushers with a crossover bib that creates a sort of faux-skirt effect. The charcoal grey, finely embroidered pants were another standout in this show, with their thick and very forgiving stretchy band on top to scoop in any and all renegade love handles ($145).
Another highlight of this collection was her taupe-and-cream floral jacket with a quasi-mandarin collar ($195), something that can take you straight through fall. Her more festive series had to be the floral skirts ($115 to $145). The thick elastic bands were grey-and-black pinstripe, while the slip was a wider striped pattern, and then there were hot pink, purple, and orange silky floral overlay skirts. No assembly required there.
“I love layering,” Perla admits gleefully. So do her customers, apparently. After the show, there was a frenzy of women trying on her latest pieces in the makeshift dressing room. They couldn’t wait to invest in another Talia piece. It was a sight to behold.
And I wasn’t the only one blown away by her popularity. After all these years, Perla is still touched by the enthusiasm of her supporters.
“It’s just amazing,” she says, looking around. “I feel so blessed whenever I do these events.”