A Model’s Perpective: Recap of Vancouver Fashion Week

By Shirley Lei


Photo Credit: Silvester Law 

As a newbie model who had never walked 15 shows in a week or done back-to-back shows before, I arrived at the SS15 Vancouver Fashion Week location last Monday afternoon having no idea what the rest of my week was going to look like. It is astonishing now to reflect upon all the backstage chaos, the all-day fittings, the amazing designs, and even the fact that I had squeezed my 7.5 feet into 6.5 six-inch heels…so much was condensed into one short week. By now you have probably read all about the scene outside, from the show to the “Frows” and to the after-parties, but here is my backstage and modelling for my first season at VFW. 

Above: Shriley Lei walking for Dawson & Deveraux, Akira Kuwabara, Green Embassy, Oscar Mendoza.

Photo Credits: Ed NgWilson Rausan, Dominic Manea.

Tuesday was officially the first day of Vancouver Fashion Week, after the Opening Gala on Monday that kicked-off the season. Along with other models in my group, I arrived at the tent for fittings at 10 am. After being fitted for the four shows for the night, we immediately started hair and makeup. Before we knew it, we are lined up for our first show, Priscille Canivet. Based on golds and whites, this season’s collection gave off an elegant and exquisite Greek-goddess feel. 


Photo Credit: Andrew Campbell 

Between shows is when the real “chaos” happens. Right after the finale walk for one show, we sprint backstage to kick off our heels, gently remove the designer’s adored pieces, frantically throw on our “uniform” (black cami and leggings, all day err’ day), while we rush to makeup and hair in preparation for the next one. I don’t know how the makeup artists and hair stylists do it, especially when they need to strip black smokey-eyes and paint on ethereal-looking gold shimmer lids, or calm fully teased hair into a straight and sleek ponytail in a few minutes - but they always succeed! Meanwhile, volunteers rush all over the place finding shoe sizes and helping multiple models dress at once; the backstage manager, Lori, cheers up models and guides them right before they walk on, and the photographers capture these precious moments.

Photo Credit: Silvester Law

It was amazing to personally meet the designers and witness their passion for their lines, and their excitement to be showing at Vancouver Fashion Week - one of my favourite designers was Akira Kuwabara, who came all the way from Japan. Akira had a gentle and endearing personality; his collection featured a set of intricately-buttoned trench coats and a set of rocker dresses that wowed the crowd with its attitude.


Photo Credits: Aziz Dhamani (left), Andrew Campbell (right)

A few models and I were joking about how we would totally be guys for the week just to walk in the mens’ shows! From Clara Martin’s fur-like pants and bold and colourful ensembles to Shinya Yamaguchi’s cool and sleek silhouettes, this season’s menswear is definitely a collection to be excited about. 


Photo Credits: Aziz Dhamani (top), Dominic Manea (bottom) 

It was also a complete joy to walk for Karen Yang! Karen Yang derives inspiration from “the colour, vibrancy and diversity of culture”, which was definitely reflected in the various mixed prints in her unique and lively collection. Strutting in her playful pink-printed jacket and romper ensemble and bold blue lips to Purity Ring’s “Fineshrine”, I felt perfectly bubbly in this show. 


Photo Credit: Dominic Manea 

Overall it was truly an amazing experience - big shout out to Vancouver Fashion Week for establishing this platform for the Vancouver fashion scene to gather and develop! I am very grateful for all the amazing individuals I met and those who I had a chance to reconnect with during the week. Until next season!

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