Saturday, January 31, 2015

VALT Designer Spotlight: Marjan Rabbani & Mikiko Katahira

Each year VALT celebrates the odd, the quirky and the fantastical. Designers work closely with their MUAH teams behind the scenes to make their runways exciting, startling, highly entertaining and sometimes downright disturbing! But then that is the draw isn’t it? Vancouver Alternative Fashion Weekend has something for everyone with a keen imagination and provides a few days of respite from the consumer oriented fast fashion media onslaught that we endure on a day to day basis.

VALT captures our imagination and we dream of living in that world for a little bit but what of the designers that are living it? What do their futures hold? Many of the looks presented are not wearable in everyday life – so many are geared towards special events and niche parties, some are outright fantastical but there were a few collections that are ready to transition from alternative to mainstream.

Two new designers that stood out in the artistic melee were two recent graduates from the VCC Fashion program - Marjan Rabbani and Mikiko Katahira. Marjan’s designs are elegant, ethnic and modern while Mikiko’s architectural training shows in her use of fabric to create artificial constructs that float around the body.

Marjan Rabbani:

In the fashion industry there are as many stories as there are days in the year but not many begin in a laboratory in Iran. Marjan was a lab technician, is married and has grown children. She came to Canada and decided to pursue her passion for fashion design and enrolled in the Fashion Arts program at VCC.

Marjan Rabbani was the first designer that grabbed my attention at VALT. Her runway show featured designs from the‘Atlas’Collection and included a wide selection of cape and kimono coats, fitted evening dresses, cropped pants, knee-length skirts and backless halters with delicate chain details using organic knits, stretch mesh and velveteen. She has created this line that is very wearable, functional, comfortable but ultimately original with the use of the unique fabric. She has a strong opinion of who her client is - established, innovative, and creative – someone who is looking for a ‘statement’ piece to add to their wardrobe. 

When asked about her choice of fabric, Marjan explained that her collection was based on these special fabrics purchased inIran. About 500 years ago people in her country used of this specialexpensive fabric woven with wool and embroidered with silver and gold for their coats and their elegant outwear dress. But times have changed and most outwear garments are made with polyester material that utilize the same style and use the woven cotton fabric primarily for table clothes and bed linens. Marjan recognized the beauty in this fabric and decided it was time to re-invigorate its usage by bringing it back into the spotlight (and out of the linen closets).

On a visit to the ancient Iranian city of Yazd, she bought three different styles of fabric which she used in the ‘Atlas’ Collection. In particular, the green striped fabric is unique to one family in Iran and is 100% cotton. No one else weaves this colour and pattern and by the very nature of the rarity of her fabrics and the difficulty in accessing it, her sewing space is eco-friendly with an almost 0% waste.

Marjan is currently in Iran until the end of February sourcing new fabrics for her next collection. With the interest that she received after her VALT runway it is only a matter of time before her designs will be off the runway and on the racks in specialty shops in Vancouver. 

Mikiko Katahira:

I met Mikiko at the opening party of VALT. She was sitting with fellow designer and fellow VCC Fashion Arts graduate Marjan Rabbani. Mikiko spoke softly but passionately about her decision to transition from architecture to fashion.

Born in Japan, Mikiko followed cultural norms that emphasized ‘making a living’ over the pursuit of ‘following your dream’. She chose architecture as it was intriguing but not in the same way she dreamed of fashion design. When she moved to Canada her life changed. She was free to learn more about herself and how to be true to herself. She entered the Fashion Arts program and graduated this past season.

The collection presented at her graduation and at VALT was inspired by Japanese designer and sculpture Isamu Noguchi. Her pieces are strongly based in structure with a playful twist on shapes and dimensions. She says “I liketo consider colour, strength, and elasticity, etc. I like to use leather, faux fur, and lace because those materials have powerful presence and help to catch the eye and I keep all my waste fabrics to use in my future creations!”

Feedback on her collection was inspiring and she is thrilled that so many members of the audience sought her out afterwards to tell her how amazing and stunning the pieces were. These high-end but very wearable pieces are unique and, if the interest shown at VALT is real, they will definitely find their way into the wardrobes of Vancouver fashionista very soon!


VALT Fashion Photo Credits: VALT, Ed Ng, Patrick Parenteau
Iran images courtesy of Marjan Rabbani

Article by:

Helen Siwak is all about food, fashion and furry friends. She is the president and co-founder of eco-friendly local luxury fashion re-seller (offering shoppers classic designers like Armani, Versace, Dior to modern trendsetters such as Jeremy Scott, Kate Spade and Stella McCartney) and a plant-based healthy food advocate with food service. She and her partner Vlassis have three rescue pets, interns, a fridge full of veggies and a shiny motorcycle. Life is good. Twitter: @kitsilanokittys / Instagram: @kitsilanokittyscloset / FB: KitsilanoKittysClosetSiwak

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thrifty Thursday

Found some very pretty, girly styles at Salvation Army and Value Village this week! Lots of soft details, pleats. and volume: everything I love in a statement piece.

I was drawn to the detailing on this dress. The knotted bustier makes it quite unique, and the hemline is a little different too, almost like a tulip! A perfect LDB to add to the collection.

Store: Salvation Army
Brand: Kismet
Store Section: Dresses
What I Paid: $9.99
What it Costs New: ~ $65

How adorable are these ruffled sleeves? I couldn't help but see them sticking out among the blouses hanging on the racks...and in a perfect pastel colour for spring! The brand Meiling Inc. is based out of Trinidad & Tobago, and has several resort collections and the designs have graced the runways of Colombia!

Store: Salvation Army
Brand: Meiling Couture
Store Section: Short Sleeve Blouses
What I Paid: $4.99
What it Costs New: ?

I will never have enough flouncy skirts! The skirt section of the thrift store is always one of my favourites. The ones with a little extra bounce to them, like this one, always grab my attention. This particular one is from a brand out of Korea, and the really special part is the sparkly little zipper on the back: such a cute way to add to glamour to this skirt!

Store: Value Village
Brand: unknown
Store Section: Skirts
What I Paid: $5.49
What it Costs New: ?

Happy Styling! xo


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

New Year New You: Value Village Thrift Challenge

This time of year, lots of people are making resolutions for how they want to better themselves, end bad habits, start new routines...the list goes on. I've made my own resolutions to be more organized with my blog this year, and post more frequently here and on social media. But what about style resolutions? Why not reassess your fashion too? Push yourself to explore new looks, try new trends, and find new colours and patterns you never knew looked so good on you!

Value Village asked me to participate in their New Year New You Challenge, to push my style boundaries and try a new thrifted style, colour, pattern or piece I've been meaning to try but haven't had the courage to yet. Of course, I  would never say no to a fashion challenge, so I set off to Value Village to find myself a new 'fashion risk' to try for a grand total of $50! With over 100,000 items on the sales floor and 10,000 new items daily, Value Village is a great place to try out new looks without breaking the bank!

Leopard is one of those prints I've always backed away from slowly and cautiously; I've always felt there's a stigma associated with leopard print that it's tacky and too loud, especially when used in large quantities like on jackets, pants, etc. This year, I finally decided to swallow my fear, and see if I could put together a look that incorporated this crazy print....and I'm pretty darn happy with the results!

I thrifted lots of classic black to balance out the leopard print, and found a sheer fabric jacket to soften up the look. With a print as loud as leopard, I wanted the other items to be in solid colours: the monochrome clutch and camel-coloured flats fit the bill. I just added the finishing touch of my fav jewelry from Nobis & Grey, and all done!

Here's a breakdown of my New Year New You Challenge outfit:

Jacket: Kitterick, $9.99
Tank top: Jacob, $5.99
Pants: Zara, $7.99
Purse: Spring, $9.99
Shoes: Mei Xi, $14.99
Grand Total: $48.95

Keep your eyes peeled for these thrifted finds on next week's Thrifty Thursday post!

Jacket - Kitterick (thrifted c/o Value Village) | Tank - Jacob (thrifted c/o Value Village) | Body Chain - Nobis & Grey | Earring - Nobis & Grey | Pants - Zara (thrifted c/o Value Village) | Purse - Spring (thrifted c/o Value Village) | Shoes - Mei Xi (thrifted c/o Value Village)
Happy Styling! xo


Monday, January 26, 2015

Look of the Week: Equestrian Style

When I found this amazing equestrian-style jacket at Value Village, I couldn't have been happier: it has so many small details that make it a real special piece. It pairs perfectly with a cozy thrifted cashmere sweater and some riding-pants-coloured jeans. If you've got a pair of brown boots, that's all you'll need to complete the look. The irony is I'm not really a fan of horses, never read 'The Saddle Club' or anything growing up, but any style that is preppy, I'm generally a fan of.

Because the neckline of the jacket is so high, I thought it would be nice to showcase the baroque-style Nobis & Grey necklace over top of the jacket, rather than tucked underneath. Makes it a real statement piece!

Jacket-Biana Nygard (thrifted) | Sweater - Mount Cashmere (thrifted) (similar) | Necklace - Nobis & Grey | Pants - Old Navy | Boots - JustFab Ellington Boot (similar)

Happy Styling! xo


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thrifty Thursday

Time to hop on the sweater train this week! I love looking through the racks of sweaters at Value Village: you could almost spend an entire trip just there. On this trip, I found sweaters with all kinds of cool embellishments, from elblow pads to spikes to metallic threads.

There won't be any cuddling happening with the sweetie in this sweater! Other than the fact that the metal spikes are a little cold on my shoulder through the knit, this sweater is awesome. Ones like this are easy to spot on the clothing racks without even moving the hangers around: you can spot those spikes from a ways away!

Store: Value Village
Brand: QED London
Store Section: Sweaters
What I Paid: $9.99
What it Costs New: ?

I've always wanted a sweater with elbow patches, and this week I found two! 

Store: Value Village
Brand: H&M
Store Section: Sweaters
What I Paid: $3.99
What it Costs New: ?

You've already seen this sweater on my Christmas Look of the Week, It's always nice to find such good quality sweaters in Value Village, and I was drawn to the metallic look: a good choice for the holidays!

Store: Value Village
Brand: Banana Republic
Store Section: Sweater
What I Paid: $14.99
What it Costs New: ~ $95

Happy Styling! xo


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Outfit Inspiration: Valentine's Day Under $150

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and if you're not sure what to wear, I've got some cute, sweet, and sexy outfits to give you some inspiration! Whether you're celebrating with a single's party, a girl's night out, an afternoon date, or a dinner date, you can find the perfect dress...for under $150:

Single's Party / Girl's Night Out

For those spending V-day with friends, a fun & flirty dress is the perfect way to have some fun. Use the day as an excuse to wear some pink or red, if you don't usually, and choose between cut-outs or soft pleats depending on your mood.

Afternoon Date

If you're headed out for an afternoon of fun with your date, you'll need to wear something a little more versatile than a dinner date dress. Florals are a great way to keep things sweet and casual, and picking a fit and flare dress will allow you to race around comfortably, more-so than a bodycon dress.

Dinner Date

If you and your sweetie are planning a romantic evening date, you'll most likely want to pick an outfit that is both sexy and classy. When I was looking at dresses, the ones that caught my eye all had something sexy & intriguing about them: lace, sheerness, cut-outs. They must also balance out with a touch of classic femininity: peplum, flared skirts, and sweet prints.
A Little Something For Underneath

Even if only you know it's underneath, it's amazing how lingerie can up your confidence! Here's some of my top picks, including adorable tights that match your chosen dress perfectly.

What are you plans for Valentine's Day?

Happy Styling! xo


Monday, January 19, 2015

Look of the Week: Chic Winterwear

I definitely feel like a snow bunny in this outfit! Where are the snow-capped mountains?? Maybe I'll finally be able to use my snowboard at least once this season if I'm lucky, in the meantime, I'll have to make do with outfits like this.

Of course, there had to be a little sparkle here somewhere, so I pulled out my embellished Aldo beanie, and my Nobis & Grey statement necklace: even my thrifted sweater has sequins on it! In the second to last photo, you'll notice I even added some sparkly new earrings from Nobis & Grey that I am currently obsessing over. Isn't the design cool?? They're called ear jackets, and can come in all kinds of different designs from pearls to spikes.If you add one new accessory to your daily look this year, it should be these!

If you're planning on an outing to the ice rink, this would be the perfect outfit! (You'll notice my little booties from Zellers even look the part). 


Outfit: Vest - Aibotianni (similar) | Sweater - Old Navy (thrifted) (similar) | Earrings - Nobis & Grey (similar) | Necklace - Nobis & Grey | Hat - Aldo (similar) | Jeans - Urban Planet (similar) | Booties - Jules & James (via Zellers) (similar)

Beauty: Liner - Lise Watier Feline Eyeliner HD | Mascara - Annabelle Big Show | Lips - NYX Butter Gloss in Meringue | Nails - China Glaze

 Happy Styling! xo


Saturday, January 17, 2015

John Casablancas Institute: Champagne Grad Fashion Show

If you've never been to a grad class fashion show, but are interested in fashion, these are a great way to see some amazing local emerging talent! In November, I checked out the John Casablancas Institute's Grad Fashion Show 'Champagne', which included an awards ceremony celebrating their top students in a variety of classes, as well as a photo booth and silent auction with proceeds going to Covenant House.

Some of the shows were styled, while others were designed. Who knows? Maybe we'll be seeing some of these designs on the runway at Vancouver Fashion Week soon enough!

You can check out JCI's video of the Champagne fashion show, to see for yourself how the designs come to life...

MANDALA: Designed by Janell Bye & Katelyn Bauer

Styled by Kayla Bottiglieri

Designed & Styled by Manipulated Mind Associated

ROH Designed & Styled by Joshua & Alex

Three Fawn Doe Designed by Asia & Brandy Thorpe-Doubble

Three Fawn Doe Dress by Mariah Pinyon

Outfit: Shirt - (thrifted) | Necklace - Olive + Piper | Skirt - H&M (thrifted) | Heels - Spring (thrifted)
Makeup: Lips - Covergirl Lip Perfection in Divine, Nails - Revlon Gel Envy in High Roller
Happy Styling! xo


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