Vancouver’s Sara Armstrong is a designer after the heart of every West Coast resident who feels comfortable in black – all year round. Those who pay no heed to those who insist upon a ‘pop of colour’ to complete every look. People who value oversized sculptural separates in dark colours and patterns paired with flat shoes and chunky soft alpaca wool infinity scarves.
No matter your gender, size or build, there are so many pieces in Sara Armstrong’s collections that can and should be incorporated into your west coast wardrobe. As a result of being a long term resident of Vancouver, I have learned that transitional pieces are appreciated all year round, which makes these garments very good value for the money.
Armstrong is an interdisciplinary artist who practices in both industrial and fashion design. She creates ready to wear pieces with an androgynous blur, at once loyal to the functionality of heritage craftsmanship and subversive in their welcoming of innovative details.
With a focus on architecturally inspired urban luxury, Armstrong’s formal training in sculpture is immediately apparent in pieces that balance complex geometries with pared-down simplicity. Lucid yet intuitive, her work is hinged upon a tactile, hand-worked approach to design and an uncompromising appreciation for authenticity and quality.
With less than a month to VFW S/S 2015, what we can expect on the runway next month is a Scottish-inspired collection inspired by her father and family clan. The men’s looks are pieces that can be perceived as gender neutral are simple and still totally masculine with a strong focus on texture.
Armstrong explained the use of natural fibres and the special place in her heart for animals, especially alpaca:
“I am a firm believer in using natural fibres – there is a certain type of artistry in making your own textiles that can’t be mimicked. Being able to source locally – to build a relationship with the farm and visit the alpacas – really brings an extra piece of pride into my work, it feels communal and more human, which I think the Fashion industry could use a bit more of. The growing relationship with Kensington Prairie Farm has been a blessing so early into my emerging career.”
What is different for the fall/winter runway? Her pieces appear very trans-seasonal in their colours and structure.
“I love that you said trans-seasonal because longevity and practicality are some things that I do always keep at the front of my mind when designing. I think what is more defining of a season is texture. From local alpaca wool to starch cottons, heavy Melton wools and raw silks – they are pieces you want to wear around a fire.”
Armstrong is currently working on the ‘business’ of her brand and has initiated an online campaign to be able to maximize this seasons showing at Vancouver Fashion Week. So many attendees live and breathe fashion but are relatively unaware of the organized chaos that exists behind the scenes. In addition to the hair and make-up crew, to ensure a successful runway show, the designer must put together and provide for a team of talented and devoted people who will collaborate to produce the audio and video, provide the photography, conceptualize and create the visual graphics and work together to ensure everything is as stimulating as possible. It is a costly path that can swallow an aspiring designer whole.
Another VFW alumni with a love of animals and natural fabrics, Australian organic designer Zuhal Kuvan-Mills of Green Embassy (F/W 2014, S/S 2015) has been enjoying high profile success with her Regeneration Collection. Her full length coat Alpaca #10 was a hit in 2014 at London Fashion Week, a crowd favourite at Vancouver Fashion Week, showcased at World Fashion Week in Paris, and most recently being worn by actor Adina Porter (True Blood, 100, The Newsroom) at the MovieGuide Movie Awards.
The coat is handmade and crafted in this style using felted organic certified Merino wool and alpaca fibre with unique contemporary artwork design focuses on regeneration of nature. Adina is a great lover of eco-friendly fashion and owns three pieces from the Green Embassy collections.
Sources say that the designer behind Green Embassy, Zuhal Kuvan-Mills is currently developing a eco-luxury textiles line of natural fibres that will available in exclusive homeware boutiques in Bali, Perth and Vancouver.
Sara Armstrong Photo Credits: Studio: Carl White / Outdoors: Diana Klonek
Green Embassy Photos courtesy of Green Embassy, Vancouver Fashion Week, MovieGuide