For 30 seasons, Vancouver Fashion Week has produced a runway that celebrates multiculturalism and emerging talent, actively seeking out international talent to showcase. This year, local designers Georgette Pollock-Johnston, Tracey Yue and Jerome Taylor will be showing their collections.

We caught up with the three designers last week to talk about their journey to Vancouver Fashion Week.

What was the first thing you ever designed and how do you feel about it now?

Jerome: “My first design was a tee back in 2013 that I loved at the time, I remember wearing it very frequently. Now, it’s an artefact in my wardrobe.”

Georgette: “The first real design I brought to life was a dress made out of bows. I have to say I’m glad I can’t find the photos of this dress because I was also modeling it! It definitely wasn’t some of my best work but for a 14-year-old it wasn’t bad.”

Tracey: “The first thing I ever properly designed was a shirt-dress when I was in high school, nagging my parents to buy me a sewing machine as a birthday present. I had no idea how to cut a pattern or sew but I managed to put the whole thing together – thinking back I’m quite amazed that I actually managed to make something! It’s quite funny to think about the silly mistakes I made and how it turned out with crooked stitches, uneven sides and buttons that didn’t even match. But, in the end, I’m happy and proud because that was my first attempt to do what I’m passionate about and it was a big step for me.”

How has being a designer affected your view of your own style?

Jerome: “I’m not sure it has necessarily affected my style, however, I feel it has really defined what I want when it comes to my own garments and what I like. I feel like I was once a lot more adventurous, but now I like the finer details, the drape of the fabric and the durability. As a designer, I know the work it takes just to construct a tee from draft to final product so I have a great appreciation for fashion and all it has to offer.”

Georgette: “I definitely feel more pressure when I’m out and people ask me what I do or what I’ve studied, “I work in the fashion industry”.  You then instantly get the quick look up and down. I style models very differently to how I style myself. I’m not exactly “model size” so I cant always pull off the awesome stuff I would put together on shoots or design. I go for dark colours clean-cut blazers and lots of accessories, that works best for me!”

Tracey: “Being a designer made me realise my own style is something that belonged to me 100%, it shouldn’t be influenced by the current trend or what other people like. It represents who I am as a person, how I feel on the day and what catches my eye.”

Tell us about your journey from graduate to Vancouver Fashion Week.

Jerome: “I launched Not For You in 2014 with a sell-out capsule collection. In May 2016 I presented a collection of men’s clothing to a panel of New Zealand Fashion Tech judges, securing a place at NZ Fashion Week. In August 2017, with the help of NZ Fashion Tech’s sponsorship, I showed 12 outfits (over 50 garments) at NZ Fashion Week. The next step for me is to get Not For You clothing on to hangers and shelves in the best retail shops across NZ and overseas. I hope my showing in Vancouver will be another step in being able to achieve this goal.”

Georgette: “I graduated in May last year and then went on to work for an amazing Wedding and design magazine called Together Journal, working for them has really opened my eyes to the industry and given me the opportunity to do what I’m passionate about. I still help style their shoots and work on their fashion editorials. I now work as a freelance stylist. Vancouver has come completely out of the blue, I was actually having coffee with my best friend when I received an email from Apparel Magazine asking me if they could represent me at Vancouver Fashion Week, I had to pass my phone over to my friend to check I was reading the email correctly, and well, I’m about to take off to Vancouver and I’m so excited.”

Tracey: “After Graduating I was a little bit lost, staying in my sales job and a little bit unsure of where to go and which step to take. When the Vancouver opportunity came up I was excited but hesitant. Now I feel like I’m beginning to find a direction in this industry that I was very unsure how to step into and I am more than happy and thrilled!”

Jerome, how did you feel when you found out about your inclusion in Vancouver Fashion Week?

Jerome: “I was ecstatic and of course jumped at the opportunity. There was a small fee which I was really lucky to have sponsored by New Zealand Fashion Tech. As soon as I was offered the amazing opportunity I knew I had to go and see my collection in Vancouver myself, so we made a limited run of Vancouver inspired garments” (view them here).

Tell us about your collections.

Jerome: “I am showcasing my “1 in 100” collection from NZFW AW 2018.”

Georgette: “My collection ‘Renee’ is a personal tribute to my late grandmother Renee Pollock, an unforgettable woman of influential strength who always radiated a joy of life and care for others. When my grandmother entered a room you always knew she was there, purely because of the amazing presence she brought with her. I kept this quote from Oscar Wilde in mind while designing this collection; “I’m a woman of simple tastes. I’m always satisfied with the best.” I was inspired by my grandmother’s amazing taste, quality, judgment and panache. My collection shows a heightened sense of femininity with an edgy strength that commands attention. The sparkling and textural interplay of pink, silver and beading with chic silhouette influence from the Seventies all serve to channel Renee herself. The impact of dress can never be underestimated to tell the story of others’ lives and hold memories to learn from.”

Tracey: “My collection is a pastel coloured S/S womenswear collection consisting of five looks. My concept is geometric minimalism – I drew inspiration from asymmetric geometric shapes (minimalism art concept) and blending reductivism cutting in my pattern work as I have always been drawn to those techniques. The story behind my collection is the very cliche “first love” as I tried to portray the sense of purity, simplicity and burden-free feeling of first love, portrayed by the light pastel colour pallet and the drape and flow of my fabric choices.”

Georgette, where was your “Renee” collection shot?

“I like to tell people we shot in Italy! but it was actually right here in New Zealand. A very close friend of my mother and grandmother’s private home. Such an amazing home, it really complimented the collection.”

Have you shown at NZ Fashion Week? If not, do you have any plans for this year?

Jerome: “Definitely, we are working on our collection right now and can’t wait to share it with everyone!”

Georgette: “No, I haven’t – It’s always been a dream! No plans yet, I think I’ll see how Vancouver goes first.”

Tracey: “I haven’t shown at NZ fashion week before. At the moment I don’t have any plans to show this year.”

Tracey, tell us about your Instagram; how does illustration blend with fashion design?

“My Instagram at the moment is my “arts gram”, all of the artwork in my Instagram are painted or drawn by me. I started my fashion journey with art as I have been drawing since a very young age, I normally paint and draw as an emotional outlet, when I’m happy upset or angry, I especially enjoy watercolour and poster colour. For me when I design I often draw inspiration out of artwork and illustrations, take aspects such as shapes, the flow of lines and the colour pallet, even the mood and feeling of a certain illustration and painting. It is fascinating to blend fashion with art as there is always so much behind illustrations and artwork you can read and then use in a design.”

What’s your ultimate career goal?

Jerome: “To be the Number One fashion designer in New Zealand.”

Georgette: “Creating a brand that reflects my unique style and who I am as a person. I would love to be able to express myself through designs and textiles, and the possibility that other people would love them as much as I do. But most importantly I want women to look and feel fabulous, empowered and unstoppable in my clothes. There is something very powerful about watching someone step out in public looking and feeling fantastic. If I can make someone feel like that then I have achieved my goal.”

Tracey: “My ultimate career goal is to have something of my own, a fashion label or just my own little store. just something personal to me that I can use to portray my feelings in design and artwork.”

Vancouver Fashion Week is running from March 19-25.

melissa reid

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