On Friday, I attended Vogue Charity Fashion Show’s second night at The Grand theatre in downtown Kingston, Ontario. I had not seen the show before this year, but I’d heard from many people that it is always guaranteed to be a creative and fun show – and it was. The clothing designs in the show were divided into six sections, each one with their own designer. The collections and dance routines were original and dazzling, and the whole atmosphere was upbeat and positive; and, I was lucky enough to attend the show as a VIP.

Every year, Vogue Charity Fashion Show raises awareness and money for a local organization in addition to putting on an exciting show. This year, they aimed to raise $20,000 for an organization which I am personally attached to: Community Living Kingston. In the show, some members of Community Living Kingston joined for the all-cast dance. Although their part was short and they were situated near the back, the Community Living Kingston dancers were obviously having an amazing time.

Before the show, I was in contact with Tova Latowsky, this year’s Head of Marketing, and she kindly arranged for me to interview some of those involved in the show before it began. First, I briefly sat down with Sarah Sharma, a stylish and charming fourth year student and the head of Independent Design:

What is your job with Vogue?

Sarah: “My job is to work with all of the designers throughout the year and help them and support them, giving them any resources. I’m also the liaison between the executive group and the designers, so any information that they pass on, that’s what I do. Along with my interns, we check through the year to make sure everything’s working, and during the show we help all the models change into their clothes.”

What, or who, influences your own sense of style?

Sarah: “I would like to think that my personal sense of style is a mix-up between Leandra Medine (Man Repeller) and Olivia Palermo – that’s always a lofty goal! If I could get it somewhere between that would be awesome. I think that in this day in age so many people have so many resources so I use a lot of blogs, I do read through magazines, I look to what other people are wearing, I’ve worked in retail so I try to keep up with what’s going on and then I try to match what trends go with my personal sense of style.”

My time with Sarah was cut short, though, as we were pressed for time and I had interviews to conduct with some of the designers. First, I talked to Kyla Carmody, designer of the section “High-Life Society”. This is Kyla’s second year designing for Vogue, and her looks were gracefully simple with tactful details. They featured purple and red pencil skirts with structured crop-tops (one with feather accents), A-line designs, and maroon bow-ties with white oxford button-ups on the men. Altogether, the collection was elegant, skillful and wearable.

What influenced your designs?

Kyla: “Dark tones, dark colours, and then I like to use a lot of applique pieces, so there’s feathers on my designs as well. And then I’m also influenced by the use of colour and colour blocking.”

What was the most challenging part of your time with Vogue?

Kyla: “Everyone has different body measurements. The most challenging part at Vogue is that not everybody is the same size so you really have to fit the clothes to each person. And so when you do quite a few outfits, it’s always a challenge just to get everyone’s measurements right and making them and the models looks as awesome as they can.”

What, or who, influences your own sense of style?

 Kyla: “I really like the classic elegance of Kate Middleton, and I think that she always puts her own spin on things as well. I like that aspect.”

Next, I sat down with Rachel Wong, who designed the “Depression Deco” collection. Rachel’s designs were moody and dark, utilizing earthy green fabric and leather. The men wore t-shirts with leather and gold accents and harem pants. The women’s looks were more feminine, featuring a floor-length green gown, a pleather crop-top and long circle skirt and a gold and black matching tank top and mini-skirt. The collection was the perfect translation of the depression era for modern, youthful designs.

Rachel Wong and her "Depression Deco" Collection

What influenced your designs the most?

Rachel: “I looked, honestly, at a lot of YouTube and Pinterest, on the internet and all that. I was really inspired by the colours and how it was just a very dark period and I kind of wanted to bring that but still kind of bring the glam that the 20s kind of brought over. So, I used a lot of dark colours. I used a lot of black, a lot of leather, but I have a few bold accent pieces that are kind of mixed in there so it brings a lot of that deco part out of the 20s.”

How long have you been designing?

Rachel: “I have always wanted to design, I’ve always had a keen interest in fashion. The first time that I really designed was my high school fashion show, and it was actually an environmentally friendly fashion show so I had to make an outfit out of recyclable materials so I used coffee filters. Just ones that were lying around my house and weren’t being used, and I made a kimono out of coffee filters. I always knew coming to Queen’s [University] that I wanted to be in Vogue; it was always something that I wanted to try. But it was my first real 10-piece line last year [in Vogue].”

What, or who, influences your own sense of style?

Rachel: “The first person who influences my sense of style is my mother. I feel like she’s always ahead of the times. There would be so many times where she’d come home and buy something and I wouldn’t like it and 6 months later it was totally in style and I ended up liking it and she’d be like ‘I told you so!’ I have a blog, a personal style blog, and a YouTube, so I tend to draw inspiration from Tumblr and magazines.”

After Rachel, I sat down with Elizabeth Doney, who designed the Architecture collection.  She said that the hardest part of her collection was designing purely with architecture in mind, expressing: “I like to design for the models and for their personality, so they’re more confident on stage and they feel like it’s their outfits and they own it more. Whereas this year, it was a lot harder to do that when there was things I’d have to include, and you couldn’t be too outside of the particular idea.” Elizabeth’s collections, however, seemed effortless. She utilized textures and shine to capture the original glam of the architecture that inspired the collection. A floor-length, beautifully fitted sequin gown with a low back really stood out to me, along with the men’s outfits, which included two-tone brown vertical stripes and a metallic robe.

Elizabeth Downey's "Architecture" Collection

What kind of things are in the “Architecture” collection?

Elizabeth: “This year we used specific aspects, so architecture from the 1920s, 1930s; we’re just drawing inspiration from the buildings built in that time. So it’s kind of like, they got bigger and smaller. During the great depression, buildings were the one thing they did spend money on – I didn’t know that until this year. The buildings were grand and big, like the Empire State Building, the Chrysler building, they renovated the white house. So all the pieces have aspects of those buildings. So, we have a Lady Liberty, because the statue of liberty became a national monument in that period. It’s more of a historical scene.”

What was the most rewarding part about this year with Vogue?

Elizabeth: “My models are so happy, and they’re so fun, so beautiful and the choreography is amazing! I had Alexa Salsberg, she was actually head dance choreo last year and so she was the choreographer for my model scene this year and it’s amazing. And the models look great and are happy. I think that she really played on the architecture aspect, and it’s really, really fun for me to watch now and see it come to life as she saw my vision of the buildings, and it’s awesome.”

What, or who, influences your own sense of style?

 Elizabeth: “My mother, 100% of who I am. My mother is a high school fashion teacher, and so I definitely get my sense of style from her. We’re very traditional and kind of like interesting design lines but definitely more traditional stuff. Her and I own a lot of the same clothes and dress the same way. [Laughing] I hope she’s proud!”

Next, I interviewed Beck Lloyd, who designed the menswear “Fashion” section. Beck was excited to get the menswear section as she’s never sewn a dress. This was Beck’s first time designing without her partner, Bekah, but she definitely held her own. The looks were preppy and casual, but each with creative twists and pops of red. Featuring formal shorts (a-la Pharrell Williams), a wide-neck sweater, sweater vests and grand accessories, Beck Lloyd’s collection proved that menswear has an important place in fashion design.

Beck Lloyd's "Fashion" Collection

Were you able to be completely open with the menswear?

Beck: “Our theme is art deco, so looking at the 20s and that kind of thing. But, I mean, the 20s was the birth of the suit so I was lucky to have fashion as my theme because I really could do anything I wanted. What I wanted to do was ready-to-wear clothing. I come from a background in theatre and I didn’t want to do costumes. I wanted to do things I could see on campus, that was really important to me. So that the population coming to this show are boys becoming better dressed. [Laughing] It’s educational! So that was what I wanted to do. So really playing with texture and trying to demonstrate ways that you can shove patterns and smush patterns together that you wouldn’t otherwise feel safe doing. I have 2 knit pieces in my scene, so going a little bit old school in that sense. That was important to me.”

What was the most rewarding part about this year with Vogue?

Beck: “Walking into the room the first all-cast meeting and seeing so many familiar faces and realizing that I had made good friends the last two years doing this. We know each other and are so excited to do this again and really feeling like you’re a part of that Vogue community, because it is very strong. We go through rehearsals that last until midnight together, we’re naked upstairs together [where the dressing rooms are], and it’s this feeling that after 2 years, wow, I have these friends that I would not have made otherwise because we’re from completely different programs. Not only are we doing this together but we’re doing something good together, and that feels awesome.”

What, or who, influences your own sense of style?

Beck: “I am a collector. I’m lucky to have a super on top of trends housemate, I have a grandmother that has classic pieces, my mom has pieces from her rockin’ 70s days, so I am fully a thief and I steal those and combine them as best I can. My individual sense of style is very much based on collecting.”

Last (but not least), I interviewed Brooke Burnet, who designed the “Fine Art” section of the show. Burnet’s designs were classic and elegant, using lace, textures and prints to create flattering and feminine styles. My favourite piece in her collection, and one of my favourites of the whole night, was a blue, A-Line dress with branch designs on the top and a chiffon shirt. The men wore classic formal looks with metallic accents and creatively patterned bow-ties.

How long have you been designing or sewing?

Brooke: “Depends how you define sewing. I tried to sew when I was little. Like, I would sew my dad’s dress shirts together and try to make dresses and cut up sweatshirts and sew them into tops. I started on my first [sewing] machine in high school. And my aunt really helped me out a lot, I never took classes or anything. I started always using my grandma’s machine, which was nice. It was kind of like she was with me, helping me along sewing.”

What was the most rewarding part about this year with Vogue?

Brooke: “Seeing how everyone can come together to put this on. Throughout the year you’re pretty isolated; not isolated, but your scene practice is with your scene, I only see my models. When it comes to the actual show time, everyone becomes one big thing. You make so many good friends so quickly. Within 24 hours you know almost everyone that you didn’t know the day before.”

What, or who, influences your own sense of style?

Brooke: “My grandma. She was also who inspired me to start sewing. Up until the end of her life she always dressed so classy and was so put together and always matched and everything coordinated and never had a hair out of place kind of thing. As I grow up and see how stressful like can be and things like that, I just admire so much that she still looked so put together and gathered every day of her life.”

Unfortunately, I was unable to discuss the “American Dream” collection with its designer Jackie Leonard. But, I loved her collection, complete with two-tone designs, pleats, suspenders and high-waisted camel-coloured capris. The show also featured amazing clothing from brands such as FCUK, The Bay and Dynamite.

I had an amazing time at the show. Unfortunately, its 2014 run is over, but “like” and “follow” Vogue Charity Fashion Show, or check out the website, to stay up-to-date about next year’s performances and how to get involved!


A final thank-you goes out to all those who organized the show and welcomed me so warmly.


This piece was written by Rebecca MacDonald, Fashion Columnist at Rhetoric Magazine. Come back for more every Thursday!