It wasn’t just the city and oceanfront views from the penthouse that were eye-filling during Fashion Friday at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Suites.
The intimate gathering and Victoria Women’s Transition House Society fundraiser was the first of what Victoria Clements hopes will become a monthly haute-couture event at the hotel’s Table 21 restaurant.
Twenty fashion-conscious women mingled with models, fashion bloggers, photographers and designers at the launch, co-produced by Clements’s Posh Intertainment and Concept Couture founder Stuart Cameron.
Guests paid $35 for a model-friendly lunch — organic salads, grilled chicken and salmon and fresh fruit — and to see five models showcase summer fashions by Tulipe Noir Clothing and The Dancing Lily.
They also modelled hats by Lynda Marie Couture Millinery, jewelry by Stella and Dot and were adorned with BeautyCounter Makeup applied by Tammy Neron and hairstyling by Whitney Olivia.
“It’s like we’re in a big city!” observed guest Trisha Lees as model Tess Mitchell sashayed by wearing a short beige dress that complemented her long blond hair.
“Can we shop now?” laughed lifestyle blogger Jody Hollis after Tracy Mitchell walked the cream-coloured carpet wearing a lightweight white outfit.
“They feel like jammies,” Mitchell remarked before exiting the stage surrounded by chairs, each containing a parting gift from local inventor Keith Marchant — Style Stick, a temporary fabric adhesive within a lipstick-like container.
“I use it to keep my dress socks up,” said Marchant, whose collaborator Marcy McKenna describes the fix-it device for wayward shirt collars, bra straps and more as “a personal tailor in a tube.”
The event’s common thread was that the fashions, hair, makeup, hats and jewelry were predominantly local.
“We’re very fortunate to live in a city where there’s a lot of local entrepreneurs around fashion,” said Cameron, 17.
“A lot [of the fashion boutiques] are locally owned. You’re buying clothing from someone who is paid fairly and who made the clothing themselves in a suitable environment.”
The chatty young fashion enthusiast said he loves that you can walk down lower Johnson Street into a boutique and meet the owner.
“I just graduated, so I went into Outlooks For Men and the owner, Dale [Olsen] was right there and he helped me pick out my suit,” Cameron said.
Fashion Friday is a great way to “make fashion that is sustainable also attainable,” said Concept Couture’s chief image curator Vellar Chou.
Wearing a tunic-style dress from Tulipe Noir, white Paige Denim jeans and a Fascinator hat by Lynda Marie, Sophie Dishaw, 25, dispelled some fashion myths.
Models don’t just eat blueberries, the slender model said with a laugh.
“A lot of young models can go through struggles when agencies tell them they need to be thinner, but for me it’s about exercise and having a well-balanced diet to make my body look the best it has to be for my jobs and photo shoots,” Dishaw said.
Two enthusiastic guests are models themselves — Pat Singleton and Lorraine Trotman.
They are members of Heritage Productions, a group of older women who showcase their collections of vintage fashions at special events and seniors’ centres.
“When we go and do shows at old folks’ homes, you can see how people recognize clothes they once wore. It really brightens up their day,” said Singleton.
“I had my 1920s wedding gown on the other day,” Trotman recalled. “A lady said, ‘My mother wore almost the same thing and the same hat [with wax orange blossoms].”
Fashion Friday began taking shape last year when Clements moved back to Victoria after working in film and event production in Vancouver and Los Angeles for 26 years.
“I’d like to create the same kind of energy and excitement now being felt in Vancouver for these two industries and promote that here,” she said.
After spending the past seven years living in London, San Diego and Vancouver, the hotel’s sales and marketing director, Kirsten Kost, shared Clements’ passion.
“I found entertainment and fashion to be the heartbeats of the hotels I worked at in those cities,” said Kost, noting the DoubleTree, host hotel for the Victoria Film Festival and Victoria Fashion Week, has become something of an arts hub.
“I want to continue this experience and have our hotel feel like the locals’ ‘living room’ in the centre of the city.”