fashion magazine
Contemporary With A Raw Twist
By YNA UNSAY
Illustrations by RACHAEL WONG
A lover of art and fashion, Rachael Wong has blossomed into a talented artist and creative individual, finding her inner strength and voice through adversity. In September 2011, the debut of her astounding collection graced the runway in Vancouver Community College's graduation fashion show to rave reviews.

Wong chose the path of fashion design to pursue her love of art. Born and raised in Burnaby, British Columbia, she was drawn to the "...rawness of creating masterpieces that flow with movement." Even with talent and passion, it was a struggle to compose an entry portfolio into fashion school. The sewing classes in high school were always canceled, so these skills had to be developed unaided. It was very difficult to work alone, researching techniques and learning to solve problems with creative flair - all while building the rest her portfolio. At VCC, the life as a fashion student catered to her professional and personal growth. "I kind of defined who I am - learning about myself and the people around me." It was a very challenging and never ending process, but she shares that the most fulfilling part was, "Actually doing something I thought about and sketched. Then seeing all the ideas come alive right before my eyes."

Inspired by "mystical forests and dark magic," Wong's grad collection tells a story of "... Innocence being taken over by darkness. An heiress takes to power and the darkness consumes her. In the end she becomes stronger and triumphant." A neutral palette was chosen to emphasize the garments' impeccable craftsmanship and successful execution. Her love of contrasts allowed the combination of different colors, values, textures and visual effects within the collection. Wong took risks and incorporated ombre dying techniques and leather work. With an aesthetic self-defined as "contemporary with a twist," she merged the worlds of flowing silks, hard leather, and fine sheers, appealing to women who crave feminine pieces with raw details.

Graduating was an accomplishment, but also shocking, "When everything stops, it's very different. This fast paced industry is so easy to get caught up in, leaving very little time for reflection." For Wong, she faced a complication shortly before graduating. In the beginning of second year, what was mistaken for the "freshman 15," was actually detected to be a tumor under the rib cage. She underwent surgery to have it removed and the tumor was found to cancerous. "You think it won't happen to you," she reflects. The experience was frightening, but it made her even stronger, and she was relieved to walk away from three months of treatment with a clean bill of health. In spite of it all, it was a relief that it all happened after the fashion show. "It would have been discouraging to work so hard, come all this way, and be forced to stop." Through it all, an awareness was found in the skills gained and the confidence of knowing, "I can do something I've never thought I could."

With a great future ahead of her, the 20-year-old emerging designer plans to complete capsule collections and collaborative work with her graduating peers. She uses spare time to create dresses for her friends and a grad dress for her sister. Aspirations include a few internships with noted contemporary womenswear designers and to continue to work towards being a fashion designer with her own label.

For more information on the Vancouver Community College Fashion Design Program, visit the program website: http://continuinged.vcc.ca/fashionArts/programs.htm. To contact Wong, email her at: rachael.wong@live.com.