Vancouver's Renaissance Man
By Katie Mogan
Photography by Matthew Burditt - www.matthewburditt.org
Styling: Deanna Palkowski - Liz Bell Agency - www.lizbellagency.com
Makeup/hair: Negar Hooshmand - Liz Bell Agency - www.lizbellagency.com
Katie - Liz Bell Agency - www.lizbellagency.com
Jeremy - Key Model Management - www.keymodelmgmt.com
Grey clouds drift across the background as a woman clad in a floating creation of crepe, organza and feathers drifts down the runway. Her hair, quaffed in a nest-like apparition, is the sea upon which a delicate balsa wood boat rests. The smoky colours of the dress are mirrored in her austere makeup - two dark eyes set deep within a pale ethereal face. This is how Edmonton-born, Europe-trained and Vancouver-based designer, Drew William concluded his Fall/Winter 2010 show at Vancouver Fashion Week this spring.
But perhaps we should start from the beginning. Over coffee and the din of the local Starbucks, Drew has graciously offered to discuss his unlikely introduction to fashion. Born and raised in Edmonton, the designer's first love was photography which he studied at Vancouver's Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Part way through his studies, he was accepted into an exchange program at Central Saint Martin's College in London, England. The exchange would be a fantastic opportunity to study photography in a city rich with artistic heritage. There was only one problem; the program was a third year design course and did not contain a trace of photography. With no experience in graphic design, Drew worked quickly to acquire the necessary skills.
Following the exchange, Drew returned to Vancouver and realized that he had developed a stronger interest in design (particularly fashion) than photography. Using this discovery as a catalyst, he applied for positions in fashion and once again found himself relocating to Europe. The setting was Copenhagen and the designer was Henrik Vibskov. From an initial office position, Vibskov finally granted the newcomer access to the sewing studio where he learned the art of drafting patterns and garment construction. Maximizing his experience abroad, Drew also dabbled with accessory design and worked at the Piet Breinholm bag company.
Having whetted his appetite for design in Copenhagen, the recent graduate returned to Vancouver, and launched his eponymous label, Drew William. His first collection, a playful menswear line featuring tie-dye motifs, debuted with much acclaim in September 2008. However, it his latest collection that may be the most memorable to date as it marked his debut in designing women's wear. The theme for the collection was based on the austerity of the nineteenth century French Romantic period, with special attention being paid to the paintings of Eugene Delacroix. The artist's use of reds, greys, cream and black decided the palette. Delacroix's interest in death and revolution were used to inspire the naval headdresses, flowing dress hems and split-front pants on the runway. To further develop the mood of the period, Drew sent sketches of the designs to Montreal composer, Patrick Goski. The music that Goski sent back was then used as a muse to finish the garments and was a soundtrack for the show. The end result of this multifaceted process was a collection that employed multiple forms of art to create palpable cohesion for the viewer.
The work of another infamous artist is the inspiration for the next collection which the designer will complete within the month. Always seeking innovation and change, Drew plans to design accessories, bags and shoes in the near future. His early education in photography has not been left by the wayside. In addition to fashion design, this multitasking designer currently shoots narrative work, teaches photography courses at LaSalle College and hopes to publish a book of his photographs later in the year. It is without a trace of exaggeration that I have dubbed him Vancouver's Renaissance Man.
To view Drew's collections, visit his website: www.drewwilliam.com.