By Joshua Langston

Photos by Viranlly Liemena

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Evan Clayton is a young designer from Vancouver who in only a few short seasons, has made waves in the industry through his distinct design aesthetic. In previous seasons he has shown over-the-top collections that had incredible runway and editorial appeal, but at times lacked practical wearability. This is not a bad thing, with designers like the late Alexander McQueen pioneering this fantasy on his runways. This season he found a way to make most of the collection wearable in “the real world”. The first look of the collection was indicative of that, a lavish wool cape with leather detailing on the shoulders, perfect for the Vancouver climate. This was easily one of my favourite and most covetable pieces in his collection, as in, it’s my favourite and I want to covet it. Take note Evan, it’s mine.

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Evan also added accessories this season in the form of belts, embossed with his monogram which is the labels moniker. His collection was titled JENOVA and took him back to his childhood playing Final Fantasy VII, which is arguably one of the most iconic video games in history. He also gained inspiration from the work of Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano, who’s work as a character designer and illustrator has also been commissioned into the Final Fantasy franchise.

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Human compassion is explored with the morality of good and the totality of evil being questioned. Brushstrokes of femininity play sword to the rough edge of masculine will. Influenced by this theorem, JENOVA seeks to inspire an introspective quest in the viewer. – Evan Clayton

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After the first few looks made up of head-to-toe black we transitioned into his more editorial runway looks, that pushed the envelope even further than he had in previous seasons. This next set of looks were created using black straps that were intricately and thoughtfully places to define and celebrate the female form. One by one as these looks made their way down the runway jaws were dropping in succession like dominos. One of the looks in this series had the addition of sleeves while another had a mermaid skirt attached to the bottom. While this may not be a practical “picking up eggs and milk at the grocery store” look, it’s editorial appeal is undeniable. I could easily see a starlet like Rihanna rocking this look, and she actually would probably wear something like this to a grocery store, because well, she’s Rihanna.

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The next set of looks had a hyper-romantic feel we haven’t seen from Evan Clayton before, like using an artist inspired abstract floral fabric. The print is definitely is on trend for what we have seen during fashion month in the fall collections.

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Another impressive feat was a white skirt and jacket made out of a trimmed hide. This is one of those materials that even the most experienced of designers can at times find difficult to work with. Evan executed this look impressively, finishing it with precisionary tailoring that was remarkable to witness from such a young designer. His last two looks were evening wear, including a gorgeous silver gown with a peek-a-boo back that was fit for the red carpet. Instead of closing the show with a traditional wedding gown, Evan showed an EXTREMELY voluminous bubble gum pink strapless gown with some major pleating across the bust line. His model that wore this last look knew how to work this dress to it’s full potential, allowing it to envelop with air as she glided across the runway in her all her bubble gum pink glory.

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After the show I made my way through the masses of people trying to gain a moment of Evans attention to congratulate him on the show. I was able to take a minute and ask him a couple questions between the hugs and cheering.

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JL: What was the most challenging part of designing this collection?
EC: I’d say the most challenging part of this collection was trying to find a way to make two very different aspects of design work as a whole. The core theme was unity through difference, so while the collection was shown in two halves, it all works together as one entity.
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JL: I have noticed a definite maturity in your collection comparing last season to this, what was catalytic in this growth?
EC: I like to think that my work is autobiographical. I’ve been entering a phase in my life where I need to let go of aspects of my childhood so I can grow into a more round person. Playing Final Fantasy 7 (one of the inspirations for this season) was a huge part of my childhood, so this season was almost therapeutic for me in the sense that I got to re-live a part of my childhood but see it through more experienced eyes.

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JL: You just won the Nancy Mak award and were chosen to show at MQ Vienna Fashion Week, what is it like to have such an incredible recognition and opportunity so early in your career. What would you attribute to your success and accolades thus far?

EC: Winning the award and being chosen to show in Vienna is completely surreal. I think I’ll feel like I’m watching someone else take this journey until I’m in Vienna haha. It’s a complete honor and very humbling, though, I’m very nervous about travelling abroad for the first time! I have to attribute my success to everyone that has pushed me and challenged me in my career thus far. This opportunity isn’t something that was magically handed to me, I had to work for it, but I most certainly didn’t do it alone. It’s a real tribute to the team at VFW and the team that I work with to produce the shows.

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JL: What’s the first thing you are going to do when you get to Vienna and what are you bringing me back?

EC: Part of me wants to go to Europe a bit early and travel a bit, I’ve never been across the pond! I’m really keen on seeing Prague and Venice, and in Vienna I’m really looking forward to seeing Mozarts house and all the castles! I’ve been told there’s a really fascinating underground arts culture there, so that’s something I’ll DEFINITELY be checking out! As for something for you, I don’t want to get you some tacky tourist shit, so I’ll find something EXTRA fabulous!

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Once again Evan has found a way to throw caution to the wind and create a collection that is true to his design aesthetic and brand DNA. We wish him all the best of success for his upcoming showing at MQ Vienna Fashion Week. We are proud to have such an incredible young designer representing Vancouver on the global stage.

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