Building a mystery in the magazine business since 2011.
By Lynn Larson Armstrong
Friday, April 18, 2014
An Old Soul Comes to Life on the Runway at Vancouver Fashion Week
Photo: Laurie Larson, Vancouver Fashion Week FW 2014
I was there when she came into this world, and have watched over her from band aids to boyfriends. She was born with an old soul, with a passion for making art with history and integrity and she is going to be famous. On March 20, 2014 in Vancouver, I watched as her soul came to life on the runway.
Sara Armstrong was born and raised in Regina where her life of 21 years was consumed with dance, painting, sculpting and creating art. She graduated from the University of Regina with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in May 2010, after which she packed up her brand new sewing machine and her clothes in her Mercedes (which later became mine) to study fashion design at Blanche Macdonald. At that point, she could not sew, but she said, 'I will learn when I get there.' One year later, her design was featured on the cover of Blanche Macdonald's fashion design graduate show, entitled "Colour Couture."
Sara is an artist with a message, which is revealed in the medium. I like to think of Sara as the Marshall McLuhan of her time. Whatever the medium, her creations are arresting, soulful and purposeful.
During her fourth year at University in Regina, she created an eight - foot headless mannequin dressed in depression black skirting and a metal chest plate etched with dates, such as birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and other note worthy moments. The headless woman was placed in a field just outside of Regina. From a distance, it was eerie as she appeared to be looking out onto the cold bleak prairie, her dress blowing in the wind.
This ghost of a past was haunting, yet respectful as she paid heed to the history of the land and its people. When we returned to the field to take her home, there were tire tracks in the mud around her, as passers by had been drawn in to see her, but not disturb her. As we disassembled the statue a small field mouse scurried out from under her skirt where it had taken shelter from the wind. Sara looked at me and smiled, saying "it's nice that the mouse had a warm place for a while."
In Vancouver, Sara dedicated herself to learning the business. While attending school,she worked multiple jobs, volunteered for fashion shows and other events and interned for a local Vancouver designer. What she didn't learn at school, she took in classes and workshops outside of school.
Sara launched her first line, Motel June, an eco-fashion collection. Her second line, Heed the Free was launched at the Blanche Macdonald Fashion Show in 2011, which carried the eco-fashion message as well but with a revolutionary romantic flair. Heed the Free then made its way to Saskatchewan Fashion Week in 2012, standing out as an artistic rendering of eco-fashion worthy of the runway.
In 2013, Sara rebranded, launching her self-named collection Sara Armstrong. This predominantly black collection of men and women creations was less feminine and more androgynous, and less quiet and more defiant as it came to life again on the runway in Regina during Saskatchewan Fashion Week.
In 2014, Sara Armstrong presented her self-named collection on the runway at Vancouver Fashion Week. Inspired by the ocean and the story of Moby Dick, the collection possesses a gritty natural quaity, softened by a cream and beige toned colour scheme, layered in dense fabrics and textures that tell the story of the artist's vision and inspiration.
As her mother looking on, I could hear the voice of her old soul speaking to us once again as her designs moved down the runway and away from home where her destiny as an artist is being discovered.