If ever there were a job that seemed unattainable, fashion designer would be it. If ever there were a place where it is desperately difficult to find your feet as a young fashion designer, Calgary would be it. Even still, the last few seasons in local fashion have shown just how enthusiastic and motivated our home-grown designers can be. Despite overwhelming odds, our city of oil companies and cowboys now garners considerable praise for its creative gumption.
Now, picture a student, interested in fashion with fingers in every pot. Ashley Quan is a fibre major entering her last year at ACAD. She is also a model working for local artists conglomerate Artists Within, a blogger, a painter, and a fashion designer with ambitions to become a runway coordinator after getting her masters degree.
So how does one find success in an industry so fickle with so much responsibility? “You have to have the right connections” Quan admits. However, the most valuable connections aren’t necessarily those with the deepest pockets or the widest social network.
Besides her regular, packed schedule, Quan still manages to reflect on the importance of exploring and honouring your heritage, a realization which led her to the creation of Setsugetsuka, a night of fashion and dance taking place on August 26. As a frequent volunteer for events like PARKSHOW and artaWEARness***, Quan has relied on the tight-knit artist community in Calgary for help in putting her first fashion show together.
“Being in the arts student community, I always seem to find people willing to help out.” states Quan. Demonstrating the willingness of our community to nurture art and creativity, the night will also feature a dance performance by local crew Grim Reminder, as well as performances by five other local dancers.
Taking place in the Engineered Air Theatre at the Epcor Centre, the show will pay homage to her Asian heritage, showcasing a textile project that has been two years in the making. Quan specializes in printing silks, and the show will feature silks and silk jackets hand dyed using traditional techniques, showing images inspired by the works of Katsushika Hokusai.
Hokusai was an incredibly talented Japanese painter who successfully portrayed ideas such as movement and atmosphere in the solid and motionless medium of wood. In addition to the theme of movement celebrated in fashion and dance, the silk jackets Quan will be debuting have been painted to show potentially grotesque Chinese traditions such as foot binding. Through the stylistic beauty of silk dying and painting, the unpropitious themes are seen in a different light.
Quan is excited and looking forward to her debut, or what she calls, her coming out party. she admits that at times, she has found herself frustrated and discouraged. We can all take heart in the fact that hard work does in fact pay off, and Quan’s upcoming fashion show is a testament to that fact.
She leaves the piece of advice for aspiring designers and fashion lovers of all sorts. “Don’t limit yourself, go as big as you want, and use networking.” Undeniably, it is the spirit of cooperation and generosity that sets Calgary’s fashion community apart, and makes it a wonderful place to grow.
For more information on Setsugetsuka, visit the Facebook Event Page or Visit Ashley Quan’s Blog
Words By Adriana Sveen
Photos By Benjamin Hayden