One of Vicky Lau’s great pleasures is designing and sewing costumes to wear at cosplay events.
After the St. Albert registered dietitian completed a photography project, part of another hobby, there was little doubt Lau’s artistry deserved a run on the runway.
The petite artist has received an exclusive invitation from Western Canada Fashion Week (WCFW) to showcase her fantasy collection. Models will be strutting the catwalk with Lau’s costumes while her photographs flash on huge screens overhead. It all takes place Sunday, March 30 at the Westbury Theatre in the ATB Arts Barns.
Lau’s luxuriously styled designs are called The Seven Deadly Sins, a seamless blend of biblical polish, sci-fi fantasy, fairy tale whimsy and dark sexuality.
The collection nonchalantly disregards trends in favour of imaginative elegance, the kind that attracts flashbulb-popping attention. Not only did Lau, design and sew the outfits, she also made the wigs, hired models, booked studio time, brought in additional staff and photographed the models.
WCFW executive producer Sandra Fernandes Sing, who issued the invitation, said, “Vicky put a lot of time and energy into it and we didn’t want that to go unrewarded. The designs themselves are fun and interesting, but it was the thought and effort that went into it that we noticed. It wasn’t the parts. It was the whole creative process and the outcome that we were proud of her doing.”
Lau embodies the principles of the best designers and artists – it’s all about designs that are striking and theatrical yet seem so effortless.
Her style was born nearly 10 years ago with cosplay, a popular role-playing gathering. Participants wear character outfits from either the real or virtual world. Sources of inspiration usually come from manga, anime, comic books, video games and films.
As a 2004 Bellerose High graduate, Lau shied away from the fashion program. The conscientious student’s academic strengths were the sciences and her focus was getting good grades.
But building dynamic cosplay costumes from scratch was fun, an outlet that encouraged artistic expression neatly balancing her scientific problem-solving skills.
The trigger for The Seven Deadly Sins was Lau’s first anniversary as a photography hobbyist. Lau’s camera of choice is a Canon 5D Mark 3 with four added lenses.
“I hit my one year mark in September and was astonished to realize I did not have my own concept,” Lau said. “Up to now I had been learning the foundations and not expressing myself.”
At about the same time, she was watching an anime marathon, and hit on the idea of designing costumes and photographing them in a studio. Her concept was inspired by anime and popular video games. After the fabric was purchased, the costumes took two weeks to sew and were completed by the end of November.
“I wanted to photograph a beautiful look, but at the same time have it dark and moody.”
In researching the seven sins, Lau discovered they were all assigned colours, an accepted artistic code. Purple represented pride, green designates envy, dark blue reflects lust, red is a natural for wrath, orange personifies gluttony, light blue embodies sloth and gold illustrates greed.
“Each one also had an animal representation. Originally I wanted to put them in the photo shoot. But it limited my creativity, so I decided to stick with colours so I could be more creative.”
Instead of the animals, Lau opted to add a few effective props to the images. For instance, Pride’s vanity is viewed in three mirrors, hands tempt Gluttony with cakes, Greed fans herself in luxurious quarters and Wrath blazes in a fire.
By the end of November, Lau rented Studio 65, one of the largest commercial photo studios in Edmonton and brought a full fashion team for the photo shoot.
Ernest Augustus, head photographer for WCFW, also happened to be the lighting director for the photo shoot. He suggested Lau’s work to Fernandes Sing and the rest as they say, is history.
“I just found out two weeks ago when Sandra invited me,” Lau said. “I feel very honoured and privileged. I feel bad for those not able to pursue this path, but at the same time this is an opportunity I want to hold on to.”
WCFW is more than a shop window for the next new thing. It’s also making a statement about where young designers such as Lau are heading. And they’re saying that personality and presence counts as much as the outfit, if not more.
Edmonton Fashion Week runs until April 3 with most showcases and collections presented at ATB Financial Arts Barns. For more information visit westerncanadafashionweek.com.
Edmonton Fashion Week
March 29 to April 3
ATB Financial Arts Building
9930 – 102 Ave.
Tickets: $25 per show, $85 weekly pass, $10 matinee show
Call 780-420-1757 or purchase online at tixonthesquare.ca