Soda couture uncorked on runway

Grandy C. embodies the effervescence infused in her latest collection of couture dresses.

When the Edgemont Village area resident was designing this summer she kept the process light and bubbly, resulting in a short gestation period and not too much overthinking.

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“Everybody knows what it’s like to open up a cool can of soda – that first icy, sugary rush feels great,” says Grandy, proprietor of Grandi’s Atelier.

The fashion maven harnessed that adrenaline and smiled as the sketches took a carefree form on the canvas. Soda Pop is the collective name for the 17 dresses Grandy designed, as she hopes to evoke a widely familiar experience on the runway at Vancouver Fashion Week.

“I designed this collection with two ideas in mind. One is to demonstrate that, in fact, tapping into our creativity is like opening a bottle of soda. You just have to find the opener,” says Grandy. “The second idea manifested itself in the bright colours and bold shapes.”

Soda Pop is a marked departure from Grandy’s previous design offerings – ornate, detailed, refined and, most of all, premeditated.

“And with this collection I tried to keep the silhouette still very elegant, still very classic but at the same time I’m using the collection as a canvas for exploring this creative process,” she explains. “How does it happen when you just sort of pick up a paintbrush and do your thing.”

Every single Soda Pop piece is hand-painted on embellished fabric, in the realm of realism with an undertone of control. Grandy’s goal of bringing art to the runway is realized.

The Vancouver Fashion Week veteran doesn’t pay attention to trends and confesses she has never been a follower in that regard, choosing instead to create her own drama in the design world.

“I think it’s important if you want to sell to have the pulse of the market – but a lot of the stuff we create for the runway, people want to come, they want a show, they want a spectacle,” says Grandy.

The self-taught designer learned to make her own clothes from a young age – not by choice but rather necessity. A classically trained musician who naturally has a small shape, Grandy couldn’t feel comfortable while sitting at the piano.

“So when it came to recitals and things like that I could never find anything that fit. So I started making clothes for my performances,” recalls Grandy, who grew up near Canyon Heights Elementary.

The first recital outfit Grandy designed was a muted green tube dress with some flair at the bottom. “Then I quickly learned that tube dresses are really bad for performances,” she says with a laugh.

Grandy worked in the finance world after university, later switching gears to become a full-time fashion designer.  “So far I’m really enjoying this,” she says.

Grandi’s Atelier creates two different lines: high-fashion runway, and an everyday essentials collection.

For the custom designs, every garment is handmade, tailored to each client and can take up to 200 hours to complete.

Grandy’s couture handiwork has earned her some high-profile publicity.

Not only did a stunts co-ordinator don one of Grandy’s designs at the Academy Awards, but her collection was also featured in a Vogue online editorial spread a couple years ago.

With Vancouver Fashion Week now underway at the David Lam Hall downtown, Grandy is excited to reconnect with her local fashion contemporaries.

“I think it is a great channel and a great gathering place for fashion in Vancouver,” says Grandy, adding she’s impressed by the strides VFW has made in terms of highlighting designers in this “young (fashion) city.”  

VFW showcases the talent of emerging and award-winning designers from across Canada and more than 25 global fashion capitals including the United States, Korea, Panama, Australia, Ukraine, Germany, Spain and Pakistan.

Grandy joins other North Shore fashion designers showcasing at VFW including West Vancouver’s Sam Stringer, whose futuristic custom-made evening gowns in metallic rust, teal, charcoal, and gold tones are out of this world.

Local jewelry designer Trudy Wynans, proprietor of Toodlebunny Designs, was chosen as one of five jewellers to present her collection in the  Sunday Showroom on Sept. 24.

Wynans will be presenting her ECOuture collection, which is focused on sustainable modern design, using recycled and vintage dead-stock elements.  

Meanwhile, Grandy can’t contain her excitement for Soda Pop’s premiere on Vancouver Fashion Week runway this Sunday at 5:30 p.m. She hopes the audience feels the sugar rush she’s bottled for this collection.

“If your fashion and your art can capture the flavour of the day – then people respond to it,” she says. 

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