By HARJIT THIARA
Every so often, there is a designer whose entire collection takes your breath away. Sarah Runnalls is one. With clothes that speak for themselves, she has made quite an impact since her debut in Vancouver Fashion Week. Hailing from Victoria, her passion, drive and creativity have allowed her to be a young emerging designer seeing success on the horizon. Runalls' creativity has always been a part of her life. At the age of 14, she was "cutting up sheets" and designing. She has participated in many small scale fashion shows and put together her first solo show in 2007. It was during this time she began to sell her creations at Ayden Gallery, a relationship that continues today.
A professional fashion education was important to Sarah, so she enrolled at the Helen Lefeaux School of Fashion Design. Here she was able to learn and apply intricate detailing which brought a touch of couture to her work. The "couture technique can be seen in the hand stitching and finishing" within trend savvy silhouettes, carefully selected fabrics, garment construction and architecturally clean designs. When the school closed a year later, Blanche Macdonald embraced Sarah and her class mates, allowing them to continue their creative endeavors. She graduated in 2009 with an award for Outstanding Achievement in Design.
For Runnall, winning the New Generation Competition was the start of exposing her technical skill, passion and attention to detail. She has since shown two collections at Vancouver Fashion Week. Unique combinations and contrasts were visible in her first fashion week collection. In her Fall 2010 line, black and white dominated the catwalk with strong shapes and lines emphasizing the architecture as an influence and beautiful "fabrics which are a source of influence." The combining of wools, silks, organzas and chiffons allowed the collection to have a variety of styles, yet stay cohesive as a line.
Silhouettes undoubtedly play an integral part in Runnalls' designs. "I decide where I want the shape and structure to fit and follow through the rest of the design". Fall 2010 can be described as "gothic but with a touch of pretty". For Spring 2011, the look is completely different with a palette of colors where nude tones compliment the "feminine, lady-like styles." Each is carefully crafted. She begins with "loose ideas, sketching, drawing, editing, coming up with a collection, to pattern making and production" and is deeply involved in all areas of her collection. Being so hands-on has allowed her to offer custom work. Tailored essentials like the suit are an important part of these designes. With a touch of femininity and unique detailing she has been able to transform classic staples into more trend savvy pieces such as her "Winged Blazer." Seeing the end result and look of satisfaction on her clienteles face is important to Runnalls as a designer.
To have her own line has been a dream come true for this fresh, young designer. Exploring the international fashion scene is not too far off in the future. It's safe to say Sarah Runnalls is here to conquer.