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vancouver fashion week

If there’s anything more exciting than sweater weather and the change in leaves, it’s the advent of the long awaited fashion showcases. This year, alumna Lea Freni (‘15) was invited to participate in Vancouver Fashion Week, one of the most prestigious exhibitions in the world, drawing over 25,000 guests annually. The 2015 VFW took place from September 29th to October 4th; and on the first day of October, Freni showcased her clothing line VOGEL’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection “Cypher”, an origami inspired line in collaboration with Origami artist Uyen Nguyen.

VOGEL, which translates into "bird" in German, is a rising contemporary womenswear brand based in New York. “The VOGEL aesthetic is very clean,” says Freni. “There's a lot of mathematical intricacy, but I think there's definitely an element of femininity and complexity. It's sort of a balance of the ethereal and architectural.”

Freni, with a BS in Fiber Science and Apparel Design, along with Nyugen, an origami artist with a BS in chemical engineering from Cooper Union, utilized their complementary skills in combining origami mechanics and dynamic polymorphic garments, creating the collection it is today. While Freni is in charge of the silhouette, colors, and apparel specific components, Nyugen focuses more on the pleating pattern, accessories, and fabrication process.

The VOGEL style focuses on precision. From the initial design to the final product, the designers consider calculations, technicalities, and scientific laws of origami. Each origami pleating pattern and folding technique, developed by Nyugen, spells out VOGEL in the Morse code. Melding craft and technology, VOGEL is an intersection of order and enigma and underlying structures, using a more cross-disciplinary approach.

Freni was first approached during her senior year, after representatives saw her thesis collection. Though she interned at New York Fashion Week, this was Freni’s first time in the spotlight. She thrived on the energy and hustle of working backstage with all of the models, directing makeup and perfecting her looks. The designers were given two dressing rooms, and wore their lab coat “uniforms” while backstage.

Nyugen experienced a moment of realization during the dress rehearsal. “When the first model walked down stage, the whole scene was beautiful. Here I thought, wow, this is actually happening.” Similarly for Freni, she was made conscious of her success was whilst shopping in the city of Vancouver, when a group of people asked if they were VOGEL. “This was the first time I had public recognition, especially in a foreign country,” Freni explained.

Because of the copious amount of time spent with each individual piece, choosing a favorite is “really difficult, like choosing between [our] children.” A few top contenders include the Octellium Bag, one of Nyugen’s favorites, and the Infinity Top, Freni’s pick – which also happened to be the show opener.

With these extravagant and meticulously planned pieces, towards what audience is VOGEL targeted? Freni explains her line is intended for “a woman who is ambitious and self-assured, someone who has an appreciation for the role of the human hand and certainly the human mind in her garments. The VOGEL woman navigates the world with a quiet but commanding elegance; I strive to develop silhouettes that celebrate the wearer without detracting from her individual presence.”

In retrospect, the founders believe it’s important to stay flexible. Anything can happen; proof in point, the majority of the models (who the clothes were made fitted to), dropped out 3 days before, leaving them to scurry for models last minute. But you’d never be able to tell – the show was executed flawlessly.

Currently, VOGEL is working on promoting shooting its Spring 2016 lookbook and expanding their handbag line, which features its versatile Octennium Bag. These geometric leather handbags are designed to “have the ability to adjust their volume and shape to the user’s needs and preference.”

Always a proponent of precision and efficiency, Freni leaves purpose-driven advice to aspiring designers: “It’s important to know why you want to be in design; it’s a very oversaturated market that uses a lot of resources, so make sure to know your reason for using them.” 

For more about VOGEL, please visit http://www.vogelapparel.com/