Whitehorse Warms to Vintage Fashion


Ivan Sayers, Vancouverite and prodigious collector of antique and vintage clothing, is set to show Whitehorse how to stay warm. His fashion show, Keep Me Warm, organized by the Northern Fibres Guild of Whitehorse, shows the practical side of vintage style.

The “warmth” aspect of the show means wool and fur clothing, fibres that are essential to life in the North. Iconic, cold-weather garments will be on display, from pheasant-feathered hats to beaver-fur muffs.

Years ago, Sayers performed a fashion show to the vintage-savvy in Whitehorse, and they are happy to bring him here again. His knowledge of vintage clothing is unparallelled and his collection grand enough to make those with even a passing interest in fashion take notice.

This time, he will be coming to Whitehorse with his fashion troupe consisting of models Mary Lou Rust, Cindy Kravchenko, Graefin Mechtildes von Schwerin and Margaret Duckham, his “dresser”. Not to be outdone, two local Whitehorse models, Honey Lee Giesbrescht and Naomi Grey, are also set to join the show.

It is Sayers’ interest in the history of his pieces that makes this different from your traditional fashion show. A 20-year career with the Vancouver Museum gave him an added appreciation for the people who wore the fashions.

As an anthropologist can learn much about a society from studying ancient tools and pottery, Sayers finds similar insights from the fashions from various periods in history. His own collection dates back to the 1800s, providing the full spectrum of vintage apparel. Vancouver is his “big hunting ground”, and anyone there with a taste for vintage clothing knows him well.

Judith Voswinkel, from the 41-member Guild, is tasked with organizing the fashion show. “The show has been a year in planning,” she says. In the past, the Guild has stuck with workshops and lectures, never a fashion show quite like this.

“We had to bring him up here to show us the versatile nature of textiles, as the Guild was originally a weavers’ guild and we now practise with many textiles,” says Voswinkel.

The show proceeds with Sayers out front discussing the clothes, fabrics and history of the piece. This is Sayers’ opportunity to share his knowledge and enthusiasm. His fascination with how the fashions fit in the larger historical picture is immediately evident.

Then the model enters and further discussion of the fashion itself can begin. It provides something interesting for both history buffs and those with a keen eye for fashion. Sayers’ explanation, describing how the two realms tie together, tops off the experience.

It’s a true Yukon experience, and Whitehorse is fortunate the historic Northern Fibres Guild is interested in bringing Sayers back. Remembering the importance of earthy fibres, even fur, brings fashion back to its roots.

The fashion show stars at 7:30 on Saturday, Sept. 12 at the Yukon Arts Centre. Tickets can be obtained at Arts Underground or the Yukon Arts Centre.

The Guild is also hoping to do an exhibition at Arts Underground next spring.

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