World News It's All Relative Did You Know? Opinion On The Streets
Jamil Karim is On the Streets again, but this time with a mission to hook up with some of the top designers being featured at the 2010 Vancouver Fashion Week. Imagine his surprise when we told him that he would be speaking with James Steward, a much sought after designer whose work has attracted celebrity clients such as Kylie Minogue and Victoria Beckham.

James Steward is an independent fashion designer based in Leeds, UK. Twice winner of ‘Yorkshire Brides Couture Designer of the Year’ for his bespoke wedding dress designs, James has been described as “setting a breathless fashion pace, together with reaching devastating new heights in couture wedding gown design”.

James stocks his Ready-to-Wear label at boutiques around the UK, and to the international on-line boutique, creating four collections a year.

Influenced heavily by fashion history and creative pattern cutting, James’ designs are both timeless and feminine. Each individual piece is born from a long research process, enabling the wearer to feel comfortable, feminine and deliciously attractive.

James’ S/S11 collection can be enjoyed at Vancouver Fashion Week from 3 – 8 November, 2010, while pieces from his A/W10 collection are now available to purchase. For further information visit:

James Steward at Vancouver Fashion Week:
Showing Sunday, 7th November 2010 at 6.00pm
Empire Landmark Hotel, 1400 Robson Street, Vancouver

Interview With James Steward:

Lisa Jayne Dann has been called “The Queen of Leeds Independent Fashion”.  So would it be fair to call you the “King of Wedding Dress Fashion” given how successful your wedding dress designs have become?
[Laughter]. I wouldn’t quite say I’m royalty! Probably more like the Court Jester if anything

Come on! I think you gotta give yourself some more credit than Court Jester!
[Laughter]. For the Yorkshire Brides Designer of the Year, we designed a wedding dress out of hessian and it caused a bit of a ripple among the Yorksire Bridal Designers. There a lot of hardcore traditionalists who like the dresses made out of silk and embroidered lace, so there was a bit of a fit about it.

You’re designs have attracted a number of clients, including Kylie Minogue and Victoria Beckham. Does it get much bigger than that in the UK?
They’re massive stars and it was certainly great. The coverage from that alone was great and there are other stars that I would love to dress as well. Victoria Bekcham dresses herself now [she has her own fashion label] so I don’t think I’ll be doing that one again. It was quite a long time ago and it was when I was just starting out. I was given this assignment and I was like “Oh my god, that’s amazing!” It was a great privilege.

Twice you’ve been named the “Yorkshire Brides Couture Designer of the Year”. Congratulations on being a multiple time winner, and what does winning an award like that do you for your career, and how does it affect your brand moving forward?
Thank you! The award propelled me into bridal wear, which I wasn’t really in before. Now I've got people coming to me for wedding dresses, and I hadn’t really planned on moving into the bridal scene, so it’s all just happened from there. After I won the award, I got my name into the bridal magazines and it sort of snowballed a bit from there.

What’s your biggest influence as a designer?
I would have to say fashion history. The work I did when I was in Italy [at Gattinoni Couture] has had a big influence on what I do now.

This is the first time designers from the UK are coming to Vancouver Fashion Week. What does this mean to you and what type of opportunity does this provide for your brand?
Well, I’m very excited about coming to Vancouver. The opportunity itself is something that I never dreamed would happen. It was suggested to me about 6-7 weeks ago, and I said, “I’d love to do it, but I can’t possibly afford it”. And that’s when Leeds jumped on board and they’ve been behind us all the way. It’s been fantastic and I’m hoping to get more out of it than just an amazing experience. I’m hoping I get a chance to push my brand to go Trans-Atlantic, especially into the Far East.

Also, we've had great support from Marketing Leeds [Leeds' strategic marketing organization] who have funded the initiative to come out to Vancouver. They've been instrumental in allowing me and Lisa to come out here

What was your experience at Gattinoni Couture like?
As I stated earlier, it’s probably had the biggest influence on the work I do now. I think if I hadn’t gone there, I wouldn’t be doing what I do today.

You recently teamed up with Rebecca Charles at “Clash of the Titans”. What was it like working with her? 
Clash of the Titans was something we did for Shopping Week. Obviously working with Becky was great; she’s a fantastic hairdresser. There was a small group of people that were chosen [to attend] rather than people who would come to the opening with an envelope.

This seemed like more of an intimate event and should be a contrast to what you will see at Vancouver Fashion Week. Do you prefer showing off your new line in a more intimate setting or on a larger scale?
Definitely on a larger scale. I like the theatrics of the show and the sets and things like that.

Given how much you’ve accomplished, what is the best moment you’ve had as a designer?
This is a tough one! Something happens each year that gets better and better. This year it would have to be Vancouver. Last year, I was chosen to design two wedding dresses for [British TV show] Coronation Street for the actual wedding on TV. On the night of the wedding, it was my design that was seen by millions of people around the country.

You’ve worked with some of the biggest stars in the UK and you’ve been featured in several high profile magazines. What is the next hurdle for you to tackle in the fashion industry?
My ultimate goal would be to dress someone at the Red Carpet at the Oscars. I think from that point onwards, the amount of people that would see it, it would just go global.

Lastly, on a scale from 1-10, how excited are you for VFW?
About 15 [Laughter].


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