Seeing her designs on the runway was a surreal experience for Kamloops artist Kristina Benson, whose wearable art has made a big splash since its quaint debut at Art in the Park in 2016.
Benson worked non-stop for the past three months to ready her latest collection for Vancouver Fashion Week, where her new designs debuted on March 21.
The 10-minute show was the result of hundreds of hours of work and a milestone for the visual artist turned clothing designer.
Benson is an Emily Carr graduate who made the transition to designing textiles nearly two years ago, turning her hand drawings and paintings into mesmerizing collections of yoga leggings and kimonos.
“The whole event and experience and event was surreal — 110%,” she said. “It’s such a proud moment because I’ve worked so so so hard with everything that I’ve done over the last year and a half.
“To let myself enjoy that moment of walking down the runway, proudly saying ‘This is my work,’ it’s extremely rewarding.”
Benson was invited to participate an as an emerging designer in Fashion Week after inquiring about getting involved last year. Her work stood out among Fashion Week designers from around the world because she creates her own fabrics from scratch, making each design a one-of-a-kind piece.
Every design also comes with a message that is rooted in Benson’s original idea to wear her intentions.
“It definitely stood out and throughout the show I had people coming up to me saying how memorable it was and how it really stood out as being something very unique in the entire show. I got that feedback quite a few times,” Benson said.
“So that, I felt so much satisfaction after literally working without days off for about three months in a row. I really feel like what I do, on an international stage now, or a larger stage, is truly unique.”
The collection, Inspired Intentions, launched on the day of the runway show, and is available on Benson’s website.
While Benson said she had some nerves about bringing her designs to an international showcase, a Kamloops connection backstage helped her feel a little more at home.
Ken Kozuki, the owner and artistic director of Kamloops’ Ra Hair Studio, was on the Redken hair styling team at Vancouver Fashion Week and created the hair looks for all eight of Benson’s models.
“It was kind of a nice bonding moment. Here we are, these Kamloopsians, little small town peeps in this big show. But we both made a good presence, so it was kind of cool,” Benson said.
“It felt really good just having that other Kamloops connection down there.”