Here is a profile of me written by Casey Wagar for Calgary Fashion. We had a nice chat and he made me sound so fab! Thanks To Casey and Kim and the Calgary Fashion team! xo!
Leah Van Loon – Style Legend
Words by Casey Wagar
Photography by Colin Way
When I met prominent Calgary stylist Leah Van Loon at Milk Tiger, she walked in looking every bit the part of someone who not only truly ‘gets’ fashion, but lives it. Dressed as if she just walked off the set of Mad Men, or Marc Jacob’s Fall 2010 collection for Louis Vuitton, Leah was wearing a 60s inspired dress, a well fitting bright orange cardigan (with lips to match), a small Louis Vuitton wrist clutch, leopard print flats and her signature cat eye frames. Not only did she look super chic, she looked like herself. Leah has rocked her unique style for years and wears it like a true original.
Leah is self taught and has been working in the Calgary fashion industry for over 10 years. Always having an interest in fashion and design, Leah began working in the local film and television costume industry when she first moved to Calgary. It was during this period that Leah really learned to shop. She often had to quickly go into a store and pick out tons of different items at once, in a short time period – skills that would serve her well years later personal shopping for clients.
After Leah left the film and television industry she spent five years working in fashion full time as a Women’s Wear Stylist at Holt Renfrew. Dressing mannequins seemed like it was meant to be as Leah spent many hours dressing Barbie (me too) as a young girl. Interestingly, it was always about Barbie’s closet – not her life. Who cares what Barbie had planned for the day? As long as she looked fabulous doing it.
After leaving Holt Renfrew, Leah decided to venture out on her own and today spends her time doing super cool and well received editorial work (check out her spreads in the September issue of Avenue and Outlooks) and styling for various advertisements and fashion shows – she’ll be in Toronto next week styling a show for Toronto Fashion Week. Leah also often works with her personal clients helping them rework their wardrobes (what she calls ‘closet editing’) and helping them dress for the many events that dominate Calgary’s social scene.
During our conversation, Leah points out how you can’t predict what’s going to happen in fashion or what’s going to come next. In an industry built on how quickly it changes, you have to be ready to constantly move forward. Although in fashion, looking forward usually involves looking to the past. When I asked what we can expect to become trends this year, she said that the 90s are back big time but interestingly so are the 60s, 70s and 80s. Confusing? Ya, a little. But not for an expert like Leah.
She also discusses how our constant exposure to ever changing trends and the fast paced direction fashion takes has given rise to what she calls “non seasonal dressing.” Leah explains that we should buy pieces that are going to last and that we can take from one season to the next. There are limitless ways to make older items in your closet look fresh by just paring them with one or two “it” items of the season – try something red this fall.
After spending a couple of hours learning about Leah (I could have easily stayed and talked for the rest of the night), I asked about her future and where she sees herself in the next few years. She describes some of her many other interests and what she might like to focus on in the future in regards to fashion and design: “I still have so many cool things to learn – that’s the exciting thing.”