Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I'm a bit of a Halloween killjoy. While others are plotting their club crawls, putting the finishing touches on their costumes, or prepping for a slasher movie marathon, I'm more likely to be found doing something low-key like dinner and drinks. (Last year's Halloween was actually a step above the usual because I went on the Stanley Park ghost train and saw Zombieland with the boy.) But even killjoys like myself who can't be bothered to wear a costume can don some dramatic faux lashes as a nod to the spirit of the holiday, and there's no better way to do that than with paper eyelashes from Noir Lash Lounge. The lashes are by artist Ting Yu Wang, who was inspired by Chinese paper cutting techniques and incorporated shapes like horses, peach blossoms and peonies into her designs. Retailing for $21-23, they're subtle enough for the office and the perfect finishing touch for your Lady Gaga outfit.
Speaking of Noir, if you're free this Saturday drop by their new Morgan Crossing location for the all-day grand opening celebration. Details are in the invite below.
What do you have planned for Halloween?
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
For those who are unfamiliar with it, the Bar Method is a workout program that combines exercises and movements derived from ballet, yoga, and pilates. Much of it involves small repetitive motions intended to isolate, tone, and lengthen muscles as well as strengthen your core. During class, the instructors made us do exercises with light weights that worked our biceps and triceps. We also did exercises at the barre for our calves, quads, and glutes, then moved on to pilates-inspired moves on the ground for core strength. Some exercises were definitely tougher than others. During the leg exercises, I was shaking from muscle fatigue at the barre and I wasn't the only one. Some of the BeautyMark folks later said their legs "were shaking like Elvis."
The workout definitely lived up to its reputation for being tough and effective. Over the next two days, soreness lingered in my upper arms and quads, and my abs ached a little whenever I coughed or sneezed. But was the Bar Method such a scary workout that it would intimidate beginners? Probably not. I don't consider myself to be particularly coordinated or fit, but I could follow along well enough, and the instructors are very helpful throughout the class in case you don't get it.
Oh, and did I mention the grade A facilities? Not being a gym-goer, I don't have much to compare it to, but the ladies locker room and studio are spectacular. New fixtures, fluffy towels, a sauna, and shower stalls equipped with Aveda toiletries. The studio floor features soft plush carpeting and the entire place still has that "newly renovated" smell.
The only drawback to the Bar Method is that the classes are relatively expensive compared to other fitness/recreational classes. Depending on whether you buy a class package or a monthly membership, the price per class can range from $5 (if you're a new client paying $100 for your first month, and you go 5 times a week) to $22 (if you do a single drop-in class). Their website breaks down the pricing schemas in further detail if you're interested.
I'd love to see the Bar Method work out a deal with neighbouring Yaletown businesses and offer their employees a discount. After all, the studio's location would be very convenient for Yaletown people leaving work. I might go back for a few classes at a time, but because of the cost and because I'd be taking the classes on top of yoga and salsa, I don't think this is something I can continue to do long-term.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
In today's haul video, I talk about the purchases I've made since coming back from New York. (You can see my fave buys from that trip in this video.) It's a pretty eclectic mix of items including:
- Sophie Kinsella's latest book. I finished reading it after shooting the video and it's definitely a worthy giggle-inducing entry in the Shopaholic series.
- Gloves to get me through the winter. Find out what "text gloves" are by watching the vlog.
- A seventies-inspired blouse from Zara.
- Boots from Joe Fresh. I've worn them a couple times since shooting the video. The leather uppers are well-constructed and the insoles are comfortable enough, but the outer soles don't stand up well to walking on pavement. In fact, after wearing them twice I had to bring them to a cobbler and get a rubber sole put on the bottom to prevent the shoes from getting ruined.
Monday, October 25, 2010
- Shirt, vest and bow brooch (H&M)
- Jeans (Banana Republic)
- Pumps (Paolo Corelli)
I wore this outfit in late September or early October when it was still sunny and dry outside, which meant that cuffed jeans, low-heeled pumps, and exposed ankles were weather-appropriate and not too chill-inducing. Now that it's raining hard and quite cold outside I keep defaulting to skinny jeans or leggings and boots--anything to keep myself cozy and dry! So much for my goal of experimenting with the "socks and sandals" look. At least I did get to try the "use brooch as an alternative to bow tie" look I mentioned in this haul video.
What's the weather like in your town at the moment? Are there any looks or style goals you didn't get a chance to try before the weather changed?
Friday, October 22, 2010
Friday October 1st marked a day of celebration for local Adhesif Clothing designer Melissa Ferreira. She hosted its inaugural solo fashion show at the intimate Jacana Gallery in South Granville. Guests were serenaded by the jazzy stylings of songstress Jackee Guillou and her double bass player, adding a touch of class to the evening. Then the show began – a parade of refreshingly alternative models from Morrismore Productions showcasing Adhesif’s Fall/Winter 2010 collection. Inspired by the 1930’s, the pieces were true to the label’s signature style, with vintage and recycled fabrics lovingly sewn together into one-of-a-kind garments that always have a sense of whimsy about them. And the colours! Ms. Ferreira has always shied away from the safe blacks and neutrals favoured by many other designers, choosing to revel in unusual colour and pattern combinations. Mixing plaid with stripes, overlaid with a dash of lace – why not?
Having known Ms. Ferreira for a number of years, I have watched her labour of love grow from a fledgling start-up business to the success that is it today. It is heartening to see a local talent find her niche in today’s attention-deficit fashion world of quantity over quality.
On this special occasion, I thought it would be an opportune time to chat with the designer and ask her a few, or rather, a lot of questions.
Q: What does Adhesif mean?
A: The short answer - "We stick to you" ;)
Q: What is your design philosophy/vision?
A: To create beautiful, handmade, one-of-a-kind garments full of personality made with high-quality reclaimed materials. Although style comes first when creating our designs, we also feel good about doing our part for the environment by reducing waste and reusing materials that are already in existence so that our clients can not only feel good but also look great.
Q: Have you always wanted to be a fashion designer?
A: No, I actually ran away from this path but it has always been there in front of me. I have always loved fashion--vintage clothing in particular--and the fact that my mother is an impeccable seamstress, but there are many other creative outlets I enjoy and have explored. A career in fashion ended up making more sense than some of my other talents so I ended up fusing many of my other creative ideas and putting more focus on this ability.
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from for each season?
A: My inspiration comes from many places, mostly vintage clothing, interesting but useless inventions, coffee, people watching, old films and music, last impressions, nature, color, texture, and love.
Q: Is each article of clothing individually designed and produced?
A: Yes, every Adhesif garment is meticulously designed and handmade by myself and my small team. With that said every single garment starts and ends with me. I personally source all the fabrics, care for them, deconstruct them and cut the pieces from the found materials. The garments are sent out to local home sewers and returned back to me for finishing details.
Q: How do you strike that balance between mass production and being commercially viable, versus maintaining the one-of-a-kind quality of your clothes?
A: I have struggled with the idea of "mass producing" one-of-a-kind pieces since the beginning of Adhesif. I have spent many years fine tuning my own sort of formula in being able to not only own a specific recognizable aesthetic but also create many of the same design that maintains that desirable "one of a kind" quality. I think the key is diversification within what is available, as well as versatility. Above all else I will always choose quality over quantity. In my mind it isn't necessary to have an abundance of something if it is only going to withstand one season. I strive to create quality goods that last a lifetime.
Q: How do you think the fashion retail industry has changed in light of technology?
A: As touched upon lightly in the last question, I think that almost everything in today's age is made to be disposable for the purposes of consistent and mass consumerism. As advancements in technology increase, the ability to create things that are faster, bigger and cheaper reduce the issue of quality control. Most big businesses tend to focus instead on volume. Anything "handmade" has become somewhat of a romantic notion, thus very desirable in a day where most things are made with machines.
Q: Do you find that more of your customers buy online versus in person?
A: No, certainly most people shop in person, especially now that we have a flagship location in Vancouver (2202 Main Street). Being that every piece has its very own personality, I think it is fun for the consumer to see all of the pieces up front. Also I think part of the experience is talking with the creator and getting "the story" behind every piece. With that said my online shop is definitely getting more and more traffic since the shop opened.
Q: Congratulations on your new store and inaugural fashion show! You’ve taken Adhesif to the next level. What is your next set of goals?
A: I have many goals both personal and professional. I would like to do more traveling for sure, and I would really like to expand on a men's line.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out as a designer?
A: Above all else, once you've found your niche/aesthetic, persistence and resourcefulness are key. I would suggest any designer out there to take a few business courses.
Q: And last but not least, what is one of your fashion guilty pleasures?
A: SHOES! :D
Thursday, October 21, 2010
My latest culinary experiments are both pastry-related. The apple pie pictured above is a test run pie for the one that I later made and brought to a friend's house for Thanksgiving dinner. For the crust, I used a simple pastry recipe from Everyday Food magazine that was published for a blueberry pie. Since I didn't have a satisfactory apple pie filling recipe on hand, I "consulted" Epicurious before deciding to wing it. The pastry on the test run pie turned out perfectly, but the filling needed a few tweaks. In the end the pie for the dinner turned out pretty well. One person said he liked a crust, and another person said the filling reminded her of apple sauce ("a good thing because I like apple sauce"). Hey, I'll take any compliment I can get! By the way, if you're curious about the secrets to a rich, flaky pastry, here they are: A pastry cutter. Cold butter and lots of it. Ice water added a little at a time. Don't overmix your ingredients.
So after figuring out pastry, it was on to Chinese egg tarts, a beloved dessert in my household. To make these, I used a jar lid to cut circles of pastry out and plopped them into a mini muffin pan. Then I followed this recipe to make the custard filling. Like the apple pie, it took two tries to get these right. The first time I made the mistake of greasing the muffin pan before putting the pastry in, which resulted in really buttery, greasy tarts. The second time I just put the pastry straight in, and while it still turned out very buttery and rich, the butter wasn't overwhelming and the tarts didn't feel as greasy. Despite the snafus and the fact that they look more like mini egg custard hockey pucks than tarts, my family loved them. Each batch has lasted less than two days, tops.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Months ago, a publicist offered me the chance to try out Caress's new Whipped Soufflé body washes in Blackberry Cream (a blend of blackberry and vanilla) or White Peach Cream (a blend of white peach and silk blossom). With the fragrance of each variety described in such mouthwatering terms, how could I resist? I agreed and a bottle of Blackberry Cream body wash was sent to me a month later. Delectable-sounding scent aside, this product also promises superior moisturization resulting in the silkiest skin ever from a drugstore body wash. Tall claims indeed for an affordable product that comes in a huge 443 ml bottle, and retails for approximately $5-10 Cdn.
I've been testing this product for the past two months to see if the moisturization benefits are as great as Caress claims, and I'm afraid they're not. To be fair, a body wash doesn't have a chance to absorb into skin like lotion does. On days when I skipped lotion and only used the body wash my skin definitely felt dry and tight. The fragrance was also a letdown. I was expecting something sugary, gourmand, and delightful, but the blackberry scent reminded me of the berry-flavoured Bubblelicious gum I used to chew in elementary school more than anything else.
However, this is a good option if you're on the lookout for a basic body wash that delivers great value. Only a small quarter-sized dollop is required to achieve a rich lather, which means it will last ages. I also like how the bottle stands upside-down so that you don't have to endure any "I keep squeezing and nothing comes out" nonsense. Just don't expect Caress Whipped Soufflé body wash to be a miracle in a bottle.
Has anyone else tried this body wash? What do you think of it?
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
In today's vlog, I'm highlighting my favourite purchases from my recent trip to New York Just a couple of notes:
- My enthusiasm about the "Holy Grail of denim leggings" and "the perfect Thanksgiving pants" may have eclipsed my attempts at being articulate. The "bulge" I talk about is that annoying bulge that a zip fly creates over your abdomen when you wear longer tops that cover your skinny jeans.
- As much as I love how the drawstring waist on the Uniqlo denim leggings feels, I hate the way it looks. These leggings can be worn as pants, but only with longer tops or tunics that cover the waist.
- The video compression may have obscured the leggings and made them look a lot darker. For a better look, here they are on the Uniqlo website. They're $19.90 US.
- I have a pet theory based on the Pythagorean theorem that the heel height (a^2) a woman can tolerate is based on the length of her foot (c^2, or the hypotenuse). Since I have small size 6 feet, in my experience I can't do heels more than 3" high, and even then the sole needs to have some sort of platform. Hence my remarks about the Prada heels being an engineering miracle.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Wow, a big thank-you to all the readers who entered my giveaway sponsored by DesignerApparel.com! It was so much fun to read about the outfits you'd wear the owl bangle with and imagine what they looked like. After tallying the entries and using random.org, the winner of the giveaway is...
So what would she wear it with?
"I think I would wear this with my high-waisted pegleg trousers, with an oversized white blouse tucked in, a leather belt, and either a slouchy cardigan or a blazer for some structured contrast."
It sounds like a chic, simple, on-trend ensemble that lets the owl bangle shine as a statement piece. Nicely done. Maggie, please email me for details on how you can claim your prize. For the rest of my readers, just a reminder that the giveaway for tickets to the Crème de la Crème wedding showcase is still happening until October 29th. The latest buzz from the organizers is that they've added an Oscar de la Renta runway show to the agenda. If you're as big a fan of his classic elegant looks as I am, you won't want to miss this.
Billboards and lookbook images have been plastered all over town for months now, and after a lot of anticipation, the Joe Fresh flagship store at 540 Granville St. finally opened on Wednesday. On Saturday they celebrated the opening with a huge street concert followed by a VIP party at night.
I'm almost embarassed to admit that the party was my third time in the store. On Thursday (the second day the store was open), I did a walk-through and came out with trouser socks, then returned later that night and got a pair of black motorcycle boots that reminded me of Frye boots. Fans of Joseph Mimran's line of affordably priced clothing and accessories won't be disappointed. Tees, tights, and cardigans in a variety of colours are available, yes, but so are on-trend items such as skinny cargos, faux fur jackets, embellished tees, and skinny patent belts. The price points will also gladden the hearts of fashionistas on a budget. For example, leather boots and silk tunic tops are available for under $100, the skinny belts are $6, and tights are only $5 a pair.
I always say it's a good party when you forget to take photos, and true to form I only have a handful from Saturday evening.
So, since this is an outfit post, I bet you're wondering what's underneath the teal Togs coat, aren't you?
- Lace top and black pencil skirt (CiCi)
- White cami (Zara)
- Black tights (Dynamite)
- Necklace (Forever 21)
- Heels (Prada)
- Purse (vintage, Saks Fifth Avenue)
I considered wearing the Joe Fresh motorcycle boots to the party, but I hadn't sprayed them with stain repellant yet (which I always do with new leather and suede shoes). Instead I took advantage of the sunny but chilly weather and wore the Prada suede booties I bought in New York. You'll hear more about both pairs of shoes in the vlogs slated to appear on my blog later this month!
Friday, October 15, 2010
- Blazer and patterned plum tights (Gap)
- Tie-neck bow-print blouse (H&M)
- Shorts (Forever 21)
- Bag (vintage Coach)
- Swear rings (Wendy Brandes)
- Black patent oxfords (American Apparel)
With Asian genes on my side, I tend to "look like I'm twelve" (to quote the boy) when I wear something too cutesy, so these days I'm actively trying to wean myself off of looks that skew toward the young side. This blouse is definitely on the edge of "too cute" territory, but in the end I decided I liked the print and detachable black bow too much to care.
Maybe I should accept that these sorts of items work for me and stop fighting it, and instead try styling girlish items in a more adult way. I tried doing that in this outfit by pairing the blouse with patterned tights, purple lipstick, and swear rings. But it needs more than subtle touches and accessories to look grown-up. The next time I wear it, I'm thinking denim leggings, a teal long-sleeve tee underneath the blouse, and motorcycle boots.
Do you ever find yourself gravitating towards a style you're trying to stay away from? Do you just embrace it or do you actively try to shift your personal style in another direction? How do you deal with it?
Thursday, October 14, 2010
The inaugural season of Vancouver's Eco Fashion Week finished with a blast from the past as Prophetik took centre stage. Hailing from Franklin, Tennessee, designer Jeff Garner finds plenty of inspiration in the lives of rural pioneers and how they had to mend their clothes and make do with what they already had. It was "sustainability borne of necessity," as he puts it.
It's not just their spirit of sustainability that Garner finds inspiring but the deeply romantic aesthetic of the past as well. His designs are infused with eclectic historical references ranging from Tennessee pioneers to pirates, Edwardians, and upper-class equestrians. Puffed sleeves, ankle-grazing hemlines, pleats, ruffles, and rows of small buttons lent many of his designs an antique touch. Small details--a backless cut on a long gown, an interesting pleat or drape here and there--kept the effect ethereal and prevented the collection from sliding into "costumey" territory.
So what else is remarkable about his designs? They're all created using sustainable fabrics and plant-based organic dyes in his cabin studio in Tennessee. The sumptuous ombré effect and rich hues of Prophetik's gowns and dresses come from nature, not chemicals.
The menswear and equestrian-inspired womenswear had some great pieces. Styled with more contemporary pieces, these items can easily lend a classic yet quirky touch to an ensemble.
At the end of the show, Garner himself walked the runway accompanied by a model in a cornflower blue gown (and crinoline!) while a bluegrass band played in the background. With Avatar director James Cameron and his wife Suzy among Garner's growing list of supporters, and a prestigious London Fashion Week debut to launch his career, you can be sure that the buzz around Prophetik will build to a deafening roar.
Want to learn more about Garner and Prophetik? This was the short film that played before his Eco Fashion Week show began.
And that concludes my EFWV coverage! I hope you've enjoyed these posts as much as I enjoyed the shows. Kudos to the organizers on a job well done, and to photographer Wayne Mah, who let me use his beautiful runway photos in this post and all the others.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream...or at least that was what came to mind while watching models sashay down the catwalk dressed in Nicole Bridger's spring/summer 2011 designs. Compared to the minimalist and neutral-heavy collections of seasons past, Bridger's latest offerings exuded a warm, jubilant, and downright summery mood. Perhaps it's the addition of sweet yet saturated colours reminiscent of sorbets, macarons, and gelato to her usual neutral palette. What a difference colour makes.
Although the use of colour was unusual, the construction and draping techniques used in the collection were quintessentially Bridger. Trust me when I say that these runway photos make her clothes look deceptively simple. You have to see them in person to appreciate how an inverted drape on a dress can add volume in an unusual way, or how one panel of jersey is flipped, tucked, and sewn into place to create a unique drape. Bridger cut her design teeth interning for Vivienne Westwood (whom she credits for her current love of draping and working with fabric) and her skills are on full display here.
My favourites from this collection were all in cornflower blue or peachy coral. They're ladylike yet sophisticated, minimal yet constructed with details that make you look twice. And the colour is just so eye-catching.
Of course, aside from the sweet confections above, Bridger also did dresses and separates in neutrals that would integrate well with any wardrobe.
It's been a big year for Bridger. Aside from cementing her status as one of the most prominent designers in Vancouver, she also received the inaugural FTA Design Award from Fashion Takes Action, an organization that recognizes and rewards eco designers for their efforts to make fashion more sustainable. Her prize included a spot in the Ethical Fashion Preview at New York Fashion Week. Congratulations Nicole!
All photos in this post by Wayne Mah.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
"Inhabitable spaces inspiring wearable pieces" is the motto behind designer and architect Lara Presber's namesake line, which is constructed from sustainable materials and manufactured in Canada. Each season's collection is inspired by the nuances of a building that has captured Presber's imagination. For spring/summer 2011, the building in question is the Art Gallery of Alberta, an intriguing structure composed of curved glass grids and scrolled metallic rooftops.
Presber's work stands on its own merit, but familiarity with the architectural inspiration behind her collection can intensify appreciation of it. One can see the curvatures of the scrolling metallic rooftops in the oversized panels that make up the necklines of her halter dresses. The black-and-white circle print chiffon--used in a wrap dress and as floaty decorative panels in one of the halter dresses--also evokes the curvature motif as well as the colour schema of the AGA.
By contrast, the plaid print and sharply slanting straight lines in her sheath dresses are reminiscent of the building's more angular traits. As trite as this sounds, I can't think of a better way to describe these looks than to say that they're "architectural," and I do mean that as a compliment.
If you'd like to learn more about Lara Presber, check out this interview from my blog archives.
All runway photos in this post by Wayne Mah.
Monday, October 11, 2010
The Vancouver Community College Fiat Mode XXIII Graduate Fashion Show was a milestone event for the twenty-one Fashion Arts students showcasing their final collections before receiving their diplomas and launching their careers. I scored VIP seating – second row centre stage, right behind Virginia Leeming! The show itself was no less impressive; I was pleasantly surprised by the uniformly high calibre of work shown. Kudos to all the graduates!
Some of the common themes I noticed:
The less is more philosophy was a prominent approach used by a number of the students, opting to keep lines simple, clean and neutral with masculine undertones. This austere look seemed easy to wear and comfortable as the pieces were loose fitting and layered, often finished off with flat-soled boots. Students who showed that minimalism doesn’t have to mean boring included Leah Mosoff, Nicole Obidowski, Quito Quinn, and Madeleine Scrutton.
IT’S IN THE DETAILS
For some collections, the interest lay in the quirky details. Jennifer Gagne took a whimsical approach towards design, using geometrical shapes and unusual features such as stringed loopholes more commonly found on manila envelopes. Ave Maria MacIntyre was looking into the post-apocalyptic future when thinking about what to wear, incorporating such details as silver threading, what looked like a cyber neck brace, and wire jewelry to add a distinctive edge to her pieces.
Nicole Mergaert and Robynne Redgrave both used texture to create unique three-dimensional pieces. Nicole used fabric string to drape around her simple dresses to create interest. Robynne also incorporated strings into her ensembles which gave them an airy light feel. Both students wisely kept their colour palettes simple and neutral, allowing the attention to be focused on the textured detailing.
What would a fashion show be without a bit of drama? Against the overall neutral palette of blacks and beiges, some students chose to grab the audience’s attention with bright, bold colours and cuts. Monica Fraser’s gorgeous indigo blue, emerald green and gold gowns were inspired by the peacock. Martha Ines Piedrahita looked to Spain for her bright red flamenco styled gowns and bolero jackets. Reyhaneh Sadat put together a sophisticated red, white and black collection influenced by the Far East.