Fashion's Night OUT! Vancouver

This promises to be a great fundraiser event for an even better cause. Here's what the organizers have to say about what attendees can expect, as well as how Fashion's Night OUT! Vancouver will help LGBT teens and fight bullying:

"Out in Schools is an organization that is dedicated to working with schools to break down stereotypes about homosexuality, eliminate homophobia, and make schools a safe haven for youth by engaging students and faculty to rally around a relevant and important cause.

"Guests of Fashion’s Night OUT! will be treated to a one-off fashion show put on by The Hudson Bay Company’s celebrated and critically successful White Space in Yaletown’s V Lounge on March 8, 2011 along with a cocktail reception, stunning silent auction, live DJ, and exclusive gift bags. The event will include a fashion show and a short video presentation. Two hundred tickets will be sold with 100% of the proceeds going to Out in Schools."

Event: Fashion’s Night OUT
Date: Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Time: 19:00-22:00 (7:00-10:00 pm)
Venue: V Lounge at Earl’s Yaletown
Pricing: $20 with all proceeds going to Out in Schools
Tickets: Available for purchase online at

Q&A with Margarita Angelatos, Designer of Red Jade and Peridot Kiss

Margarita Angelatos continues to impress local fashion observers season after season with her impeccable work on not one but two lines, Red Jade and Peridot Kiss. Using a myriad of sustainable luxurious fabrics, Angelatos makes clothes that strike a balance between structured tailoring and loose draping. Her designs are rife with unexpected details like oversized buttons, funnel collars and box seams on sundressses. I had a chance to catch up with her for a quick Q&A about her spring collections.

How did you first become interested in fashion design?
At a very young age, I believe. At 5 I designed and sewed my Barbie Doll outfits.

What prompted you to begin designing an eco-friendly line using natural and sustainable materials? What are some of the benefits and challenges you've encountered in doing so?
I have always gravitated toward natural nabrics even before designing and love the feel of them. When I was in design school, it was brought to my attention how much petroleum was used for fabrics and also all the chemicals that were used to treat them. One of my instructors at the time who had previously worked in the textile industry was extremely ill. I believed this illness was correlated to the time she had worked with the harsh chemicals used in the mill.

The challenges of using eco-fabrics are the availabilty and cost of the fabrics. The benefits are countless. Not only does it leave a lighter footprint on the earth, it leaves a better future for my children.

You're now the founder and designer for two lines, Red Jade and Peridot Kiss. Can you talk about what characterizes each line and the similarities and differences between them?
Red Jade is a sophisticated and ultra feminine line that uses "eco-luxurious" fabrics. This line is about bringing out an individual's inner beauty while being mindful of the environment. Peridot Kiss is what I call my hemp eco chic "on the go line." This affordable chic line is meant for the stylish busy woman who is on the go and loves comfort.

If I had to choose a favourite "wear all the time" piece from Red Jade's spring/summer 2011 collection, it would be...Shinoh capris made from hemp and organic cotton.

If I had to choose a favourite "wear all the time" piece from Peridot Kiss's spring/summer 2011 collection, it would be...The Zena Wrap dress.

Where do you see eco fashion in 5 years? In 10 years?
I see the pricepoint coming down in the future as fabrics become more readily available, and more large labels going more green at a bigger scale. In 10 years, I see eco fashion as where recycling is today, where most people in developed countries see it as part of their norm to buy eco clothing.

What's next for you, personally and/or professionally?
The sky's the limit.

All photos in this post by Wayne Mah.

Malene Grotrian Giveaway

Malene Grotrian is one of my favourite Vancouver designers. Danish by birth, she studied fashion design in Denmark and Italy before moving to Vancouver. Her remarkable talent, her knowledge of how to make clothes that fit and flatter a woman's figure, and her keen business acumen have taken her to the top of the local fashion scene. Aside from being a fantastic designer, Malene is also one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people you'll ever meet.

The last time I ventured into her studio to interview her for an article for Vancouver Fashion eZine, I spotted a shirtdress that I just had to try on. Even before I did up the zipper and all the buttons, I could tell by the way it skimmed over my body that it would be a perfect fit. When I looked in the mirror, I was awed by how it was as though the dress had been custom-made for me. Malene's clothes have a way of making their wearers feel womanly and elegant, and I certainly feel that way when I wear this dress and slip on a pair of pumps.

Now one lucky Solo Lisa reader will get to experience that same feeling of elegance and womanliness for herself. Malene Grotrian is kindly giving away a $200 gift certificate to spend at the studio.

The rules:
  1. This giveaway is open to Lower Mainland residents only.
  2. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me why you love Malene Grotrian's clothes by Friday, March 4th at 12pm Pacific time.
  3. One winner will be chosen randomly.
  4. The gift certificate expires April 30, 2011.

The Consonant Healthy Detox for Body Kit winner is...

Congratulations! I'll be sending you an email very shortly so that you can claim your prize. A big thank-you goes out to everyone who entered the giveaway, and to Consonant in particular for sponsoring it.

For those who'd like to try this organic skincare line for themselves, you still have a chance to do so for free. On February 24th, 25th, and 26th, Consonant is sponsoring a nationwide hand cream trade-in. Basically, bring any used non-Consonant hand cream in to a participating retailer, and they'll swap it for a brand new tube of Organic Hand Cream for free. (It has to explicitly say "hand cream" or "hand lotion" on the packaging--body lotions and facial moisturizers won't be accepted.) Within Vancouver, BeautyMark will be doing Consonant hand cream trade-ins for the first 25 customers who ask for it.

In other news, if you missed out on this giveaway, you won't want to miss out on my next one. Hint: it involves one of my favourite local designers and the prize is worth $200. Stay tuned.

Eco Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2011

Mark your calendars for the second season of Eco Fashion Week on February 23-25. I had a great time covering the shows last season, which featured some of the best Vancouver design talents who just happened to use sustainable, eco-friendly fabrications for their pieces. It'll be a pleasure to attend again; will I see you there?

When: Feb 23 – 25th
Where: SALT Building in the LEED Platinum certified Olympic Village, Vancouver

Over 40 exhibitors and 20 designers will be there, including 2010 Eco Men’s Designer of the Year Jeff Garner and his line, Prophetik.

VIP passes can be purchased for $85, which includes all night on the 23rd and the 24th plus access to the "industry only" trade show on the 25th. VIP passes can be purchased from from Feb 14th – 18th (that means today's the last day!). Individual show tickets are $20. Tickets can be purchased from the Eco Fashion Week website.

Product Review: Maybelline Pulse Perfection Vibrating Mascara

Vibrating wands are just one of many trends in the mascara world lately. The makers of such mascaras imply that the vibration action separates, defines and lengthens each lash in a way that manually applying mascara doesn't. But do they really work? I had the chance to find out. Since my beloved Cover Girl Lash Blast Length was reaching the end of its shelf life, I cast about for a new mascara and found a new tube of Maybelline Pulse Perfection Vibration mascara on my bookcase. (It was amidst a bunch of unopened beauty products I'd accumulated from goodie bags for various events.)

Unfortunately, Maybelline's Pulse Perfection mascara disappointed on many counts. The vibration was minor, made little difference to my lashes, and was no substitute for good application technique. Instead of relying on the wand to do all the work as I swept the applicator through my lashes, I alternated manually wiggling the brush back and forth with pressing the vibration button.

The brush has sparse, short bristles. Combined with the tar-like texture of the formula, it made for clumpy, goopy results. I had to comb my lashes out, then sweep a wet Q-Tip over my eyelid to clean off traces of mascara. My lashes looked reasonably good at the end, but I was annoyed at the extra cleanup effort. What's more, the mascara formula proved to be smudgey as the day wore on. It left a dark shadow in the undereye area and made me look more sleep-deprived than I already was. Not attractive.

Considering the Pulse Perfection mascara retails for around $20 at drugstores (signficantly more than the average drugstore mascara), I'd say that pulsating wands are more of a gimmicky money-grab than a makeup must-have. After two days, I got sick of this mascara and tossed it in the trash.

Have you tried any vibrating wand mascaras? What do you think of them?

P.S. Only 1 day left to enter my Consonant Body giveaway. Have you done it yet?

Q&A with Angela Saxena, Designer of Lav and Kush

Local label Lav and Kush prides itself on its drapey feminine designs. Dubbed "the flirt of sustainable fashion" and named after Hindu demi gods of the woods, Angela Saxena's line has provided Vancouverites their eco fashion fix for several years and is still going strong. I had a chance to catch up with Angela for a quick Q&A about her inspiration and her spring/summer 2011 collection.

How did you first become interested in fashion design?
I first became interested as a little girl, drawing in my father's medical books. I would draw nurses with pretty little outfits in all his books. I have sketches from as early as 6-7 years old. Biggest claim to fame when I was young was having my designs featured for "Betty and Veronica" in Archie comic books!

What prompted you to begin designing an eco-friendly line using natural and sustainable materials? What are some of the benefits and challenges you've encountered in doing so?
I became fond of eco materials around '07 when I realized how damaging conventional materials are to the environment. I always had a mission to create a clothing line that meant something, had a deeper purpose. Some challenges are the lack of diversity of color and prints. [Fabric selection is] advancing but slowly. The cost is also more than synthetics, just like with organic produce vs. conventional, but it is sooo worth it. Consumers more and more understand the value. They're also super soft and luxurious--beautiful drape, highly addictive, biodegradable, less taxing on the environment, breathable...the benefits go on and on.

Can you talk a bit about the aesthetic and philosophy behind Lav and Kush?
We are the "flirt" of eco fashion. We design for the sexy confident woman who will not sacrifice style for her eco consciousness. She loves to look fantastic and feel great in the beautiful fabrics we use. All our fabrics feel great on the skin (hence the "addict" part!). All our pieces are designed with figure flattering details, very feminine yet incredibly comfortable, very versatile.

We also donate a percentage of sales to various non-profits. Fashion should give back! We will be doing more events next year and partnering with different non-profits to raise awareness. It's very important to us to unite our brand with these wonderful non-profits. We really believe in creating a "community" which is why we encourage feedback from our retailers and consumers--open dialogue. Let us know what you think!

If I had to choose a favourite "wear all the time" piece from the spring/summer 2011 collection, it would be [blank] because...
I love our ruffle jersey jumper with dual ruffles down the front. It's sassy and so comfortable. You can easily dress it up or down, wear it with boots in the fall and a jacket (or top underneath) or in the summer with flats. Also our fitted sexy little denim colored linen jacket. Cut almost equestrian style, it gives a great hourglass shape, and again can be dressed up or down.

Where do you see eco fashion in 5 years? In 10 years?
Mainstream. It is growing. We will see more diversity in fabrics and probably will not be called "eco" fashion. Just fashion.

What's next for you, personally and/or professionally?
Well, being extremely ambitious, we hope to grow the brand internationally with our own production facilities in various countries, have a men's division, and have Lav and Kush becoming a household brand! Inspiration comes in many forms, and who knows what next year may hold...a Lav and Kush kids line! Stay tuned!

For more information about Lav and Kush, check out the label's website. The photos featured in this post are from the spring/summer 2011 Eco Fashion Week shows and taken by Wayne Mah. And speaking of Eco Fashion Week, Lav and Kush will be showing their fall/winter 2011 collection on Wednesday February 23rd at 8pm.

Today's Outfit: Winter Sunshine

  • Joe Fresh cardigan
  • Zara cami
  • Anthropologie skirt
  • Dynamite tights
  • Aldo boots
  • Claire's pearl stud earrings
  • Coach heart pendant necklace

Dreary weather (along with a brief bout of sickness and some major stress) have brought on a serious case of the winter blues lately. What to do to counteract it? Rest, good food, and time with the boy are reliable remedies. Another way to perk myself up is to dress myself into a better mood. Wearing bright colours, interesting accessories or lipstick always make me feel better. After all, with the whimsical Japanese doll print on this yellow skirt and a cashmere cardigan, how can I think anything except happy thoughts?

Do you ever dress up to deliberately brighten your mood?

P.S. Happy Valentine's Day! Whether you're single or you have a significant other, do something good for yourself and your skin by entering the Consonant Healthy Detox for Body kit giveaway.

Consonant Healthy Skin Detox for Body Giveaway

The generous folks of Toronto-based organic skincare line Consonant are offering a Healthy Skin Detox for Body Kit to one lucky Solo Lisa reader.

Valued at $49, the kit contains a 125ml Organic Foaming Face Wash, a 250ml Organic Body Lotion, and a 250ml Organic Body Wash. Consonant uses organic natural ingredients in high concentrations to achieve younger-looking, healthier skin without the use of irritants, artificial fragrances, or harsh chemicals. I had the privilege of trying their 30 Day Challenge Kit and loved their products so much that I'm still using them. It's just a great skincare line, period.

This giveaway is open to readers in Canada and the US. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me what you do to pamper your skin. The contest ends Friday February 18th at 12pm Pacific time; a winner will be chosen randomly. Good luck!

Lady Orchids Brings the Day Spa Experience to Mt. Pleasant

Tucked away on West Broadway and Manitoba Street, Lady Orchids day spa seems just as unassuming as its surrounding Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. The atmosphere inside is unpretentious with its clean, straightforward premises and relatively simple purple-and-gold decor schema. Lady Orchids has been open since fall 2010, but I hadn't heard of it until I was invited to experience their signature 'Posh Mount P' facial for myself. The facial promises to steam and clean while making you dream: exfoliation, steam treatment, plus European massage techniques to de-stress. I've had a pretty hectic start to the new year, so all of it sounded good to me.

Jennifer Lomax inside one of Lady Orchids's back rooms

My esthetician, Jennifer Lomax, ushered me into one of the back rooms where I draped a towel around my shoulders and prepared myself. Most of the products that were used contained natural gentle ingredients meant to bring out skin's natural glow. A gentle oil cleansing preceded an exfoliation treatment using a rice bran pineapple papaya product (the enzymes do wonders to slough off dead skin cells). Then it was time for a steam treatment, a pink rejuvenating mask, and a scalp massage. At regular intervals, hot towels (fresh from the towel sterilizer next to the bed) were placed on my face to further open pores. The whole point of the Posh Mount P is relaxation, so there wasn't a lot of talking and she didn't do any extractions. But silence is golden, and pretty soon I was half dozing.

Jennifer also used the Up5 machine, a state-of-the-art facial apparatus imported from Korea, on me as an additional treatment. The machine features different facial modes and pulses to massage and firm skin. Even if you're skeptical about its claims, the Up5 is worth using for the hilarity of the automated female voice that chirps "Eye zone mode!" and "Massage mode!" as it switches to the next phase.

As a new salon, Lady Orchids is not without its growing pains. During my facial, the power went out because of ongoing construction upstairs. Jennifer and her colleague spent a good 15-20 minutes figuring out how to turn the power back on and left me alone with a face mask on. But they handled the snafu with professionalism and grace, and it didn't interfere greatly with my spa experience. I still emerged from it feeling calm and blissful.

A big thank you to the staff of Lady Orchids for my relaxing facial. For more information about their services and products, or to book a treatment, visit their website.

Hump Day Hodgepodge

Happy Wednesday everyone, and special greetings in particular to the new readers who've dropped by via Already Pretty! In case you haven't seen it yet, gorgeous blogger Sal of Already Pretty did a fantastic round-up post where bloggers discussed guidelines for work wear across the spectrum, including yours truly. Drop by and check out what we have to say about how we dress for our jobs, and do take the time to add your two cents to the comments.

If you're looking for something else to read, the February 2011 issue of Vancouver Fashion eZine is now online. This month, I had the privilege of writing about dace, the eponymous local label by Dace Moore which is celebrating its tenth anniversary. So what do they have up their sleeve to commemorate this special milestone? You'll have to read the article to find out.

Vestal 'Rosewood' Bangle Watch

My office has a corporate discount rate through a Belgian chocolatier for Valentine's Day. The candy choices range from $4 hearts to a box of chocolate weighing in at a whopping one kilogram. Yes, you read that right--a kilo of chocolate. The general consensus on my team seems to be "If someone bought me a kilo of chocolate, I'd punch them in the face." Seriously, no joke. As my manager puts it, "I'd rather get jewelry. No calories."

Guys, if you'd rather get kisses of gratitude than flying fists of fury from your girlfriends, consider the Vestal 'Rosewood' bangle watch ($140). Part statement accessory, part timepiece, it's a fun alternative to the classic watch that won't break the bank. The Rosewood comes in different finishes, but my personal favourite is the ebony wood because it looks luxurious and reminds me of the sleek wooden chairs I like to ogle in interior design stores somtimes.

What are you getting your sweetheart for Valentine's Day?

Today's Outfit: Easy Work Ensemble #4

  • CiCi sweater dress
  • H&M necklace
  • American Apparel leggings
  • Kate Spade rain boots

The requirements:
  1. It had to be work-appropriate but look equally at home in a nice restaurant.
  2. It couldn't wrinkle as the day wore on and had to be comfortable.
  3. The weather forecast called for rainy and chilly, so the outfit had to be warm and, well, rain-proof.
All things considered, I don't think I did too badly. I wore this outfit last Friday for work followed by a Dine Out reservation at Bacchus. The accessories are the saving grace here. The necklaces dresses up a black dress quite well, and once again I'm glad these rain boots are a bit dressier than the typical galoshes you see on the street.

But hey, once the boy picked me up and we arrived at Bacchus, what I wore became negligible in the face of quality time with him and a delicious three-course dinner. He had a creamy parsnip soup, strip loin and root veggies, and mocha creme brulee; I had smoked salmon, duck confit and cheesecake with salted caramel mustard. We both drank dirty martinis with olives. Mmm that was a good meal.

Those of you who've been following this blog for a long time might recall that this CiCi sweater dress has a bow on it--or had, rather. I like the shape and soft material of this dress, but the bow kept me from wearing it as much as I would've liked to because it limited accessories options. You can't wear a jewel-encrusted necklace with a bow on the chest--it's too much going on. So in the end I took the bow off; it's probably going to be worn a lot more with brooches and various necklaces from now on.

Today's Outfit: Easy Work Ensemble #3

  • H&M button-down shirt and vest
  • t o o d l e s by Toodlebunny cameo earrings
  • DIY brooch
  • Joe Fresh patent skinny belt
  • Timex watch
  • Camper oxfords

"I feel kind of Annie Hall-ish today," I said to my manager when she complimented this outfit. Indeed, borrowing inspiration from menswear has been one of my favourite "look put together in a hurry" strategies lately. Fuchsia lips and cameo jewelry kept it from looking too boyish though. I also like the subtle juxtaposition of the patterns and textures: the gloss of burgundy patent leather, the blue and pink check, chalk pinstripes on black, the distinctive wingtip perforation on the shoes.

Lux Jewels Presents The Diamond Race

Hot off the presses...

"This spring Lux Jewels is hosting their first annual Diamond Race, a race for a diamond and a cure. Based on the concept of the Amazing Race, the Diamond Race encourages couples to compete in various mental and physical challenges to win the ultimate grand prize of a 1 carat GIA certified cushion cut diamond valued at approximately $12,000.

"The competition is open to teams of two; couples must be legal residents of British Columbia and over the age of 21. To apply first register on
the official website. Then as part of the application process, each couple will be required to upload a video to the Lux Jewels Facebook page telling people why you should be selected to participate in the race. The couples with the most likes or comments by February 14, 2011 will be eligible to compete. Videos will be judged overall on their creativity, unique message and fan interest. Teams will be announced by February 21, 2011.

"The Diamond Race is presented by Lux Jewels, a local Vancouver based customer jeweler that offers the finest quality at affordable prices as they specialize in only custom jewelry. Now in their fourth year of business, Lux Jewels’ owner Suman Bakshi saw the Diamond Race as an opportunity to give back to her charity of choice, the Rare Disease Foundation."

Interested in the chance to win a 1 carat diamond while helping raise awareness for a good cause? Check out the website for more details.

COMUNE Corduroy Shirt

So, it's Groundhog Day today, and whether we have six more weeks of winter or this cold harsh weather will be ending soon, how can you go wrong with getting the man in your life the 'Jeremy' shirt ($104) by COMUNE? Made of lightweight corduroy, this olive-and-black plaid number is the perfect alternative to the hoodie, cardigan, or flannel that he continually reaches for. He can wear it now buttoned up under a polished wool coat for winter. Then when the mercury rises, he can put it on over his favourite tee and wear it open as an alternative to a light spring jacket. With a versatile basic that works for all seasons, can spring really be that far behind?


A Touch of Red

Image from The Sartorialist

Judging from the 100+ people who "liked" this photo in Google Reader, I wasn't the only one smitten with this Sartorialist snapshot from several weeks ago. But my admiration was also tinged with a hint of a "Great minds think alike!" mentality; for the last month I've been injecting little touches of red here and there in my outfits too. A dash of crimson goes a long way in tying together an outfit, giving neutrals a much-needed bit of colour, or adding some sophistication to a look.

Timex Modern Grande watch ($75), Joe Fresh nail polish in 'Cherry' ($4), NARS velvet matte lip pencil in 'Cruella' ($30), Kate Spade 'Randi' rain boots, Liz Claiborne apple brooch, Spa Ritual nail polish in 'Kiss the Cook' ($16 at BeautyMark), Sephora Rouge Cream lipstick in 'Hot Tango' ($16), Forever 21 glossy skinny belt ($3.80)

Luckily for those of us on a budget, adding a touch of red to an outfit is affordable and achievable. Shoes with a scarlet flourish are a good start. You could also pin a sparkly brooch on a dark coat, swap your everyday watch for one with a red strap, or thread a skinny patent leather belt through your belt loops. Of course, for the most versatility, you can always opt for a red lipstick or nail polish.

The collage above encapsulates my favourite ways to add the colour into my everyday looks. What are yours? Would you try this look?

UPDATE [November 28,2011]: Well, that was a bust. After less than a year--a very blissful year--with my Kate Spade rain boots, I was less than happy to find that the rubber was cracking at the ankle. Talk about shoddy quality! The search is on for a replacement pair.
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