Monday, 15 July 2019

We're not posing - we're LIVING!

Or how about, if a style blogger doesn't take a camera on a meetup with friends, does she still exist? Of course the answer to both would be a resounding YES! Our outfits are just the coating for the goodness within; in fact, sometimes a camera just gets in the frickin' way if it's remembered at all. 

But for those other times, when one has an impish beauty itch, a whack-ton of makeup and a tripod, a remote control, and a conspirator, well, see exhibits AAA below. These are from Shelley's visit to Vancouver in June, which I posted about here. Shelley posted here and here.

This wall in a nearby alley was perfect: mossy, concrete, grey, and black. There also wasn't too much garbage or smell, which is a critical make-or-break location factor, especially with guests. The micro-distillery gin joint on the corner, closed at the time, still provided great mental ambiance. 

Marching with fortitude into position.

There was nobody around, unless you count the ring of residential highrises. The few people who strolled by probably didn't notice us, and there were a couple of cars, but, pffft, when you're professionals, you don't even bat an eye unless it's on cue if ya knows what's good for ya.


ME: CUUUUT!!! (I stamp my platform-shod foot) DO IT AGAIN, SHELLEY! How many times do I have to tell you!? The look I'm going for is you're dangling your feet in the pool and there is a giant guppy attached to your toe. Now ACTION!

SHELLEY: Is he nibbling or biting?

ME: He's a mutant cross between a guppy and a piranha. Doh!

SHELLEY: Oh, okay. Is it a salt-water pool or fresh water?

ME: Ummm, salt water. Now ACTION!!

We managed to get a few serious shots (below, not above), mainly at the beginning, before the cling of adulthood had blown off. Shelley wore her floaty silk dress with a watercolour motif and I wore my vintage satin pearl pink palazzo pants with a floaty orange/coral top. 

Strenuous posing is hard fun, so of course we demanded ice cream (gelato) afterwards. Coming right up at an independent coffee shop on the other corner. Hey, if the distillery and the cafe joined forces, they could serve gin floats! Or not.

The sun was shining and we sat outdoors while we planned an air-conditioned afternoon watching zombies (Jarmusch - The Dead Don't Die).

The breeze couldn't have been better even if we had rented it. Did you notice that I put light blue in my hair? And the metal earrings weighed a ton; every time I hopped or skipped, like above, OW! But it was for ahhhrt.

I am startled sometimes when going through my photos, especially the more hilarious ones, that most women in their mid-50s, or any age I suppose, do not engage in this sort of thing. Of course, for me it's just who I am. And Shelley too and my other friends when they're in town. Shelley wrote about this in her post

I suppose I never unlearned how to play, although its expression has gone underground at various times in my life. I'm grateful now that I can still tap into this powerful resource as a liberating force and share it at every opportunity. It definitely puts a rose tint on what might otherwise be a bleak outlook.

I also managed during that week to slip in a night at the theatre, Bard on the Beach, to see The Taming of the Shrew, as a guest of Mara Gottler, pictured below. She is a co-founder of the company, now in its 30 season, and a celebrated designer who designed all the costumes for this show.

How I laughed! - a rollicking (perfect word here) good time. The production had a western theme and featured a very strong-minded Kate (the shrew) with a few well-placed tweaks. And if Instagram were a thing in the Wild West, Bianca, Kate's twittery sister, would definitely have been a selfie star!

The show runs until mid-September. Check HERE. (not sponsored)

I wore my prairie dress for the western theme, and Mara was a chic gunslinger.

The next photo is called Traces - what stays behind. I walk by that alley now and smile remembering our photo session.

And finally, an outfit featuring a blazer spied for me at Turnabout Luxury Resale Granville store by Sheila when she joined me and Shelley for a day (see previous post here and Sheila's post here). Navy, velvety, and with split sleeves. Oh my! Worn with my Marni for H&M drop-crotch purple/gold lurex pants, which I farked with side stripes. Sunglasses from an outing with Suzanne.

And that's all. I loved the process of doing this photo session with Shelley, and in the end, I'm glad to have these cool photos as visual reminders of our time spent together, the reflections cast in digital form. As with most of my creative pursuits, the process is paramount.

I hope you have all found avenues of liberation in your lives, even for micro-moments. Who doesn't need little escapes? Which reminds me, I must get to the woods - with my camera. Hahaha!! I'm a style blogger and I need to record the process!

Thanks for dropping by. xo

I'm linking up with Patti at Visible Monday over at Not Dead Yet Style and later with Catherine at #iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb. See you there maybe?

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Friends galore and imaginations gone wild

Uh-oh, someone got into the maaakeup!

This is what happens when friends come to town - all hell breaks loose, usually on my face. And on my friends' faces. That's Shelley of Forest City Fashionista on the right. She visited Vancouver for a while and we got into all kinds of trouble.

But things really got started for me on a trip to Toronto where I hooked up with Suzanne Carillo when my work finished early. Suzanne took this photo in a cool consignment shop called Common Sort on Queen Street East. From there, we wandered the neighbourhood and had some laughs and a bite to eat at Tabule. Unexpected mini adventures are the best kind!

The day I got back to Vancouver, Shelley arrived in town, and the forecast was for sun, sun, and more sun. Plus, I had a grip on my workload, so ready or not Vancouver....

On our first day we wandered into Nordstrom where we promptly got lost in the sale racks in the designer section. We are die-hard thrifters but couldn't help ogling the spangles, boucles, plastics, and denims, all at eye-popping discount prices(!). One thing led to another and before you know it, we were arms akimbo throwing stuff on in the change rooms. Big thanks to Mary Jane who enabled us!

"What do you think, Shelley?" "I dunno, Mel. I think the sleeves could be longer. Which reminds me, wanna go see that zombie movie?" And yes, we did go later, The Dead Don't Die, by fave director Jim Jarmusch, starring Tilda Swinton and Steve Buscemi, among others. (It was didactic. That's all I'll say. And Tilda stole the show, as usual.)

That's a new thing for me below, poses with hands around my face. It feels so wrong but a photographer told me that it "reads well on camera." Okay, fine, so I'm practising. We had some laughs as I tried out new moves. My favourite so far is the "pulling-off-my-own-head pose," not shown here.

Doesn't it look like I'm in a moisturizer commercial? Or maybe I'm just remembering that I forgot to buy Ted a new jar of Nescafe instant coffee. And also, who's Ted? And why am I buying him coffee?

Shelley was afraid to come too close because there was a padlock on my coat. Clearly, I must be a secret agent and that lock is keeping all my feminine secrets safe. Or maybe that's a new super mini handbag. Cool! But if it is, don't you think it would be kind of awkward fiddling around there every time you need cash? Plus, it would only hold bit coins.

Those "pants" actually have feet on them so they are tiggings (tights/jeggings - I made that up). They are a bit see-through but I got-got-got no time to figure it out, cool as this ensemble may be, and despite it being the most "affordable" set of the lot. I bought the sunglasses at Common Sort.

Those pink pearlescent cycling shorts on Shelley are dazzling we both agreed. Except they didn't fit. Minor detail? - in a thrift shop, maybe, but sadly not here. At least they look awesome from the front and sides. And for a laugh and great photos, they are a deal.

I erased the light reflections on my sunglasses in the next photo. I was swooning over this zesty lemon coat, just the thing for a hot June day. In fact, it is! But I didn't buy it. And the dress looks great on Shelley, but we weren't shedding tears over not being able to buy either piece; not wanting them made us feel better. For me, there's something unnatural or off-putting about perfection.

And no wardrobe is complete without a suit. For months I've had my eye on the jacket Shelley is wearing. There is a skirt thing that goes with it. Basically, the jacket has been chopped zig-zaggedy and you can wear it buttoned or flopping. I like the freshness of the idea, but it's the kind of thing we could fark ourselves if we wanted to, but won't - it's been done already. Shelley's shorts look great with it though.

The suit I'm wearing is a tad out of my price range. And the pants are way huge on me. But the jacket sleeves are cool, don't you think? Wait until you see the thing I thrifted later on with a few digits lopped off the price. The boots (my own, "Jericho" from Fluevog) added great attitude.

Next, sing it with me: 🎵
We're gonna take our horse to the downtown road, 
we're gonna shoooop at the old thrift store.

Alert, another face pose! This aluminum-foilesque blazer is exactly my style. I adore the humongous acrylic buttons. Shelley grabbed it for a try-on on our way out. The way I farked this photo reminds me of a popular Canadian TV ad where a couple heats their home so hot that it melts cheese. In this case, I would be the potato.

Huge thanks to Nordsrom Vancouver for this excellent dress-up opportunity! You never know what will happen.

Next we headed for coffee at Quantum, a cool newish cafe that attracts lots of hipster gig-economy brainiac trendy types, like ourselves, well, kinda, perhaps like the children we never had...? That's a scary thought. It's conveniently located just across the street from Alley Oop, Vancouver's brightly painted alley where IGsters and garbage/delivery trucks vie daily for supremacy, in a friendly way with toots and waves.

Who's the big banana? Shelley! Her bag has horns. It's pretty shocking how many strangers can't keep their hands off them. No, seriously.

So that was Day 1.

Day 2.

Sheila of blog Sheila Ephemera arrives in town! She took a day off work to fly in from Vancouver Island special to meet Shelley for the first time. They've known each other more than seven years from blogging and it was the perfect day to hang out together. Our friendships took off like we've been neighbours, which kind of we have been. I've met Sheila a bunch of times from her annual wedding anniversary pilgrimages to Vancouver with her husband L.

I had no idea if the photo below would come out. It was so sunny I couldn't see a thing on my viewfinder.

We headed straight to My Sister's Closet for some thrift shopping. No photos there - we were too busy. Then we hopped the Aquabus to go to Granville Island for lunch before hitting a shoe store, where Sheila got the deal of the century, and a couple of consignment stores called Turnabout

Happy Shelley on the boat! Who doesn't love a boat ride? I took her photo while she was taking one of me and Sheila.

Look at me - the happy puppy! Doesn't Sheila look amazing!! The glasses, the earrings, and that dress, oh, that dress!!

This is the part where I fast-forward to the close of our day together over some Italian food before Sheila had to catch her plane home. 

Sheila did a mega write-up of her day trip HERE, and Shelley did a post already HERE. She'll have another one soon as well. And I'm the slow poke. Heh. I'll also need a Part 2 to cram everything in.

I hope you are all stellar! Meeting my friends in 3D is such a great reminder of how our online selves open all kinds of unexpected and rewarding pathways to explore.

I'm linking up to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style. Hooray! And also Catherine when she goes live with #iwillwearwhatilike" at Not Dressed as Lamb.

Thank you for visiting!! It's been a while since I've been home here, so I appreciate it.

PS - None of these links is sponsored; they are journal notes of our time together, but we loved all these places.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Bespoke Adventure, Part 3 of 3

For background on this post and the overall fashion project, please scroll to the bottom or go to the first of these three posts, HERE.

This is the third of three bespoke outfits that Vancouver Community College's (VCC) Fashion Design & Production Diploma program students made for me. This team was comprised of:

OUTFIT 3 - Elizabethan Catwalk

This outfit is definitely the most adventurous of the three in terms of the team's choice and manipulation of materials. It also has the most components, so it's hard to know where to start. 

photo by Carol Sawyer
Below is the sketch that the team presented during my first classroom visit. Wow! It consisted of a brightly-patterned form-fitting under-dress with black sleeves, a ruched clear vinyl neck collar with shoulder garlands, and a clear vinyl skirt with a similarly ruched wide waistband. The bell of the skirt featured holes with vinyl garlands draped around the structure. It was a lot to take in. I loved the absolute creativity of this piece and couldn't help but grin in wonder.

sketch and photo by Shadi Arastehmanesh
That said, you see from the opening photo and the sketch that there were a few changes. 

Jason Matlo, who is the class instructor and a prominent designer, and I thought that a black under-dress would better highlight the details of the vinyl work than a bright pattern. It was still very chilly outside so I was also concerned about how I could wear the shoulder garland under a coat. Perhaps an Elizabethan ruff collar would be much more practical. Hahaha. But I also knew that I could wear a ruff collar with many other outfits as well. 

After a very constructive back and forth among the team, Jason, and I, it was decided to go with a fringed shrug made from strips of the colourful fabric. I loved the idea. And the wide ruched vinyl waist was replaced with a simple black waistband to lighten the focus with a slimmer profile; the team came up with a new way of pleating the vinyl to accommodate this change.

photo by Shadi Arastehmanesh
Above are the fabrics the team had suggested for the dress but which would now be used for the fringed shrug. And below, some of the pattern pieces.

photo by Shadi Arastehmanesh
The fringes for the shrug waiting to be sewn onto the black backing. 

photo by Shadi Arastehmanesh
photo by Shadi Arastehmanesh
Isn't that an amazing piece?! The skirt is starting to take shape too.

photo by Shadi Arastehmanesh
Below, this is what the outfit looked like at the first fitting of two. I wondered if there were too many competing elements, especially when each component was very strong on its own. As a fix, Jason suggested a black fringed bolero for the final piece instead. Yes! I thought that may be just right. The team got back to work.

photo by Shadi Arastehmanesh
The next photo of the team was taken at the final fitting. The black fringed shrug looked fantastic, and I was thrilled that I would be able to keep the colourful one as well. 

Below, left to right: Shadi, Cayce, and Nataly,

Below, detail of the vinyl garland. The Elizabethan ruff collar was of similar construction, designed to be folded over when worn. So good.

photo by Shadi Arastehmanesh
No risk, no reward - that may be an apt saying for this project. Definitely this outfit underwent the most changes of all three, but it was also the most adventurous to start with. I feel privileged that I could go through the process with the team.

Also, I would like to thank Shadi for sharing her behind-the-scenes photos of the process involved in making this complex outfit. They are wonderful. 

Next are the street photos of the final outfit. 

Below is the under-dress made of lightweight neoprene, which features an oversized rear zipper and a high collar to avoid chafing by the ruff collar. The waistband of the skirt is the same fabric. 

The dress with the black pullover shrug. I look concerned because I was concentrating on listening to the camera shutter.

And the complete outfit below. By this time, I was having trouble with the shoot: I was getting cold, and with the nearby traffic, it was difficult to hear the timer beeps, especially for the burst shots. I'm glad this one turned out. It brings to mind '60s Audrey Hepburn in a Dior futuristic film set in Italy.

Carol Sawyer took the next shot, which is a close-up of the opening photo. As I was packing up to go home, dissatisfied, a friend showed up in the plaza by chance. Carol, whom I didn't know, was with her, and when I asked for a hand with photos, she obliged. Thank you, Carol!

Here you get a better view of the collar. The top part is designed to lay flat, but I also like it sticking up (yeah, and because my personal assistant didn't show up). I'll do another shoot with it in the future because I love this piece too.

photo by Carol Sawyer
Below, the stars of the show, left to right: Jason Matlo @jasonmatlo, Cayce Vanderzalm @caycescustoms, (me), Shadi Arastehamanesh @shadi.arastehmanesh.arts, Nataly Kingsley @natalykingsley.

    Below is my friend Patti, who writes a blog called Not Dead Yet Style. She and a couple of other friends came to Vancouver and arrived on the same day that I picked up the finished outfits from VCC. Patti wore the shimmer top from Outfit 2 with the Elizabethan collar and skirt from this team, another excellent mix/match. We had such a great time! Other photos from that shoot are HERE.

    This VCC project was the first time I have ever experienced bespoke clothing. The closest I've ever come is making major alterations to an existing pattern or farking/upcycling an existing piece. As a thrifter, I have always taken what I find, so I am used to styling on the fly, finding ways to make too-big or too-small clothing "fit" through attitude or farking. In fact, I had almost forgotten what true fit is! Hahaha. This experience definitely spoiled me. I'm not going to give up thrifting, but, wow, this was an utter indulgence. Thanks, all!


    In January I received an email with this as the subject: VCC Fashion wants to dress you. Oh!

    It was from Sarah Murray, the Co-Program Coordinator of Vancouver Community College's (VCC) Fashion Design & Production Diploma program. In essence, she wanted to know if I would like their students to make me some bespoke clothing in exchange for taking part in the process and posting about it. Umm, let me think... Hahaha!

    As a first step, I spoke with Jason Matlo, the class instructor and a prominent Vancouver-based designer, to form an initial mood board. He divided the class, who were in "cycle 4" of their program, into three teams of three, and based on the mood board, my Instagram, and a budget, each team had to create an original design that resonates with my personality.

    These students had only made a tote bag, a T-shirt, and a draped top during their first six weeks of school. I was curious, perhaps slightly worried, about what they would come up with. Well, they blew me away with their creativity, technical skills, adaptability, and hard work. Incredible, as you'll see. 

    For my part, I made three classroom visits over a month as follows:

    Visit 1: Consultation and measurements. Each team described its design concept and vision through sketches and fabric swatches. Jason and I joined the discussion to fine-tune the design to my taste, if required. This was an exhilarating process.

    Visit 2: First fitting of the pieces, in some cases with a toile made of less expensive fabric as a tester.

    Visit 3: Final fitting. The finished pieces were ready for pickup in mid-April.

    These three posts detail the bespoke outfits created for me by the students. Be prepared!


    Vancouver Community College's Fashion Design and Production diploma gives students an immersive experience in the fashion world.  You can read more about HERE. Their campus is in the heart of Vancouver, just a couple of blocks from our city's top fabric stores. It was a joy to meet the people involved in the program and get an insider's view of the studio/work space. Student designs are regularly showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week - you can see why. I can't wait to see the graduation pieces for this group.

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