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!

    Background 

    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.



    Bespoke Adventure, Part 2 of 3

    For background on this post and the overall fashion project, please scroll to the bottom or go to the previous post HERE.

    This is the second of three bespoke outfits that Vancouver Community College's (VCC) Fashion Design & Production Diploma program students made for me under the direction of their instructor and prominent designer, Jason Matlo @jasonmatlo. This team was comprised of:

    OUTFIT 2 - Spacewalker with Flower

    Have any of you seen that movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring Donald Sutherland, 1978? In it, aliens terminate humans when they sleep and then grow replicants that don't have emotions in giants flower pods. Look at that flower again! Heh. And I like it! Although I am not devoid of emotion.


    Below is the sketch that the team presented during my first classroom visit of three. They also wowed me with a fabric swatch of that stretchy pearlescent vinyl.

    The things I loved about this outfit:
    • huuuumongous flower!
    • iridescent stretchy vinyl
    • powerful simplicity
    • enormous padded shoulders
    • overall space/retro/rockstar vibe
    This design superbly incorporated the Tildon Swinton and David Bowie sense that were part of my mood board. While I am easily seduced by loud patterns and colours, this piece hooked me with its intense simplicity accented with the outrageous whimsical flower. I kept thinking about this outfit long after after I left the classroom.

    sketch and photo by Armita Azadmanesh
    I love how Armita perfectly captured the iridescence of the fabric in her sketch.  

    One thing that concerned me about this initial design was how body con this dress is. The stretchy vinyl was very thin, and I was nervous to have that much cling over that much body, even with the lining they had planned, even with secret underthings! After a bit of back and forth, the team proposed a top and pants instead; problem averted! 

    I was still excited about the overall outfit and happy that the signature elements would be included in the new design. Below, Armita at work.


    Victoria Stephenson left and Kiera West. The big flower is made of vinyl and it has two pin closures on the back for security. Those are the blue pants that go with this outfit.


    Below, the top without the turtle on the neck. Note those gigantic shoulder pads. Seriously huge. I love how the armhole goes in a bit and then flares wide at the top. (That's the dress from Outfit 1 hanging in the background.)

    photo by Armita Azadmanesh
    Kiera and Jason Matlo pressing the pants for the final fitting.


    Getting the length just right.


    Standing at the thread wall during the final fitting. 


    Done! I regret that I don't have a photo of the toile of the pants, which was made of the same blue/yellow plaid used for the coat in Outfit 1. Oh well. 

    And time for my street shoot. I was already feeling the space/rockstar/Swinton/Bowie vibe, and then Jason casually mentioned Kathryn Hepburn with her wide-shoulder, high-waist pants look. Yes! Absolutely. All my favourite things in one outfit.


    Yeah, the honkin' sunglasses again. They feel spacey. 

    I love this red wall. If I had a personal assistant, s/he would have unbunched that top for me. 



    I had to pin the flower on myself for this shoot and I didn't do as good a job as the students did in the classroom. I think I've got the hang of it now - after I finished this shoot. Pffft. You can just make out the bright turquoise eye shadow I wore under my brows.


    The clean lines of this ensemble were a sharp contrast with the outfits by the other two teams. The range and effectiveness of imagination during this project was stellar. 

    And below, the real stars of this show, left to right: Armita Azadmanesh @armita.bl, Victoria Stephenson @victoria_stephenson, and Kiera West @kierawest. It was a such a pleasure to work with these talented designers! And my thanks to them for sending me some photos of this outfit behind the scenes.



    Background 

    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 show you the work that the students created. 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 faculty working in the program and get an insider's view of their studio/work space. Student designs are regularly showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week. 



    Bespoke Adventure, Part 1 of 3

    Background

    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 nervous, 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 will show you the work that the students created. Be prepared!

     OUTFIT 1 - Trippy Shirtdress and Coat

    This team was comprised of:
    Oh my, oh my!!



    I didn't show you my feet in that photo because I think I was floating. 

    The next photo shows sketches from the first classroom visit. The team also shared some fabric swatches.

    What appealed to me? Heh.
    • faux fur collar; 
    • paisley-ish, psychedelic print;
    • pockets, pockets, pockets; 
    • plaid, plaid, plaid; AND 
    • patchwork. 

    Plus, the coat was reversible. I was thrilled by how well they "got" me and the flexibility of their pieces, which could be worn inside-out and as separates. 

    sketch and photo by Shawn Avantini
    Before I picked up the finished work for my street shoot, I noticed the big honkin' sunglasses Shawn had sketched on the left figure. I knew then that I'd need to wear mine on my shoot. 

    Below, the fabric stash. In addition to plaid, the team also integrated red netting, quilted fabric, and other textured colourful patches. The blue/yellow plaid, bottom left, became the coat's foundational layer. There is a better view to follow.

    photo by Shawn Avantini

    That yellow fabric on the bottom of the pile is popcorn chenille. It's not only a super-soft and warm lining, but it also vibrates like an electric lemon when the coat is reversed. You can see parts of the dress, bottom left, as well.

    The students told me they were scouring their homes and stores for bits of plaid.

    photo by Shawn Avantini
    Below, my second classroom visit for the first fitting with the coat's. That's the foundational layer of blue/yellow plaid. There is no yellow popcorn yet - one step at a time. The shirt dress, with the faux fur collar, just needed fine-tuning. The dress hem was also decided.

    In the background, the woman standing is Sarah, who invited me into the program. I had met her briefly before during Vancouver Fashion Week.

    photo by Shawn Avantini
    Below, Sekai hard at work. The program's studio is spacious, bright and humming with activity. 


    Shawn and Carlin finish off the dress closure for the final fitting. Each button has a different design.


    And done!

    Next are photos from my street shoot of the finished pieces. The coat has substantial heft with all those layers and extra interfacing. Super cozy! I am certain that both of these pieces will get lots and lots of wear as the perfect neutral ensemble (all those patterns cancel each other out).

    During my inspiration walk and this shoot, I received many compliments on this outfit.


    You can see the different designs on the buttons below. And a better view of the popcorn chenille. Those are the honkin' sunglasses Shawn inspired me to wear.



    Below, the stars of the project, the team that made it happen, left to right: Carlin Lockhart @bowsersauce, Shawn Avantini @shawn_avantini, me, and Sekai Fleming @camboikeith.



    And there I am with Jason Matlo @jasonmatlo, the instructor. He was so easy to work with and gifted at letting his students shine. Check out that amazing style too, as could be expected.



    That's all for Outfit 1.

    GO TO OUTFIT 2
    GO TO OUTFIT 3

    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 faculty working in the program and get an insider's view of their studio/work space. Graduate designs are regularly showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week.



    Friday, 26 April 2019

    The giant Vancouver mind-meld with friends

    It's no longer a blogger meetup; it's a gathering of friends who happen to blog. That's what happens when you start to know women as well as I have come to know Suzanne Carillo, Patti, and Sherry. Sue was of course also included in our weekend, and although she is not in these photos at her request, she was part of our group, twice joining us for the day.

    photo by @vancouverbarbara
    Below, the excitement as my friends started arriving at Blue Horizon Hotel on Robson Street, who sponsored our stay (see previous post). Sherry and Patti came in the same taxi. How serendipitous that the bus in the background says Vancouver Community College, VCC, because I had to run down there that morning to pick up some awesome outfits that their Fashion Design & Production students had custom-made me during a collaboration. I thought they might be fun for our shoot - and they were!

    Sherry wears a blue-cord overall dress that she made herself. So good!
    This year we went a bit more "pro" for our photo shoot. My friend Suzy Thomas, @thasooze (IG), a career makeup artist, came to our room at Blue Horizon and did our faces. What a master! As Suzanne said, it was like a face lift with makeup. Too bad it had to wash off, but like the old samurai saying, we must appreciate the beauty of falling cherry blossoms. Or, did I just make that up?

    Suzy working her magic on the already-magical Sherry.


    In hindsight, we all seemed to have signature poses for the weekend. Clockwise from top-left: Suzanne, the kiss face; Mel, constantly trying to perfect my Zoolander face and FAILING - you open your mouth to simulate stupefaction, then suck in your cheeks for a high-fashion model look; Sherry, Godspell meadow sprite; Patti, '20s Broadway doyenne. 


    Once our makeup was done, @vancouverbarbara (IG) joined as a photographer at the hotel, which offered a range of great locations. The newly-renovated pool and fitness area were our primary stages.

    Below we are rehearsing for our new movie Pose Hard, a gripping suspense about middle-aged women on a chocolate-fueled selfie rampage through Vancouver. Madam Goochie, a friend of Sherry, was the costume designer.

    photo by @vancouverbarbara
    Patti is wearing an iridescent stretchy vinyl top designed and made by VCC students Armita Azadmanesh @armita.bl,Victoria Stephenson, and Kiera West @kierawest. The Elizabethan thick vinyl ruff collar and skirt were made by Nataly Kingsley, Cayce Vanderzalm @caycescustoms, and Shadi Arastehmanesh @shadi.arastehmanesh.arts. I'm preparing a separate post about these pieces.

    More rehearsal. I'm terribly disappointed that Suzanne and Sherry aren't posing harder, harder!! Twirl, ladies! Twirl HARDER!! Feel the burn!

    photo by @vancouverbarbara
    I look pensive because I am riding for a cause. Invisible thought bubble: apple rhubard crisp, apple rhubard crisp, apple rhubard crisp. Yeah, Abode restaurant off the hotel lobby area had great food, especially dessert. I should have been riding that bike for real!

    photo by Suzy via Sherry, I think
    Suzanne fake-testing the water. The pool area was wonderful! We didn't bring our suits and weren't ready to pose in our scanties, nor was the public ready for that, so this is what you get. So very ultra-high-fashion, right? Doing something totally wrong yet so right.


    Patti does a Broadway number poolside. Standing ovations from everyone, heaps of bouquets, and sworn allegiances. This is a great shot of the outfit too, but it only came to life because Patti wore it so divinely and with disciplined fortitude. She was definitely hot under the collar. (groan, heh)

    photo by @vancouverbarbara
    Next, me, pre-shoot, hair in clips for extra sproing. And you can see the makeup job Suzy did. Another failed Zoolander face. I'll call it Melander. 

    photo by Sherry
    Lounging by the poolside, as one does.

    photo by @vancouverbarbara
    In this next photo, Suzanne misbehaved. Some may mistakenly think she is trying to steal my shoes. No! She is trying to steal my thunder by hauling me off the deck so she can hog the spotlight! Typical. Hahaha. And I was right in the middle of my Burt Reynolds tribute medley!

    photo by @vancouverbarbara

    But I got my revenge on them all! Bwahahaha!!! Heh.


    And secrets revealed: Patti and Sherry are royals. Shhhhh. Yes. They really don't want anyone to know, so their secret is safe here. This lobby chair was their substitute throne for the weekend. I love how they can pretend to be commoners while maintaining their blue-blood dignity and hauteur.

    Sherry was highly displeased upon discovering that the shop had just painted her '63 Ferrari GTO in gumdrop green rather than the paisley print she had ordered. Patti, her royal sister (and Broadway doyenne), is tired of dealing with her whims, so bought her a helicopter coated in unpaintable 24K gold.

    The Royal Portrait

    My grandmother hand-made me the collar Sherry is wearing over 40 years ago, I think. This is probably only the second time it's been worn, the first time maybe for rollerskating. Definitely it will be worn more now.

    And some random shots from our time together.


    Many thanks to: 
    • @vancouverbarbara for her photography;
    • @thasooze Suzy for her dazzling makeup skills and photo-taking; 
    • Blue Horizon Hotel for the room they generously sponsored; 
    • Sam, Manager of My Sister's Closet eco thrift boutique for her hospitality during a thrifting expedition there; 
    • VCC for creating such amazing clothing; and 
    • my friends for coming all the way to Vancouver. 
    I feel like this is an acceptance speech. Hahaha. Yeah, acceptance of how awesome everyone is and the power of positive energy. For more coverage, check out Suzanne's post here, Patti's post here, and Sherry's post here, complete with video

    Have a great week, everyone. If you're one of many starting to wonder why you keep blogging, this weekend is one reason I'm still here. The connections I've made with like-minded cool people on this platform and in real life are irreplaceable. 

    I'll link something up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday

    photo by Sam, Manager at My Sister's Closet @msc_bwss (IG)

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