"The life of a designer is a life of fight: fight against the ugliness."

~ Massimo Vignelli


I Can’t Get Enough Of… Graphic Colour Contrast

November 18th, 2011

Graphic Colour Contrast - Prada

…and neither can anyone else, it seems! It doesn’t take much effort to look stylish by taking a visually striking colour-blocked piece and pairing it with simple components. For the more adventurous, it’s fun to make your own look by layering pieces of similarly saturated colour – the brighter and bolder, the better! A few runway looks I like from past, present and future seasons:


via Style.com

Spring/Summer 2011: Gucci (1) and Fendi (2) seemed to be on the same wavelength with cinched waists and saturated colours. Gianfranco Ferre (3) amped up Seventies glam with long, wavy hair, colour blocking and another trend that is still going strong: all-over glitter and shine.


via Style.com

Fall/Winter 2011: Fendi (1 & 2) went more subdued, but still richly hued, while Gucci (4 & 5) went loud and vampy. Brightly coloured pants, as shown by 3.1 Phillip Lim (3), are a current staple in fashion-forward stores. And a perennial favourite of mine, Prada (6), did not shy away from directly opposing colours and added pattern to the mix.


via Style.com

Spring/Summer 2012: BCBG Max Azria (1, 2, 3) showed delightfully breezy dresses with a sporty edge, while Burberry Prorsum’s (4, 5, 6) hues are so rich they could easily extend to a fall wardrobe.

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The Magnum Heir Entry

September 25th, 2011

Magnum fashion

Last month I was a finalist in the Magnum Heir contest for a huge prize. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me! Even though I didn’t win, it was an exciting ride. I couldn’t say anything about the items in the video while the contest was on, but now that it’s over, I can finally shine the spotlight on the clothing and accessories that I featured.

In case you missed it, here’s my video entry:

And now, the clothes:

Ports 1961 dress

Outfit 1:
Dress: Ports 1961
Belt: Club Monaco
Necklace: Anthropologie
Shoes: Nine West

BCBG Max Azria

Outfit 2:
Skirt: Max Azria FW07
Necklace: Bedouin silver and coral, a souvenir from Dubai
Shoes (not pictured): Costume National


Clothing on bed (top to bottom)
Dress 1: Velvet
Dress 2: BCBG
Dress 3: BCBG

I had such a fun time putting together the video, and I hope you’ve enjoyed viewing it!


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Autumnal Equinox + Jill Stuart

September 23rd, 2011

FW11 - Jil Stuart

Happy First Day of Fall! It’s been raining nonstop today, but I’m enjoying the peace and quiet to go through a few of the FW11 collections, lament my falling stocks (ha, ha), listen to the TEDxToronto conference livestream and start planning my Thanksgiving menu. To celebrate Friday, and the first day of fall, I thought I’d share some photos of one of my favourite collections for the season.

I dearly love Jill Stuart’s wildlife prints (center top), inspired by photographer Heidi Specker’s images of the Black Forest in Germany – but there’s lots to love in her other pieces too. For colours, rich, saturated tones, bold colour-blocking, and that orange no one seems to be able to get enough of are so perfect for FW12; for silhouettes, the waist-cinching belts will flatter many body types, and the below-the-knee skirts and expressive pleating are just right. Add in a few flashes of high-shine gold and the coolest “fanny packs” I’ve ever seen (am I crazy for wanting a fanny pack? I hope not, if it’s one of these) and there we have it – a perfect collection.

Jil Stuart FW11

via Style.com

Stay dry and warm, everyone – and have a great day!

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Batik Scarves

August 15th, 2011

Batik Scarves

Batik scarves

Here’s hoping everyone had a good weekend! I’ve already read some of my friends’ in-party BBMs and seen a video from a trip to Canada’s Wonderland, so I know I’m not the only one who was up to some fun!

I went to visit my parents this weekend for the first time in years. They usually come to see us, as there’s more to do and see around here, but my mom was painting batik scarves in a fellow artist’s studio and asked me to join her. I’m not yet sure what I’ll do with the ones I created, but they’ll make a great addition to my collection!

To illustrate the process, here are a few photos:

Hot wax (a mixture of paraffin and beeswax) is applied to white silk wherever the fabric should remain white.

Batik scarf painting

The first wax application

The fabric is then put in a dye bath, and hung to dry.

Batik scarf painting

After the first dye application – yellow. The spots I painted with wax remain white.

The process is repeated with subsequent wax applications and dyes, each picking up the colour of previous dye applications.

Batik scarf painting

After the second dye application – pink, which combined with the yellow to create orange.

As the fabric is dyed, the wax crackles to create a distinctive batik look.

Batik scarf painting

After the third dye application – red

When the waxing and dyeing are completed and the scarf is fully dried, it is ironed between sheets of newsprint to remove the wax, which reveals the vividness of the colours underneath.

Batik scarf painting

After blue and black dye applications; ironed out to remove wax

Finally, the scarves are sent to be dry cleaned, which removes any residual wax and restores sheen to the silk. I don’t have photos of a post-dry-cleaning scarf, but will share them when the cleaning is done!

A few more photos:

Batik scarf painting

My mom at work on an intricate geranium design

Batik scarf painting

Drawing the fronds of a peacock feather

Batik scarves

I decided to join the clothesline.

I know which one I like best, but I’m curious – which is your favourite?

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New Fashion Notables

August 4th, 2011

footwear by Victoria Spruce

Having studied fashion and worked as a designer and product developer for a while, I know how hard people in the industry work at their craft, how many talented designers there are, and how difficult it is to start a business and build it into something profitable and recognizable. So, I’m always on the lookout for interesting newcomers, because to succeed in fashion you must not only possess talent, an incredible passion for your art and an unwavering belief in yourself, but you also need to put yourself out there and find like-minded people who want to collaborate with and/or advocate for you. Here are two very talented individuals I’ve discovered recently:

Joëlle Boers

Joelle Boers textile design

via www.joelleboers.com

A recent graduate from the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts, Joëlle’s S/S12 textiles collection is entitled Hypno Insanity and features digital printed silk and alternate materials. I can’t help but think of the late Alexander McQueen’s intricate prints and patterns when I see her work, and I look forward to seeing what she does next. You can view more of the collection here.

Victoria Spruce

Victoria Spruce footwear

via Facebook / Victoria Spruce

Hailing from the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London, Victoria’s S/S12 footwear collection is inspired by architecture. Each of her shoes is sculptural and organic, a singular entity twisting around and folding in on itself in a fascinating way, and the contrast between matte leather and glossy plastic is subtle and sophisticated. I love clean, architectural lines and contrasting textures, so her footwear caught my eye as soon as I saw it. Her website is under construction, but you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.


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I can’t get enough of… Daphne Guinness

July 13th, 2011

Daphne's Window

This short film of the eccentric Guinness heir and fashion icon to many, shot by Brennan Stasiewicz, has been out for a month – but I’ve watched it a few times already. I adore fashion(able) short films, and Daphne’s Window is a permanent favourite.

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Easter Sunday Linkety-link: High Fashion Eggs

April 24th, 2011

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope you’re all busy gorging yourselves on food, spending quality time with those you love… and doing whatever else makes you happy. I’ve had a delicious brunch at Caplansky’s, and am home watching the federal debate while awaiting my parents and siblings from out of town to arrive.

I didn’t have time to decorate Easter eggs this year, but I haven’t had to miss out on too much of the fun thanks to Vogue.com, which asked a group of designers to create some decadent Easter eggs for our perusal and delight.

See the full set of images here.

Designer Easter eggs

via Vogue.com

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Closet Raid: Scarves

April 11th, 2011

Scarf collection

It’s 21 degrees C outside today; a wonderfully balmy April day. Over the past while, the temperature has been all over the place as the seasons battle it out for their respective turns. On a recent Sunday (not yesterday, but the one preceding), it was sunny and warm at noon, and was snowing by evening – and it’s just the way to catch a chill if you aren’t careful.

Luckily for me, I’m a big fan of scarves and shawls (in fact, when it’s cold enough, I wear shawls as scarves for extra neck warmth) and rarely go without, unless it’s the middle of summer. As much as I adore designer brands, my scarf collection is proof you don’t need to buy designer to have beautiful things of exceptional quality. Here’s a peek:

Scarf Collection

I’ve collected these from various places over the years, from my grandmother’s closet to a small store in Dubai, and I love them all. Clockwise, from top left:

-Kalabandar, fish-scale textured wool and elastic thread (in purple and turquoise)
-courtesy of my grandmother, in indigo
-courtesy of my grandmother, in navy/off-white plaid
-BCBG, navy/white ombre with engineered stripe
-Kalabandar, double-woven hand-loomed jacquard in purple, pink and orange
-Kalabandar, multi-coloured Laotian silk (in raspberry and black)
-courtesy of my grandmother, printed scarves (in plum/olive/white and black/white)
-hand-painted silk scarf I made in my high-school years, in watery shades of blue and green
-Givenchy, printed silk scarf in turquoise, green and white
-Zara, red scarf (shown with a triple-looped scarf ring courtesy of my grandmother)
-Dubai (I don’t remember the name of the store, just that it was near Jumeirah beach), hand-woven embroidered pashmina shawl in deep red
-Kalabandar, wool jacquard shawl in brown
-Tie Rack (now defunct), wool shawls (in camel and olive)
-Tie Rack, printed wool shawl with glass beads in ivory
-Ralph Lauren, diagonal pleated wool shawl in ivory

As you may have noticed, the name Kalabandar comes up quite often in my little list. In case you’re wondering what that is, it’s a company run by a charming couple who travels the world collecting scarves, then brings them back and sells them to stores – but keeps the most exquisite ones for their semi-annual sale, which is held in the living room of their home. It’s marvelous fun to go to these sales, and the shopping experience is much like a treasure hunt with friends you just met.

A few close-ups:

Hand-made red cashmere shawl

The detail in the hand embroidery is gorgeous, and the scarf itself is amazingly light and soft. One of my favourites.

striped Laotian silk scarves

Laotian silk; I love the striking multi-coloured strands and the evenly spaced twisting technique.

Double-woven jacquard loomed scarf

Photos don’t do this one justice; it’s an incredibly delicate scarf with two interwoven layers to it and a subtle circle-patterned jacquard running down the center. Love.

Textured scarves

I adore surface textures.

Silver scarf ring

This scarf ring belonged to my grandmother. It’s a pity people don’t wear these any more!

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April, as it appears to Anthropologie

April 5th, 2011

Anthropologie April catalogue 2011

The April Anthropologie catalogue is out, and as usual, it’s full of beautiful images. Recent financial results for the Urban Outfitters group (of which Anthropologie is a part) have been disappointing, but the catalogues never cease to inspire.

I consider Anthropologie one of the best-in-class for their print work and email marketing. The exquisitely cohesive way their images are put together makes it unavoidably clear that this company isn’t just about product. It is about a lifestyle, and the Anthropologie world is fascinating; it is simultaneously escapist and familiar, grand and intimate. Though it’s impossible to choose favourites, here is a sampling:

Anthropologie April 2011 catalogue

Anthropologie April 2011 catalogue

Anthropologie April 2011 catalogue

This image reminds me so very much of Erté.

The full catalogue can be viewed online here.

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What goes up, What goes down, and a little extra fun for Friday

April 1st, 2011

Jump Up: Early this week, the Prada group, which also owns Miu Miu, posted a record $336 million in profits for 2010, up a whopping 150.4% from the previous year. They are clearly doing something right, and if this season’s creeper shoe, which sold out of stores by mid-March and now has an extensive waiting list, is any indication, this year will continue to be strong for the company. Besides the brilliant clothes, look for: an upcoming IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, said to be coming as early as July.

Prada SS11 Creepers

Do the creep!

And Down: In stark contrast, the saddest girl I have ever seen was pictured on an American Apparel ad in the TTC. Inexplicably, I cannot find a single image of the ad on the internet, but trust me – she emanated sad. Could it be due to the fact that her outfit appeared to have been styled by someone from the Church of Latter Day Saints? (This is as close as I come to touching religion on this blog, folks). Well, here’s something else for AA employees to be sad about: the company posted a $86.3 million loss for 2010. Besides cheap basics and missed filing deadlines, look for: continuing sexual harassment/assault lawsuits against founder Dov Charney. One has to wonder when the elastic will finally snap on this unfortunate Apparel (ha, ha).

American Apparel ad

Girl, I get why you’re sad – I really do! But look on the bright side – I cropped out the bottom of the ad!

And Work It (!) all around: The ever fabulous Lester Brathwaite over at Fashion Indie brings to you his 10 Poses to Get You Into Vogue (magazine), replete with examples, demonstration, and attitudinal instruction. Watch and learn, people (and maybe draw some quizzical looks from your cubicle-mates when you bust out laughing!)

Happy Friday!

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