Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One Glass To Rule Them All

I wish I had the kind of life that necessitated silver cheese trays, a 10-man hot tub, hostess pajamas, and these...

Sven Milcent and Utopik Design's "A Glass For Every Drink"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

All The Leaves

All the leaves are brown,

And the sky is grey.

I went for a walk,

On a winter's day.

Leaf dangle bookchain necklace from eBay seller scentsnstuff

Lee Angel stitched leather bangle

We're having a little resurgence of summer temperatures here. The 'leafers' are out in full force, clogging up the bike paths with their awkward gaits and expensive Nikons. Still, it's lovely. I have returned home several times this week with leaves the shade of pumpkin, ochre, and rust in my tangled mane. Perhaps a better way to celebrate the season is adopting more deliberate, less dandruff-like, foliage. I'm particularly fond of the acorn/leaf combo bib necklace below:

Vintage (circa 1940's) carved wood necklace from eBay seller oxfordjewel.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

B Mine, B Makowsky

I get kicked out of the The Bay for fondling B Makowsky handbags like regular people get shoo'd from the supermarket bulk isle for grazing on the cashews. I finally bought a little red satchel, and like Lays, "betcha I can't have just one". Damnit.

Varick Crossbody $272 at Zappos.

If you're not familiar with the brand, sold at QVC/Nordstroms/Macys, it's probably because they are relatively new on the scene (since 2006). I think the husband and wife team (Makowsky is married to fellow handbag designer Kathy Van Zeeland) have found their niche in the $200-$300 range. Made from super-malleable drum leather, or 'glove' leather, the bags feature metal hardware that really stands out against clean lines and a minimalist silhouette. A couple past collections had a teensy bit of fringing, studding, or weaving. On the whole, these are just really elegant leather bags in rich colours and traditional shapes. Look for the telltale leopard print lining from the past few years or the current paisley version.

Lahaina satchel $99 (Reg $250) on Amazon
So, why B Makowsky? Well, I recommend buying handbags much like you would buy a cantaloupe, using both appearance and intuition - touch, sniff, hold one in each hand to judge the difference in weight and heft. Of course, you could just take my word that this is the cantaloupe for you. The leather, being drum dyed, should retain it's colour even if scratched or scuffed (the dye penetrates the hide better). The chunky metal hardware usually has a satin finish and is really sturdy, especially when held up against brands of comparable price like Roots, Fossil, and Coach. If you're particularly brutal on your baggage I'd recommend a style with thicker straps to prevent fraying or breakage. You're going to want to wear this bag for a while!

Q: Why did God invent beer?

A: So the Irish wouldn't rule the world.
Every once in a while I treat myself to a foreign fashion magazine, the kind you have to get at a megaretailer like Chapters rather than the corner kiosk:

A) It makes me feel extra fancy while I sit in my Hanes sweats and drink coffee.

B) I can forgive the unavailability of some items, language barriers, and constant currency conversion; I don't exactly make a laundry list of "price upon request" items I plan to buy out of US Vogue anyway.

C) The Sartorialist, being but one man, can only take fantastic street-style photos and blog about them one locale at a time. I need more globetrotting peoplespotting than that, but just don't have the Air Miles.

I was recently farmsitting for my folks while they, being semi-retired, pubcrawled across Ireland. Mama Bear sent envious highlight emails while I looked after the geriatric cat and octogenarian dog. Now, this hometown is too small to stock the latest issues of Vogue Italia or Jalouse (you would have to drive 100 clicks just to find a Playboy, my male friends tell me), so coming back to the city a few weeks later I feel a might out of sorts.

To hear Mama Bear tell, it's all paint-on skinnies and jeggings (*shudder* - worst chimera ever!) over there. And although Papa didn't allow for an official Arnott's visit, she managed to make note of the biggest trends. Handkerchief hems, lots of swingy/draped tops, rugby jerseys, and everything is over-accessorized (by North American standards, that is). Even the men have style. They're beating us.

It's unsurprising that the Irish are ahead of our curve, just like the British cousins. High Street retailers like Topshop, Next and French Connection consistently churn out affordable designs that both mimic and inform high fashion. Now, I'm not saying that Frida Giannini is scouring the H&M sale rack before designing Gucci's next collection, but the last few decades have seen a real shift in semiotics of fashion, in the dynamic between producer and consumer.

Designers cater to celebrities, who have the tremendous exposure required to launch careers in an industry of which they are not, strictly, a part (only Mrs. Obama could make a name like Prabal Gurung remotely pronounceable).

Consumers-come-connoisseurs are the new front-row staples (Tavi, bless her prepubescent heart) and designer muses (think models-turned-actresses-turned-spokesmodels Diane Kruger & Charlize Theron).

Remember Madonna (mis?)appropriating the 80's gay scene and Gwen Stefani incorporating Tokyo's Harajuku district style into her stage show and clothing line. These paragons of reinvention have been pirating street style for decades, but the industry acceptance of such tastemakers' legitimacy and importance is something new. Most recently, street style bloggers (ie: less euphemistically, peoplewatchers) have become the arbiters of what is 'happening'. The truly apt of this group are also the most valuable, commercially. Those who can spot what is about to happen, are worth their weight. Trendforecasting agencies hunt for people so in-the-know that they can predict oncoming tidal waves of consumer desire; it pays to be a precogniscent peoplewatcher. Seems they get swag and sometimes (gasp!) real jobs.

Two of Ireland's best Facehunter-esque blogs:

1) Fashionfilosophy claims to be "Ireland's 1st" street-style and fashion blog.

2) Also, DublinStreets is cute.

I am curious enough to do a little more research into what the fine Irish lads and lasses are wearing. In July of this year, The Irish Post issued a collection of six stamps honouring Irish designers and their eponymous collections. It's a good place to start, at least until I get my hands on a copy of If magazine.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Walking into Spiderwebs

Vera Wang necklace on last season's runway

Antik Batik Anka Bag $495

Just in time for Halloween, arachnid accessories are everywhere again. The deep, loopy fringe is on a more bohemian bent this time, festooning exaggerated bib necklaces especially well.

This Antik Batik design could be recreated by the experienced DIYer, or perhaps with a little help from the lovely middle-aged ladies who inhabit bead stores.

Anka Necklace $187.00-

Leather cord to tie in slipknots $5.50-

Thin wire or fishing line $2.77-

Glass seed beads in 2 sizes $16.44-

Follicle transplants to replace hair you tore out in frustration $788.00=
Total Savings -$625.71

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mullet Dresses

I get a lot of use out of my Mullet Dresses. They're business up front, party in the back - day-to night dressing for dummies. Just cover up the 'party' when the sun's still up. I either throw a blazer over or a slim jersey tee under. So easy.
left: Sheri Bodell Evermore Harness Dress $304
right: Alice + Olivia Grody Dress $242
both @ Shopbop

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Louise Erhard Nature Bangles $112
Seen in LUCKY (Oct 2010)

Mama Bear was constantly shopping. We had a dedicated cupboard to store things bought as nondescript hostess or bridal shower presents as well as a huge under-the-bed cache of more targeted purchases, for specific nuclear family members. Much like other hereditary etiquette-based habits (ie: writing thank you notes and leaving legible phone messages) the gift cupboard has stuck with me. Even when flat broke, my present pile prevents me from swanning into someone else's home empty-handed. I am currently sitting on a collection of Company's Coming Cookbooks (everyone needs a little Jean Pare!), handknit hats and scarves, bottles of liquor and fancy-pants vases.

One of my favorite places to shop for cute everyman gifts is online, at various museum and gallery gift shops. International shipping is usually quite reasonable, and the gift's recipient gets the added warm fuzzy of having supported worthwhile arts and culture initiatives (it's like buying a star in someone's name or donating to a cause, only without their resentful feelings of being ripped off, left without tangible swag.) It's also possible to find truly meaningful, resonate items: Mr. Clean, a local builder and friend, had been desperate but unable to see a distant Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition. He was thrilled to receive the MOMA anthology of FLW's works. I even found a Lego-esque kit inspired by the architect's legacy fit for his two young sons. My best finds are usually something along those lines: books, kitschy homewares or quality kids toys. Check out some of the current offerings at MOMA and The Whitney.

Rock Out Organic Teether/Rattle $28

Magnetic Watering Can $68

Salt n Pepper

PS: If you haven't seen Exit Through the Gift Shop (a limited release film by legendary graffiti artist Banksy), please do.
Informative, interesting, incisive.

The Little Black Dress vs. The Big White One

Two of my favourite blogs operate around the same principle, multifunctional fashion.

The Uniform Project is now in it's second year and is a true testament to the socially conscious, legitimate journalism that blogging can be. Founder Sheena Matheiken wore the same LBD for 365 days, successfully fundraising for third-world education initiatives. You may have read about her as one of Elle's Women of the Year in 2009. Now there are several more campaigns underway, complete with 'dailies' of each pilot girl's unique styling choices (1 month of LBD wearing per cause). Fantastic!

My Ex-Wife's Wedding Dress is also all about sustainability, as well as having a creative outlet through which to channel our innermost selves. However, the birth of this blog was less goodwill, more good riddance. When Kevin Cotter's wife of 12 years left him, she abandoned her wedding dress and told him to do "whatever the $%@#" he wanted with it. And, boy, has he. The list of 101 (projected) uses includes: yoga mat, floss, scarecrow, Tug of War rope, pasta strainer, hammock, Smart Car cover, and shower curtain. Fantastic and funny!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Fall/Winter 2010
It's about to get cold. In less than a month, Calgary's corporate fashionistas will be swanning in and out of The Core wearing their melton wool coats, mid-length, with leather piping, exaggerated funnel necks, and asymmetrical buttons. Most of them will be wearing an actual, or imitation, Mackage (see also: sister brands Soia & Kyo and Rudsak). Even their earliest designs (mine is 10 years old) still look sharp and modern.

Lexi $495

The company, founded by two Montreal natives, just debuted at New York Fashion Week (Calgary Herald article here). Big whoop - the inaugural Spring/Summer collection was shown in 'The Tents'; it's their top-quality outerwear that has already made Mackage a colossus North of the 49th. With prices in the $350-$700 range, it could be considered an aspirational brand. Still, in my part of the country which has but two seasons (Winter and July), I cannot think of a more worthy investment.

Marie $570