Saturday, May 21, 2016

Written by Dianna Drahanchuk

The last words in Alison Freer’s book are that “she doesn’t believe in any ‘rules’ for fashion and neither should you”. My thoughts exactly.

In this easy to read book, Alison starts by stressing the importance of fit to make your clothes look and feel amazing. Next she outlines ideas on how to create a signature style without paying attention to 10 fashion rules like “don’t wear white after labour day” and “don’t wear boots in summer” with solid reasons why the rules can be broken.

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After 15 years of shopping every day to dress actors and other celebrities for the movies, stage, commercials and the red carpet, Alison knows how to be prepared for any clothing malfunction. She shares her toolkit and gives examples of how simple tools like a safety pin can be used to fix such problems as static cling (pin one on the bottom of the clothing item) and how to relieve scratchy seams with moleskin.

Since there are no rules, Alison claims that “dressing for success is dead”, but keeping your clothes in top condition is a must. To organize your wardrobe, she advocates hanging everything up, and includes illustrations on how to hang sweaters, so that pieces will be ready to go in a flash. Additionally, she observes that if you don’t hang it, you won’t see it and you won’t wear it.

I loved the first thing she notes in her chapter on underthings and that is to “throw your shapewear in the trash”. She suggests alternatives and goes on to discuss topics such as panty line and bra fit.

Alison prefers to machine or hand launder clothing, even most pieces labeled to dry clean only. She offers pointers on maintaining, cleaning and bringing footwear “back from the dead”. My favourite trick, that I will probably never use, is one for curing stinky leather that she learned while travelling with a rock band: spray the insides of the offending items with cheap vodka. A stain glossary with instructions on how to get rid of most stains is found at the back of the book.

Her advice for shopping vintage and thrift is to start by knowing your measurements and to go with a tape measure so you don’t have to try on so many pieces. There is a précis of 20th century century style to help identify the decade pieces originated from or were influenced by.

She devotes a chapter to menswear with pointers on how to measure for clothing, how to wear pants, shirts, ties and formal wear. Ironically, after claiming that there are no rules, she stipulates one rule for men on how to wear blazers (spoiler alert - never do up the bottom button).

This is an easy to follow “every person’s” guide to dressing comfortably and well. Brava Alison!

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Photos and post by Dianna Drahanchuk

On Sunday April 24th Ivan Sayers set out to prove that Vancouver’s poor reputation for unfashionable dress was just plain wrong. All the clothing on the mannequins and live models were worn, and some also made, in Vancouver.

Ivan started by showing the once again sold out event 1880’s dresses with the “horse’s bum”, all the rage in Europe at that time. With good humour he explained how world events often helped shape the style of women’s clothing through the decades. The progression ranged from “S” to “X”, to straight up and down, to natural, with emphasis or deemphasis on different parts of the body, from a mature image before WWI because men in power were older, to after WWI to a more youthful look when soldiers became the focus. Throughout, Ivan’s wit captivated the audience, entertaining while educating. I am pleased to share the following images and notes. Check SMOC’s website and Facebook page.

Foreground 1886-88 dress rescued from the attic of a house slated for demolition, 
back emphasized with “S” shaped silhouette; background dress after 1893 
depression requiring styles more simplified and naturally shaped using less fabric. 

Hollow tree in Stanley Park, 1890’s “X” shaped silhouette, 
emphasis on sleeves (photo from World Archives)

Oldest known dress in collection with Vancouver label “Drysdale" 
dating from the early 1907-08 belonged to a newspaper reporter (left)

Illustration from 1902 Woodward’s mail order catalogue, pouter pigeon 
breast, corset shape, Art Nouveau influence wrapper housecoat (right)

Example of wrapper dress

Rana Vahabzadeh, event organizer, focuses on detail of a dress from the 1906’s - belonged to Vancouver family Spankie

After WWI the figure disappears, economics of the time dictated simplicity - a going away suit worn in 1921 with "Perfect Ladies Tailors" label (left)
1930’s Art Deco, dress styled simply to support artwork (right)

1940’s bias cut with waist as the focus with label Madame Rungè Vancouver (left)
1946 wedding outfit was short and simple due to fabric restrictions held over from WWII (right)

From 1948-54 the full skirt with cinched waist became the emphasis (left)
Early 1950’s cheongsam, style adapted from clothing worn by young Chinese scholars (right)

1958 circle skirt with stylized landscapes of Vancouver for the provincial centenary

Detail showing Hotel Vancouver and Stanley Park

1970’s saw a revival of the 30’s and 40’s style

This dress used to be worn in the 1980’s by “My Pet Juliette”, a well known Vancouver television singer 

Monday, May 16, 2016

I first met Marina at a series of Botanically Inspired Workshops at Van Dusen Gardens. Seeing her work was like having the garden transported right onto each scarf. A botanical treasure to keep close always! Love the natural dyes and range of colors. Hand rolled, sewn edges make these, totally slow fashion, made with human hands, individual works of art. We met again at Craft House on Granville Island, where her scarves and ties are beautifully displayed and available for purchase.

I am wearing a turquoise silk that has already been all over town. People can not resist touching it and wanting to try it on. It seems to shimmer and move in the sun and lights up any room. Marina gave me a grey one as well, and I will be sharing both in Boston and NYC, soon. Watch for VANTI Scarves worn a million different ways! Thank you Marina Georgiadis! You can find more about her here! Photo one is by Marina, two, three and four are by me and the last is by Dianna Drahanchuk.

Evan Ducharme is a local Canadian Designer of Metis Heritage, always at Vancouver Fashion Week and Eco Fashion Week Vancouver and city wide as well as sharing his collections at gorgeous studios. Recently, we were treated to ORIGIN and to beautiful photographs celebrating family and traditions. Known for his collaborations, he has an even bigger family of supporters: fellow designers, photographers, writers, followers, all! Love how he acknowledges and appreciates his Partners, Ed Team, Models, Sponsors, family and friends.

What caught my eye: the smiles of admiration and bonne fete, the artists, designers and photographers, the color, especially the oxblood chiffon against the light, soft scarf in white, camel, grey and black floating by, the design like none other and the craft of hats, veils and belts.

This is a story of who you are, your journey and how you can share it with the world.

Thank you, Evan Ducharme!

Thanks to all those who made it happen.

Photographers Colleen Tsoukalas and Dianna Drahanchuk

My favourite motto: Ever Onward!

Hot off the press this year, this is a memoir about Aldo Gucci, written by his only daughter, and heir, Patricia. This is a drama, a king's downfall, involving family disputes, betrayals from his three sons (by his first wife), and his brothers. There was a good deal of family resentment over the man's business decisions and how he chose to spend his time, with others, more than them. Everyone wanted to be in the lucrative Gucci empire circle but those who stayed loyal to the end, were his second wife, Bruna, to whom the book is dedicated, and his daughter, Patricia.

This is a three hundred page story about secrets: Bruna and Patricia lived apart from Aldo, since he was already married with three sons. It is a vivid account of business expansion, from Italy to London to New York, despite challenging economic times, war and an early family tradition of saving every cent and keeping the business small. By relentlessly moving ahead, despite all costs, Aldo Gucci's shop "...was the first shop to sell high-quality Italian products in the United States."

It was fascinating reading about Gucci's expansion of products as well as locations. One of his top creations was the famous Bamboo Bag. Everyone wanted one, especially since it was carried by Ingrid Bergman. He not only was the store for the rich, but also for the rich and famous.

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He achieved early fame and fortune, by insisting on maintaining the family tradition of excellence and absolute attention to detail. As his own father said: "This is the smell of leather, the smell of your future." Charismatic, and endlessly energetic to the end of his long life, Gucci was absolutely devoted to his business empire. It was business first and families, a very distant second and third.

In addition to his business ventures, we learn more about the personal life of the man behind the eponymous brand from the letters he wrote to Bruna and from Patricia's very positive perspective. According to her, he was a loving husband and a dedicated parent, but he was also, to their lasting sadness, completely focused on his business empire, which is still a thriving business today. He seemed to create a special, if very isolated world for Patricia and her mother. He took great pride in Patricia's achievements and supported her career choices. She worked closely with her father and was on the Board until 1987, when the company was sold.

Thanks, Patricia, for a compelling read!

Thanks also to Penny Simon, Crown Publishers and Johanna Ramos-Boyer, JRB Communications, LLC, for the opportunity to review.

Friday, May 6, 2016

This friendly two level restaurant, with front street level patio, hosted a fabulous and free open house  celebration of food, beverages and music, Thursday April 26th at 1026 Granville Street. The Fish Shack is one of Glowbal's many restaurants and exemplified that "Let me entertain you" vibe. Hardworking kitchen and lots of delicious variety of fish, seafood, savories and sweets. Tray after tray carried expertly up and down stairs, always appetizing and quickly disappearing. Service with a smile. The DJ kept those records playing and we danced, dined and met our neighbors. How cool is that! Thanks for a wonderful evening Fish Shack Staff! We will be back!

Tetyana Golota never ceases to amaze us with her many accomplishments! She is an award winning speaker, community organizer and entrepreneur who is now presenting her own collection of fashion from the Ukraine. These are a few highlights illustrating the art and craft that define and sustain the culture of which she is so proud. Embroidery and cross stitch, woven fabrics, symbols, florals, and brilliant colors characterized each outfit. She made all of the headpieces, too. Style, music and energy graced this fabulous collection. Cultural appreciation, expression and sharing. Much more is needed!
Thank you, Tetyana!

Welcomed into the fabulous Heritage Hall, by Mr. Tweed, dressed in vintage, an example of what looked good in the past, looks even better today. The Time Travelers' Bazaar has been a popular event here, since 2013. It is a gold mine of treasure for period costumes, jewellery and accessories, art, and much more. It is also a terrific backdrop and occasion for getting dressed up. Feathers, hat pins and hats, those hats flatter all faces. Look at this Steampunk Jewellery by Carolyn Bruce Designs! These are statement pieces that guarantee you won't have to say a word. Red is best! Skulls, aliens and lots of grins. Teapots galore. Radio purses. Oh, this is the best place to find what you've always wanted. Next one is Sunday, April 23, 2017. Visit the Time Travelers' Bazaar website for more information.

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