Monday, February 20, 2017

I am reading and rereading this 2016 publication because it is an extraordinary view behind the scenes of 30 out of 36 of McQueen's shows and it is from a fantastic photographer's perspective. How does Robert Fairer manage to take these unique photos? How does he make models step out of their mannequin stance and look at him and us, the readers? How did he get to those shows and meet the right people to eventually work for American Vogue? How does a book become a way of preserving McQueen's legacy, as he so wished, and how did the photos come to be so well supported through such an informative, yet concise Preface by Sally Stringer, contextual setting: Directing The Eye by Claire Wilson, Fairer's map of the photographer's journey: Capturing The Unseen, detailed notes on the collections, further resources and an extensive index? Three main themes recur throughout the 351 pages: 1) Fairer's early interest and ongoing passion for finding the story and capturing it in images organized to tell it, 2) life long practise of the techniques (lighting, editing, finding unique locations, being there unobtrusively) 3) building respectful, collaborative relationships. People invite him to take photos, buy and collect his work, write with him, and communicate with him for his camera and for the photos that make this one, a comprehensive description not only of the fashion genius that was Alexander McQueen, but also extensive evidence of the wonderful eye that was watching.


Fairer references the change from film to digital, increased access to the shows, which went from private salons to public runways, the increase in photographers from one expert to a team, from the edge of the stage, to the pit, to the highly sought back stage access. That privilege and definite advantage became his exclusively. But imagine the pressure to get the best shots, and find the layers of story, of culture, of history, of the "terrible beauty" of nature and the world. Capture it and get it out there immediately.

My eye is drawn to the powerful hands of the models. These are hands that can hold weapons and give orders. Hands of the hairdressers and make-up artists, work deftly and create real characters that look out at you from the page. Hands of the makers, the sewers, the set designers, and those of McQueen, himself as he is rushing around purposefully, engrossed in his vision. My eye is drawn too, to the eyes, made up, feathered, exaggerated, all looking ahead to the runway, yet always some that look back at the photographer. We see you and we know you'll make us look great.
And so, to the relationships that Fairer has worked hard to make and keep. He begins with his father, who he credits for encouraging Fairer's interest in technology - the tools of his trade. His wife, introduced him to fashion shows and has been a partner every step of the way. The models are his friends. So this is not only a very important historical record of the tremendous talent of Alexander McQueen, it is also a very important map of how a photographic journey is magnificent but not lightly taken.

There is much more here that must be seen and savoured. Fairer's Alexander McQueen Unseen, is a reference book that should grace the tables of all of the design and photography colleges and universities. A documentary beginning with the book and having the scenes unfold from that, would be fantastic. Meanwhile you should open it up for yourself.

 All images below courtesy of Yale University Press

Wanting to keep the Valentine's Day celebrations going, Shelley Klassen, Blushing Boutique hosted a beautiful evening of transformation through color and style, both through her own fabulous designs and featuring presentation and expert consultation by Tracy Richardson, Image Consultant and Personal Stylist. A big audience learned about face shape, necklines, colors, best clothing and accessories, make up and more. Two volunteer models were styled up and what an amazing difference! Every person went home with an opportunity for an hour of free consultation, whether it be wardrobe, interview presentation or special event look. Tracy has the expertise and Shelley has just the dress for you. The events at Blushing Boutique are always a great opportunity to network and to learn how to look your best. Seeing Blushing Designs at Fashion Week showcases a highlight of fashion in Vancouver. Here she is at VFW 2016.

Tracy Richardson is not only a super busy stylist and image consultant, but also gives back so much to the community. Here is she is at My Sister's Closet thrift boutique on Seymour and Helmcken, showing us how to do transformations on a daily basis. (All to support battered women and their families)

Thanks for some sunshine on these rainy, gray days, Shelley and Tracy!

Friday, February 17, 2017

February 12, just before Valentine's Day, we got ready for romance by hearing Ivan Sayers describe all the history of where he bought the outfits, as well as the history of the 20th century, through the 'special' dresses worn by the models at yet another fabulous SMOC event. You can see all of the photos online at Additionally, you can sign up for tickets, memberships and the SMOC newsletter. Two upcoming events are Bizarre Bazaar, Sun. Mar. 19th at Hycroft, 11-4. Vendors will have vintage items for sale and SMOC Collectibles will be 50%. On July 1, Canada's 150 birthday, Ivan will host a 150 years of Canadian Fashion at Roedde House Museum, in Vancouver's West End. Watch for the latest!

For this post, I chose to focus on the details: hats, bags, shawls, pearls, and fabrics. Just a glimpse of what caught my eye and a few close-ups. Ivan is such a great speaker and his models, so accustomed to showing off all of the features of each look, that time flies by and I always want more, more, more.

Ivan began by describing an early Edwardian dress from 1905, cotton, muslin material with painted roses. High collared, corseted waist, puffed sleeves, S shaped curve from hat tilted forward, to pouter pigeon chest, tiny waist and pleated, voluminous long skirt. Note the little bag on her wrist and hands full with the bag and perhaps a parasol. Beauty by impairment, fragile ornament to be protected.

A regency revival look with pink, machine embroidery, flowers on the 
hat to match the dress, 1905-1911, broader dress shoulders and broader brim on the hat.

1915 Hat ribbon draws the eye down, lace flounce on it 
may be recycled or upcycled from another outfit.

1920's cotton, silk shawl, machine knit, fringes, beads, 
exotic - suggesting orient and travel. (From a bigger world)

Craft Coat - Canadian 1943-48, with ethnic embelishment such as 
embroidery. Love the color contrast. Hat tipped saucily over forehead.

1945 - Women are still in the kitchen. 
Material with kitchen utensil design: salt and pepper shakers.

1950's Tiny little hat, decorative, but not too much material. Matching swing coat and dress that moves or undulates...swirling as you walk.

Blast from the past and what do you see, currently, that reminds you of what came before?

This exhibit, at the beautiful Fairmont Pacific Rim, is a visual delight and has two floors of layered surprises. It touches on all of the senses: architecture, art and fashion to see, music and conversations in many languages to hear, tea and food experiences, and so many silks, surfaces, boxes and products at MUJI pop-up store  and BEAMS street style boutique, to touch and open. As advertised, it is "an exhibition of Japanese Art, Architecture and Culture".

The brochure for JAPAN UNLAYERED, is a fold out work of art. The cover features a small scale model by Master Architect Kengo Kuma, who is designing The Tokyo Summer Olympics 2020 Stadium and a new highrise in Vancouver, The Alberni, on Alberni. An exhibit map and guide, follow. In simple, grey, white and red, the information is concise and easy to read.The photo of his teahouse is an invitation to walk out to the terrace of the Shaw Tower, for a ceremony of delight.
At the entry to the exhibit, I was instantly drawn to the red layered dress by Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garcons, and to Yohji Yamamoto's menswear. Both of these brought back vivid memories of Japan Fashion Week and of an exhibit and fashion show at the Seattle Art Museum, about the history and influence of Japanese fashion on students of fashion design, here.

Loved the Japanese embroidered jacket by BEAMS. Wearable art in brilliant blue and glittering gold!
A row of Kimonos 1946-67, stunning in fabric, and layers of color and intricate folds, cast geometric shadows what was originally a very plain wall beside a staircase to the second floor.
I couldn't resist somehow being in the middle of one of the 21 small scale models of Kengo Kuma's  architectural projects. And that's what it is all about...being there and seeing how much Japan brings to Vancouver.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

On January 25. 2017, I attended an evening of networking with Vancouver entrepreneurs, business leaders, film makers, students, artists...all excited to be there and all with strategies and resources to share. Membership in powHerhouse connects you to: a digital profile, an quarterly magazine to which you can contribute, access to powHerhouse talks, speaker series, the chance to be on PowHer TV, special pricing for the Learning Lab, free insertions to OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS, a shared announcement board, and an opportunity to participate in their social impact project: Canadian Women Care (CWC). Much more at

While I was waiting to get into the venue, the majestic Imperial Hotel, 319 Main Street, I met a second year Langara (a major sponsor of the evening) student, studying Environmental Science, who was at her first powerHERhouse event. I told her that being part of a group, like this one, where lots of questions will be eagerly answered, is key to learning more about leadership and honing your own skills. In discussing her career path, I suggested that she take Computer Science and Business courses to explore the huge range of options in her field. The need for Career Development/Counselling is huge and very much needed at all levels of school and work. The launch of POWHER TV, with the movie/doc DREAM, GIRL will provide a whole new venue for this as well as a host of content that we can help shape.

DREAM, GIRL, produced by Erin Bagwell and Komal Minhas, ( is a wonderful documentary about women who have big dreams and fulfill them. Erin and Komal did their own extensive fund raising, founded their own company, DREAM, GIRL, LLC and are taking this movie to over 70 countries. Huge impact and 'dream it, do it' accounts from successful women entrepreneurs.

Erin Bagwell and Komal Minhas (source)

Keynote from founder of powHerhouse, Charlene Sanjenko, followed by Cheryl Wheeler and Heather White and a panel discussion of responses to the film, were thought provoking. motivational and fine examples of how we are so capable of accomplishing our goals and being leaders. There were quotes from Gloria Steinem, and Maya Angelou, and when we came in to watch the film, the theme song, "Who Can Turn The World On With Her Smile" from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, was playing.

Tasty and artfully designed catering, spacious setting, time for meet and greet, thoughtfully planned presentations, fabulous film, and membership with like minds. What more? Find out by getting connected with powHerhouse.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

As you saw from our last post, I visited Vancouver and My Sister's Closet during the December holiday. I only had one day in Vancouver before heading to Vancouver Island to spend time with my family before the MBA Games 2017.

Here are a few photos from my adventures in Vancouver and Nanaimo prior to the MBA Games. We stayed at the beautiful Tigh-Na-Mara resort, where we had a waterfront view. It was great to get out for a beach walk every morning and take some time to slow down. Although not for very long! 

Hope you are having a great start to 2017!

Over the Lions Gate Bridge

Waiting for the ferry at Horseshoe Bay

Ferry views

Colleen at Tigh-Na-Mara

View from our room

Beach walks

Joking around

Colleen at Goats on the Roof with lucky Buddha

New Year's Fireworks!

New Year's Day adventure to Courtney Comox

Thrifted finds from the Salvation Army in Parksville

Boots at front are from My Sister's Closet
Others from Salvation Army

Let the games begin!
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