Sunday, March 19, 2023

Artist Sandi Bassett Attends a Media Preview for Dressed for History: Why Costume Collections Matter

On Tuesday, March 14, there was a Media Preview for the new Museum of Vancouver exhibit from the collections of Ivan Sayers #ivansayers, Claus Jahnke, Melanie Talkington and SMOC. Artist and Guest Blogger, Sandi Bassett was welcomed to the museum and to the preview, by Jasmine and then, Melanie Talkington led Sandi through a history of Women's Fashions 1750-2000. Sandi is a relative newcomer to B.C. and to Vancouver, so she was impressed with the beautiful setting of the museum and with the welcome and individualized tour. Where else would this happen? Where else would one be able to meet the Collectors/Fashion Historians and hear some of the stories that went into locating or being gifted/given the pieces, thrifting, trading, going to sales, repairing, and in Melanie's case, creating, crafting, modelling and setting up her own museum. 

Photo by Colleen
Artist Sandi Basset (@sandi_bassett)

Photo by Colleen
Here is Deirdre Phillips wearing one of Melanie's corsets to opening night

Sandi was impressed with the vintage silver corset, made for a customer who, at 89 years old, has the smallest waist and keeps it that way by wearing a corset every day. Her story is right alongside the corset, in the exhibit. Sandi says that it is the stories told by the Collectors during the tour, that she wishes were recorded, as they tell why and how each piece was acquired, its age and place in the history of the times. A Venetian corset, is not only old but extremely rare and how did it get here from so far away. Another corset was made on a corset loom and has no seams. A corset collection shows local and world wide creations, the sewing techniques and the advancing technology that produced them more quickly and more profitably. Hand made or machine made, which one is your preference? Come and have a look at the exhibit, on now until Nov. 2023 and visit Melanie Talkington's antique corset museum at 219 E. 16th Ave at Main. Custom Corset Fittings.

The platform shoes, (Sandi and I have worn them) and the heeless shoes are fascinating. Did you know that originally, some platform shoes had cork soles and were designed for beach wear, to protect the foot from sand and water. Platforms go far back in history and are back on the runways, now.

A blue cape, left at a drycleaning shop, was given to Ivan Sayers, as he is well known in Vancouver, for his vast collection of clothing (1750 -2000, approximately....he has more than enough to fill an entire encyclopaedia with photos and historic details, all of which he can access and share, which he does through his teaching, ongoing consultations, fashion shows and monthly events at SMOC.) The cape belonged to a Drag Troupe Group, in the early days of Vancouver. Who knew? 

As an Artist, Sandi knows a lot about the history of Art and now, thanks to this exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver, says that she can see how fashion evolves and is recreated, upcycled, recycled. The old, presented in new ways. We wear our history. 

Sandi shares some of her favourite photos. The Museum has many more, each piece taken in the best light and out of its display case. So, you should have a look and then, get a group and enjoy the exhibit together and share your stories and favourites on social media. Everyone should see this! Better yet, arrange for your own tour. Have a work meeting at the museum and team up to see this one. Lots to talk about! 

Thanks Sandi, for sharing your Media Tour and visit with us. By visiting the museum and sharing your stories, you help the Collectors and SMOC with achieving the goal of building Vancouver's Costume Museum. When I travel, I visit Costume Museums. We need one.

Museum of Vancouver
Photo by Colleen

Photo by Colleen, Artist @sandi_bassett recycled a dress and made this jacket.

Photo by Sandi Bassett. Museum of Vancouver Exhibit on from March - November 2023

Photo by Sandi Bassett - The Drag Troupe Cape

Photo by Sandi Bassett

Photo by Sandi Bassett. The oldest and rare Corset

Photo by Sandi Bassett of @melanietalkington (@laceembrace)

Photo by Sandi Bassett Heels or not

Dressed for History: Why Costume Collections Matter - At the Museum of Vancouver

Months of preparation have gone into the women's fashion from 1750-2000, currently on Museum of  Vancouver (March-June 2023). Dianna Drahanchuk, a frequent Guest Writer for the blog as well as for SMOC: Society for the Museum of Original Costume, took these photos and wrote up a talk that Ivan Sayers gave recently.

Dressed For History: Women’s fashion from 1750-2000 held February 19,2023

Ivan Sayers started his presentation by explaining that the Initial invitation by the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) was to exhibit some of his favourite things. He responded that he preferred something more thought provoking, something with a title like “Orient Expressed: Asia in fashion, fashion in Asia”. The museum didn’t care for the idea because it might seem politically insensitive. However, because the exchange between Asia and Europe had been going on for thousands of years and the influence Asians had on fashion is staggering, Ivan still hopes to put on such a show in future. In the meantime several pieces that Ivan would have liked to have included in the upcoming MOV show were displayed at this presentation.

He would have included this Chinese coat altered by cutting away the original collar to suit the fashion of the day and worn as an evening coat. It was donated by the elegant Toni Bennett who had lived across the street from Hycroft mansion. Chinese women started wearing the qipao in 1911 when women were encouraged to take higher education. The garment started off as a very plain men’s scholar’s gown but as time went by they became more fitted and more fashionable.

And a circa. 1730 – 1760 coat (not shown here) from possibly one of the most important vintage dealers in the world, Martin Kammern of London, . Because it was missing buttons he gave it to Ivan who found modern fabric covered buttons to fix it. Usually coats from this era were fastened by hooks and eyes at the stomach and flared at the neck, most likely to enable the wearing of a ruff collar.  Incidentally, elaborate neck scarves worn by dashing and brave mercenary soldiers from Croatia, i.e. dressing like a Crovat, was the origin of the “cravat”. Shown here, the 1780 coat and vest for which Ivan paid $1,700, are from Uno Langmann Antiques.

Ivan told the story about the lace industry that was in trouble during the Napoleonic wars because the borders kept changing back and forth. To overcome this difficulty a man would take his dog across the battlefield from one village to another in order to obtain lace, then head back home without the dog. The lacemaker would wrap lace around the dog and cover that with fur and the dog would return home. 

1830’s girl’s cotton all  over print dress imitating 18 century pattern. The busier the pattern was the more difficult to see printed flaws

1850’s classic plaid dress

The  dressing smoking gown, made in 1900 Vienna for a German baron of Persian damask fabric lined with Chinese silk, is regarded as oriental because tobacco was from Turkey. 

Salmon colour hobble dress by Amelia Fleuge, 1910 – 12 muse of Gustav Klimt, was Illustrated in two books. She and her sister opened a dress shop in Vienna. This hand embroidered dress was deaccessioned from a private  collection.

Blue hobble coat behind the dress came from the most important Berlin fashion house Hermann Gerson, a jewish owned business started in 1830’s until it was shut down in 1938. This piece is missing a sable or chinchilla collar so if anyone has a scrap of either, Claus would like to have it. It was sold by Macey's New York.

1920 gold and silver lame fox trimmed coat lined in silk velvet has a hand embroidered Ghetts label. This Jewish owned company that sold upper end garments especially to actresses and those in the upper echelon closed in ’36. It is the only known garment that exists from this fashion house.  

Black 1931 Egyptian influence dress from Berlin with superb interior finishing belonged to a lady whose father was a bigwig in the UFA motion picture production studios. The outfit behind the dress consists of three pieces, jacket, dress and detachable train worn in 1935. The jacket is lined with same lame fabric as the train.

The story of the rise and destruction of the Jewish fashion industry by fascism has recently been documented in a book by Claus’s friend Uwe Westphal called “Fashion Metropolis Berlin”.

The 1971 Canadian machine made cotton jersey tank top dress by JC Frederic eau Canada with a print of Pierre Trudeau’s head and his famous “Fuddle Duddle” comment was deemed too whimsical to be put into the show at MOV. 

Yellow and black jacket, that Ivan bought from Cynthia May at the last Bizarre Bazaar, is by Dorothy Grant of the Haida Nation  who took design and garment construction from Helen Dafoe here in Vancouver. Penny Priddy MLA MP for the NDP asked Dorothy to make work clothing for her. She eventually gave Ivan five outfits who passed them all on to SMOC and three of them are in the MOV exhibit.  

This 50’s Seminole skirt that Ivan got the previous day is hard to find in this part of the world. It demonstrates craftsmanship and commitment because  one strip has over 400 pieces sewed together by machine.

It was a packed presentation so Ivan and Claus had to talk fast because besides describing the artefacts displayed, more than shown here, Ivan presented two slide shows, one of the preparation for the upcoming MOV exhibit, the other of past fashion displays at the MOV. Hope to see you at Dressed for History: Why Costume Collections Matter Women’s Fashion 1750-2000 after the show opens March 16.

Thanks so much, Dianna, for recording the stories and the historical details! The exhibit is on March 16 - Nov. 2023. Get to the beautiful Museum of Vancouver and to this exquisite exhibit. Please share your favourites on social media. Everyone needs to see this.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Four (and More) Vancouver Creatives Bringing Sparkle And Shine To The Runway And To The Community Part 2 of 2.

I met Photographer Yvonne Hanson while she was at the beginning of her full time photography career (post here). She has a beautiful and very busy studio now and is travelling all over with Vancouver Fashion Week as well as for many magazine shoots and a vast array of other projects.  I interviewed her to find out more about a 12 hour, one day shoot of EWMA runway looks, a tribute to their creativity as well as to a farewell salute to Designer Vivienne Westwood. Descriptions of the shoot would include: Unique, Unconventional, Independent, Activist, Political, Dynamic, Powerful, Dark Glam, Evolving, and Inclusive and Creative Community. This series featured the hats and designs of Artist Sandi Bassett, Laurie Bricker, as well as the designs of other Artists. All are tagged in her the photographs, thanks to Yvonne Hanson and to Rainne Medina, who has organized the group shoots and meticulously kept a careful record of tags. Everyone gets credit, here! Yvonne is able to tell a story with each photograph. She is quick and accurate with her shots and manages to flatter everyone if she catches you in the frame. Yvonne wants to work with 'regular' women, of all ages and sizes. Inclusivity is key. Most people have not thought about modelling, since they think about those on the cover of Vogue or those on the runways at fashion shows. Yvonne has a talent for inspiring confidence and focusing on us as we walk and as we are, rather than freezing us in what might look artificial. She and Rainne are supporting all to make photo memories of theirs and other's work. So a closer, more appreciative look at the designs, the show and where this can lead. And, more social media to share this wealth of creative endeavour. I want to see Yvonne in more photos and perhaps even walking that special runway, this time.

Rainne Medina has many hats and talents. I met her at EWMA Store where Artist Sandi Bassett had her fabulous hats for sale and Rainne came to buy them and take them to LA., NYC and Paris Fashion Weeks and further. See my previous post on Rainne here. She is a Make-Up Artist and Photo Shoot Designer and Producer and is working furiously with local Photographers, like Yvonne Hanson and others, to get Vancouver Fashion Designers and Artists into magazines. She is such a inspiration for others to share their talents, too. Rainne does extensive research for 'looks' throughout history in Art, Music and Popular Culture, globally, both to shape and add depth and complexity to photo shoots. So for EWMA, who else can wear these Designs and who else can be inspired by the runway show and where else besides Vancouver, can this go? 

You can see Ads for Rainne's sponsor Bully Blocker in the background of many Vancouver Fashion Week photos. Bully Blocker is a Skin Care Company whose motto is: Healthy Skin. Healthy Life. It is great to know that great skin care products protect the skin of the models, who often model several different faces/looks not only each night but during the whole week. Rainne's philosophy is that everyone should get paid, whether it is time for print or sharing of skills, and that everyone involved, should receive credit. Time is so important and so fees for connecting people to photos and shoots and fees for make up, hair and outfits, are also necessary.  I am thinking that everyone should have an illuminated tag to make social media posts not only easier but ensuring credit goes where credit is due. 

I asked Rainne what she would like to see for the next EWMA collection. She would like to see Haute Couture and High Fashion. She wants to see more of Sandi Bassett's hats and Laurie Bricker's ceramic (and other materials) jewelry and clothing. She wants to see more post fashion show shoots and,  SHE WANTS TO WALK! 

This is the story of EWMA studio and EWMA store, where enterprising women create a runway show at Vancouver Fashion Week and then what can happen after that. We know they will again command that runway in April 2023 and we look forward to many follow up photo shoots and all that can evolve from them.


 Photography by Yvonne Hanson

Creative Director Rainne Medina

 Photography by Yvonne Hanson

Creative Director Rainne Medina

 Photography by Yvonne Hanson 

Creative Director Rainne Medina

Hat and Fashion Director (Sandi Bassett), Corset/skirt/accessories (Kiln Ceramic Jewelry), (wardrobe stylist (Mekal), Model (Atheing Biar), MUA (Jessica Lockert, Avery, Diego Pacheco, Rainne Medina), Hair stylist (Joy Castillo)

 Photography by Yvonne Hanson

Creative Director Rainne Medina

  Hat and Fashion Director (Sandi Bassett), Cape Designer (Leslie Lowley), Accessories (Kiln Ceramic Jewelry), wardrobe stylist (Mekal), Model (Atheing Biar), MUA (Jessica Lockert, Avery, Diego Pacheco, Rainne Medina), Hair stylist (Joy Castillo)

 Photography by Yvonne Hanson

Creative Director Rainne Medina

 Hat and Fashion Designer (Sandi Bassett), Accessories (Kiln Ceramic Jewelry), wardrobe stylist (Mekal), Model (Atheing Biar), MUA (Jessica Lockert, Avery, Diego Pacheco, Rainne Medina), Hair stylist (Joy Castillo

Four (and More) Vancouver Creatives Bringing Sparkle and Shine To The Runway And To The Community Part 1 of 2

A runway show involves the efforts of many creatives, an array of diverse artistic expression, for sure. This is part 1 of 2 blogs about 4 creatives who are taking EWMA, to the next level. The show, in itself, is a grand production, and a platform for many other projects and opportunities. EWMA X Atira, has been a dynamic runway presence Vancouver Fashion Week, for many seasons. It is produced by women creating Art at the EWMA studio and selling it at EWMA store. The designs are eco, one of a kind, found, thrifted, upcycled, recycled, handmade, a wide range of clothing, accessories, paintings, photography and more. The show necessitates collaboration, teamwork and often multiple roles for participants. Developing a theme, vision, constructing the outfits, tying the 'looks' together, accessorizing, creating the model statement walk for the collection, designing the background visual/video, make-up, the social media and then a follow up production, a record of accomplishments and a prep for the next show, this time April 12-16, 2023.

Let's begin with Artist, Sandi Bassett, whose fabulous hats caught the attention of Make-Up Artist/PhotoShootProducer, Rainne Medina, who took them to Paris, NYC, and LA Fashion Weeks. More about Sandi, and Rainne's first meeting here. Sandi has made hats and outfits for the EWMA show and this time, her green pleated pants, accessorized with a ceramic corset by Laurie Bricker of Kiln Ceramic Jewelry, were stunning. 

One of Sandi's favourite looks made by @backwardsrider, a first time sewist

Hat, jacket and pleated pants by Sandi Bassett and bra top by Kiln Ceramic Jewelry

Model Mel Yanga modelling with Kiln Ceramic Jewelry Orange Outfit by @sandi_bassett

Artists Sandi Bassett and Laurie Bricker

Mel Yanga Model and Farlee Mowatt


Sandi Bassett pants, jacket and hat and the top by Kiln Ceramic Jewelry

Kiln Ceramic Jewelry corset and earrings

Jada Modelling Sandi Bassett purple hat, outfit by @lauriebricke

Yvonne Hanson 

Sandi believes in service and has been teaching Art at EMWA studio (DTES) and working with the women who go there to be in a community who's goal is to end violence, create safe, creative spaces and teach a wide range of skills and entrepreneurship. When she began helping with the EWMA runway show for Vancouver Fashion Week, she thought she was preparing for a small event. Once there, she saw that it was a multi day event, featuring local and international Designers and Artists. VFW is truly global in that it shows in Paris, NYC, Tokyo and more. And now, many of the fabulous photographs and runway shows are featured, globally in multiple magazines, including Vogue Mexico. 

Two shows ago, Sandi worked on featured a black and white  and red theme, here Previous themes were set, but now they are determined by a team, lead by Sandi, Laurie and Farlee Mowat. For this past season I loved all of Sandi's hats and outfits accessorized by Laurie's outstanding earrings and necklaces, but Sandi's favourite was a cape, by Backwards Ryder. This cape was a first time project by a first time sewer, whose work went from the craft table to Vancouver Fashion Week. So there is much to be celebrated after the main event, the fashion show, where the outfits come off the mannequins and onto live models, some from EWMA and some Professional Models. There are many opportunities behind the scenes and on the runway, but then what? I always photograph the runway show because I admire EWMA's strong, confident models and unique designs. I include a few of my photos here, but am thrilled to see professional photographers, like Elizabeth Lim and this time, Yvonne Hanson do further shoots that show how the original designs can be enhanced by showing them, close up and in real life settings. There is great potential for these being featured in a variety of magazines, illustrating how fashion designs go beyond the runway. We learn that EWMA is so much a community builder and shows the power of women to set an example and inspired others to do so. 

The jewellery, the jewellery, let's see how these ceramic pieces have grown bigger and more complex over the seasons of Vancouver Fashion Week. I interviewed Laurie Bricker of Kiln Ceramic Jewelry find out more. Laurie started out at EWMA store as a shopper. She then brought her pieces to sell there. Later, she became a peer support worker and a teacher of ceramic jewelry. She is self taught, but has always had an eye for fashion. She has designed for 8 seasons of EWMA at Vancouver Fashion Week. Laurie collected her pieces and the work of the other Artists at EWMA for their first professional photo shoot with Photographer, Elizabeth Lim. These two giant talents made a great connection and in her words: "EWMA garments and jewelry are meant to be immortalized in photographs, portrayed in a creative lights." Laurie says she started with single strand small necklaces and earrings, focusing on detail and shape rather than size. Now she sees how much bigger and more complex pieces can be much more visible on the runway, but also contribute to the impact and statement and overall theme. Her jewelry is now entire garments, too. Her bikini, halters and corsets were show pieces, this season. I asked her if the ceramics were cold, but she says they heat up quickly. She loves working with all of those models who animate her work so magnificently. Do look at her instagram to see them and more fab photography by Donya Ma and Barb Model Makeup Photographer and marvellous make-up by Rainne Medina

Photographer: Cassidy Chen, HMUA: Tessa Talbot, Stylist: Elizabeth Lim, Model: Tiyana Schmidt 

Photographer: Cassidy Chen, HMUA: Tessa Talbot, Stylist: Elizabeth Lim, Model: Dalene Klopper
Agency: Chan International, Design By: Kiln Ceramic Jewelry, Corset: Corset Story

Photographer: Cassidy Chen, HMUA: Tessa Talbot, Stylist: Elizabeth Lim, Model: Ansu Klopper
Agency: Chan International, Design By: Kiln Ceramic Jewelry, Heels: Public Desire

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Edie Orenstein, Vancouver Milliner and Illustrators at SMOC - Jan 15, 2023

Very enthusiastic about hats and usually wearing one, I greatly enjoyed Edie Orenstein's presentation about Women's 1940's hats. I wore a classic, wool, green beret and green necklace and earrings by Carolyn Bruce. Have lots of hats, made on a block and hand stitched, some with feathers, some with bows and some accessorized with brooches. Edie's were much more sophisticated and constructed of better materials and much more complex in construction and design. The hats came from several collections including Edie's. There were hats from Ivan Sayers, Claus Jahnke and SMOC.

Edie says that berets are on always on trend; it's that romantic connection to the French Beret. I like it because it is chic, fits well, can be worn on either side of my head or at the back or front and always stays on. Easy care and easy to style up or leave plain. When I wear a beret, I think of story and maybe even try to make that happen. There is a global explosion of hat making and wearing now. A lot are machine made and consequently more affordable. Hats are worn for a wide variety of events. but I hate to see them at the table. Whatever you choose and where ever you might go with them, Edie says it takes confidence and planning. She sees hats as sculptures so they are statements and wearable ART. 

Hats are political, cultural and historical. Compare flamboyant hats of the boom years with the smaller, more economically made ones of the war years. Think of the times and who was allowed to Design and who was excluded/forbidden from having any business at all. Claus Jahnke has many rare hats and labels that exemplify creativity despite desperate times. 

Edie encourages us to think about what is powerful about a hat. What do you want it to be? Is there a statement to be made? What story might you tell about the maker, the history, the origin and will the stories be shared with other hat wearers? At an event or just every day? And speaking of events, there is a great one coming up at the Museum of Vancouver. Opening night is March 15th and the exhibit runs from March 16 throughout 2023! It is a vast exhibit of 4 collections: #IvanSayers, Claus Jahnke, SMOC (society for the museum of costume) and Lace Embrace Atelier and Antique Corset by Melanie Talkington.

Here are some of my Hat Event photos of Edie Orenstein and other familiar collectors and makers. But, additionally, two new faces: Madison Prangnell and Forest Tomlin are two who are new to SMOC and made reels of what they saw. Forest's illustrations are also featured throughout this post!

First hat presented by Edie Orenstein


Illustration by Forest Tomlin of pink hat with flowers


Edie Orenstein

Lynn Katey in her Audrey Hepburn hat

Illustration by Forest Tomlin of Lynn Katey's outfit

Ivan Sayers and Lynn Katey

Ivan Sayers, Lynn Katey, William S. Walker, Milliner, and Dianna Drahanchuk

Claus Jahnke and Jenna Johnson of Cappelleria Bertacchi, Gastown

Edie Orenstein demonstrating the way to wear the hat

Edie Orenstein

Edie Orenstein and her audience

Marlo de Vaal, in white gloves for those special hats

Edie Orenstein through a hat

Edie, Marlo and Ivan

Marlo de Vaal

Forest Tomlin, Colleen Tsoukalas, Madison Prangnell

Illustration by Forest Tomlin

Illustration by Forest Tomlin

Illustration by Forest Tomlin

Illustration by Forest Tomlin

 Illustration by Forest Tomlin

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