Friday, October 03, 2008

Fashion School 101 - Life is a Carousel

This week during fashion design class I was given the daunting task of designing my first collection. Students were instructed to find an inspiration and use our new-found illustration techniques to design a fabulous 6-piece fall collection. This seemed like an autumn breeze at first, but of course, our assignment wouldn’t be a challenge without a catch reminiscent of Project Runway Canada.

To become successful designers we must master the art of creative problem solving and so we were given four carefully selected, not pretty fabrics which must be used in our collection. Never backing down from a challenge, I decided fairly quickly that my inspiration would be carousels and the enchanting horse silhouettes these children’s rides evoke. Through this assignment I realized that I can be more playful in how I dress and find new inspiration every day to elevate my personal style.

Inspiration is the building block of most collections, but it can also be a building block for your own personal wardrobe and style sense. Fantasy and imagination can lead to unexpected outfits and can inspire you to combine old pieces in your own closet in new ways. This leads me to ask, what inspires you when you get dressed in the morning?

Designer Spotlight: Bronsino

prototypes of new Bronsino designs

So, I have finally taken the plunge. After much hemming and hawing, I gave in to the inevitable: I must own a Haarlem bag. I became intent on purchasing the bag after I found out that some of the bags are made of reclaimed leather. And since I couldn't find one in the shops, I contacted the designer.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Denise Wilson, the creator of Bronsino Designs for Living and Patina Designs, this afternoon. We met in the studio she shares with Amy Stewart, designer of Olie. What started as a shopping mission became a lovely conversation about Denise's work.

Denise started Patina after her hand-bound journals were noticed by a local store owner. Since then, the label has grown to include colourful coin purses and handbags.

Four years ago, the Bronsino line was developed because Denise wanted the challenge of working with larger forms. The bags that comprise the line are all hand-made and are utterly exquisite. The leather is reclaimed (usually off-cuts from the furniture industry) or ordered from environmentally-aware Italian tanneries. Denise also inspects every item before it is tagged, to ensure the highest quality for the consumer. As she says, "A bag needs to be perfect before it goes out."

I left Denise's studio with my very own reclaimed Haarlem. I was initially charmed by the craftsmanship of the bag, but was ecstatic to learn that it was produced ethically, with minimal waste and harm to the environment. Denise is very conscious about reducing waste, and does so at every opportunity. The material she uses to sew the linings are also reclaimed from upholsterers. And she rarely throws out off-cuts because the leather is used to make buttons, accents, jewellery, and tags. In the studio, everything has a use and old leather coats await reincarnation as a bag or coin purse.

Denise and Amy are celebrating their new studio (they moved in this spring) in the eclectic Mergatroid Building this weekend with the Bronsino & Olie sample sale, so don't miss out. Also, keep an eye out for them this fall during the Eastside Culture Crawl.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Generation Next SS09 Review

Apologies for not getting this up sooner everyone!

The third edition of Generation Next took centre stage at BCFW last Thursday. In front of a packed house, this season’s finalists presented three distinct mini-collections in their bid for the title of Generation Next Designer Spring/Summer 2009.

Opening the show were Jenny Yen and Tabitha Savoie from Two of Hearts. The duo’s eco-friendly collection was sporty, urban, and colourful. They had some interesting screen printed pieces; I quite liked the butterfly design on the yellow tunic top. My favourite look was probably the menswear inspired sleeveless shirtdress. The collection had a very young aesthetic overall, perhaps a little too young for my personal taste. I much preferred their 1970s-inspired fall collection, which Lisa talked to Jenny and Tabitha about in an earlier post.

Next up were Michelle Lee and Garry Favell for Joseph and Elizabeth. The colour palette for this collection was generally limited to black and white, with hints of cream and grey. There was a definite sophistication to the pieces, from the more professional looks to the final full-length gown. Personally, and possibly because I don’t wear suits or evening gowns often, I had more of an affinity for the casual pieces. I loved the cropped motorcycle jacket and what I read as a variation on the tuxedo (little black vest over a cream handkerchief top, paired with black cigarette pants). I would’ve loved to see a more vibrant palette, but then again I love colour more than most people!

Rounding out the finalists was Red Jade designer Margarita Angelatos. The first look struck me as a bit boho-schoolgirl… but in the best possible way. There was a quirky quality to Margarita’s pieces that I really appreciated, and it didn’t take away from the femininity of the garments. I also liked the sculpted collars on both the belted, beige shift and the brown trench coat. There was a combination of casual fluidity and architecturally-inspired detailing that I found appealing. The tailoring may not have been quite as well-executed as that of Joseph and Elizabeth, but this was the definitely the collection after my heart.

After deliberation, the judges revealed their pick as Generation Next Designer S/S 2009: Margarita Angelatos of Red Jade!

Afterwards, I got the chance to speak to and congratulate Margarita. Having beaten out some tough competition for the top prize, Margarita said she was truly honoured by the result. Red Jade, comprised of eco-friendly natural fabrics, draws upon her love of European styling. Margarita also expressed her desire to create clothing that is sophisticated and feminine, while also being sexy and edgy.

Some other interesting tidbits about Margarita: her all-time fashion icon is Audrey Hepburn, she’s very much inspired by the work of Alexander McQueen, and she used to teach a fashion school design class prior to launching her line.

Keep an eye out for Red Jade at the next BCFW and beyond!

All photos by Shallom except 6th and last (mine)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bronsino and Olie Studio Sale!

Check back soon for reviews and pictures from Lara Presber and Anna Kosturova at BC Fashion Week!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ishara Sends you in the right Style Direction

Ishara celebrated their grand opening at Oakridge Centre on September 30th. "Ishara" meaning "to send someone in the right direction" is exactly what this new retailer accomplishes - in a styling course of fashion. Store owner Amrit Baidwan certainly is qualified, as she was seen in an LBD by Development by Erica Davies on opening night.

Amrit selects contemporary brands from the US and France. Ishara carries denim labels from J Brand, James Jeans, and Rich & Skinny. I tried on a pair of James Jeans, retailing at $176, known for leg lengthening and butt lifting properties. The silk lined waistband was super comfortable, but the monotoned wash did nothing for this journalist's short legs. For everyone else who can pull of a 32" inseam, these jeans are definitely worth trying.

Although Ishara has only one local jewelry designer, there's no shortage of the eco-local-sustainable trend. Fashion brands at the store include Rory Beca and Graham & Spencer, both of which do most of their manufacturing in North America.

Other labels carried at Ishara include Development by Erica Davies, Madison Marcus, Sophia Eugene of NY (carried exclusively at Ishara in Vancouver), Charlotte Ronson, and more. It's been called the Intermix of Vancouver, the New York based multi-brand contempary designer store where all the younger fashionistas flock to for contemporary style found outside of the big deptarment stores.

#1 #2
1) Sophia Eugene top, $165
2) Alice & Trixie top, $198

Amrit wanted to create a "girl's ultimate closet" with Ishara. Upon stepping into the store, you are immediately greeted with headboards and curtains on the wallspace, interspersed between graphically designed wall paper. This boutique-in-mall unique concept creates a great shopping atmosphere. Add in the complimentary water and lip balm, and we'll be set to spend the night shopping!