Museum Visit: 101 Tales of Fashion @ The Fashion History Museum

December 2018

fhm 3

fhm 1

fhm 2

Gallery Visit: Gordon Shadrach – Visceral @ BAND Gallery

November 2018

gordon 3

gordon 6

Gallery Visit: Through Lines @ Koffler Gallery

November 2018

koffler 3

koffler 9

Gallery Visit: Braided Roots @ The Art Gallery of York University

October 2018

Gallery Visit: Nordic Glass @ The Harbourfront Center

October 2018

Art Installation: Waterlicht @ The Bentway

October 2018

Art Fair: Nuit Blanche Scarborough

October 2018

nuit 1

Exhibition Visit: Delacroix @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art

September 2018

delacroix 4

delacroix 1

Exhibition Visit: Heavenly Bodies @ The Cloisters

September 2018

cloisters 12

Exhibition Visit: Heavenly Bodies @ the Metropolitan Museum of Art

September 2018

Gallery Visit: Free Ai WeiWei @ Harbourfront Center

September 2018

harbour 8

Gallery Visit: Museum of Failure @ The Harbourfront Center

September 2018

harbour 1

Gallery Visit: Kent Monkman @ Project Gallery

August 2018

kent 1

kent 3

kent 2

Exhibition Visit: Impressionist Treasures @ National Gallery of Canada

August 2018

ngc 1

Exhibition Visit: Tunirrusiangit – Gifts They Gave @ The Art Gallery of Ontario

August 2018

Exhibition Visit: Arctic Footwear @ The Bata Shoe Museum

June 2018

arctic 6

arctic 4

Exhibition Visit: Artistry in Silk – The Kimono of Itchiku Kubota

May 2018

kimono 1

kimono 4

kimono 5

kimono 6

Exhibition Visit: Napoleon – Art & Court Life@ Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

May 2018

napolean 3

 

 

Gallery Visit: Dorset Annual Print Collection Launch @ Dorset Fine Arts

May 2018

dorset 1

Exhibition Visit: Fashion Victims @ the Bata Shoe Museum

bata 1

Opera: The Nightingale and Other Short Fables

April 2018

coc 1Nightingale and Fablescoc 4

Exhibition Visit: Here We Are Here @ the Royal Ontario Museum

April 2018

rom 1

rom 2

rom 3

rom 4

rom 5

rom 6

rom 8

Theatre: Black Boys @ Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

March 2018

Black Boys 3

 

Black Boys 2

Image Credit: Buddies in Baddies Times Theatre

 

Exhibition Visit: Christian Dior @ Royal Ontario Museum

March 2018

ROM 3

ROM 6

ROM 5

ROM 8

ROM 9

ROM 10

Gallery Visit: Sam Vernon | Rage Wave @ Gallery 44, 401 Richmond

February 2018

sam 2

sam 3

sam 6

Gallery Visit: Philip Hare | Terrorist @ Gallery 44, 401 Richmond

February 2018

philip 1

Artist Talk: Here We Are Here | Julie Crooks, Michele Pearson Clark & Silvia Forni @ Royal Ontario Museum

February 2018

Talk 1

 

Gallery Visit: Feheley Fine Arts

February 2018

feheley 4

feheley 3

feheley 1

 

Gallery Visit: Dorset Fine Arts

February 2018

Dorset 1

Dorset 2

Theatre: Calpurnia @ Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

February 2018

Play 1

Play 4

Image Credit: Buddies in Baddies Times Theatre

Exhibition Visit: Lover, Loved, Liar | Adey Farah @ The Costume House

January 2018

adey 1

adey 2

adey 3

Exhibition Visit: Cutting the Ice | Annie Pootoogook @ McMichael Art Gallery

January 2018

annie 3

annie 4

annie 7

annie 5

annie 6

annie 8

annie 9

Exhibition Visit: The Art of Canada | Director’s Cut @ McMichael Art Gallery

January 2018

ian 1

ian 2

ian 3

ian 4

ian 6

ian 7

Exhibition Visit: Asal Bashir @ Gales Gallery, York University

January 2018

Asal 1

Asal 2

Asal 3

Toronto Offsite Design Festival: Matter | Urban Space Gallery @ 401 Richmond Gallery

January 2018

todo 2

todo 1

todo 5

Toronto Offsite Design Festival: Work/Life @ Umbra Toronto

January 2018

todo 8

todo 9

Exhibition Visit: Guillermo del Toro | At Home With Monsters @ Art Gallery of Ontario

December 2017

GDT 3

GDT 4

 

GDT 2

GDT 1

GDT 8

GDT 6

GDT 7

Theatre: Kiinalik|These Sharp Tools @ Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

November 2017

Play 2

Play 3

Image Credit: Buddies in Baddies Times Theatre

Exhibition Visit: Christian Dior: Couturier du Reve @ Le Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris

November 2017

Dior 17

Dior 1

Dior 2

Dior 3

Dior 4

Dior 5

Dior 6

Dior 7

Dior 8

Dior 9

Dior 10

Dior 11

Dior 12

Dior 13

Dior 14

Dior 15

Dior 16

Dior 18

Dior 19

Dior 20

Exhibition Visit: Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion @ The V&A, London

November 2017

Balenciaga 1

Balenciaga 2

Balenciaga 3

Balenciaga 4

Balenciaga 5

Balenciaga 7

Balenciaga 8

Balenciaga 10

Exhibition Visit: Diligence & Elegance, Japanese Textiles @ The Textile Museum of Canada

November 2017

kimono 2

kimono 3

kimono 1

kimono 4

kimono 5

Exhibition Visit: Alvar Aalto @ Ateneum Art Museum, Finland

August 2017

alvar 2

alvar 3

alvar 8

alvar 1

alvar 7

alvar 4

alvar 5

alvar 6

 

Helsinki 2017

Finland 1

Finland 2

Finland 3

Finland 4

Finland 5

Finland 6

Finland 7

Finland 8

Finland 9

Exhibition Visits: Every. Now. Then @ The Art Gallery of Ontario

ENT 1

ENT 2

ENT 11

Exhibition Visits: Commes des Garcons: Art of The In-Between @ The Met NY

June 2017

CDG 2

CDG 3

CDG 4

CDG 5

CDG 6

CDG 1

CDG 7

CDG 8

Exhibition Visits: Irving Penn @ The Met NY

June 2017

penn 8

penn 1

penn 2

penn 3

penn 7

penn 4

penn 5

penn 6

Exhibition Visits: Kent Monkman @ The Art Gallery of UofT

March 2017

kent 1

kent 2

kent 3

kent 4

Exhibition Visits: Honest Ed’s Goodbye Installation

February 2017

honest 1

honest 2

honest 3

honest 4

honest 5

honest 6

honest 7

honest 8

Exhibition Visits: The Power Plant Toronto

February 2017

Power 2

Power 3

Power 4

Power 6

Power 7

Power 9

Power 10

Power 11

power 1

Power 5

Exhibition Visits: Come Up To My Room 2017

January 2017

CUTMR 1

CUTMR 2

CUTMR 5

CUTMR 3

CUTMR 4

Exhibition Visits: Picasso & His Muses @ Vancouver Art Gallery

July 2016

Picasso 1

Picasso 2

Picasso 3

Picasso 4

Picasso 5

Picasso 6

Exhibition Visits: Manus x Machina @ The Met Museum

June 2016

Manus 1

Manus 2

Manus 4

Manus 5

Manus 6

Manus 7

Manus 8

Manus 9

Manus 10

Manus 14

Manus 11

Manus 12

City Tour: Toronto Romanesque Buildings

November 2016

Romanesque 1

Romanesque 2

Romanesque 3

Romanesque 4

Romanesque 6

Romanesque 5

Washington D.C. 2015

DC 1

DC 2

DC 3

 

DC 4

DC 5

 

2014 Couture Report: The New Pulse of Fashion


chanel couture 1 

Frequently the question is asked, how do trends occur? Where do they come from? How do they affect shifts in fashion, and by extension the way we dress? Many times the answer is hard to pin down.  Sometimes it can be divined in subtle ways. Other times the answer is unmistakably clear. For example, the couture shows this season began and ended a week ago with two major bangs – Chanel and Dior. These two couture houses, the last of the surviving old guard of haute couture, have not just kept French high fashion alive – they have reshaped it.  Couture has long been thought to be outdated and demode. But if close attention is paid to the very best of couture houses, there will be revealed the pulse of fashion, where trends originate. Both Raf Simons of Dior and Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel presented us with a crystal clear thesis statement on what is modern – lightness of cut, proportion and fabric. One that emboldens the wearer with a new spirit of agility and carefree attitude.

A New Attitude at Chanel

 First, Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld’s collection for Spring 2014 was a standout for the clear concepts it presented. The entire collection  was a masterclass in modernity.  It was all about movement and attitude.  The shapes were simple and architectural; the fabrics were light and airy.  Watching the show gave the viewer the impression that the models were comfortable, often an after-thought in fashion. This allowed the girls to move freely, with an unhindered, free-spirited energy. They ran and skipped down the staircase at the Grand Palais to emphasize this point.  Karl, in a Chanel-sponsored interview, explained the important element of the collection was the attitude of the girl. Such an elegant and carefree attitude comes from within. The right clothes serve to bring out this feeling and amplify its effects.

The show centered around the idea of elevated sportswear and architectural shapes. The latter part of the collection highlighted elaborately embroidered tunics, pullovers, and shorts. These clothes were for modern, active women. Real women in need of easy, well-made clothing that kept up with the fast pace of life, yet made them feel pampered and special. These were not clothes for the red carpet – that outdated, dream-like construction of Hollywood film studios.

This season Karl introduced a new concept – the couture sneaker. Running shoes crafted by the shoe-making House of Massaro were paired with every look, and came in luxuries finishes such as embroidered lace and python. Couture is normally worn with high-heeled shoes or boots, so the choice of running shoe was notable. This signals a definite shift in direction, to a more dynamic, free spirited attitude.  Previously this highest of fashion expression  was associated with descriptions like precious, inaccessible, removed from daily life. This Chanel couture show erased that.

New Theme of Lightness at Dior

dior 2

 The Dior couture show also made one stand up and take notice. Raf Simons’ fourth couture collection was indeed a technical masterpiece.  His sharp cut and proportions clearly point to the new theme of lightness. Inspired by his own vision of what Christian Dior might have created had he designed in the 1960s, Raf sent out a collection of trapeze shapes that were cut away from the body.  He also made a statement with the use of delicate embroideries and  distinctive cutouts, allowing a movement of air throughout the clothes as the girls walked the show.

The idea of sportswear separates also permeated the Dior show. There were cardigan coats, jumpsuits, and a couture take on the printed t-shirt. Many of the looks were paired with well cut, slim pants, while hemlines on some dresses were short in the front, long in the back.  It should be noted that active footwear also made appearance at the Dior show. Many of the couture looks were also paired back to embroidered running shoes and a new low-heeled hybrid shoe. This brought a sense of dynamism to such formal clothes.

A New Shift in Fashion

 So what does this all mean? How will this influence fashion? How will this impact what the ready-to-wear consumer purchases on a mass-market level? The most important thing the Dior and Chanel did was to introduce the news ideas of lightness and agility. They have placed these ideas front and center in the conversation on fashion. It will be on designers’ minds as they create designs for the upcoming seasons. Already there has been a perceptible shift in recent years from overwrought, inaccessible designs to fashion that does not compromise practicality for luxury. The rise of Phoebe Philo at Celine, Stella McCartney, and even Raf Simons himself are clear markers of this. Retail consumers can watch out for a definite sportswear influence, as the trend toward luxuriously crafted sportswear catches fire with other high fashion brands. Consumers should also watch out for clothing that is more sharply cut to emphasize the body while freeing it for increased movement.  These changes will serve to empower the wearer with dynamism and carefree attitude, a trend that started during Paris Couture Week at Chanel and Dior.

Images: (Chanel) 10magazine.com/au  (Dior) arcstreet.com

 

Is Holt Renfrew Prepared for Competition?

Holt Renfrew’s proposal for the Bloor Street store

In the rapidly growing retail Canadian landscape, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth avenue have recently dominated the news.  The question on everyone’s mind is – how will Holt Renfrew handle the imminent threat from the South? Is the venerable brand equipped to come out on top? Holt Renfrew has also had its share of newsworthy moments lately.  Early in February, news broke that Holts was planning a standalone sartorial store next door to main menswear rival Harry Rosen.  This news follows hot on the heels of the company’s decision to merge with Montreal department store Ogilvy and create a larger, joint-venture retail offering. Also, there is no doubt customers have been awed by Holts’ ambitious 120,000 square foot renovation of the Yorkdale store. These three locations reveal Holt Renfrew’s aggressive retail and real estate strategy to meet its competition head on. Holts is consolidating its efforts, enlarging its existing footprint, and expanding into new retail territories.

Real Estate War & Enlarged Footprint

Since opening shop 176 years ago, Holts has not faced such stiff competition. With Nordstrom and Saks  aggressively moving into the Canadian markets in the next year, the stakes have never been higher. There is now an all out war for the Canadian luxury consumer, and space is therefore limited. With Saks taking over key Hudson’s Bay store fronts, the battle for prime real estate is heating up. Saks surprised industry watchers in late January when it announced that it will set up shop in the HBC’s iconic Queen Street store. Nordstrom has already announced plans to occupy the current Sears space in  Eaton Center as its first Toronto location. In addition, it’s planning on taking up the mammoth share of the new 300, 000 square feet expansion to Yorkdale Mall.

Holts’ strategy is to play up its home court advantage. It is the established player in the market and has a clear head start, especially in terms of existing real estate. Not content to rest on its laurels, Holt Renfrew is aiming to win by enlarging these existing stores into luxurious flagships to rival the newcomers.  This is part of a grand plan to enlarge its retail foot print by 40% via a $300 million expansion, the largest in the company’s history. First on that list was the Yorkdale store. Once a dated space, the store has just finished a massive renovation that doubled its square footage to 120,000 square feet. This wise decision gives the brand a major presence in one of the most profitable malls in North America, one that will also be home to a brand new Nordstrom store in 2016.  Also on the Holts agenda is planned renovations to the flagship Bloor Street store, as well as the Calgary location. Both stores will see significant changes that will enlarge their square footage. The Bloor Street store alone will grow to a staggering 200,000 square feet, encompassing eight floors and a completely reworked site map.

Consolidation of Efforts and New Partnerships

With tight real estate competition, the leaders at Holt Renfrew are concentrating all efforts on the highest performing geographical markets. Because of this, Holts is exiting the Sherway Gardens Mall. Instead the company is choosing to erect a brand new store at the Square One shopping center, itself the subject an  $84 million expansion. Sitting at the prime intersection of booming residential areas like Mississauga, Brampton and Milton, this new location is primed to welcome a larger customer base.

The Montreal market, however, requires a different solution. Instead of closing the Montreal store, Holts has joined forces with storied Quebec department store Ogilvy.  Founded in 1866 and purchased by Holts’ parent company Selfridges in 2011, Ogilvy is a rich part of Quebec’s retailing history. This partnership will house both brands under the same roof, creating a dominant presence in the Quebec market.  With Saks soon to open in the HBC nearby, an announcement like this could not come at better time.

Expansion into New Retail Territories

While Holts is strengthening existing roots in flagship stores, it is carefully expanding into new areas of future growth. A revamped designer outlet concept, a stronger menswear focus, and plans for an e-commerce presence are telling signs. These three areas are already established domains of Nordstrom and Saks in the U.S market. For Holts to stay competitive, it must offer an alternative to its customers.  The conversion of the Last Call Outlet, previously a home for marked-down sale merchandise – to a more upscale outlet of new lower priced designer lines, was a shrewd one. A similar concept exists at Nordstrom’s ‘The Rack,’ and Saks’ Off Fifth stores. With the latter two parent companies coming into Canada within the year, it is only a matter of time before their sister outlets join the Canadian retail landscape.

Another rapidly growing market is menswear. Holts recently announced it will open a standalone menswear store concentrating on sartorial brands like Canali, Etro and Ermenegildo Zegna. A similar concept was launched by J.Crew in 2012 when it decided to give its Ludlow suiting selection a separate home. The Ludlow Shop in Tribeca, New York was such a success, another store opened soon after in Boston.  Holts is betting on similar results for its menswear shop.  The location of this new outpost next door to main menswear competitor Harry Rosen is no coincidence.  Holt Renfrew is aggressively positioning itself in an all out battle for the luxury consumer.

The last arena to jump into is e-commerce. An increasing number of consumers are flocking online to shop, a trend reflected in strong sales. Nordstrom recently released reports of an estimated 37 % increase in online sales in 2012. Furthermore,  Saks is planning an e-commerce site tailored to the Canadian market. Therefore the next logical step for Holts must be to offer a dynamic online experience that entices shoppers to purchase product in an efficient and hassle free manner.

This is an exciting time in the Canadian retail market. With new entries from Saks and Nordstrom, the fight over the Canadian luxury consumer is heating up. Incumbent Holt Renfrew seems poised to handle the competition. The brand is consolidating its efforts, enlarging its existing footprint, and expanding into new retail territories.

Images: Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co. Architects Inc.

Montreal 2014

montreal 4 (2) montreal 5 (2) montreal 2 montreal 3 montreal 6 montreal 7 (2) montreal 8 montreal 9 (2) montreal 10 (2)

Paris 2013

paris 1 paris 2 paris 14 (2) paris 13 (2) paris 5 paris 4 (2) paris 6 (2) paris 3 (2) paris 7 (2) paris 9 paris 10 paris 11

London 2013

big ben 1 london 1 london 2 london 5 london 8 (2) london 4 london 11 london 10 (2) london 12 london 9 (2)

New York 2012

100_1187 100_1201

100_1240

100_1245

 

100_1274

100_1278

100_1284

100_1290

100_1298

 

100_1306

100_1338

 

100_1397

100_1455

100_1466

 

100_1484

IMG-20110724-00323

 

 

Advertisements

Fall Couture : The Formula

patrick dior
Patrick Demarchelier’s snapshot of the Christian Dior atelier

As promised, I am posting about the Haute Couture for the Fall season. We established the identity of Madame X a few posts back, and now we get to sink our teeth into her fashion ‘buys.’ Follow along as we ask ourselves, “Would Madame X wear this?”

THE FORMULA

When shopping at couture, it is best to loosely follow a simple formula. Each fashion house has a specialty, something that they do better than any other. Buying a garment from these houses comes with the knowledge that a better constructed example does not exist. By formula I mean the following:

  1. Jackets – Dior. Christian Dior founded his house on the Bar Jacket.  A better fitting, more classically flattering example does not exist.
  1. Tweed Suits – Chanel. This winter staple is so tied to the House of Chanel that I can’t tell if which came first, the suit or Coco Chanel.
  1. Everyday Jackets – Givenchy. Newcomer Riccardo Tisci has carved a name for himself by updating and modernizing the jacket silhouette. Definitely one to follow.
  1. Ball Gowns – Dior. Unabashed romance is a house code of Dior. No one does over-the-top, Scarlet-O’hara drama like this Ave. Montaigne atelier.
  1. Corsets – Jean Paul Gaultier. He made Madonna’s iconic cone bra. Need I say more?
  1. Trench Jackets & Outerwear – Jean Paul Gaultier. What I love about JPG is that he will create a fiercely tailored piece, but will then throw in a threatrical element that will elevate an everyday item to a level of imagination few can dream up.
  1. Dinner Dresses– Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld is excellent at creating pieces that are best appreciated close up. Perfect for that cocktail or sit down dinner.
  1. Coats – Christian Lacroix. Lacroix has a painter’s soul, and the palette of his coats calls to mind the works of great artists.
  1. Red Carpet – Christian Lacroix. Once again, it his eye for colour that set’s him apart. Sure, every actress will clamor to wear the latest Chanel or Dior straight off the runway. But Lacroix has a much lower profile. Juxtaposingly, his dresses are anything but quiet. They are as individual and as poetic as the master himself.
  1. Cocktail & Pant Suits – Ralph Rucci. Simply put, the last word in quiet chic. Ralph does the Little Black Dress like no one else.
  1. Accessories – Armani. Whoever design’s the Armani Prive accessories does a brilliant job. They provide just the foil that Armani’s sometimes old-hat silhouettes so desperately need.

I say this is to be loosely followed because it’s important to be open to the odd surprise. Some seasons we may find a great corset at Chanel, while coveting the ball gown at Gaultier. While these surprises aren’t the norm, it is good to go in with an open mind. What couture does so well is that it gives us the designer’s undiluted vision. We are exposed to interesting ideas on cut, proportion, styling, colour and texture. Couture also parades before us the best embroideries, best fabrics, etc. done by some the most talented people alive today.

dovima
Dovima, wearing YSL for Dior, in Richard Avedon’s iconic “Dovima with Elephants.”

You may have noticed that I left some out well known houses – namely new comers like Anne Valerie Hash and Alexis Mabille. I can honestly say that while I have only seldomly observed their work, I was never impacted enough to investigate further. I do not doubt that they have created beautiful clothing. I have just haven’t seen it.

I have also left out Valentino, Elie Saab and have regulated Armani Prive to just accessories. There are reasons behind this:

Elie Saab is a very talented designer. He has long been the go-to for the after-dark set, but ultimately he suffers from one main problem – inconsistency. Sometimes his collections contain stunning pieces. But too often I feel that for every good frock, there are 5 hideous ones that should never had left the atelier floor. His collections have also gotten weaker in the last couple of years.

Valentino Garavani will forever be known as the king of unapologetic glamour. He made women look their most beautiful. Sadly after his retirement last spring, his house has struggled to find its footing. After promising collections by Alessandra Facchinetti, she was ousted (quite publically – she was notified via the morning paper) and replaced by a duo team of accessories designers that have flip flopped from slavish homage to overtly courting the too-young Gossip Girl audience. The House that Val built was long a mainstay for gorgeous evening dresses, and of course, the signature red dress. The new designers would be good to return to that foundation.

Armani Prive by Giorgio Armani was the last of the old guard to join the couture crew. While I think him talented, I have never thought there was anything he did better than the rest. Surely Giorgio and Co. create beautiful things, but in my humble opinion, others do them better. Couture should push boundaries or make a statement in cut, colour, fabric, etc. Sameness therefore does not cut it for me. I think his shows have greatly benefited from the hand of good stylist. Whoever styles his shows does a good job of updating his sometimes dowdy clothing with modern hair and edgy accessories. These glittering add-ons sometimes so outshine the frocks that is clear that Armani himself did not design the jewels.

Now that all this is out of the way, we can examine the clothes!!!

Meet Madame X

avendon balenciaga

                  Elise Daniels in a Balenciaga suit, shot by Richard Avedon

As I have been pouring over images of the Fall Couture collections, I have been thinking of the best way to to evaluate them. Couture is indeed an art form, and deserves to be revered as much as great sculpture and painting. But let’s not forget the medium of couture – clothes. You don’t wear a painting. You don’t put on a piece of sculpture. You wear couture. What more practical way is there to understand this medium, than through the lens of a buyer?! I thought it would be fun to create a fictional character, write a narrative of her life, define her desires, outline her schedules, and in so doing understand, “what would she wear?”

Now, it must be said that are real haute couture (h/c) buyers out there. These women are the well-heeled of the well-heeled. When embroidered dresses from Chanel can crouch close to $90,000 dollars at least, you know that these women do not worry about money. Many times they are the wives of billionaire businessmen, sheiks, or are royalty themselves. These women are largely unknown to the general public because the spotlight generally rests on Hollywood actresses and divas who don h/c to drum up publicity for the brand. However, those actresses must return the frocks the next day, whereas these women own their clothing.

Alex. A, a frequent blogger on Cathy Horyn’s blog On The Runway, runs a blog himself called The Polyglot, and is the definitive word (at least that I have found) on the couture customer. She does a great job of researching who these ladies are, and examines their stylish choices.

Alex does an amazing, and I must say – exhaustive job – of defining for us the true essence of couture. I’ve included some topics and their corresponding links for those curious minds who seek to understand more about haute couture:

Why so haute? : She examines the cost breakdown of these extravagant pieces.

High Art? : Can you really compare an embroidered dress to a Monet?

Inside an Haute Couture Garment: An intimate look at the work that goes into the clothes

These are all worth a read. Not a skim, or breeze over, but a ‘prop-your-legs-up-and-relax-with a-good-book’ read.

For now, let’s meet our stylish fashionista. Inspired by the scandalous spirit of John Singer Sargent’s portrait, let’s call her Madame X.

Well, who is Madame X? She’s 37. She is married to a Hong Kong billionaire who is CEO of a family-run construction company that is responsible for much of the construction boom in mainland China. No building above 10 stories goes up in Shanghai without his knowledge. Rumour has it that Monsieur X has ties to a powerful Hong Kong triad and is making a bid for political office next year. (If we’re going to invent this ourselves, why not make it interesting?)

Although her husband is well-established, Madame X is a self-made woman. She was born in Venezuela and grew up an only child. Raised by her aristocratic mother (The Doña) who took her to couture shows when she was a child.

Madame X went to private school in South America, and did her MBA in Paris. There she met Mr.X. They have two daughters, aged 8 and 6, and a son, 5. A working mother, she runs the client-negiations arm of a communications firm that is competitive in the global market. A tough, no-nonense negotiator, Madame doesn’t take no for an answer.

Now you’re wondering? Why all these details? Ahhh! Look closer, and you’ll see they tell a story about her habits and style:

1.      First, her marriage to a Chinese businessman is reflective of the fact that there is a new emerging couture clientele – the Asian customer. The U.S and the Middle East have long been sources of well-heeled ladies, but now that the Far East is exploding economically, a new client base has been created. Brazil and India are also emerging markets.

2.      She’s 37. That means she’s at a stage in her life where she knows exactly what she likes and what looks good on her. Yet she still has a youthful spirit that loves trying new things.

3.      She Venezuelan. That means she is a hot-blooded, passionate South American. She likes bold flavours, bold colours, sensual silhouettes. Madame X is no plain Jane.

4.      She comes from an aristocratic family. This serves to show two points. It tells us that Madame X is a woman of pedigree and upbringing. Also, her trips to the shows with her mother at a young age also make reference to couture’s past. Many of today’s clientele were similarly introduced to high fashion through this very method. Carolina Herrera is one example. She has talked about going to see her first Balenciaga show at a young age.

5.      Doña X. The other purpose is to introduce Doña X, a couture customer in her own right. Such older women still make up a large portion of couture’s customer base, and bring a list of wants and tastes all their own. We will examine some of her choices as well.

6.      Her husband has political aspirations and is a CEO. This means that there will be a full social schedule packed with balls, openings, ribbon-cutting ceremonies, press luncheons, and the like that couture caters so well to. Her husband’s bid for office means that the low-cut Gaultier number with the thigh-high slit will not be an option to be worn in public.

7.      She has three young children and is a working mother. Therefore she needs a practical wardrobe. There’s now way she can run after a 5 year old in a satin corset. This woman needs pants suits, good jackets, and things that she can throw on easily everyday. After all, no working mother I know has 3 hours to get ready in the morning.

Is it all falling into place? What we in effect have just done is create a customer based on marketing analysis of consumer buying habits. It’s Marketing 101. Using her as a filter, we will examine the Fall collections together and ask ourselves:

 Would Mme. X wear this?

Bathroom Reading

I think this is an incredibly clever idea. Leave it to the crazy Japanese to come up with something so out-of-the-box. Koji Suzuki, author of The Ring, the Japanese novella on which the American movie is based, can printed his latest horror story called “The Drop,” onto toilet paper. I came across it while reading the New York Times Magazine blog called The Moment.

Here’s the exerpt:“Who says print is dead? Koji Suzuki, the Tokyo-based author of smash-hit horror novels like the “The Ring,” has found a new publishing medium: toilet paper. Suzuki has teamed with Hayashi Paper Company, which makes novelty printed paper products for public restrooms, to manufacture rolls of toilet tissue stamped with a nine-chapter horror novella called “Drop.” The story, about a goblin living in a public restroom, places the reader at the center of the tale, and each roll contains several copies of the novella so that you can easily pick up the narrative where you left off. (A friend of mine in Tokyo said it’s so scary, she was frightened to be alone in the bathroom.) A roll of “Drop” costs 210 yen, which, at just over $2, is a fair price for disposable art.”
– Rocky Casale

 

 

On cut and craft…The Resort Shows

I’ve just spent the past couple of hours immersed in images from the Resort shows for the Summer 2010 Season and I’m overwhelmed with inspiration! I’m so inspired by images from the houses that use interesting influences and translate their work into wearable, covetable clothing!

For the uninitiated, the Resort shows occur sometime in mid-June, before the menswear shows. Resort acts as summer line or transition between the Spring Summer Collections and the upcoming fall shows.

As the name implies, Resort looks are all about cool, unfussy pieces that travel well to the many vacation destinations of wealthy fashionistas. For the rest of us, this is a great time to grab some timeless pieces that are cool, chic, and carry the essence of a particular house. Because the clothes are meant to serve as part of a vacation wardrobe, Resort pieces are generally less laden with heavy design elements that the houses laden on during the regular fashion season in order to appeal to magazine editorials and industry trends.

My favourites were Giambattista Valli, Zac Posen & Chanel. All three chalk full of pieces that will stay relevant and fresh after this season has long passed.


Easy summer pieces from Giambattista Valli, Resort 2010


Some great skirt/jacket combos from Zac Posen, Resort 2010


Iconic, easy pieces from Chanel, Resort 2010

I was so inspired by all the images of tailoring, cut, and construction of some of these clothes that I did some detailed research on sewing schools here in Toronto. While I don’t want to sew clothing for a living, I do know that I need to learn how to whip up my own samples for presentations, and also to learn the process of translating an idea on paper into three-dimensional form. Most importantly, I want to understand the way different fabrics work, move, and mold themselves to the body. I want to learn the fundamentals of cut, construction, tailoring, draping, and embroidery. This knowledge will allow me to appreciate the experience of those I work with (later on) and will help me to hone my craft. It will also help me to understand the details that create truly spectacular pieces.

I came across an interesting quote from Cathryn Horyn, Fashion Critic of the New York Times, from her blog On The Runway (on which I regularly comment):

“…..having beautifully made clothes represents an ideal, and craft is vital to the long-term prestige of high fashion houses like Chanel—indeed to the industry itself. I would argue that the work in the ateliers—the embroideries, the fit, the savoir-faire—is the essence of what makes Chanel exclusive. And exclusivity, like innovation, will matter even more in the coming years.”

 This quote was pulled from Cathy’s insightful speech at the Citi Women & Co. event in NYC where she spoke about the changes to the fashion industry brought on by the recession. She argues that the age of needless consumerism, epitomized by the latest It Bag, is ending. The industry needs to refocus itself to cater to an increasingly savvy consumer, who has now become tired of disposable fashion and craves a well-built, innovative product.

 

Almost that time of year….

Lisa Fonssagrives – the 50’s couture muse & wife of iconic photographer Irving Penn

It’s early July, and you know what that means – the Fall Haute Couture shows in Paris!! This is the highlight of my fashion calendar. I can’t wait to see what mastery John Galliano and his team at Maison Dior concoct for us this time. Last season’s Flemish Artists & Exposed Underpinnings will be hard to top. Also interesting will be Lagerfeld’s take on Chanel. His shows are always a must-see. They might not always be approachable, but they demonstrate the mastery of the petite mains like no other! Let’s not also forget Christian Lacroix, fashion’s resident poet. He creates beautiful sonnets with colour and print. I personally think he should be declared a living French National Treasure.

Sadly, this might be Lacroix’s last season, as his company recently filed for bankruptcy in a Paris court. I read in an article that he has never turned a profit in his 22 years in the business. That astounds me. How can someone be in business for 22 years, and not make a single profit!! I will need to read up more on this to better understand the issue.

The troubled designer Christian Lacroix

But it does shake me awake and provide clearer focus as to the purpose of doing my BA. I’ve been pursuing a Business Administration Degree for the past three years, and it has been a rollercoaster ride to say the least. Lacroix’s story reminds me that regardless of how immensely talented you are, you must know the business side of things.

The essay in question

Holt Renfrew preparing to host the Toronto International Film Festival

This is the mini essay that I submitted. We were limited to 200 words and asked to explain why were the ideal candidate for the job.

“Why should I be Holt’s Contemporary Correspondent? Because fashion defines my life! It’s in my thoughts, my words, and my reference points. From bold Lanvin to of-the-moment Alexander Wang, fashion challenges my thinking of what is contemporary. Is it 60’s Edie Sedgwick reincarnated in the hip looks of vintage-clad girls on Queen West? Or the continuous exploration of the new and undiscovered as manifested in Jeremy Laing’s shifting shapes?

Truth is – it’s both! And it’s everywhere, especially in this great city of ours. I see it in those amazing graffiti walls as the subway passes west along the Bloor Danforth subway, in the sharp folds of the ROM Crystal, in the vivid palette of High Park during spring.

Be it in a building or in a frock, I’ve learnt that fashion is the lens through which we interpret and present who we are to the world. I’ll bring my fun-loving, inquisitive perspective along with me as I discover where fashion is headed next!”

I was selected!!!!!

 

Hi everyone!

Today I received an e-mail informing me that I am part of the preliminary selections to be Holt Renfrew’s Contemporary Correspondent! This is such amazing news, as I was just discussing with my Life Coach, Lynda yesterday that I didn’t think I had the talent or experience necessary to even apply to work at Holts – Canada’s pre-eminent department store. Holts in on par with other high-end department stores such as Barneys, Saks 5th Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdof Goodman & Harrods. The store stocks big name fashion brands like Dior, Chanel, Valentino, Gucci, as well as fashion brands like Lanvin, McQueen, and of course up and coming Canadian artists.

Holts recently put out a call for a Contemporary Correspondent to go behind the scenes and chronicle the goings on of the fashion world during Toronto Fashion Week. The winner also gets to sit down with key figures such as Barbara Atkin, head of Fashion Direction (& someone I have learnt so much from), in addition to designers and key industry faces. Of course the winners must look good in clothes, so included in the prize is a $1000 clothing allowance from HR, as well as a Vaio laptop. Ultimately 3 people will be selected to represent Canada’s fashion capitals: Toronto, Montreal & Vancouver.

The initial process begins with selection of 5 people per city. Then after a couple of challenges, the winner is chosen by fans on Facebook. AND I was selected as one of the 5!! in all of Toronto!!

Unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to go in for an interview because I’ll be travelling through Germany, Paris, and Luxembourg for the next two weeks. But just knowing that it was possible encourages me to keep believing in myself and dreaming big dreams. As many of you know from posts on my other blogs, I have laid out some definite plans for the future. Lynda said something to me that I will never forget: “Trust that God knew what He was doing when He placed these dreams within you.”

CONTEST RULES:

http://www.holtrenfrew.com/holts/pdf/CCRulesRegs.pdf

Here’s an excerpt from the e-mail I received today:

“Hello Jason,

I’m writing to you because you’ve been selected as one of our Top Contestants for the Holts Contemporary Correspondent Search in Toronto . Congratulations! There were a number of really excellent submissions…so well done.

As such, we’d like to bring you in for a 10-15 minute interview with a Holts judging panel on Monday, June 15, 2009 sometime between 9am and 12pm. At the end of this interview process, two finalists will be selected to participate in a series of fashion-related voting challenges on Holt Renfrew’s Facebook Page, where our Facebook Fans will determine the ultimate winner in each city.”

DREAM BIG My friends!