From times of rationing during the Depression, when women saved each usable patch of cloth for new purposes, to the recent times of ravenous consumption and disposability, fashion has run the gamut over the past century. Over the last decade or two, we’ve seen a new fashion trend: even those who can afford a closetful of ever-changing, trendy, new, disposable garments are choosing something different—to re-vamp, re-cycle, re-use and re-envision. Thankfully, Shaunie Yates and The Sow’s Ear and the Silk Purse are here to make life a little easier for the textile-disinclined.
Shaunie’s grandmother used to say, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” In other words, you can’t make something beautiful out of a tattered scrap of fabric; when it’s done, it’s done. From that adage, or in spite of it, came the ideals and the name of The Sow’s Ear and the Silk Purse. Handspun fibers, vintage pieces and tattered scarps are re-envisioned into exciting new creations full of charm and memories.
Starting in the Seventies, weaving on a traditional backstrap loom in Guatemala, Shaunie has studied and sold her medium in many locations, including Canadian venues such as the Banff School of Fine Arts and the University of Manaioba, Circle Craft of Vancouver and Powell River’s Artique, to name only a few.
by Caitlin Bryant
Adorn the bedroom…or find things sure to get you into the bedroom with your special someone. This column is full of self-satisfaction because I have a bit of a collection, also known as obsession, with many of these products.
Adorn The Bedchamber Read more »
by Eva van Loon
If my daughter remembers anything her mother ever said, it will probably be this oft recited couplet: “Fashion is bunk and make up is junk.”
Notwithstanding that pronouncement, for the past decade I quite enjoyed watching her experiment with make up both on and offstage. Not only that, I subsidised, to a painful extent, her quirky forays into the world of fashion.On the latter front, she was unnaturally kind. She appeared to adopt parental scorn of that amazingly passive post-modern phenomenon I so loathe, the human billboard on two legs—the only clothes she wore with slogans on them were political Ts, like the “Shrubs Prohibited” and “I am a Terrorist” T-shirts which won her a scholarship from the American Civil Liberties Union. Attagirl! She invented an amazing variety of holes in otherwise serviceable clothing, adopting a goth-punk-screw-you style of dress rebellion that harked back to my hippy youth, when we wore what we pleased (but paid a price) as long as our hair was long. From time to time she even wore un-holey but handmade items from Latin America, India, and Thailand, honoring places on this earth where people still make clothes by hand. It all drove me crazy while simultaneously delighting me. The kid had force and vision—why complain? I remember a poignant but chilling moment in our joint history, when we returned to Canada after a month in Dominican Republic, which had been celebrating the quincentary of Columbus’ landfall in 1992. My daughter, then six, and her parents came home garbed in bright, cheerful clothing and carried along an incredible number of original bright, cheerful paintings into the Toronto airport.
by Annie Poirier
Hats are back, and the world is so much better for it. A chic chapeau brings an undeniably effortless style to just about any ensemble (though velour tracksuits are irredeemably ghastly). This columnist can personally attest to this, as a fedora fiend. In my early teens I liberated a felt broad-brimmed one, in a stunning royal blue, from my Mother’s collection–never looked back.For this year’s return to eras of elegance, the chicest chapeaus are classic and easy to wear (dare I say, sometimes even sensible?). Hats are some of the most varied accessories on the planet- from a charming crocheted cloche to a daring derby, find the right one and you’re damn well set for life. Sadly (not really), as with all modes, there are things to avoid. Bucket hats are terribly juvenile (best saved for the under 12 set), and cowboy hats were turned into tragic clichés by clubbers in the late 90s and early 00s. While these hats are not completely unacceptable, they should really only be worn by people of the vocation they were intended for. Bucket hats are for buckets, and cowboy hats are pretty self-explanatory. In sporting a dapper topper, you enter a new league of class and style. Who would Napoleon be without his height enhancers, or Bogart without his fedoras? Who has made a bigger mark on history, Frank Sinatra or Men Without Hats?
by Annie Poirier
Back to school season is upon us. A time of dread for those going back for another round of endless hours spent in an airless classroom not doing much of anything at all, and for newcomers to the affair to be filled with a terrifying kind of avaricious, consumerist glee. Flipping through the catalogues and fliers, tiny beady eyes glittering and small wet noses twitching, these are truly terrifying times to be around a five-year-old.If you are of the parental persuasion, you will inevitably be wondering how you could make this time more bearable. There are really only two ways to go about it—you could buy what you believe to be cute and trendy, and keep you kids from having any fun at all and then totally regret in the future when you watch the home videos of birthdays long past and actually realise how they look...or you could let them have fun with it. Frankly, I prefer the latter. Far fewer migraines, and, in the end, lots of giggles for everyone involved. Another very good reason for letting your kids dress however they want (well, within reason) is that it will help them figure out earlier on what really works for them—what they like and what they’re comfortable in. It’ll give them more confidence, and ultimately help them better understand who they are earlier on. Really, if you’re worried about what other people will think about your little angel showing up at the first day of school in a rubber duck costume with costume pearls and a tiara, don’t. In the long run, it’s not a big deal—and isn’t one of the most important parts of parenting making sure your kids are happy and comfortable in their own skins?
by A. Rianrhod
Got duds in your closet that you snagged at Fits to a T at 4573B Marine Avenue?
Go ahead: tell your friends a Club Med designer picks out unique fashions for you.
It’s true. Tanya Close was a Club Med bartender wowing the crowds with her costumes on Theme Nights when she was chosen as one of the Club’s costume designers. Given her diploma in fashion design, the job was a natural—but Tanya gave up the sunny, laidback lifestyle to join her mother in Powell River. Four years ago, opportunity knocked when the Fashion Emporium closed on Marine—“Downtown has such character!”—and Tanya found herself in “rags”, as clothiers affectionately dub their business.
Running rags in a small town has its pleasures as well as its difficulties. In cities so many customers sport the very latest that a competitive atmosphere is inevitable. In Powell River Tanya has found a tacit pact among clothiers not to encroach on others’ exclusive lines. There’s a camaraderie that promotes variety and unique styles while preventing crippling price wars.
That variety—formal, casual, and career clothes in sizes 4 to 18 chosen first and foremost for their fit—makes it hard to spend just a few minutes in Fits to a T. Tanya says there are many women like the writer, several sizes different up top from below. The prospect of finding, say, a Pure cotton sweater and one of those swiffy new skirt styles that would actually fit is tempting, especially since Tanya does her buying at Vancouver’s Fashion Xchange—aware that her customers like their clothes to be unique. Whatever I buy, I won’t see it all over town. Cotton sweater not quite the ticket? Try the cashmere. Or skip the sweater in favor of a soft Thai shawl. Read more »
by Annie Poirier
Pleated shorts. They add at least ten pounds and are a prime cause of middle-aged-tire-waistitis in the under 30 set. They were all the rage 20 years ago. Instead, get some nice un-pleated linen or cotton shorts. Those are timeless and flattering. If you’re 30-plus I recommend getting a longer pair, maybe mid-thigh or longer, that fits close to the leg because huge baggy shorts just look weird on anybody.
Crocs/ Holey Soles. This applies to all seasons. I don’t care how comfortable they are, or how trendy they are. Anything is better than these cartoony soul-sucking destroyers of society.
Socks and sandals. Yes, I know it’s a cliché, but there’s a reason. Wearing your socks out like that will get them dirty faster, and some of that dirt will never come out. Not to mention it’s completely unnecessary during the summer (way too hot!) as well as being an antithesis of sexy footwear.
Polyester/nylon velour tracksuits. They’re not gangsta’, or flattering, or at all stylish. They’re tragic. In spite of colour, they show every stain. They’re made from synthetic fibres and so don’t breathe, which makes you sweat even more—not wise in summer time. Get some clothes made out of real fabric that breathes. Do it for the children, the future, and Gandhi.
by Eva van Loon
Since July, 2005, Trendzessence has made a delicious difference to local shopping. Starting out with Sue Russell’s imports and local designer Selena Asher’s originals, the store soon also featured such items as Verlee Peter’s horns and hemp fashions from Jo’momma Designs. When Alisha Van Belle of Jo’momma Designs became a partner, the trio opened the current location on Alberni Street.
The new store soon evolved into a community showcase for artists: Cher Peters’ fairy wings, jewellery, and quality sunglasses, Hanna Heart Song’s crochet bags and hats, Sue’s father’s stone jewellery, and anything that fit the style of Trendzessence—even organic body jewellery. Trendzessence plans to expand its selection of clothing from other up and coming local and West–coast designers.
Alisha Van Belle handcrafts the Jo’momma clothing line from home in Lund. Most of these funky garments are styled in natural fabrics like cotton and hemp. Organically grown hemp is highly wearable, both for its superior insulating and anti-bacterial qualities. Hemp breathes so well that it deals with perspiration better than does cotton. Alisha is expanding the range of natural fabrics to new sensations like soy and bamboo blends. She is also starting a “huggable revolution” with cloaks and sweaters in soft, fuzzy fabrics. Inspired by fairies, elves, nature spirits, Alisha works her prototypes until the fit is perfect for real women’s shapes. When her garments become beloved pieces treasured until worn out, that’s her greatest compliment! These are innovative designs in fabrics that feel too good to take off.
by Annie Poirier
People take fashion seriously, yet often have no clue where to start.
This is tragic. I wish to fix it. Why not take advantage of all options available to us? We live only once.
I’ve styled most ages, budgets, and body types. My good success rate depends on the importance of taking unique personality and tastes into consideration. What people want, but often forget in front of the closet, is that your sense of style reflects who you are—if an important element of yourself gets discarded, you’ll feel uncomfortable in your clothing and uncomfortable with yourself.
Fashion is my passion and career. Can a fashion correspondent raised in the NWT and now walking tall across a Gulf Island (in major, cool platforms) provide you with the cynical, bitchy articles—with the odd tidbit of advice—you need to feel better and put together?
I aim to entertain and inform. My style was always unusual—while young I preferred classic clothes over the current trends. Nowadays I’m a pencil-skirt-and-pumps kind of girl, with a rock-and-roll edge. Trends suck (unless I like them).
Explore with me. Next time: Summer Fashion Do’s and Don’ts.