Tuesday, August 8, 2017

I've Lost The Will To Blog*

*but not my sense of humour

 Despite the title of this post, I did feel inspired to go out in the backyard after work today and shoot this photo of my outfit,  a three-tiered confection in black and grey, which seems to be my favourite colour combo for the summer.   And according to Instagram, it's Tongue-Out Tuesday.  So there we are.  You're welcome.

 

On to the Meaningful Stuff:  


I started this blog 8 years ago, and I don't want to think about how many hours I've spent taking photos, editing photos, and writing posts.  I didn't create the blog in order to make money, or to make a name for myself, but as a creative outlet for my writing and photography, and I think that in that way, it has been a success.  My blog persona of Forest City Fashionista has become known in the city where I live, and in a few others I've visited, and I am still delighted when someone approaches me on the street or in the grocery store to tell me that they enjoy my blog.  However, as the months pass, I find fewer and fewer things to write about.  The same lovely people comment on every post, but overall, the traffic to my blog has slowed considerably, as has the traffic to the Facebook page for my blog.  With FB, it's a catch 22; if you don't post often, no one sees your posts.  I have jumped ship to Instagram (@fcfashionista), where I do post regularly.   Fortunately, many of my blogging friends also hang out in IG land, so we are able to catch up there. An Instagram post is more of a "wave and hello" instead of the "let's sit down and have a chat" feeling of a blog post, but it's all I'm inspired to do right now.  

My friend Suzanne recently wrote an interesting post about the lure of Social Media for her blog, and I admire her for having kept at it for 11 years and is still producing well-written, entertaining posts.  

This summer has been pretty quiet - I've been more interested in spending time with friends, reading loads of books, and trying my hand at some crafting instead of thinking about what to post on my blog.  I'm enjoying the freedom that comes with not having to photograph everything I do (aside from a photo for my Instagram) and try to shape it into an entertaining or meaningful story.  I want to do, make, and see more things, and maybe I'll still write about them, but I don't want to feel I have to for the sake of keeping my blog going.   There will still be some outfit posts for those of you who enjoy seeing what I put together, and as I have a collaborative relationship with Talize Thrift Stores,  I will continue to feature some of the cool things I've found there.

All that being said, here are some photos of what I've been up to..... 

Sylvester Update:


I have grown so attached to this guy over the summer.  He has proven to be an all-round wonderful companion - affectionate, chatty, non-destructive, and he loves weekend naps and belly rubs.

Apparently I suck at remembering to take "before" photos, so you'll have to believe me when I tell you that this plaster and metal thingy was all white when I found it in a neighbourhood thrift store, and it only took me two years to finally buy some paint and brushes, and turn it into the now-brightly -coloured thingy that is hanging on my front door.  This is what happens when you take a week off work and don't go away (as is my habit).  You find yourself doing things like listening to podcasts, sewing on buttons, and painting decorative thingies for your front door.   I was so proud of myself when I finally finished this!

I found this short-sleeved hooded sweatshirt at Talize, and although I really like the shirt, I wasn't crazy about the raised letters on the front that spelled out "Some Day".  At my age, I want to do more things today, or tomorrow, or next week, or even next year, but not "Some Day".  So I had to fix it with some fabric paint.  I'm not sure how I feel about the result, as the words are no longer centered on the shirt, but that may be the perfectionist in me rearing her ugly head.

And Speaking of my Head...


I discovered that I like the look of a subtle teal blue in my hair, which apparently is now officially a Mohawk (albeit a soft one),  according to a number of guys who have recently commented on it.

Yes, that is a tiny photo of actor Steve Buscemi on my ear.  They are earrings made by the Foxy Hipster (check out her Etsy site here) that I found at a cool shop in Stratford called Meet Your Maker.   I also have a pair with David Bowie's face.

 

I Wore Stuff... 

 

There is that black and grey again:  sweatshirt and black skirt - retail; grey apron skirt from The Sentimentalist; scarf from Talize and Fly sandals from From Mars.

Oh look - Colour!   The top with the attached pieces of silk and the big linen pants are two retail pieces that I treated myself to from Cora Couture in Stratford on one of my visits to see my mother (her move to Stratford is costing me a lot of money).  I found the sparkly "winking eye" shoes at Winners and I'll be wearing them a lot when the weather is cooler.  Apparently no one else thought they were cool as the store closest to me now has at least 4 pairs in the clearance section.

Seriously, how are these not the coolest shoes?  And they are now marked down to $25

I'm pretty sure the neighbours weren't home from work when I was shooting this.  They already think I'm weird.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Light, Camera, Action


When I was around 8 or so, I had a Brownie Box camera which I used to take photographs of the people (and a few animals) around me.  It was always disappointing when I would pick up the developed and printed photos at the drugstore and find that what I had seen with my eyes was not captured by the lens of the camera.  I wanted to make a record of the people in my life as I saw them, and at that age, I didn't have the eye, or the technical skill, to be able to do it. 

I continued to photograph people throughout the rest of my life and the more I practiced, the more my photos improved, but it was still a challenge to be able to capture on film what I saw with my eyes.   I did event and wedding photography, and asked friends to pose for me.  For a while I had access to a darkroom, and experienced the delight, (and the chemical headache), of printing my own black and white photos.  I even purchased some used darkroom equipment with the idea of creating my own darkroom in my apartment, but it sat unused, and was eventually sold to a friend.  I enjoyed looking at other people's photography for inspiration, and attempted some landscape and "art" photography, but the only subject that really interested me was people.

I'm now on my third digital camera, and I love being able to see your images immediately, and not having to pay a fortune to have rolls of film developed and printed only to find that there are only two shots worth saving.  But I miss the tones and richness of black and white film, which in my opinion, can never be duplicated digitally, which is probably why I never shoot black and white anymore.   I still enjoy taking my camera (not my phone) to an event and revisiting my first love - photographing people, and capturing the play of light, shadow and colour.

So, after that preamble, I wanted to show you some photos I took of one of my favourite bands as they played at Sunfest last past weekend.  The band is DakhaBrakha, a folk/world music quartet from the Ukraine, who I have now seen perform a few times.  The band members play multiple instruments and have an astounding vocal range, and the theatrical elements of their performances make them excellent photography subjects.  It was an added bonus that the concert was at night, which allowed the band to make use of multi-coloured lighting and smoke effects.

Below is a video I shot of them in performance, which will give you an idea of why I'm such a fan.

 

The three women in the band: left to right - Olena Tsybulska, Iryna Kovalenko, and Nina Garenetska

Oleana Tsybulska provides vocals and plays the bass drum, percussion, and the Garmoshka.

Iryna plays the accordian, percussion, bass drums, buhay, zgaleyka, piano, djembe and provides vocals.

Iryna playing the bass drum

Nina also provides vocals and plays the bass drum, but her main instrument is her colourful cello which she plays with a bow and plucks with her fingers.

When the band performs, the women wear elaborate dresses, and their trademark tall furry hats.  This  year's boldly patterned costumes were very effective on stage. 

Marko Halanevych is the band's sole male member, and in addition to providing vocals, ranging from a deep, rumbling bass to a falsetto, also plays the accordion, tabla, didgeridoo, trombone and darbuka.

Iryna and Nina share vocal and percussion duties

Olena, bathed in green light

Olena is the most serious when on stage.  She maintains a kind of regal presence and rarely smiles.

When performing, Nina is the most vivacious member of the group. 

The shot above was my favourite from the evening and is the perfect example of what happens when light, colour, and form all come together at the right moment.  If I had used a flash, as many people in the audience were doing, I would have never got this shot.

Nina came out to say hello, as we had spoken last time they played in London, and a couple of people asked her to sign copies of the band's CDs.  None of the band member speak much English, so we weren't able to have much of a conversation, but I managed to convey how much I enjoyed seeing them perform again.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

There Ain't No Cure For the Summertime Blues


.....so you might as well not fight 'em. By blues, I mean the colour, not the emotional state.


Summer is usually the season when people break out the bright colours and bold prints, but for me, the past couple of summers have seen a lot of black and grey.   I'm trying to break out of that rut by adding a colour or two, and the one colour I have gravitated to is blue.  Not pale blue, or navy blue, but a rich denim blue.  You've seen these wide leg pants on my blog many times as they get worn all year round.  I think if they ever wear out I will have to get someone make a pattern from them so they can be re-created.  I found the embroidered cotton tunic at a Salvation Army thrift store in Toronto during a "50% off Everything" sale, so it ended up being $3 or $4.  The cotton is so fine you can see through it.  I found the hat at the Uka Market booth at the Horseshoe Flea Market in Denver.  The sun was blazing hot that day and my head felt like it was toasting (one of the downsides of having very short hair) so I purchased one of their cotton brimmed caps.

A closer look at the embroidery on the tunic and on my vintage bag, which came from one of my favourite local purveyor of treasures, The Sentimentalist.

I purchased this linen tunic/dress at From Mars at the end of last summer.  The colour, high comfort factor, and the metallic silver trim on the pockets sold me on it, and it has become a great layering piece.

When I was in Denver I received a package in the mail from my friend Carmen Bury, and one of the things in it was this embellished skirt she had made.  The skirt itself is a polyester jersey with a drawstring waist, and Carmen hand sewed all the bits of colourful fabric to the bottom.

 The weight and nature of the fabric means that the skirt has amazing swish-ability.    I may have been a bit obsessed with swishing it back and forth day, and if you follow me on Instagram, you can see a video of me doing just that.

I had tried some turquoise tinted hair spray on my hair and was happy with the results, so this weekend I decided try L'Oreal's Colorista Semi-Permanent Colour in Teal.  It is supposed to last 4 - 10 shampoos so I'll see what it looks like at the end of the week.  

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Red Rocks and Blue Sky

The weather was beautiful when I visited Denver recently - the temperature hovered between 25 - 28 degrees Celsius (that's 77 - 84 degrees Fahrenheit for you Americans) - and the sky was an intense blue with a few fluffy clouds.  It was perfect weather for a trip to Red Rocks Park located about 15 minutes outside of the city of Denver.

As I live in the flat landscape of London, Ontario, it was a treat for me to to see the mountains as we drove to Red Rocks.

The park is located along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains and is named for the large red sandstone rock formations inside the parks 804 acres.  It is owned and maintained by the City of Denver, which purchased the park in 1928.

One of the towering sandstone formations that give the park its name

The "jewel in the crown" of the park is the Red Rocks Amphitheatre which was part of the original vision of John Brisben Walker who owned the park until it was sold to the City of Denver.  The park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1936 and 1941 and was designed by Denver architect Burnham Hoyt.

According to the Historic Red Rocks website, "The Amphitheatre project required the removal of 25,000 cubic yards of rock and dirt and used 90,000 square feet of flagstone, ten carloads of cement, 800 tons of quarried stone, and 30,000 pounds of reinforced steel." 

The view from the top of the Amphitheatre is amazing - on a clear day you can see the city of Denver.

The Amphitheatre is a world renowned open-air concert venue with seating for approximately 9,500 people.  The Beatles performed at the venue in 1964, and in 1983 U2 played a concert there which was filmed as part of "U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky".   There was a concert scheduled for the night we were there, but it was too late for us to change plans and get tickets.  It would have been an incredible experience to see a concert under the stars.  Some day....

Many people use the seats of the Amphitheatre as their own outdoor gym - while we were there people were running across, and up and down the seats, and one man jumped from the bottom row to the top, one level at a time.  He looked like he was ready to pass out when he reached the top.

Judith looked lovely in her floaty blouse that caught the breeze.

There are large rock outcroppings on either side of the Amphitheatre and they have names - I believe this one is the "Ship Rock".

The view behind the Amphitheatre

It was an absolutely beautiful day, and it was nice to get out of the city for an hour or two.

On our way back to Denver we stopped for lunch in the small community of Evergreen, home of the Little Bear Saloon and the Muddy Buck Cafe and Bar.

We stopped in The Little Bear for a few minutes, and the place definitely has all the trappings of an old Western Saloon.  Over the years, the building has been home to a church, a dance hall and a drugstore.   According to their website, the bar has the reputation for being "Colorado's rowdiest mountain bar".  

License plates from across the country and an old cash register greet customers inside the entrance.

Judith had heard that women used to throw their bras at the musicians who played on the stage and the bras are now part of the decor.   Oddly, their website makes no mention of the bras, but they are indeed there.

Signed photographs of musicians that have played at the Little Bear decorate the back wall

And there ended my excursion into the wild west of Colorado.  It was fun to see this side of the state as well as the cosmopolitan city of Denver.  As much as I enjoy looking at beautiful scenery (I believe I said "WOW" a lot as we approached Red Rocks Park) and exploring out of the way places, I'm a city girl at heart.   Many thanks to Judith for being a marvelous tour guide.

Judith and I did a photo shoot with her friend Dan, who takes the photos for her blog, and you can see the results in this post on her blog. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Shockwave: Japanese Fashion Design at the Denver Art Museum

If you follow my Instagram you know I recently visited Denver, Colorado, and my friend Judith.  While the main purpose of my visit was to spend time with her, I was also looking forward to taking in some of the sights and culture of the city of Denver.  On my first day there we headed to the Denver Art Museum.

The Denver Art Museum, which is one of the largest art museums between the west coast and Chicago, is located in the Civic Center of Denver.  The section in the photo above is the Hamilton Building, clad in titanium panels.  The museum is known for its collection of American Indian Art.

The controversial sculpture titled "Shoot-out" by Red Grooms resides on the roof of the museum restaurant.  It had been removed from two other locations in downtown Denver after protesters called  it demeaning and insensitive to Native Americans.

We had a health, and delicious, lunch in the Mad Greens restaurant located in the building across from the museum, and afterwards I couldn't resist having a photo taken with this unusual sculpture.  For the record, I did not push the man face first into the water - he was like that when we found him.  I did, however, rather enjoy resting my hand on his butt, and from the worn and shiny appearance of that particular area of the figure, I was certainly not the first person to do so.

The exhibit that we came to see was located in the Textile Art Gallery, where we also found these stunning Haida Button Blankets on display.

The blanket on the left, depicting two killer whales, was created in 1925 by Northwest Coast Native artist, Willie Seaweed, and was worn by the artist during a variety of dances.

On to the the main event...

even the sign for the exhibit was cool!

Shockwave: Japanese Fashion Design, 1980's - 1990's features 70 pieces by Japanese designers whose creations created shockwaves when they were first shown in Paris.  The exhibit, showcasing work by Issey Miyake, Kenzo Takada, Kansai Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe, Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garcons) and Yohji Yamamoto, is the inaugural exhibit organized by Florence Muller, the museum's Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and curator of fashion.

This burnout velvet dress by Rei Kawakubo from her Autumn/Winter 1996-1997 collection introduces the exhibit.   The shape, pattern and colour of the piece echoes both Renaissance-era tunics and Japanese kimonos.

On the left is iconic molded plastic bustier by Issey Miyake from 1983, and right is a rattan and bamboo bodice designed by Miyake and made by Japanese bamboo master Kosuge Shochikudo

The exhibit is organized into five thematic sections, including "How East Met West" and "Deconstruction/Reconstruction", and includes design catalogues and video footage from runway fashion shows of the various designers.   In the 1980's, the fashion capitals were Paris, New York, Milan and London, and Japan was not on the radar at all.  In order to be noticed, and to show the new face of design in Japan, the designers in this exhibit created clothing that was unlike anything that had been seen on a runway before.  It was bold, avant-garde, and to the eyes of many people, unflattering and ugly.

Clothing and video footage from Rei Kawakubo's Comme des Garcons' Autumn-Winter 1982 - 1983 show had its own display area.  The show which shocked audiences with clothing that appeared to have been through a war, and was dubbed the "Hiroshima" collection by critics.

Up to that point in time, the silhouette for women promoted by Western designers was form-fitting, worn with high heels that thrust the body forward, emphasizing the breast and buttocks.  Much of what was shown by the Japanese designers was oversized, and hid, or even distorted, women's bodies.  The colours were dark, the fabrics often distressed or ripped, and the models wore flat shoes, which gave them a natural and comfortable (ie. more masculine) stride on the runway.  The exhibit includes pieces from European designers of the same time period such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Anne-Marie Beretta and Thierry Mugler whose tailored, body-conscious designs contrasted with the free-flowing, draped and over-sized pieces by the Japanese designers.

dress from Paris designer Anne-Marie Beretta from 1989

An oversized, draped tunic dress by Issey Miyake contrasts with a molded, form-fitting suit by Thierry Mugler

A quote from fashion writer Bernadine Morris from the New York Times, in October, 1983 that described her feelings on seeing these unconventional designs was reproduced on the wall:

"The clothes are loose, strong, and strange".  "They seem to come not only from another culture, but from another planet."

Asymmetrical, inside-out dress by Rei Kawakubo from her Autumn/Winter 1997-1998 collection plays with the conventional ideas of balance in a garment with uneven "breasts" and askew shoulders.

In 1997, Rei Kawakubo was invited by dancer/choreographer Merce Cunningham to create the costumes and stage design for his dance "Scenario".  She originally declined the offer, but changed her mind while she was creating her  Comme des Garcons collection which featured gingham checked outfits with padding in odd places. The pieces she created for Cunningham used the same down padding to distort the dancers' bodies, altering their proportions and the sense of their own bodies.  Footage of "Scenario" played on a screen next to one of Kawakubo's "Bump" jackets and skirt.

The bright colours and graphic motifs that adorn the pieces (such as the sweater from 1980 in the photo above) by Kansai Yamamoto, who was inspired by bold, colourful Japanese woodblock prints, are very indicative of the pop culture of the 1980's.  Yamamoto is known for the eye-popping designs he created in the 1970's for David Bowie for his Ziggy Stardust tour.  

Mixed among the clothing designs are some chairs created by Japanese designers such as this velvet, flower-shaped armchair by Masanori Umeda next to Kansai Yamamoto's printed cotton "Kansai" jacket

"How High The Moon" armchair by Shiro Kuramata    

A display was devoted to Issey Miyake's "Pleats Please" line, launched in 1993.  The garments are cut and sewn together from a single piece of high quality polyester fabric nearly three times the size of the garment, and then placed between two sheets of paper and hand fed into a pleats machine.  The clothing emerges with permanent pleats, which allows it to store and travel well, require no ironing, and dry quickly.   The "Cabbage Chair" by Nendo, in between the two garments in the photo above, was commissioned by Miyake to be made from the pleated paper that is a by-product of the pleating process for his fabric.

The exhibit included a video montage of Issey Miyake Spring-Summer 1999 collection, "A-POC (acronym for "A piece of cloth") King and Queen and Le Feu"

Details from two Yohji Yamamoto designs:  The houndstooth jacket (2003-3004) on the left had removable embroidered linen cuffs, and shows an influence of Western design.  I liked the simplicity of the summer dress from around 1998 on the right, with the exposed rolled neckline.

This beautiful Issey Miyake shirt with origami folding is from 2002, and was on display in the "How East Met West" section which explored how designers mixed Japanese forms and patterns with Western shapes and textiles. 

The "How West Met East" section featured designers such as John Galliano, Dries Van Noten, Helmut Lang and Martin Margiela who were inspired by the innovative Japanese designers and incorporated their aesthetic into their own designs.  The John Galliano dress in the middle from his Spring-Summer 2000 collection incorporates the asymmetry common to many of the Japanese designs.

The exhibit, which has been on display since the Fall of 2016, ends on May 28th, and I was very happy to have the opportunity to see it before it closed.  Hopefully, with Florence Muller (who curated the 2012 YSL exhibit at the Denver Art Museum) as the curator of Textile Art and Fashion at DAM, exhibits like these which feature fashion design as art will become more common, and more popular.   If you're interested in seeing more avante-garde Japanese design, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently hosting an exhibit of Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons designs until September 4th.