Sunday, March 22, 2015

Men of London Ontario, Listen Up!

It's been one of those weeks where the weekend arrived, and I think, "hmm, what am I going to post about?"  And I realize I've got nothingABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  I haven't been anywhere,  done anything, or worn anything that is worthy of a blog post.  There are no rants, or profound realizations needing to be expressed.    It will be five years in April since I started Forest City Fashionista, so one would expect there would be times that I come up empty-handed, but usually something presents itself at the last minute.  By late afternoon yesterday, I had pretty much given up so I stopped at From Mars to visit with my friends who own the store, and check out the new Spring stuff.....

I've known Jim Telfer for years.  He's the founder/owner and President of Grafica Event Planners, an artist, display designer, and one of London's best-dressed men.  This time, I think he outdid himself.  He was headed to an event, presumably one his company had worked on, in a three-piece suit he had custom-made in Scotland.  

LOVE the red lining in the jacket - the suit has a subtle red stripe in the plaid that you can't see in the photo.  Jim hates having his photo taken, so many thanks for letting me snap these two shots (which he didn't know I would be posting, so I'm hoping he's still speaking to me after this goes up on the blog)

I have posted a few photos of well-dressed men on my blog in the past when I focused on street style shots of people who had unique personal style.   London, Ontario is not a city that encourages style experimentation, especially in men.   It's a business town, a sports town, and a university town.  Sad to say, but for the most part, the men in London can be divided into two groups:  the guys who spend their work days wearing basic grey/navy/black suits (plaid, are you kidding?) and the guys who live in jeans/hoodies/baseball caps.  There is very little in-between, aside from the occasional brave or creative man with a sartorial flair who will show up at an event in a cool shirt or interesting jacket.  This accounts for why I tend to gush over a fabulously turned-out man (see my post on the Toronto Vintage Show) when I stumble across one.   It may not be exactly true that "clothes make the man", but what you're wearing can make the difference between a memorable and positive first impression and one in which you are indistinguishable from the rest of the guys around you.  Men need to learn what we women have always known - never underestimate the power of a well-cut suit.

If you have Instagram and want to see some amazing men's style (or get some inspiration guys!) check out dlee_thestylemaven.  She posts photos of men's shoes that are so beautiful they make me cry. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dahhhhhhling, I'm Your Auntie Fashionista!!!!

 Several months back I wrote a post about my thoughts on what made for a meaningful life, and mentioned that I had completed the training required in order to volunteer as a Big Sister.  I had been looking forward to mentoring a young (or teenage) girl that needed an additional positive role model in her life. 

Well, unfortunately, it was not to be.  The agency tried for several months to find me a match, and was only able to find one girl that lived in close enough proximity to me to make it feasible to plan outings.  When she and I met, it was clear that I really had no idea what most 12 year old girls like to do, and that my expectations needed adjusting.   I consider myself to be in relatively good shape, but my physical limitations became glaringly obvious when discussing what my potential little sister hoped to do on outings with me.  I was hoping to do crafts and go to the library; she wanted to go swimming and tobogganing, and we agreed we were not going to be a good match.  Unfortunately, Big Sisters was not able to find any other potential matches for me, even when I widened the age range that I was looking for.  I was very disappointed, and it's hard not to take that kind of thing personally.  I knew that my age may make matching difficult, although I was re-assured that they have big sisters of all ages.   I realized that I had been hoping to find a little sister who was like me when I was that age - a bit of a weirdo, so to speak.  I'm sure that kid is out there somewhere, and I hope she finds a cool Big Sister, even if it won't be me.

I skipped the Mother thing, which means I won't be anyone's grandmother.  I have no siblings, so I won't be anyone's real Aunt, but I do think I would be an awesome Crazy Aunt - every kid needs one of those, right? 

if you really wanted one of these to hang on your door,  you can find this on Etsy

The ultimate Crazy Aunt
I'm not sure who to credit for this image as it had been posted and re-posted so many times

The character of Auntie Mame, created by American author Patrick Dennis, is the classic "crazy aunt", and Rosalind Russell was note-perfect in the role on film.  I may not have the spectacular New York apartment, or the multiple husbands, or the unwed mother personal assistant....

...but I have the hats!  I would be these kids' Crazy Aunt any day

I'd been laid low with some kind of cold/flu thing for a few days, but felt well enough by Saturday night to go and watch my bestie and the rest of the Timber Rollers play against the Hamilton Eh Team.  That's Heather (aka Torquemada) seizing the lead jammer position.  It was a good game, both teams played very well, but the Timber Rollers triumphed in the end.

 I had also wanted to go because these kids were playing the half time show.  You may remember me singing the praises of Populusque Romanus in a couple of previous posts.  From left: Queena Liu on guitar (also keyboards), Lucy Grant (drums and vocals), Grace Grant (lead vocals and guitar) and Connor Elgie (bass and keyboards).  The guy in the background is Lucy and Grace's Dad who is the band's dedicated Roadie. 

Even though it's only been about eight months since I first saw these kids play, they get more mature each time I see them.  The girls are wearing lipstick for heaven's sake!  Lucy, usually the quiet, unflappable presence behind the drum kit surprised us all by singing "House of the Rising Sun", adding vocalist to her list of talents.

I've met all their parents and they are so supportive of their kid's multiple creative endeavors.  If it's not enough that they are all very talented, they are also just so damn nice!  They put up with my potentially embarassing Fan Girl behaviour at their gigs and constant photo-taking; I was asked more than once by another audience member if I was their mother.   From now on, I should reply, "No, I'm their crazy Aunt!"

You can watch their half-time performance in the video above posted by Queena's Dad on Youtube

I'll end with this photo in which I look like I've just been goosed, but is a great photo of the band.  I think this shot was snapped just as I realized that my ring was caught in Queena's hair.  Thanks to Karen Grant for taking the photos.

If you're in need of a crazy, hat-wearing Aunt to round out the table at family gatherings, let me know and I'll check my calendar!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Signs of Spring at the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show

Last weekend my friend Sylvie and I went to the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show.  I had heard about the show from previous years, but neither of us had ever attended, and the weather was perfect for a road trip.   The show is the largest sale of vintage clothing in Toronto, and features vendors from across Ontario.  The location of the show changed this year from the Toronto Convention Centre to the Queen Elizabeth Building at Exhibition Place with more space.  The show was combined with the Toronto Antique and Vintage Market so if you weren't interested in the clothing, there was also furniture and other home decor items, art, glass, and other collectibles.

The venue didn't look too promising from the outside. 

Fortunately, once we made it inside past the admissions table we were greeted by the sight of all this lovely spring green dishware at the Sean George Pressed Glass and Goblets booth.  Anyone know what this particular type of glassware is called?

And what did we wear,  you ask?  The only vintage piece I'm wearing is the 1920's haori I purchased at the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show last October.  Sylvie went all out, in a vintage lace dress and fur stole.
 The Samantha Howard Vintage booth was just inside the entrance so I drooled over some of her Scandinavian and Canadian modernist silver jewellery

I did a quick tour to get my bearings, and to capture some photos of Spring-themed displays.  The cute flowered dress on the left is from the Ian Drummond Collection, and the coat and dress set (dig the giant buttons!) was from Treasure Chicks Vintage

There was a good selection of hats available, many of them adorned with flowers and feathers.  Clockwise from top left:  stitched fabric beret-style hat from Beyond Friperie; fabulous feathers from Primetime; and two flower-covered hats from the Ian Drummond Collection.

The first booth that I spent time in was KDS Art Wear Home.  Owner Karen Samanski (on the left side in the bottom left photo) and her sister (in the red shawl) were manning the booth, and I was drawn to a long dress/vest that Samanski's sister was holding.  After trying it on and deciding it was coming home with me, I stayed to chat and browse their collection of beautiful textiles and garments from all over the world.  The fish applique top was another favourite of mine, but alas, too small.

How cool is this brown-eyed beauty at the Beyond Friperie booth?

Leopard coats in all shapes and sizes

These were two of the older pieces of clothing that I noticed, and I thought both of them could easily be worn today (if the fabrics weren't so fragile).  The 1930's tea gown from Petticoat Lane Antiques on the left would be perfect for a garden party, worn with a wide brimmed hat, and the Edwardian black dress with multiple buttons from Winsome Vintage could just as easily have been been worn in the 80's or present day.  Each was priced at just under $100.

I was very drawn to these two dresses, which I would assume are from the late 1960's or the 1970's, for their graphic patterns and the simple shapes.  The orange and brown print on the left was at Factory Girl Vintage, and the dress with a pattern that included reindeer (!) was at Scandimania, a booth specializing in Scandinavian and North American Modernist jewellery

There is always a much larger selection of women's wear then there is for men at vintage clothing shows, but there were still some good finds to be had for the guys.  Half of Ian Drummond's booth was devoted to men's clothing and accessories, and Primetime (bottom two photos) had some shoes and other accessories on display that Boardwalk Empire's Nucky Thompson would be happy to add to his wardrobe.

I took the opportunity to capture two gorgeous items in one shot.  The woman at the Haute Vintage booth holding the velvet Chloe boot is wearing a gorgeous Jean Paul Gaultier jacket with an extremely nipped-in waist and angular peplum (she asked that I not show her face).

Shows and sales of vintage clothing attracts people who like to dress "outside the box" and have a fondness for the styles of decades gone by, and this event was no exception.

Sometimes when I see someone trying on an item of clothing and I think they would be crazy not to buy it, I feel the need to jump in with my opinion.  This was one of those times.  The woman in the photo above was trying on the ultra mod coat at the Factory Girl Vintage booth, and was uncertain about it.  It fit her perfectly, in beautiful shape, and was fairly priced - all the boxes checked, so I encouraged her to get it.  In the end she did and I was thrilled for her.

These two friends, and fans of red, were enjoying an outing.  The redhead on the right purchased her Persian Lamb coat at the show.

I love her dress and hat, and his magenta velvet coat 

This woman looked just great in her head to toe Rosie the Riveter style. 

This woman is a member of the Toronto Vintage Society, a community of folks who love all things vintage/retro.

Her shoes are a vintage reproduction, and I should have asked her where she got them, because they are gorgeous!!

I stopped this lovely woman for a photograph because of her outfit, and when we exchanged cards, I realized that I had been following her Instagram feed for the last few months.  Jessica is also from London, Ontario, and I was surprised that given how small the blogging community is in London we hadn't run into each other before.  Her blog is Pin Up Persuasion.

I will readily admit that I was completely smitten with this man, originally from England and now living in Toronto.  I had been chatting to Sylvie and our friend Krissy when he passed us, and I stopped mid-sentence to say, "excuse me, I have to go follow that man".  From the tips of his waxed moustache to the toes of his navy and white shoes, he is completely owning his style.  And of course, he was completely charming and had a delightful sense of humour.   Sigh.

The vendors were no slouch in the style department - the woman on the left was the personification of the name of her booth (just look up the meaning of 'winsome').  I had met her at the Gadsden's Vintage Clothing show last spring and recognized her immediately.   The woman on the right was working at the ChanelTouch booth, and we obviously share a love of bold-coloured hair.

This dapper gent was working at the Evolvintage booth and apparently, he has pants that match his lovely jacket, but thought it might be a little much to wear them both together at the show.  Personally I think that would be awesome, especially with his ginger hair and beard.

I'm sure you're wondering if I purchased anything, and the answer to that would be yes, but I had set a budget for myself and stuck to it.  I came home with the 1970's made-in-Norway wool print vest/dress from KDS Art Wear Home (it even has a hood!), the cream wool hat from Primetime, and a pair of cheerful 1960's shoe clips (bottom right) from Norma's.  I also got another very cool hat from Primetime that I'll show off in a later post.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. The vendors I spoke with were very friendly and knowledgeable, for the most part, clothing prices were fairly reasonable (at least in comparison to the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show), and many were willing to give you a better price if you asked nicely (and some gave you a deal without being asked).   There was one booth where the centerpiece of their only display was a beautiful hat, which unfortunately had several large moth holes.  In an event like this, where you are competing for the attention, and dollars of people who in many cases are knowledgeable about vintage clothing, it is imperative that your wares be clean, in excellent condition and attractively displayed.  

In the meantime, if you are in the Toronto area and need your vintage fix, the Gadsden's Toronto Vintage Clothing Show will be held at Wychwood Barns on Sunday, April 12th.  Maybe I'll see you there!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Rock, Rock, Rock-a-billy Boogie

This past Saturday night, when my previously-made plans fell through,  I decided that as tempting as it was, I was not going to spend another Saturday night on the couch with Netflix.  I knew a good  band was playing at a club within walking distance of my house, so I dressed up, bundled up, and headed off to The London Music Club to see Toronto Rockabilly band, The Royal Crowns.

I've always been a sucker for an upright bass

When I arrived at the venue I didn't see anyone else I knew, so I asked a couple if they would mind if I shared their table.  While waiting for the band to start playing, I was feeling rather conspicuous, and wondered if perhaps I should have stayed home after all.

Then the band started to play....

and these people showed up:  Amber (upper left), Paul, and Cindy (bottom left and right), and soon there was some laughing, and some photo-taking going on

The Royal Crowns have been playing together for over twenty years, and their suave sartorial style has contributed to their well-deserved reputation for putting on a great live show.

The original members of the band, guitarist/vocalist Danny Bartley (in plaid jacket) and drummer/singer Teddy Fury (best rockabilly band member name ever) shared songwriting duties on the band's three albums. Originally a four piece band, two member left in 2010, and Jason Adams was added as bassist.  Adams was not able to make the Saturday night show, and I didn't get the name of the guy who was filling in, but he was a first-rate player.

The music is a head-bopping, hip-shaking mix of surf, swing, country, jazz, blues and rockabilly, and the songs like "Butterball Baby" and "Three Dollar Cologne" show off Fury and Bartley's sense of humour.  There's no fancy tricks or glib stage patter to detract from the core of the band's appeal - excellent musicianship and great original material that gets you on the dance floor.

and yes, we were dancing

The guys in the band were friendly and easy-going, agreeably posing for photos after the gig

It was one of those "A good time was had by all" kind of nights, and because the audience and the  band members are not kids anymore, the show finished at a very civilized hour and we were all home by 12:30 am.   I had every intention of posting this earlier in the week, but damned if I didn't get a respiratory infection of some sort on Sunday, and felt like crap until today!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sunday at the Art Gallery With Linda

This past Sunday, these two women met for brunch, and then went off to Museum London to see a presentation by Little Ray's Reptile Zoo, a privately funded zoo and animal rescue that has a travelling reptile show.   Linda and I find snakes, lizards and other scaley critters rather fascinating so we thought it would be an interesting way to spend an hour.

When we arrived a few minutes after the show had started, we found ourselves at the back of a large crowd of children and adults.  The man in the hat in the upper left of the photo was holding, and talking about a particular salamander that is on the endangered species list.  Unfortunately, the noise level in the room was so loud that you could barely hear what he was saying, even though he was almost yelling.  At one point, a man standing near me put up his hand and asked if the presenter could speak louder, and without thinking, I said out loud, to no one in particular, "maybe if everyone shut up, we could hear him".   In that moment, I officially became a crochety old lady.   I recalled that if I was ever taken to a show or exhibit when I was a kid, there was a conversation beforehand about the behaviour that was expected of me - pay attention and be quiet.  Apparently that talk isn't had by many parents and children anymore.  When we realized we were never going to be able to hear what the poor reptile guy was saying, we decided to explore the rest of the gallery.

We crossed into the large main gallery and saw this, prompting us to both exclaim "DRESSES!"

The dresses were part of an exhibit titled "In Full Flower", featuring women's dresses, decorative objects, and paintings with a floral motif from the Museum's collection.  Flowers have been used extensively throughout history as a decorative motif by artists, fashion designers, and crafters and have held a variety of symbolic meanings.  They are usually associated with femininity, and thus are a popular choice for fabrics for women's clothing, hence the dresses on display.  Unfortunately, the paintings that were chosen for the exhibit were mostly dark and featured rather droopy flowers (notice the two on the wall behind the dress) which made them not worth documenting.  The silk dress in the photo from around 1915 was owned by Marjorie Stevenson Morphy, and is an example of a very fashionable outfit of the time period.

This late 1920's chiffon dress was one of my favourites for the colour combination and the shape

A very welcome, and quite fascinating addition to the exhibit was the display cards below each dress that not only described the dress and how it was made, but also gave some information about the  woman who had owned it.  The cards in the photo above are for the chiffon dress in the previous photo.  I love the name Eloise!

Details of some of the dresses on display (clockwise from top left):  Lace detail on the collar and pocket of a 1940's cotton dress donated by Western's Brescia College; waist detail of Arnold Scaasi silk dress purchased by Judith Roger in 1964 for her wedding trousseau. Judith's daughter Milisa Burns then wore the dress as a going away outfit after her own 1991 wedding; vibrant floral pattern and draped bodice and waist of a 1980's dress owned by Isabel Wilson Roger; ruffled capped sleeves on a 1930's georgette dress worn by Bertha "Mabel" Riether when she was in her 50's.

The 1960's were represented by the polyester dress on the left, which was purchased in Toronto in 1969, and the PVC dress on the right designed by Canadian-born Karen Moller

Linda and I were intrigued by the description for these two dresses, both owned by Sophie Skaith.  Skaith made the mini dress on the left in 1970 and according to the information card, she wore it a lot because "it just made me feel so good and I just loved to wear it".  We were surprised to see that the rather dumpy Laura Ashley dress with the lace collar was also owned by Skaith, and it was noted that it was one of her favourites.   Linda and I were very tempted to try to contact Ms. Skaith, who is still alive, and find out how the same woman that made the bold flowered minidress on the left could also be so enamoured with the drab, shapeless dress on the right.

In Full Flower:  Handpicked From the Collection 
is on view at Museum London until April 19th