Monday, October 9, 2017

If It's Fall There Must Be a Vintage Clothing Show

I hadn't been to the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show for a couple of years so when my friend Suzanne invited me go to the fall edition of the show with her on October 1st, I happily agreed.  The show is held in the Queen Elizabeth Building at Exhibition Place in Toronto twice a year, and features between 90 - 100 vendors selling vintage clothing, accessories and housewares.

 Thanks to Yank Azman for the photo

Both Suzanne and I wore pieces we had purchased secondhand.  My 1980's jacket and Annie Thompson denim pants were found at Talize.

As our styles are very different, and I needed to get some photos for this post, we went off in separate directions and agreed to meet up in a couple of hours.   I find if I choose a theme when I'm taking photos at vintage shows it's easier than just trying to photograph everything, so this time, as Fall is officially here (although you would never know it from the warm temperatures we've been having), I decided to focus on colourful coats.

And there were lots to choose from....

Unlike new winter coats, which seem to be primarily black, vintage coats come in all colours and patterns.

I saw several plaid wool coats but the combination of orange and turquoise in this fringed one from Phoenix Vintage made it stand out.

The beautiful boucle wool coat from the 1950's is also from Phoenix Vintage

This beautiful coat with Inuit-themed embellishments was at the Karen Jeffery Collection booth

This Custo Barcelona coat from the Karen Jeffery Collection may not keep you warm in -20 below temperatures but it definitely makes a statement.

I was surprised to see the number of real fur coats for sale.  Given the amount of negative public reaction to the wearing of real fur, I wondered if anyone was still buying them.  I asked a couple of vendors for their thoughts on this, and some have stopped selling real fur altogether.  Others continue to sell it as long as there is a market for it.  I've made my feelings known about this issue in previous blog posts, and have worn vintage fur, or fur-trimmed coats in the past.  

This elegant wool coat is from Gadabout Vintage

A stunning brocade evening coat from House of Vintage

Capes have become very popular again over the last few years, and I didn't have to look very hard to find colourful examples.  The blue check, yellow plaid and leopard print are all from Frou Frou Vintage, and the red, white and blue patterned one is from Nomadic.

I enjoy going to vintage clothing shows to drool over beautiful pieces of clothing, but it's also fun to see what the vendors and other shoppers are wearing.  Because we went on the second day of the show, we apparently missed a lot of the folks who really dress up, but the vendors didn't disappoint.

The stylish owners of EVOL Vintage.  He has a thing for velvet jackets (I photographed him in an emerald green one a couple of years ago) and she was rocking a fabulous vintage dress found by her husband. 

Madge Golleran, owner of Phoenix Vintage, always stands out from the crowd in her incredible outfits.  For this show, she chose a lurex leisure suit, and if you thought those words couldn't possibly go together, just check out the photo above.
Dana, wearing a beautiful 1940's dress, owns Victory Girl Vintage. The lace dress and velvet evening coat on the mannequin next to her was available at her booth.

The owner of Donna Beasley Antiques (which belonged to her mother, Donna), was wearing a stunning pieced-leather dress from Ian Drummond Vintage.  It fit as if it was custom-made for her.

Men in their twenties could take a lesson from these two guys, who demonstrated how to do casual and denim with panache.  I loved the orange sneakers, and the hats were icing on the proverbial cake.  Well done, gentlemen.

Of course there were lots of other fabulous things to see aside from coats, as evidenced by the photos above.  The fab blue and yellow maxi on the left from Vintage Soul Geek sold just before the end of the show, and the sparkly number on the right from PrintVintage would make anyone the center of attention.

I love the graphic boldness of this velvet and satin dress from Gadabout Vintage.  The gumball-sized buttons on the cuffs and front of the dress added a bit of whimsy.

There is jewellery for every taste available at the show.  Bracelets and graphic black and white earrings are from Renee Piche, and the saucy kittens Lea Stein brooch was available at the Vintage Soul Geek booth.

 I was seriously tempted by these marvelous patterned spats from Ian Drummond Vintage

 rotary dial phones in a rainbow of colours at McCools Antiques

These Levi's denim placemats, also from McCools Antiques, would impress your friends at your next dinner gathering.

I'm sure you are wondering if I bought anything, and the answer is yes.  I learned from my previous vintage show experiences that in order to stay within my budget,  I need to take cash with me, and once that cash is gone, I'm done.  I did very well, and found three cool pieces that in total came in just under $100.

I have noticed over the past several years that anything I own that is brightly coloured or patterned,  is vintage.  When I buy retail, which isn't often, I tend to go for black, grey or denim.  This also held true for my purchases from this show.  The first thing I found was this handmade pink and black dress on the left, from EVOL Vintage.  It doesn't look like much on the hangar, but it fits me well and will look great with black tights and docs.  I found the dress on the right at Vintage Soul Geek. I liked the 1960's trapeze shape, and the fabric is silky on the outside, and feels like a soft brushed cotton on the inside, so it will be very cozy in the winter.  I wanted to post a photo of me wearing them, but it's been TOO DAMN HOT.

The last time I attended the Toronto Vintage Show I purchased a heavy wool maxi vest, and it appears I now have the start of a collection (I'm obviously preparing for my "Maude" years).  This bold  number is made of what could be an upholstery fabric and is from Ian Drummond Vintage.  Now all I need is some cooler weather.

I've been to quite a few vintage clothing shows, including ones in New York, I feel I have enough experience that I can make some suggestions to vendors to help make it a better experience for the shoppers:

1) Leave some space on your racks for clothes to "breathe".  If I see a rack where the clothing is so tightly jammed together that I can't easily remove anything to see it, much less try and stuff it back in, I won't even bother to browse.  

2) Examine your stock before you put it out, especially if it's an item that you are going to feature on a display.  Moth holes do not make me want to take something home with me.  At the very least, if something has a hole or two, acknowledge it and reflect it in the price.

3)  The show has a pretty broad range of price points (my dress from EVOL was $25), and I can understand offering an exquisite vintage textile in excellent condition at a price few of us can afford, but there is no reason to charge hundreds of dollars for something unexceptional that I can find at a thrift store for $20.  I know that built into that price is your time, your rent, your overhead, etc., but wouldn't you rather sell it then keep bringing it back each year?  

For the record, the vendors I purchased from did not have these issues, and overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon oogling beautiful clothing, and chatting to the vendors and fellow shoppers.  Suzanne and I re-convened at the end of the show to compare purchases and then had a tasty dinner at Fresh before I caught my bus back home.   Many thanks to Catherine Knoll for covering our admission, and to Chris McDowall for providing two admission tickets to give away to my readers.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Kick out the Jams!

Can you tell I'm excited that Fall has arrived?  I am kicking up my heels and celebrating the arrival of cool weather after a blistering heat wave that just about did me in.  I know some people were thrilled at having 35 - 38 degrees Celsius temperatures in September, but I wasn't one of them.  

I'm also excited because I'm going to the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show  tomorrow with a blogger friend, and I haven't had a day out in the Big Smoke since June.   I'm sure there will be a blog post to follow.

The jacket I'm wearing came from a vintage store I can't remember the name of, in Portland Oregon.  It was fairly expensive, and I love the mix of fabrics (leather and heavy cotton) so I need to wear it more.  I layered a black skirt underneath my dress (see below) for some modesty although looking at this photo I probably didn't need it.

This is the dress I'm wearing under the jacket.  I found it at my local Goodwill Thrift Store, and in it's former life, it was an XL t-shirt.  Someone, whose style aesthetic I greatly admire, did a bit of gathering on the sleeves and sewed a wired ruffle on the hem.  I wasn't crazy about the large sponge buttons, but they were easily snipped off.  It makes me want to buy a bunch of XL Hanes T-shirts and make more in different colours.

Kick out the Jams was the name of the debut album of the Punk band MC5, released in 1969.  Click on the video above to have a head-banging, hip-shaking, ass-kicking, nostalgic moment.  It kind of sums up my attitude right now, and the blue of the background of the video matches my dress!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Confessions of a Lipstick Junkie

Sephora is my happy place (this is not a sponsored post - I link because I love)

It seems that the world is divided into two kinds of people - those who wear lipstick every day and feel incomplete without it, and those who never wear it.  I've worn lipstick since my 20's, and wouldn't think of leaving my house with bare lips.   I remember a colleague in a previous job asking me one day if I was ill, and I'm pretty sure it was because I wasn't wearing any lipstick that day.   The ancient Sumerians who crushed gemstones and applied them to their lips and around their eyes could not have predicted the insane number of shades of lipstick that would be available 5,000 years later.   I am not a "full face Makeup" woman; on a daily basis I do my brows, wear some concealer and lipstick.  Lipstick is my thing - at any one time I usually have about 20 different colours in my makeup bag, with the majority being shades of red.

Before Canada got its first Sephora in 2004 in Toronto, I was content with the RevlonL'Oreal and Maybelline lipsticks from my local drugstore. But when we finally got a Sephora store here in London, Ontario a few years ago, just stepping through the black and white striped doorway unleashed an uncontrollable lipstick lust in me.  In an effort to keep myself in check, I will only go with my friend Heather, and only once every three or four months.  

This past weekend, we did our "Start of a New School Year" visit - because a girl needs a new lipstick to greet all those new students, of course.  There is something about being surrounded by makeup displays that unleashes the five year old girl in me who wanted to play with her mother's makeup.  I flit from display to display, testing an eyeshadow or liner here, a nail polish there, before stationing myself in front of the Make Up Forever, Urban Decay, or Smashbox lipstick display and spend the next 30 minutes searching for the perfect lip colour that is going to make me look brighter and younger.  I wandering around yesterday wearing a rather fabulous metallic blue liquid lipstick on my mouth for at least an hour until I reluctantly gave in and gravitated to the more wearable reds. But I knew I could have worn that blue with confidence.

 My purchases from yesterday, as well as a lip primer

It's a greater challenge buying makeup when you are a "woman of a certain age".  Powders settle into, and emphasize creases and lines, lipsticks that "stay on forever" also dry out your lips, dark colours make you look older, and candy-coloured brights can make you look like you're trying too hard.  I've  seen a number of articles in print and online that caution women over 40 against wearing red lipstick, which is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard.  Red lipstick looks amazing with grey hair, and pale skin, which is what most of us white women end up with if we live long enough and stop colouring our hair.   You may need to start using a lip primer to soften and smooth lips and make lipstick adhere better, and I purchased the Sephora brand on the recommendation of one of their sales staff.

I also admit to being seduced by packaging, and Benefit Cosmetics excels in this area.  The "stick" contains a core of concealer surrounded by a ring of Vitamin E-infused moisturizer and when you wear it, it hydrates your skin as well as providing light coverage for uneven skin tone and blemishes.  I'm looking forward to having this in the winter when my skin dries out and starts to flake off my face.

Another thing I love about Sephora is that for every $1 you spend you get a point, and when you have accumulated 100 points, you can choose one from several samples of products.  With all the current popularity of charcoal in skin products, I though I would give this face mask a try.

Showing off my new Urban Decay lipstick and the results of me playing with yellow and blue eyeshadows I had purchased previously.  I need to work on my eye makeup application technique, as I pretty much have no idea what I'm doing, but I liked that the colours matched the frames of my glasses!

How do you feel about lipstick?  

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.