When do you feel the most attractive?
What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?
Needless to say, I was intrigued, so I answered the questions as thoughtfully as I could and returned the survey. Fast forward to September 2014....
we have the book!!
People who submitted surveys received emails updating them on the status of the book, and in July I received an email with the release date and a list of book launch events, one of which was happening in Toronto. Of course I had to go, as this was the first book I had been a part of (I am quoted on page 464), and as it turns out, it's a wonderful book.
Editors Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton (who are all published authors) have put together a collection of essays, illustrations, photos, and interviews that address why women wear what they wear. It's not a style guide; there is no section on fashion trends, what not to wear, where to shop, or how to dress your body. There are no photos of the women who are featured in the book, which keep the focus on the stories.... and what wonderful stories they are. Each of us - young, old, rich, poor, living in India, Iceland, Texas, or Montreal, make conscious or unconscious decisions when we get dressed in the morning. The book gives us a peek at the thought processes, emotions, and inspirations of several hundred women as they decide how to clothe their bodies. Some of the contributors are famous - musician Kim Gordon, blogger Tavi Gevinson, writer and actor Lena Dunham, artist Miranda July, etc., but most of them are women living their lives under the radar all over the world. The stories are funny, sad, inspiring, entertaining and reassuring. The book makes clothing into something that unites us all as women, instead of something that divides us into categories of "fashionable", "conservative", etc. and I felt a connection to the other women in the book while I was reading it. The reviews have almost all been extremely positive, but one reviewer complained that there is not enough ethnic diversity represented by the women featured in the book. While it is possible (and probably likely) that the majority of the surveys were completed by white women living in Canada and the United States, the editors include stories and interviews with women from Korea, Egypt, Laos, Cambodia, Israel, Croatia, and Poland, to name a few.
To me, one of the most moving sections in the book was titled "Mothers as Others". Participants were asked to submit a photo of their mother before she became a mother and give their impressions of the woman they saw in the photo. Many of the photos showed young, carefree women having fun, and I realized that I have no such photos of my mother, which made me feel rather sad.
The Launch Party....
The Toronto book launch party was held on Thursday, September 8th at gravitypope, on Queen Street West. I had never been to the store, but had heard about their jaw-dropping selection of beautiful (albeit expensive) shoes. I invited two other bloggers, Megan and Suzanne, to join me. Suzanne and I spent the afternoon together (more about that in another post), and Megan joined us for dinner before we went to the party.
The event had been all over social media, and the editors had been interviewed that morning on CBC by Jian Ghomeshi so I was not surprised to see that the store was packed with people, with a lineup outside. It was rather claustrophobic and I found myself seeking out any little unoccupied corner of space I could find.
The Wall of Shoes (there were two other smaller ones as well as several tables full of men's and women's footwear)
I swooned a little over these studded brogues in the men's section. These would go with so many of my fall and winter outfits....
All the staff at gravitypope are quite stylish, but this young man caught my attention with his simple tunic and pants set off by great accessories. The ring! Those shoes!
The three editors, (left to right) Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton, were interviewed on the store's staircase.
All of the book launch parties feature a clothing swap, and Suzanne and I brought some items to add to the mix. It was rather satisfying to see that the three items I brought were scooped up fairly quickly.
The editors asked that women attach their name, and a story about the item, to each item they brought. Suzanne pointed out this skirt to me, and while I was drawn to the happy mix of colours, it was the story that compelled me to take it home.
I also selected this made-in-India jacket and skirt, which had been previous owned by Annette, who, according to the tag attached to the outfit, is in her mid 50's, has three sons, and sells vintage clothing online.
Suzanne (r) chatted with a woman who used to own a funky clothing store in London, Ontario back in the day and now lives in Toronto. It was a pleasant surprise to run into her.
This woman was in the line to get her copy of the book signed so I seized the opportunity to get a photo of her cool t-shirt.
Great glasses, cool hair, and a bold print
A young woman from shedoesthecity was wearing this cute pendant
I didn't bring my copy of the book with me to get signed, but I managed to exchange a few words with Sheila Heti as she took a break from signing. She was very charming and personable, and I wish I could have had an opportunity to chat with all three editors. Unfortunately, the photo shows the least interesting part of my outfit; I also wore a flouncy vintage slip that hung below my dress, black and white tights and my pink "Krista Cons".
The crowd started to thin out around 8:30 pm so I was able to get a photo that showed more of the store. The second floor is dedicated to cool (and, of course, expensive) clothing.
Now, a treat - I have a copy of Women In Clothes to give away to one of my readers! Unfortunately, as it is a rather heavy book (515 pages), I can only ship within Canada and the United States. If you would like to have your name included in the draw for the book, please leave a comment, include your email address (if I don't have it already) and the answer to the following question:
"Tell us about something in your closet that you keep but never wear. What is it, why don't you wear it, and why do you keep it?"
The winner will be announced on Monday, October 6th.