Monday, July 1, 2019

POSE!


*If you haven't seen the show POSE (on FX) yet, it's brilliant*

One of the reasons I enjoy spending time with Melanie in Vancouver is that she loves playing with makeup, and dressing up, as much as I do.  We had planned to do a photo shoot at some point during my visit and on the Saturday we took advantage of the gorgeous weather and an low-traffic alley in her neighbourhood to channel our inner performance artist/model.  We had done a shoot together when I visited in 2016, the results of which you can see on my blog here.

My daily makeup routine consists of brow pencil and lipstick, so it's always fun to experiment using Melanie's extensive collection of products.  We go for lots of bold colour and more than a dash of whimsy. 

Mel's makeup - don't her eyes look huge!

I was inspired by a photo of Twiggy wearing "flower power" makeup on the cover of Vogue Magazine from 1967

We didn't confer about what we were going to wear but as it turned out, we were perfectly in sync with our silky, voluminous pieces.  We found a suitably grimy-but-not-stinky alley in her neighbourhood, set up the tripod and went to it.  Looking at these photos, I wish I would have had different shoes to wear (one can only pack so many pairs of shoes) so I encourage you to focus on the knees upwards.

I found this silk caftan/dress at The Sentimentalist and this was the first wearing.  It felt like wearing nothing and the fabric moved beautifully.  Reviewing the photos, I see a Japanese/Geisha influence in the poses, which I think was inspired by the shape of the dress and the makeup.

The breeze was an unplanned, but very welcome addition to the shoot, and provided great movement to the light fabrics we were both wearing.  I love this shot of Melanie and her "wings".

If we lived closer to each other, I know we would do more of this kind of thing.  I think we are serving excellent fashion editorial here.  Vogue, pay attention.

You can see the details of Melanie's makeup in this shot.  She is one of the most creative people in terms of her personal style and she inspires me to push myself further in the way I present myself in the shoots we do together.


While writing this post, I asked myself what it was that inspires me to do this, and what do I enjoy about it (aside from the obvious appeal of working on a creative project with a good friend).  Most women I know don't spend their spare time doing things like this (although I wonder how many of them would secretly like to).  I spent my childhood, and much of my young adult life, feeling very unhappy with my looks.  I was plain and mousy with buck teeth and glasses, and yearned for the  dramatic style of Elizabeth Taylor and Barbra Streisand.  Over the years, I've grown to accept, and on a good day, even like, the face I present to the world, it's only when I see myself in photos like these that I feel beautiful.  There is something about the exaggeration and artifice that I feel makes my face more interesting to look at.  Perhaps this is similar to what drag queens feel when they look in the mirror and see their fully made-up selves?  Perhaps I was a drag queen in another life?   This requires more time to fully address than I'm prepared to spend here, but definitely food for thought.

I played around with the highlights on this one and I rather like the effect

Melanie, caught in a perfect serious moment 

However, she can only be serious for so long...

It was obvious we were both getting a bit giddy, so, time to pack up and go for snacks!

Thank you Melanie, for being an excellent partner in creative crime.  You can see her first post about our adventures on her blog here.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Living The West Coast Life (Part 1)


I flew back home on Wednesday from Vancouver (and boy, are my arms tired!) where I spent an absolutely lovely week enjoying the scenery, stellar weather, and inspiring company.

The irrepressible Melanie aka Bag and a Beret

This was my third trip to Vancouver, and the second in which I have visited with Mel.  She's funny,  inspiring, and super creative, but she also has her quiet moments too...

We took advantage of the glorious weather and sat outside as often as possible  


I stayed with people I met last time I was in Vancouver in the area known as Yaletown, one of the "happening" neighbourhoods according to Vancouver Tourism websites.  Formerly the western terminus for the Central Pacific Railway, its popularity grew in 1986 when Vancouver hosted the World's Fair and many of the venues were located along the north shore of False Creek (see the black arrow at the top of the photo).  The Seawall is a 10 minute walk from the apartment, and there are lots of restaurants, a grocery store, shops, and the Vancouver Art Gallery close by. 

I took a walk along the seawall almost every day, and there was always something new to see

For an animal lover like me, a walk along the Sea Wall provided an excellent opportunity to meet, and pet, many of the dogs that live in the neighbourhood.  The beautiful weather meant that every dog (and their owner) was out enjoying the sunshine and some were jumping into the water to retrieve sticks or balls.

I watched this pup and his human on the paddle board for quite a while.  There was a woman with them on her own board and the dog would go from one to the other.  They had stuck small Canadian flags in the dog's collar and put a red and white garland around his neck and when they were taking photos it made me think this was more of a social media opportunity than an enjoyable excursion for the dog.

 I spent over an hour on this bench reading on Sunday afternoon and relished every minute of it

While exploring my neighbourhood with Melanie, we stopped by H-Mart Supermarket which carries all things Asian, including groceries, skincare and beauty products, home accessories and health supplements.  

I bought this, well, because OMG the packaging!  Who knew kitties could get clogged nose pores?
I haven't tried it yet (on me, not Sylvester) so I can't vouch for its effectiveness.

ZAC-ZAC is a food court-style eatery located inside the H-Mart that offers Japanese curry and Katsu dishes.  I had the pork cutlet Katsu curry and it was very good.  Most of the meals I ate while I was in Vancouver were from small places like this.

Early in my visit I discovered Baggio Gelateria and Pizzeria near the seawall, and after trying a scoop of organic coconut and rum gelato, combined with a scoop of fresh mint with Ecuadorian chocolate pieces, I was hooked.  Their gelato is made on the premises daily using natural products including fruit from local farms.

On my second last day I discovered La Cantina, where I had some yummy tacos, and was also enamoured with the decor...

 Who doesn't love a Lucha Libre theme?

Even the stools had images of wrestling masks.  The brilliant wall murals were created by Mexican artist Irving Cano.

So, enough about food....
What do women who love dressing up do when they hang out together?

They go to Nordstrom and play fashion model, that's what! Both of us shop primarily secondhand from thrift and consignment stores, so when an opportunity arises to try on some beyond-our-budget high end pieces, we'll take it.

The staff were very nice and gave us a large change room to ourselves. I'm wearing the Dries van Noten Valimera crop sleeve denim jacket paired with cotton flared pants.  The jacket is something I would wear with many of the items in my wardrobe, but it would need to be marked down more than what it was for me to take it home. Melanie was working floral and sequins with her own fringed heels.

I liked the colour combo and the streamlined shape of this Valentino coat, but the very obvious "V" pattern was a bit much for me.  I'm not a fan of broadcasting what brand I'm wearing.

I was rather in love with the shiny pink bicycle-style shorts I'm wearing in this photo (alas, they were too small; I couldn't do up the zipper at the back) and the shirt by the brand Area was a good colour but a bit too crunchy.

The fabric of the Loewe dress I'm wearing made it comfortable and sexy.  Melanie is also rocking a body conscious funky dress with her own cool shades. YEAH! Let's hear it for playing dress up at any age!

We also play well with others, so when I mentioned to Sheila, who lives in Victoria, that I would be spending some time in Vancouver (we have followed each other's blogs for years, but never met), and she offered to fly over and spend a day with us, I was thrilled!  Finding, and connecting to, like-minded women has been the best thing about blogging for me, and I've been lucky in that the bloggers I've met face to face have turned out to be just like the selves they present on their blog.  Case in point....

Sheila on the left, Mel on the right

Sheila was as cool, colourful, and delightful, as she is on her blog.  We had a jam-packed several hours together that included grabbing some lunch on Granville Island, and some stellar shopping at Turnabout consignment (you'll see some of the great things I found in a later post).  You can read Sheila's post about our day together on her blog here.

You must be tired of reading by now, and I am still trying to get my sh*t together to return to work tomorrow, so I'll leave you here, and be back with more of my Vancouver adventures (including a photo shoot with Melanie and a workshop with artist Brooke Shaden) later this week. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Champagne Taste for Beer Money


Back in April I was browsing in a local consignment store where I've found a few nice pieces, but overall, isn't known for carrying high-end designer merchandise, and I found this coat.....


It looks like a nice coat, right?  The colour is not one I would usually wear, but the fabric was luxuriously soft, like a wool-cashmere blend, and the beautiful detailing indicated the coat was very likely an expensive purchase for the original owner.

The flaps on the pockets are held open by a button, instead of the usual "buttoned-down" position you see on most coats.  A length of binding (I don't know what else to call it) is sewn on the front (it's visible in the photo next to the row of buttons), and on the shoulders, and there is an ever-so-elegant half belt in the back.

And then there's the label...


And how much did this vintage, French-made designer piece cost me?   The coat, a vintage top, vintage maxi dress, and a t-shirt came to $11 (it was their end of season sale).  As I was inwardly "SQUEE-ING", the woman behind the counter eyed my bag of treasures and said, "well, you did pretty well today, didn't you?"  She really had no idea.

If you're not familiar with the designer Sonia Rykiel, here's a bit of history...

 French knit designer Sonia Rykiel, with her trademark red hair, in 2007 (source)

 The story goes that in the early 60's, when Sonia Rykiel was pregnant with her first child, she couldn't find any clothes she liked in her husband's Paris boutique, so she designed and created a dress and a sweater, using his Italian fabric supplier.  The sweater had high-cut armholes and a shrunken fit, and she began selling the sweaters in her husband's boutique.  The "poor boy" sweaters, as they became known, were very popular (Audrey Hepburn bought 14 in different colours).  Rykiel's husband helped her start her own company and in 1968 she opened her own boutique on the left bank in Paris, specializing in casual knitwear.

Rykiel is quoted as saying "I do not want women to disappear beneath my clothing, the woman must be more than the garment, for it is not the dress that makes the woman, but the woman who makes herself".  Her designs in the 1970's were very modern - garments were made inside out and hems were left unfinished. She was one of the first designers to put text on a sweater.  Colourful and bold stripes figured prominently in many of her designs.  In 1972, she was dubbed "The Queen of Knitwear" by Women's Wear Daily.

An outfit from Rykiel's Fall 1994 collection (source)

In 2009, she was awarded The Order of Legion d'Honneur in recognition of her 40 years of service to the French Fashion Industry.  Her company remained family-owned until 2012 which made it one of the last independently owned fashion houses. Rykiel died in 2016 at the age of 86 from complications from Parkinson's disease.


When I wear this coat, I imagine myself strolling down the Champs-Elysees in Paris on a cool Spring day, knowing that I am wearing a little piece of French fashion history.

Have you found any Squee-Worthy "champagne" designer pieces for the price of a couple of beers?