Sunday, July 24, 2016

Rainbow Bright

Today was our annual Pride Parade, which caps off almost two weeks of Pride Festival activities here in London, Ontario.   Following this year's unusually small contingent of Dykes on Bikes was a group carrying signs with the names and photos of the people who were killed in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub on June 12th.  Most Pride parades that have happened since that date have included a memorial to the 49 victims.

I usually watch the parade from the sidewalk in front of my friends Mario and Sarah's house, and this year, there was to be a party on the porch after the parade to celebrate the impending nuptials of Mario and his fiancĂ© Leif.  Their sign generated a lot of well wishes from parade watchers.

My neighbours came to watch the parade with their kids, who brought a sign they made to hold up at the parade.  Good parents, great kids.

The police, paramedics and fire department all have small versions of their vehicles they use in the parade.  The guy driving the mini police van looked like he was having a good time.

The parade is very much a community event - while we don't have the lavish floats that parades in larger cities have, we do have a good turnout of people representing various local organizations.

Pole dancers from Studio Chic participated in the parade this year, to enthusiastic applause 

My favourite outfit this year was the head-to-toe rainbow worn by the gentleman above.  He is a familiar presence in the parade and I would guess he's in his late 60's.  He's got damn good legs!

These lucky women got to ride in a jet for the parade

The woman cringing on the left is trying to avoid the spray of water from Leif's garden hose

The guy with the bike asked to be sprayed and he got his wish.  In the background are members of the Canadian Armed Forces, who were marching in the parade for the first time this year.

It was cloudy, and we had rain later in the afternoon, but it held off until after the parade.  The street on our corner was wet from Leif's enthusiastic spraying of the parade participants.  It was hot and humid and many people requested they be hosed down, but two police officers came over and gave Leif a hard time about spraying people saying that "People who didn't want to be sprayed were getting sprayed" and they wanted him to stop.  He explained he was only spraying those who asked for it but they gave him a talking to for several minutes before they left him alone.  A few minutes later I was sprayed full on by a parade participant with a super soaker, without my consent, but apparently that was fine. Most of the police officers who work at the parade are great, but every now and then you get one or two that seem to feel they aren't doing their job if they don't give someone a hard time.

One of my favourite captures of the day

Naomi Nadea makes her own costume, complete with spectacular headpiece, for the parade every year, and I always look forward to seeing her latest creation.

Best spectator outfit - a combination Canadian/Rainbow flag as cape

That was the parade for this year!  It's an excellent occasion to get to know your neighbours and support your community, so if you've never attended, mark it on your calendar for next year. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Bits and Pieces - Raggedy Designs

During the 7 years I've been writing this blog I've occasionally been contacted by a company to see if I would be interested in writing a "sponsored" post on my blog.  Basically, this means "You write nice stuff about us and we'll give you something for free", although I have also received requests from companies with no offer of compensation of any kind.  Most of the time I can tell the person sending the request hasn't looked at my blog and has no idea what I write about.

It was a refreshing change to be contacted by Hayley Trezise, designer of Raggedy, from the UK, after my photo was included in this post on the blog Warning: Curves Ahead .  Trezise had actually looked at my blog, and didn't ask for anything from me in her initial email.   She wanted to introduce me to her designs because she thought I would like them.  And I did...

A sample of Hayley's designs, worn by one of her regular customers, and photographed by Alice Weston.  I was immediately drawn to the mix of shapes and fabrics.

As a child, Trezise watched her seamstress mother put clothing together from scratch, including unique dresses for her daughter.  As a teenager, Trezise created her own wardrobe from charity shop and jumble sale finds, as well as her own designs.  She was inspired to pursue a Fine Art degree, specializing in sculpture, and her interest in exploring shape and form in various media, as well as the desire to recycle society's castoffs came together in Raggedy.  

Trezise's studio/shop - photo courtesy of Hayley Trezise

The designs have strong sculptural shapes, and are made from a combination of stitchwork, patchwork, ruffles, and multiple layers, and they are often deliberately asymetrical.

I asked Hayley about what inspired her designs and what she hoped to achieve with her clothing:

"Raggedy is about inspiring people to explore new and different ways of celebrating art and fashion, while supporting our fragile environment.  I believe whole-heartedly that each individual (male or female) should be seen for who they truly are and not be afraid to stand out and be seen.  This message is within each garment I create because this has become one of the most important things within my work.  I struggle with mainstream fashion because of the control it has over us telling us each season how we should dress to 'fit in', also, this includes a throw away society that creates destruction in landfills.  Slow fashion, timeless fashion, and ageless fashion, are what I believe in, so generally I break every rule in the fashion industry.  My clients are fun, creative and have an eye and an appreciation to stand up and be seen, while appreciating the creative work in the clothes, which continues to be sewn into the very fibre of Raggedy's heart."

I  saw a dress I liked on Raggedy's website that was on sale, and asked Trezise if she would be willing to do a trade - the dress in return for a post about her designs - and she agreed.

The "Atom Tee dress" is made from re-purposed t-shirts, and retained some of the designs on the t-shirts - hence the atom graphic on my butt, and the phrase "am not insane" on the front.  As a fan of The Big Bang Theory television series, I recognized the text as part of the Sheldon Cooper quote, "I'm not insane, my mother had me tested".  The dress is roomy and very comfortable, and was the perfect thing to wear on a hot day in the park.  The neckline is more open than I'm used to wearing so I added a colourful cotton scarf.

My Missoni collaboration Converse go with everything

I also wore the dress to work, with black accessories and a pair of sheer pants I found at Mesh Clothing Boutique.

The dress has a good "twirl" factor and the colours go with a lot of things I have in my closet.  The only thing missing are pockets (note to designers - all full dresses, skirts and pants should have them). I was really happy with the comfort and versatility of the dress - it can be worn on its own, or layered over a long-sleeved shirt and tights in colder weather.

Because of the forgiving shape of many of Raggedy's pieces, they can be worn by all ages and body shapes.  I asked Trezise about the average age of her customers and if the increase in the number of women over 50 appearing in ad campaigns and on blogs such as Advanced Style had any effect on her designs.

"When you work closely with a woman's body, it is fascinating how many women I have worked with has one bad thing or another to say about their bodies - too skinny, too big, too tall, too short, large boobs, small boobs, loose arms, no bum, etc.  I feel we just need to accept us for who we are, in every way.  all of my clothes can be worn by any age.  My main range is between 40 - 60, but I have had teenagers buy Raggedy, and an 85 year old too.    Most of my clothes work with all body shapes; some are loose and sculptural, still emphasizing the female body, and some are tapered in just the right places to elaborate the beautiful curves of a woman.  I love to see older women wearing my clothes - I have great admiration and respect for women who are of an age, who have lived a life and show self-love and self-respect and that they are unafraid of any judgement because they are who they are.  It is an inspiration."

Photos above are from a shoot Trezise did with a 20, 42, and 70 year old model wearing her clothing

You can purchase Raggedy clothing and accessories direct from the website.
A big thank you to Hayley Trezise for introducing me to her designs, and for my lovely dress!