Spring Fling: Clothing Exchange & Sale - Photos by Iana Kazakova

Spring Fling: Clothing Exchange & Sale - Photos by Iana Kazakova
Spring Fling: Clothing Exchange & Sale - Photos by Iana Kazakova

Xchange collective’s Spring Fling event was a delightful afternoon for Montreal fashionistas of all shapes and sizes.

To paraphrase Stanci Tucci in The Devil Wears Prada, I am completely fascinated with how when put together right, clothes can truly become a work of art; and that art is something you spend your life in. Fashion has really only become a passion of mine in the second half of my twenties; growing up I was a tomboy. The idea of embracing any sort of femininity as a child for some reason repulsed me; I was much happier learning to shoot guns at Boy Scout camp then earning sewing badges at Girl Guides.

Spring Fling: Clothing Exchange & Sale - Photos by Iana Kazakova
Shoes, shoes, shoes!!!

While my shift from jeans and converse to skirts and wedges may have began when I realized I no longer wanted to simply hang out with boys but date them, I’ve learned to embrace the joy in dressing nicely for myself. I may not conquer the world in that dress and heels, but damn it if sometimes I feel like I just could.

My day job often makes me want to do nothing after work but curl up in bed, paint my nails and watch Game of Thrones. So I was thrilled to find a weekend assignment this last Sunday when the Xchange Collective put together Spring Fling. While it was most definitely not feeling very spring like that day, I giddily headed down to St-Laurent for the promise of  a clothing swap and exhibition for vintage shops like Citizen Vintage and jewellery designers like Genevieve Savard. To top everything off food and drink vendors em and seb  and Pure Tea offered baked goods, tea and alcoholic drinks abound. Work the next day be dammed, how can a gal possibly say no to a glass of sangria as she makes her way through racks of free dresses, bags and shoes?!

I had promised myself that I was going to be financially responsible after a weekend of partying (aka being financially irresponsible) and not actually purchase anything that day. Of course once I got there, I knew it would be impossible of me not to leave without purchasing something. My favorite vendor at the Spring Fling was Rose & Ruby, which is the brainchild of Gina Bourne. Gina came to Montreal in 2009 from Ottawa and has worked her way up from working at a jewellery store to designing her own completely adorable vintage inspired pieces. I for one will proudly be wearing the brooch I bought for a long time to come.

Spring Fling: Clothing Exchange & Sale - Photos by Iana KazakovaI was more then pleased with my haul from the clothing swap portion of the afternoon; for an entry fee of three dollars I found myself going home with three dresses, a necklace, two sweaters and a shirt all courtesy of some of the chicest guys and gals in town. Thanks Xchange collective for putting on such an awesome event and here’s hoping there’s many more like it to come…

 

 

Given the string of protests, nonsense (I’m looking at you, London, Ontario) and subsequent arrests lately — 226 in the Anti-Police-Brutality March, 94 students against tuition hikes at the Champlain bridge and an underwhelming 13 arrests at the London, Ontario riots (which if I’m reading this correctly, was just ridiculous, malicious chaos, and I hope they catch more of ‘em and lock them all up) — a lot of people will be heading to court in the next few months.

Funny enough, I was there last summer (killed a man in Reno just to watch him die, dontcha know) and happened to scribble some notes that suddenly feel like a necessary public service announcement, lest our courthouse turn up as a People of WalMart sister site.

Please understand that as a casual observer, I’m usually content with keeping my critiques in my head; or, in true girl style, to quietly whisper my often calloused opinions to my traveling companion at any given moment. I do however, compliment perfect strangers when they look great, or have that one fab item, because everyone likes it when their style and effort are appreciated.

Plus, I make questionable to downright wrong outfit choices on a daily basis, so I never thought I’d feel compelled to write a fashion cop piece. Still, the municipal courthouse convinced me that I am a comparative maven of haute couture, and that is my civic duty to speak out and help the confused. It looked like a pretty steep learning curve, so let’s take this one step at a time.

The Hoodie

Look, I love hoodies. I have more hoodies than jeans. Puttering in my closet one day, I had a truly existential moment in which I took stock and asked myself if a woman in her 30s really ought to have so many hoodies, and my final answer, was a proud yes.

That said, I consider the hoodie a questionable court choice. Even if you have nothing else suited for the potentially inclement weather (a stiff breeze, perhaps?), there’s no weather inside. If it’s a hipster thang, don’t worry; if you’re a good hipster we’ll be able to tell sans hoodie.

The Bedazzled Hoodie

This one’s a no. In fact, if you’re trying to wear anything studded, rhinestoned, or in any way blinged out to court, just stop. You are wrong. I can appreciate ghetto fabulous, and rock it like I mean it when I want to. The hard truth is, the look only really flies in a few local hoods, some bars, all public transit and never court. Let’s throw animal prints in here, too, and save a whole category.

One Shouldered Tank Top

We can safely say that a basic requirement for court is a whole shirt. One arm is not enough, and half dressed is not the look you should be going for here. Oh, and not to get to personal, Miss One-Shouldered-Tank-at-the-Courthouse, but your Lady Gaga eye makeup is only truly appreciated on stages and Halloween and certainly not at 9 a.m. And you shouldn’t be wearing any of this with blue jeans and white flip flops. Anywhere. Ever (actual sandals are the minimum footwear requirement for court).

(some) High Heels

This is an important, though oft-overlooked rule that should be kept in mind everywhere, and it is a subjective grey zone, but here it is: having heels on shoes does not automatically make them glamourous, mature or respectable. In fact, if you think about it, I’d venture that most of the footwear that has ever made you feel sticky for looking at them had heels.

As such, it’s important to choose venue appropriate footwear. For court, skip overdone metal hardware, too many straps, or anything that you bought because you knew they would look best in the sky.

Swim Trunks

Really? Do I have to say this out loud? Did court surprise you in the middle of your pool party? I see your backpack. I’m wondering if you have pants in it. I’m wondering if you’ve yet realized that you have that reversed. Oh, and are your shoes in there too? Because you’re wearing flipflops.

To summarize, if it looks like you may have been arrested in it, skip it. If it looks like you could pick up in it, don’t do it. If you look like you just don’t care and may have a grinder in your pocket or a 40 in your leg, rethink that whole look.

Then again, if any of this comes as news to you, you probably do deserve that fine. There may be justice after all.

Tell me what you’re in for @McMoxy

Montreal Fasion Week

Danik Yopp is a Montreal Fashion and Street Blogger who recently covered Montreal Fashion Week. He can usually be found out and about in bars with good lighting, and fashionable patrons. He also runs a really cool blog called Montreal Street Fashion. We begged him to give us a write up from Montreal Fashion Week and he graciously complied! For more fashion-y content check out his site or follow him on twitter, @MTLSTfashion.

Montreal Fasion WeekThe closet door stares back, taunting and harassing your train of thought like a yard school bully. A glass of wine is poured, glue gun gets turned on, note book out, and computer screen glares back, illuminating the creative, busy week ahead for this street style blogger. The night before fashion week is always a mix of stressing out for nothing, periods of silent brain magic, and the scenes of kinesthetic joy when an ensemble is a success. Charge up the camera battery, clear memory space, gather your list of shows and be finally ready to go.

The highlights begin with newcomers Tavan & Mitto who you may have seen me quote in the Montreal Metro. A startling kick off performance with intriguing silhouettes that could have caught my eye more if not for the styling with the fur pieces. This was followed by DUY who mixed noir 50s with 2012 naughtiness in collaboration with Elle Quebec who may be on the forefront introducing gender bending models to their catwalk. One of the only model surprises this year.

Montreal Fasion WeekEnding a strong first night, that would be hard to match, internationally praised Marie Saint Pierre came fourth with poetic theatrics, the campaign far more emotional than the expected pieces of work that floated down the runway. Another stand out was ABOL, a haute couture line visiting a more primitive post apocalyptic vibe with natural eco friendly fibers. Organic textiles from Vancouver created wearable art based on the whole idea of Surrealism and a dreamlike state that one could fairy as accoutred wedding dresses and corsets scattered down the catwalk.

Montreal Fasion WeekBut what really topped the stiletto was the very last show of the very last night, the finale. The show you can’t wait to end so that you can step out in your party gear in solace over the exhausting yet exhilarating week you just had. Collectif de Fermeture, a breed of young, hot, trioesque designers comprising: Anastasia Lomonova, LYN, and UNTTLD. Anastasia kicked off her Semaine de Mode last season as one of my favorite shows and people to meet. This season she went noir not just with her hair, but around a remodeled runway; dark, steamy, under shadowed by smoke paired with her creative chiffon gowns paired with long tasseled bracelets. LYN by Jocelyn Picard, who is now on his own after collaborations with Denis Gagnon and UNTTLD, gave us knitted exaggerated stitching, forcing the human form inside a cocoon into a state of metamorphosis. Jose Manuel St. Jacques and Simon Belanger brought us into another world where female warriors are the new chic and my aesthetic was brought to new life. Body forms in pieces made from hair, intricate chain works, corseted skirts and pants, moved up to become my favorite collection of Semaine De Mode 22.

Montreal Fasion WeekThe crackpot of the week fell flat with the banana republic secretarial gear of Ca Va De Soi, a recent edition showcasing that Semaine De Mode really wants to adhere to buyers in all sense of the word. Kollontai scapegoated into the cocktail lounge beginning behind schedule with their theatrical dancers overshadowing the “fashion” portion. Which overlaid the Plateau expecting mother mixed with the witchery of The Craft, not in a good way. One could almost be offended by the capture, unworthy of the “coveted” spot. The worst thing for me however, was the severe lack of testosterone. There were plenty of baby faced fresh models, but if you were hoping to take in any men’s collections this season you were sadly misinformed. You would need a microscope to see the bits and pieces emerging within the fine cross generational tailoring of CIN Tailleurs, the unexpected polka dots and familiar bold prints of Dinh Ba, and straight jacketed knits of LYN during the Colectif De Fermeture.

Montreal Fasion WeekIt may have been mostly work and no play for me, unless you count the number of drinks I consumed, but unless the lack of sleep and food caused a state of delirium, this Montreal Fashion Week was seriously lacking the balls needed to become an international starlet. The lack of support to designers who may have wanted to create local or national buzz weren’t able to due to the increase in monetary fees for each designer. This lead to many coveted designers opting to create their own shows off site, unaffiliated with Montreal’s biggest fashion event. This season it was all about buyers, mainly international, and thus lacked ambiance, charisma, charm, or even serious innovative design.

It makes one wonder where all the money the government subsidizes go to? Where did all the free samples, free drinks, generous swag, and haute couture hide? My only hope awaiting the fall shows is that Sensation Mode takes a good look at the schedule, and focus less on soirees with the models and more on leaving a lasting impression for all of us who trek down to Marche Bonsecour. Maybe leave us wanting to support Montreal’s local talent, which is plentiful in a city filled with artists and dreams.

Danik is a Montreal Fashion and Street Blogger who recently covered Montreal Fashion Week for ForgetTheBox, for more fashion coverage check out his blog Montreal Street Fashion, and hopefully we’ll get more content from him on FTB in the future 🙂

Like so many of my contemporaries, I have a habit of procrastinating, even when I’m looking forward to something. Therefore, it came as no great surprise that I found myself battling the closing day masses to steal a glimpse of the level of greatness usually reserved for few precious eyes amongst the Paris Fashion elite: haute couture. And not just any couture, that of the unconventional genius dubbed by L’Enfant Terrible of fashion, the one who poured his charismatic heart and soul into every stitch he made, Jean-Paul Gaultier.

A retrospective of his work entitled “From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier” was on display at the Musee des Beaux Arts from June 17-Oct 2. My expectations were understandably high after viewing the delicate creations of another French master couturier, Yves Saint Laurent, at the same museum as few years back. But upon first mounting the stairs to the Gaultier exhibit, I knew the curators had taken things to a whole new level.

I was greeted by a row of mannequins unlike any I’d seen before… their eyes blinked and darted around the room, as if to try to glean as much as they could about those who are staring at them. “You don’t even notice the clothes at first,” I overhead someone say, taking the words right out of my head. But then, after the novelty of facial projection effect wore off and I did notice the clothes, I was unable to take my eyes off them.

Two of Gaultier’s signature inspirations were featured prominently at the entrance: nautical and mermaid. Gaulter himself was there, albeit in projection form, to introduce the exhibit. As opposed to a strict chronological retrospective, the exhibit gathered the designer’s work under six thematic umbrellas, ranging from his ground-breaking work empowering women in the Boudoir to the inspiration he took from the Belle Epoque glory days of Paris and the gritty punk-rock attitude of the streets of London.

These themes were spelled out in cursive neon signs that shone brightly against the black background. I was captivated instantly by the first room I entered, ‘Skin Deep,’ which featured his famed fetish looks of the early 90s, alongside a series of morbid yet playful takes on the full-body leotard and gender-bending men in skirts that he introduced as part of his 1985 ‘And God Created Man’ collection.

“I’m not trying to put all men in skirts. I just want to give them the freedom to wear a skirt if they want to. Women fought for years to wear trouser,” Gaultier once said. And I can completely see where he’s coming from. Skirts do feel more free and earthy than pants, be they skinnies or flared.

Gaultier is famous for breaking down barriers of all types with his clothing, including gender. “Except for the medieval codpiece and the bra, garments have never had a gender,” he once said. To illustrate this, the curators placed one of the male mannequins sporting a feminine silhouette facing a mirror, confronting his reflection. Aloud, he questions his decisions while being taunted by the face in the mirror, wondering if his ego is ready to commit to that sort of look.

Building on the work of predecessors such as Dior and Vivienne Westwood, Gaultier revolutionized the look and image of the corset. He lifted it from oppressive roots in the Victorian Era to a place of true sophistication and style.

His designs included exaggerated features like in the cone-shaped bra made famous by Madonna and a plastic moulded armour reminiscent of a medieval knight, lending the item an air of powerful sensuality. Getting to see some of his most famous corsets up close really let the details shine through, the impeccable stitching to fit like a second skin.

I could go on and on, but I will close with one of the true showstoppers of the exhibit. At first glance, it appeared to be an unassuming leopard skin dress, tucked away in the corner of the Urban Jungle room. It wasn’t until I got up very close that I realized no leopards were harmed in the making of the garment as the entire thing was beaded. According to the accompanying card, the piece took 1060 hours to complete, in keeping with the haute couture standard that every single piece be sewn exclusively by hand. I couldn’t help but envision Gaultier, beading ‘til his fingers bled and his eyesight blurred. A labour of love, I’m sure he’d say.


 

American Apparel is finally going to be making clothes in more American sizes as they expand into the ever-growing plus size clothing market. And since their brand is associated and almost dependent on a particular type of visual image, they took the opportunity to find a fresh face for this new advertising campaign. Their casting call for curvy ladies “who need a little extra wiggle room where it counts” offered the winner the chance to be flown to LA for a bootylicious photoshoot.

The patronizing tone of the casting call really struck a nerve with Nancy Upton, a 24-year old blogger from Austin, Texas.

“As corny as it sounds, it just occurred to me that based on their “Hey, come on, fatties, we want you to play, too” tone, wouldn’t it be kind of brilliant to respond in a, “Thanks for letting me play, just let me try to put down the pizza, first” similar mocking tone,” she said.

And put down the pizza she did, and picked up pie, ice cream, and fried chicken instead. Her irreverent photos are nothing short of brilliant, ranging from her in front of the fridge post ice-cream binge to elegantly-dressed, gloves and all, in a swimming pool about to feast on a chicken drumstick to lounging in a bathtub full of ranch dressing. Her images were accompanied by the biographic text, “I’m a size 12, I just can’t stop eating.” While she never considered herself to be a serious competitor in the contest, she was ranked first overall when online voting ended, beating out countless boring shots.

However, the company declined to offer her the prize, giving it instead to “other contestants that we feel truly exemplify the idea of beauty inside and out.” This coming from a company who once decreed that plus size clothing was not their demographic. Also, from the company whose CEO has been accused of masturbating in front of a reporter and several former employees, and who wore nothing but a “cock sock” to meetings. You’d think they would support the ridiculousness of Upton’s aesthetic, which generally involves vacant, doe-eyed barely legal ladies in sexually charged, slutty situations.

This is why I generally can’t support American Apparel. Sure, they do have some nice styles, but their prices are inflated for the basics.   When I get to write about them at work, my daytime copywriting gig peddling a variety of so-called designer fashions at discount prices, I usually bust out the rhyming dictionary, “Whether in London, Paris or Bangkok, you’ll stand out in this fabulous frock.”

But wearing their clothes ultimately makes me a feel a little dirty, like I’m buying into this aesthetic where women objectify themselves in the name of peddling panties.

In the end, Upton was offered a chance to tour the American Apparel office and factory in downtown LA, and she accepted on the condition that she is able to write about her experience, one piece that I am very much looking forward to reading.

Who doesn’t have at least ten different sides to their personality? Hell, I’ve got a minimum of ten and according to my cab driver a few weeks back (in his obviously very tainted experiences), as a Gemini I should have at least twenty-five more. No no, this isn’t a final admittance of my craziness (stay tuned!); this is a celebration of multifaceted personalities.

If you’re a Millennial (also known as Generation Y, Generation Next, Net Generation or Echo Boomers) you likely grew up with the ingrained knowledge that you could: do, be, think and wear anything you wanted —Generation Y/Next/Net/Echo Boomer/Millennial babies have options! We’re a generation of chameleons who are ever-changing and always looking for new modes of self-expression. This is probably one of the reasons why people have been drooling over the one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces from Montreal’s Machete Designs.

Machete Designs is a celebration of multifaceted personalities and self-driven entrepreneurial spirit. Owner and designer Avril-Maud Giese is the bubbly and business-savvy force behind Machete, whose unique necklace designs reflect her clientele’s desires, as well as her own, for self-expression. “Like everyone else who considers themselves human, I have different sides to my personality and each collection is a representation of one of them. I can be tough chick and rock a gun pendant one day, then wake up the next morning feeling like Pocahontas and wear a tribal looking feather piece!” she says. “Today we have the luxury and ability to dive into our indulgences and express them freely. Machete Designs is here to help you accessorize your outfit by celebrating your individuality.”

A mere infant in Montreal’s entrepreneurial community, Machete Designs celebrated its one year anniversary last month on April 17. For only having been on the scene a year, Avril is doing incredibly well with six collections to date and her next one soon to be launched. Her latest line, The Chandelier Collection, are stunning statement pieces featuring crystal pendants salvaged from antique chandeliers, natural raven and rooster feathers, and semi-precious stones.

“Everything I do is one of a kind. Sometimes it takes me literally months to gather the supplies needed to create a specific collection. The Chandelier Collection is a good example. The crystals used are from the 1940s and required several trips to New York City, countless hours of traveling, antiquing and bargaining. I’m currently on a wild goose chase for the supplies I need for my Winter 2011/2012 collection and the summer collection I am about to release has been marinating in my mind and studio for over five months.”

Avril names and designs each collection according to theme, such as The Jurassic All-Stars collection, featuring tiny hand-painted glass dinosaur pendants, and the Protect ya’ Neck collection, showcasing high gloss varnished toy soldiers. Raised on a tiny island, Avril says that traveling is a big part of her family’s tradition and she’s been collecting quirky trinkets from antique shops and street vendors forever. “Some of my favourite digging and antiquing was in Moscow, Paris and Guadalajara but not everything is vintage. I like buying directly from artists and street vendors. I can relate to them, and honestly, a lot of us start by just setting up on a street corner. Although having a logo and a boutique is regarded as professionalism, it’s not necessarily reflective of true talent.”

Although she took a course in casting silver, Avril is a self-taught designer and entrepreneur, but she doesn’t dismiss the value in learning from professionals and says she plans to take many more courses and learn specific techniques. “I also think that Montreal is a great city to start in. After living here for six years, I have a network of creative friends and acquaintances who never stop setting the bar higher and higher, making you have to jump higher in order to keep up” she says. “There is a big sense of community between artistic entrepreneurs in Montreal and you can easily become part of it if you try.”

The passion and hard work that fuels Machete Designs is evident in each one of her innovative and beautifully crafted pieces.

Her collections are available for purchase online, and at the following locations in Montreal:

Lustre Boutique: 4068 boulevard St-Laurent
Fuzion Boutique: 4298 St Denis
Raz Berry Boutique: 1841 Ste Catherine O
Boutique 1861: 1861, Ste-Catherine O
Galerie Zone Orange: 410 Saint Pierre
Three Monkeys: 1455 Peel St. Les Cours Mont Royal, Suite 207

Photos courtesy of Machete!

Eager to continue my recent trend of firsts, I jumped at the chance to cover the Fashion POP show for Forget the Box. I began my POP experience yesterday by going to the Notman house, upon where after picking up the Forget the Box media pass, I saw Fred Penner hanging out on the front lawn drinking. There was something strange but incredibly awesome about watching children’s icon Fred Penner just chilling and drinking a beer. I saw it as a sign that I was in for a good festival.

Not all that inspiring: Fashion POP

Afterward, I headed over to Parc, where the show was being held in the legendary Rialto theatre. While I admired the beauty of the place and wished that I could have come to see films there in the nineteen-twenties, the building quickly became a hot sweaty mess of fashionistas. Fighting a sea of perfectly coifed up-dos and pouty stares in stiletto heels, I managed to squeeze myself into an area near the front of the catwalk, ready to be impressed by some local Montreal design talent.

Unfortunately, I can’t honestly say that I was blown away by the show. Fashion POP consists of six emerging designers who each present mini collections of six pieces each. What I found is that with each collection there were one or two pieces I liked, but on the whole most of the pieces were pretty uninspiring. My biggest problem with the show was the general lack of colour in each of the collections. An endless parade of sheer, loose fitting white and pale coloured tops and VERY tight shorts and skirts were all pretty on the fifteen year old (looking anyway) models but did nothing to inspire desire.

Setting the mood well: DJ Minnie

I don’t want you think I was completely disappointed with the evening. Along with the awesome tunes being played by DJ Minnie, the pieces that I did like in my opinion should be immediately snatched up if you ever happen to see them in stores. Natasha Thomas created some absolutely beautiful trench coats that would absolutely perfect for fall and the line Market Market created some very interesting silhouettes on their dresses. While I may get a lot of crap for this from FTB readers I must admit there were some fur pieces as well that definitely brought out rare moments of cooing from me during the show.

The evening may not have been what I thought, but what I love about POP and Montreal in general is that there’s never a lack of opportunities for new shows and new adventures. Have a great festival everyone!