2007 traffic

Here is my traffic for the year 2007, click the chart for big. The little spike was the draping demonstration, which had to be the post of the year. While it looks like my traffic has stayed pretty steady, the numbers suggest I have developed a few dozen more regular readers than 2006, a great blessing that makes me feel proud and peculiar. Thanks everyone.

According to Google Analytics, I have an average of 257 visits daily as of the month of December – the lowest is 143 on Dec 24, and the highest was 348 on Dec 5. Make of these numbers what you will.

I share the internet with many remarkable fashion bloggers – check the sidebar for just a few – and count myself very lucky to have such fantastic company. It is a very pleasant habit, that is why we all do it.

shoes from Zola

shoes from Zola

Not too long ago, I got lucky and won a door prize at the F-List Project Runway Canada Finale party – A $150 gift certificate from Zola Shoes.  I went there today and picked up these lovely leather pumps.  Predictably I chose matte black, round toes and low heels – I am a raven not a magpie.  My first (and only) set of quality pumps – I look forward to stepping out to a few fashion weeks in these.

final 2007

Such a great year. Lots of ups and downs. I tried a lot of new things and made my fair share of mistakes, and learned more than I can express in a post.

This year I became a fashion illustrator. At the beginning of the year I had no idea what I was supposed to be. Setbacks in other ventures and a lack of confidence held me back. Finally in July, I recognized it and consciously chose it, embracing the uncertainty, interesting things started to happen. I finally feel like I am on the Earth living a life I love.

I also kept blogging, sometimes getting involved, getting myself out there and occasionally even getting noticed. I love meeting all the wonderful fashion people both in Toronto and New York. It truly is a privilege to be surrounded by such a rich variety of characters, all with so much passion and fascination for this fashion thing.

I did a few things this year that I am proud of, and I can think of so many inspiring people I have met who have accomplished such amazing things this year. I really feel like I am a small part of fashion on a worldwide, countrywide, and citywide level and it gets me excited for everything that is possible. I want to give fashion all I have got.

So to recap my year I just wanted to link a few of my favourite moments. Thank you for reading, writing, and linking.

Feb 1 – NOW magazine features 5 fantastic Toronto Fashion Bloggers, including Final Fashion.

April 11 – Deciding to apply for Project Runway. Got auditioned. Did not get in – thank goodness. We had a lot of fun watching it though.

April 18 – Reviewing Ultimate Platinum, the Toronto Fashion Incubator‘s New Labels competition. Began my novitiate journey into understanding the finer art of the review.

May 13 – Froze my ass without a pass among the far more fabulous at Fashion Cares.

July 2 – My beautiful best friend wore a dress I made for her on her wedding day.

August 4 – Joined Anita and the team at blogTO. Learning to write for another site has been an interesting challenge, and offers me the chance to check out new things and meet new people in the city.

Aug 27 – Draping Demonstration at the Toronto Fashion and Design Festival with Englebert Gayagoy and Katya Revenko. I produced what may be the most elegant design I have ever made in an hour and a half, in front of Toronto’s busiest intersection. We even got rained out. It was amazing.

Sept 5 – 11 – Fashion Week in New York – my first. It was incredible, and fascinating, and overwhelming, and so much fun. I think I will have to return eh?

Oct 24 – 27 – Fashion Week in Toronto – the best ever! Met so many new friends, watched some gorgeous fashion, and learned a little bit about what it is like to work a fashion week.

Nov 24 – Fashion Figures featured in the National Post. My impromptu little micropreneurship venture, with no capital down, garnered 7 clients, a few wonderful new friends, and a mention in a national newspaper within 6 months. Pretty good for a little idea. I have more ideas for 2008.

Nov 25 -Thirteen and counting Toronto Fashion Blogger Brunches. This has been such a source of friendship, fun, and great conversations all year. Thanks to everyone who came, brunchers are brilliant!

There is so many more things I could write about which makes me feel like it was even a better year than I thought. The bar is raised high for 2008, and I feel ready. Next!

a christmas fashion illustration

a christmas themed fashion illustration

My friend Christy suggested that I should do a Christmas themed illustration.  Lately I have been trying out brushes, ink, watercolours and watercolour pencils, with more or less success.  I thought this attempt turned out pretty nice.

I wish all of you a Super Solstice, a Merry Christmas, and many happy returns!  Your friendship, readership, and support has been the greatest gift I have ever received, and I thank you.

on judging fashion design

I have an abiding curiousity on how good design gets defined. We all think we know it when we see it, but really, what is a good fashion design and who has the authority to decide?

Having watched far too many seasons of Project Runway lately, I find the plight of the judges an interesting one, not to mention the online judging of the judging. Things can get heated and seem a little ridiculous. Both the Biddell-boosters and the Lucian-lovers accuse eachother of a lack of knowledge and taste. The odd angel of peace might suggest that it is different strokes for different folks, but is it really?

Being immersed within to the idea of fashion, I can not help but look at every outfit I see and get a visceral sense that what I am seeing is either right or not right. I seem have to developed this peculiar instinct a great deal and I am obviously not the only one. They call it taste – but what is it?

Paul Graham’s essay Taste for Makers expressed something I had struggled to articulate for a while.

Saying that taste is just personal preference is a good way to prevent disputes. The trouble is, it’s not true. You feel this when you start to design things.

As in any job, as you continue to design things, you’ll get better at it. Your tastes will change. And, like anyone who gets better at their job, you’ll know you’re getting better. If so, your old tastes were not merely different, but worse. Poof goes the axiom that taste can’t be wrong.

Relativism is fashionable at the moment, and that may hamper you from thinking about taste, even as yours grows. But if you come out of the closet and admit, at least to yourself, that there is such a thing as good and bad design, then you can start to study good design in detail.

It is interesting that he says that relativism is fashionable, because there are certain aspects of good fashion that have nothing to do with good design. Graham goes on to list the attributes of good design that are easy to define and hard to disagree with.

One tenet, “Good design is timeless”, shows where good fashion diverges from good design, which Graham describes this way:

Aiming at timelessness is also a way to evade the grip of fashion. Fashions almost by definition change with time, so if you can make something that will still look good far into the future, then its appeal must derive more from merit and less from fashion.

Recently I linked industrial designer Philip Starck’s talk at TED, where he discusses the purpose of design.

Because there is different types of design. The one, we can call it the cynical design, that means the design invented by Raymond Loewy in the ’50s, who said, what is ugly is a bad sale, La Laideur se vend mal, which is terrible. It means the design must be just a weapon for marketing, for producer to make product more sexy, like that, they sell more, it’s shit, it’s obsolete, it’s ridiculous. I call that the cynical design.

After, there is the narcissistic design; it’s a fantastic designer who designs only for other fantastic designers. [laughs]

After there is people like me, who try to deserve to exist, and who are ashamed to make this useless job, who try to do it in another way, and they try, I try, to not make the object for the object but for the result, for the profit for the human being, the person who will use it.

Watching Starck talk through the lens of fashion makes me laugh. Certainly good fashion can be both cynical and narcissistic, and not even useful. I think it is valuable to view fashion through the lens of other types of design, because at a basic level all great design has to serve the needs of human beings – but as the black sheep of human design disciplines, fashion’s first responsibility has nothing to do with deserving to exist. I think it has to do with timing.

When it comes to fashion, I think most people develop and exercise their taste on a garment-by-garment basis. It is up to those who have developed a credibility for their sense of taste – usually professional editors or designers – to evaluate entire collections and by extension the designers, though some of us like to stretch our taste muscle by trying. The spread of street-style has encouraged people to evaluate fashion by the composition of an outfit.

Still, I think there is a lot to be said for isolating a single garment as a taste test. After all, garments are the basic component of all fashion, and most people purchase their clothing one garment at a time. I am no math genius, but I am certain that the combination of every choice of garment, whether to wear or buy, with each choice weighted by the relative level of taste of the chooser, could probably be assembled into a reasonable equation that would make some sense of whatever good fashion is at the time.

Having had the privilege to work with designers as they develop and edit their collections, I often have the opportunity to discuss what makes a garment work or not. I have a little theory which I use to help me evaluate a garment which I think is both measurable and an indicator of taste. It is sort of an inverted triangle.

  1. The most basic and important attribute of a good design is feel. This means the fabric, and also to a certain extent the fit. No matter how beautiful or ingenious a design is, if the fabric is rough, stiff, or cheap-feeling, if the garment feels too heavy, awkward or challenging, it will most likely never make it out of the closet and will have failed as a fashion. I think the idea of “quality” is inherent in the feel of a garment. In a store, I always touch before I look. I think this is something that most people do reflexively. The amount of awful-feeling clothes out there shows how many designers ignore the basic senses of their customers.
  2. The next most important value is colour. The right or wrong colour can make or break a design – even if the garment feels terrific, the wrong colour will still keep it from being worn. Owning these first two attributes are enough to build a very successful company on – i.e. American Apparel or J.C. Penneys.
  3. Timing is the third most important value and the one aspect that is most dependent on taste to be properly identified. It is hard to really be able to tell definitively if a design looks “now” or not unless you have trained your eye and your sense of taste for a long period of time. Being able to design garments that have these first three attributes is a recipe for success. If a designer is a household name, you can be sure that they understand the power of feel, colour, and timing.
  4. The last item on my little checklist is the design of the garment. To me, it does not matter how clever or innovative a particular choice of seams and trims might be, unless it addresses the first three items on the list it is narcissism of limited value as either fashion or design. There are very few designers in the world who manage to master feel, colour, timing, and design, and the ones who do become legends.

How do you judge the value of a fashion design?  Is good fashion subjective?

couchsurfing PRC – the final episode

Project Runway Canada

It is the end of an era! My final couchsurfing post. I must say, taking the opportunity to watch Project Runway Canada with so many friends made this television show experience very special. Thank you so much to Susie Love, Anita Clarke, Adrienne Butikofer, Tiffanie Ing, and Janet Hill for sharing spaces on their couches with me all season! You are the best!

Big thanks to the F-List for hosting the terrific finale party last night. I had a lot of fun and I even won a door prize – $150 towards shoes from Zola. I got to watch the show with friends, Tiffanie Ing, Susie Love, Jen Foster, Andrew Sardone and Philip Sparks. After the show I met a new fashion-internet person, Julia Seidl from I hope she comes to brunch in January.

The weather from the storm on Sunday is still mucking things up in Toronto, my streetcar got stuck behind another streetcar that was stuck, and I ended up sloshing through the slush. When I arrived at Tattoo Rock Parlor, I was a bit out of breath. I met Shawn Hewson very briefly and it was a bit awkward. For some reason I did not put the right words together in time! Sorry Shawn – what I meant to say is that I loved the show and I appreciate all the hard work from all the cast and crew.

I am not the only fashion blogger reviewing PRC – check out some other reactions on Toronto Street Fashion, I want – I got, Chick Lit, Torontoist, and Canadian Beauty.

Now for the final PRC redux on Final Fashion… until next season perhaps? Continue reading “couchsurfing PRC – the final episode”

admiration and inspiration – the Canadian edition

My little tribute posts to the great fashion illustrators who influence and inspire me never seem to get a great response, and yet I keep posting them. The very least I can do as a burgeoning illustrator is to recognize and celebrate the greats who came before me, and leave a mark on the internet for all those who might seek to learn a little more about these imagemakers who might otherwise remain obscure.

As an aspiring Canadian fashion illustrator, I have found that the legacy of the profession in this country is particularly spare, but having kept my eyes open for clues over the past five years, I have discovered some wonderful fashion illustrators with remarkable careers and diverse styles.

Illustration by Virginia Johnson

Virginia Johnson is a textile designer and illustrator who has her own storefront here in Toronto. Her illustrations are best known for adorning Kate Spade’s series of books. Johnson has a delicate, spare line and a brush full of vibrant watercolours which complement Spade’s style marvelously.

Vellevision by Maurice Vellekoop

Maurice Vellekoop‘s illustrations and comics feature a gently wry social scenery. His style is clean and classic and familiar. Famously commissioned by Vogue to sketch at the Paris shows (I believe it was in the late 90s), Vellekoop is Canada’s most well-known fashion illustrator. Vellekoop has done the gamut of lifestyle illustration from the conventionally mundane to the extravagantly gay.

Sketch by Frederick Watson

I discovered Frederick Watson via the gorgeous Joelle of Mad Glam, I recognized his work and had no idea that he was based here in Ontario. Although he paints on a grand scale, I especially loved the small-scale sketches which display that incredible speed and elegance that I am only beginning to understand, never mind acquire.

Illustration by Marcos Chin for Lavalife

Marcos Chin is a younger illustrator whose work you will recognize if you have ever taken a subway ride in Toronto – his Lavalife campaign is well worth the rapt attention of a captive audience. Like Vellekoop, Chin is mainly a lifestyle illustrator, yet the clothing details and exaggerated figures definitely captures a sense of fashion.

Throughout my search for Canadian fashion illustration, I have discovered that there is very little written specifically about the subject. The only essay I have read is written by Katherine Bosnitch, one of my illustration teachers from fashion school and an accomplished fashion illustrator in her own right. Bosnitch studied a series of wonderful promotional illustrations for Eaton’s published in the Montreal Gazette in the 1950s and 1960s. The essay is included among several other rare examples of Canadian fashion analysis in Fashion: A Canadian Perspective.

Are there any Canadian Fashion Illustrators I am missing? I would love to learn about them, meet them, and see their work.

couchsurfing PRC – episodes 9 and 10

Project Runway Canada

My couchsurfing days are over… unless another season comes along I suppose.  I watched Episode 9 with Susie and Episode 10 with Anita.  Next Monday the F-List are hosting a Finale Party and there will be fashion bloggers there.  I am psyched.  Who else is coming?

The last of my spoiler posts is after the tease.

Continue reading “couchsurfing PRC – episodes 9 and 10”