fashion blog karma – PR Couture

One of the greatest omissions in my fashion education as a design student was the incredible influence that public relations has on almost every aspect of the industry.  Graduating with very vague, biased perceptions of PR, I was unprepared for the extent that it would become a part of my life as both a fashion blogger and an entrepreneur.

PR Couture is the only website of its kind that I know of.  Crosby Noricks, a publicist and educator, has managed to bridge the gap between fashion blogging and fashion PR.  The site is a bit like a trade magazine – informative and entertaining.  I asked her a few questions about her industry and her career.

Do you have any heroes or mentors in the fashion PR business? What have they taught you?

This question kind of throws me because I haven’t really had any professional mentors, most of the time it’s me just fumbling through trying to do my best. There are certainly practitioners I respect, and through PR Couture I now count myself lucky to have a community of practitioners I can ask for feedback or advice, but it’s really been quite the solo climb.

What are your favourite fashion blogs, websites and magazines?

Ah! This question is much easier. Let’s see – for print Lula and Bust are my favorites. Online I read a ton – Independent Fashion Bloggers, Fashionista, The Business of Fashion and The Daily Obsession are current must-reads, for inspiration I like Garance Dore, Lookbook, NotCouture, and for a quick pick me up I check out Think Simple Now.

Public Relations has a very superficial image in popular culture and its characters are not often remembered outside the industry. Can you tell me of any anecdotes, names or events that define the best of fashion PR, either fictional, historical, or recent?

Originally, garments were advertised for their function and durability. It was through the influence of people like Edward Bernays (often referred to as the Father of PR) who understood how to tap into human desire and leverage the human condition, that PR was used to help companies promote goods – no longer based on function but personal expression, cultural affinity (or a reaction against it), etc. I like the example of how Edward Bernays got women to smoke in the US (when previously it was completely culturally unacceptable), by making it seem that by not smoking, women weren’t supporting suffrage. He did this (I’m glossing over the particulars a bit) by having a bunch of pretty lady suffragettes light up during a big parade. The power, influence, and ethics of PR are worth examining and addressing. In terms of fashion PR, I think a lot about our responsbility to share messaging that makes women feel good about themselves, that is respectful of both the industry and the individual.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

I think that’s still to come. What’s most meaningful to me are the emails, requests for coffee and anecdotal stories I get from young women intersted in fashion PR who tell me I had an impact on them and that they appreciate what I do and what I have to say, or practitioners who let me know that PR Couture inspired them to start their own agency.

fashion illustrated – wool corset

Every week (in theory), Fashion Illustrated features a drawing created especially for Final Fashion.
wool corset

I got a surprise at the Starkers! show at [FAT].  A model in a mask and a straightjacket-looking corset weaved down the catwalk, pulling keys off of her outfit and handing them to the audience at random, and she gave one to me.

Photo by James Fisher,

When I got home I discovered that the key was attached to a USB with a voucher for a free custom corset! Amazing!  The options are either vinyl or bring-your-own-fabric so I looked into my stash and cut some swatches to help me picture a corset made of some lovely brushed wool that I have.

I will be posting a series on the process of getting a custom corset from Starkers!, so stay tuned for that in the upcoming weeks.

click click – 28-04-09

Welcome to Click Click, the regular roundup of what I find worth clicking on the internet.

I met some very cool fashion and beauty bloggers this week – shoutouts to a few of them (the ones whose cards I got) in this issue of fashion blog karma –

just a thought – fashion’s bluestockings

There is a certain type of woman in fashion who never fails to fascinate me.  She is a fiercely ambitious career woman, intensely creative.  She is surrounded with the trappings of fashion; the luxuries and frills, the fabrics and the shoes, and yet she does not seem to crave fashion for herself.  She dresses in simple clothing and eschews the makeup and the hair stuff.  The intellectual pursuits of fashion – the ideas, the business – are what fascinates her, not the acquisition of things or the indulgence of adornment.

I guess I feel a strong alignment because I feel like I am one of those women in embryo.  I prefer to have a sort of uniform rather than collecting various things and styling myself with them.  I’m not an outfit blogger because my daily outfits are so incredibly monotonous.  Yet I am fascinated with all things fashionable when they are outside of me.  I love the shows and the parties, the politics and the competition, the ideas and the predictions, the history and all the nuances – in short, the intellectual side of fashion is what compels me, not the physical.

The result is I fade to the background amongst the magpies and the models, the socials and the shopgirls.  I like it that way.  It feels right.

The online dictionary defines “bluestocking” as “a woman having literary or intellectual interests”.  You can read the origin of the term hereWikipedia gets into the implications and associations of the term – a bluestocking is not only an intellectual, but a woman who doesn’t dress fashionably or go out of her way to make herself attractive, whether on principle or because she just doesn’t have the inclination.  The stereotypical librarian, in a severe hairdo, conservative clothing and no makeup exemplifies the idea of a bluestocking.

The paradox of a bluestocking in fashion is all the more striking because they are so rare.  For a woman to be powerful in fashion and yet reject its persuasions takes a strong personality.  Here are three of fashion’s most famous bluestockings.

Kelly Cutrone

In person, Ms. Cutrone looked more polished and rested than she ever has on The Hills. She wore Prada heels and head-to-toe black. She has jet-black hair and wears no visible makeup atop her startlingly pale skin, which gives her the look of Wednesday Addams 30 years later. On The Hills, she is drawn and demanding, an East Coast Queen of the Night to Ms. Port and Ms. Conrad’s ditzy blond Californian Princesses.

Vera Wang

“You thought you were meeting a designer,” says Vera Wang. She’s barefoot in the full-floor living room of her Park Avenue apartment, stuffing a Rice Krispies Treat in her mouth. The room is so ornate—all yellow and gold, with a coordinating Monet on the wall—that it looks more like a grandly named suite in a very, very expensive hotel than a home, and Wang, 56 years old but jiggle-free in a pair of tight black leggings, resembles no one so much as Eloise, calling out to her housekeeper for her shearling coat. “I’m actually a little clown,” she says, grabbing the leggings in both hands and yanking them upward.

Alexandra Shulman

I wonder if she gets fed up of everyone casting their eyes over her attire, as they must surely do. After all, if she were the editor of Dentist Weekly, we’d all want to see her teeth.  She says she’s used to it and, anyway, people very quickly lose interest once they realise, “I’m not a clothes horse and have never set myself up to be.”

This is the thing about Shulman. She isn’t Vogue in the way that, say, Diana Vreeland was and Anna Wintour is. She isn’t its bosom-less, French-manicured, divinely dressed, Chanel-scented, Dior-lipsticked embodiment. She isn’t even tanned, fake or otherwise. Indeed, her bare legs are that scary English white.

Can you think of any other fashion bluestockings?

TFI New Labels and the ELLE Show

After seeing 30 plus shows at [FAT], I got to see four more at the TFI New Labels Gala show.  It was held in the Carlu, and this is what the runway looked like before the show.
the view from the top of the runway

While all the gala-goers were eating their dinner, I checked out the tail end of the ELLE Show.  I got to try the YSL Touche Eclat, which I am told is their best selling product and really does give a brightness to the eyes.
applying YSL Touche Eclat

There was a silent auction going on with lots of fancy things in a room overlooking Yonge Street.
handsome auction items look north on Yonge

Rapp Optical had a booth at the show too and they let me try on some of their locally made artisan frames.  Rapp does really cool, eccentric glasses with loads of character.
the men of Rapp

The show was hosted by Anne-Marie Mediwake, who is an anchor at Global News.  She looked so beautiful in a David Dixon dress.  Before each designer showed, they did an interview on the runway – here is Sonja den Elzen of Thieves being interviewed.
designer Sonja den Elzen does an on stage interview

The questions asked included one about which international designers they admired (three out of four designers said Rick Owens, his recent media blitz must be working well), and another about what they would be if they weren’t fashion designers.  The latter is a bit of a bitter-sweet question I think.  It was obviously a great challenge for the designers to be interviewed on the runway but it was also an interesting way to learn a bit more about them.

I didn’t do a lot of shooting of the outfits but caught a few details, including the ruched tights in the nomadic, tundra inspired Thieves collection.
ruched leggings at Thieves

Here you can see the TFI’s Susan Langdon and the judges watching Jody Leigh‘s World War Two inspired collection.
Susan Langdon and the judges watch Jody Leigh

Gushue Swim opened with some Rio-style carnival girls dancing on the stage.  It was fun and bright and gaudy which contrasted with the subdued colours and classic shapes of the swimwear.
Carnival Dancers open up Gushue Swim

Ideally you should get to see all the outfits for yourself.  You can see more (and better) pictures here and here.

At the end of the night, Rita Silvan, editor of ELLE Canada, announced the winning collection – Faren Tami for her futuristic, confident line with its distinctive draped shapes and deep blue colour with yellow accents.  Congratulations to all the finalists and the TFI for a terrific show.
Rita Silvan announces the winner Faren Tami

[FAT] markers – day four

Each day of [FAT] has a theme, and Friday was “Beyond”.  I brought a bag of markers to try something new for sketching the runway.


LOVAS by Wesley Badanjak was a slick, feminine collection in cool neutrals with a shot of turquoise.  Of all the collections we saw at [FAT], this one looked like it could also fit in at LG Fashion Week.

Jennifer Allison and Erin Chan

Jennifer Allison‘s Walking Tall collection has expanded to fit the 10-outfit requirement at [FAT] – and featured the addition of a spectacular finale – “high” fashion indeed!  On the right, Erin Chan showed a tribal-styled collection in warm neutrals with many pieces in a peculiar lightweight vinyl.

[FAT] photos – day four

Michelle Reagan did a terrific job getting everyone seated and introducing media to the designers between shows.  PR can be a very stressful, demanding job.  Michelle manages to do it all while still staying positive, kind and friendly.  She is off to New York for a terrific opportunity with Catherine Malandrino.  Plus she still has one year of school left!  So if you have an agency or PR department, I would recommend you start recruiting her now.
publicist extraordinaire Michelle Reagan

Ainsley Kerr and Kristin Booth get naughty in their Starkers corsets.
Ainsley and Kristin acting naughty in Starkers

Models backstage all ready to walk for LOVAS by designer Wesley Badanjak.
Wesley Badanjak's girls in LOVAS

Jennifer Allison, designer of Walking Tall, dresses her model backstage.
Jennifer Allison prepares her model

This is ELECTRA, a show by Genevieve Favre Petroff.  She sang some songs including my favourite, about cranberry juice, but I thought that it would turn into a cool light show with a lot of red lights representing the cranberries, then it did not.  At first we were captivated, but ELECTRA kind of lost the audience after the cranberry song when she sang some more serious numbers.  I think in a small, silent room the show would be a lot more effective.
ELECTRA by Genevieve Favre Petroff

Backstage, a model gets her makeup done for Matthew Donnelly’s show.
doing the makeup for Matthew Donnelly

The night finished off with haute absurdity by CHRISTABEL.

I really enjoyed this year’s [FAT] – I felt the level of showmanship has never been higher, the collections reached a higher standard without sacrificing the variety and surprises that makes [FAT] so delightful.  The organization was tight this year and held the event together while keeping the informality and party atmosphere intact.  Thank you to Vanja Vasic and her incredible team for showing how exciting and fun fashion in Toronto can be.

a week’s worth – 24-04-09

A Week’s Worth documents what I did all week – a little peek into the life of a fashion illustrator and blogger.

As you can tell, most of this week I have been going to [FAT].  I did some other stuff too but didn’t get a lot of pictures.

A very cool (and gutsy) high school student named Vanessa asked to come see my studio and I said yes.  She asked me questions for her guidance class at school and was very poised and intelligent.

Berkeley Church for Third Tuesday

I went to the Berkeley Church on Tuesday to check out what Third Tuesday was about.  Ali and Alex de Bold of Chick Advisor told me about it – its a series of free talks on public relations, the internet and entrepreneurship and this past Tuesday was the fellow from B5 Media.  I was interested despite (maybe because of) my cynicism towards blog networks.  Unfortunately I couldn’t stay long enough to hear him speak, but I might try a future Third Tuesday.

Anita and I walked over to [FAT] together and just before we got there she changed into her pumps.

Anita switches shoes

I also paid a visit to Fashion Crimes on Queen Street for a chat (more on that later).  Checked out their Prom window which is up for just one more week – very lovely!

mannequins at Fashion Crimes

How was your week?

[FAT] markers – day three

Each day of [FAT] has a theme, and Thursday was “Gutter”.  I brought a bag of markers to try something new for sketching the runway.

Breeyn McCarney

Breeyn McCarney showed a collection of pretty dresses with clown styling.  I talked to her backstage afterwards – she told me that she gets inspired by the darker side of children’s entertainment.


UND showed a militant collection with many pieces made out of a thick vinyl that reminded me of the seats on my family’s ancient Malibu car when I was a kid.  The second illustration is a NEVA look – like a sarouel hiked up to become a jumper in turquoise polka-dots, over pink leggings that covered the shoes.