fashion illustrated – auditing a photoshoot

Today I had a neat opportunity – thanks to a new friend, photographer Jenna Marie Wakani.  She invited me to come and sketch while she worked on a photo shoot.  The lovely models, Courtney and Laura, are beautiful and a pleasure to draw.  Here are a few of my watercolour pencil drawings.

new sponsor for February 10

Very pleased to have my favourite fashion fundraiser, Buy Design for Windfall, supporting Final Fashion for February and March.  The theme this year is “1930s Spring Social” and the accompanying photoshoot was a lot of fun (yes I did a rare stint as a model).  Check out the gorgeous website which just went up this week to see the pictures, and if you’re going to be in Toronto in April be sure to buy a ticket. Buy Design always has the best crowd and the most fun, all in support of a marvelous cause.

Career Karma – Tricia Campbell Hall

Tricia Campbell Hall is a stylist, I can’t remember when I met her because I often see her when I go out to events, and she’s always friendly and fun to talk to.  Later I became aware of her blog, and found out more about what she does, including this lovely reveal of the design and development of her wedding dress. Tricia loves to find unknown designers and support them in the early stages of their career.

Tricia is having a busy month – she’s jetting her way to fashion week in NYC in a few days to check out Rad Hourani‘s show among others… looking forward to reading what she posts about the trip.

In the meantime, she kindly answered a few of my questions about her career.

You’re a stylist who-blogs – why did you decide to start a blog, and how does the blog complement your career?

i decided to start a blog as a way to share with people the work that i do and it gives me the opportunity to share the behind the scenes process, pictures and stories of the end result.

blogging provides an additional platform to support canadian designers who i love wholeheartedly.

it also helps to put a personality to my name because i type like how i talk. i take my work very seriously but i don’t take myself too seriously and i think my writing style shows it. it allows me to give additional exposure to the designers, clients, photographers, models and hair/makeup artists that i get to work with because i provide credits from each shoot. posting in a manner that allows the reader to feel like they were present, be it for a shoot or even an event i attended, along with providing pictures i took myself or that the event photographer took makes my blog approachable and easier to read (at least i hope so).

You’ve applied your skills to many different types of styling – off-figure, photography, styling celebrity clients for shoots, and fashion shows. What type of styling is the most challenging? What type is your favourite?

the most challenging type of styling i think is off-figure, mainly because it’s the most misunderstood and underrated. those carefree and loosely stacked polos shots that you see in a j.crew catalogue actually took a lot of time to be pressed and steamed just right, folded a specific way, organized in a particular colour order and lit to perfection for that end result. each one of those shots can take a couple of hours to produce and not all clients are aware of the time it requires to achieve that look they request. an editorial fashion shoot for five looks (hair + makeup included) will easily go by much faster than a high end off-figure shoot for five product shots.

as much as i enjoy off-figure my favourite type of styling would have to be fashion, be it for a creative shoot that i do on my own time or for a magazine. i really love creating beautiful images with clothing and accessories, a great model, a great photographer and a great hair + makeup artist on board. i was very much a visual arts geek back in high school and i still love visual arts to this day. to me (fashion) styling is an art form.

Can you describe a typical day as a freelance stylist?

because it’s not a monday to friday 9-5 type of career your days can be really inconsistent and unpredictable. one day i’m chillin at home watching oprah and the next day i’m running around the city pulling clothing for a magazine shoot all because of a phone call from my agent.

there are different levels of crazy depending on the job. the more laid back sort of days (in regards to preparation) would be ones in a production studio for a commercial catalogue client-often times all styling materials are provided and you just have to show up, no full styling kit required (i’ll just roll with a downsized version). because it’s catalogue the product (clothing, shoes, accessories, etc) is provided for you and with it being in a production studio there’s usually a set time as to when your day is done.

the most crazy would be a call for a magazine shoot, some in as little as 2 days. you have to always make sure your contact list is up to date because at the 11th hour you have no time to waste. calling and emailing designers, showrooms and stores, making appointments to pick up the clothing and even have some itemscouriered to you because you don’t always have time to pick up the items yourself. though there is a specific call time for you to begin on the day of the shoot, it doesn’t end until you get all the desired shots and that can sometimes mean that your day can run late.

What fashion professionals do you admire, and how do they inspire you?

i really admire nicola formichetti‘s work, where he’s at in his career and what he’s accomplished. he’s fashion editor, creative director, contributing fashion editor, he styles ad campaigns, videos and celebrities; having all that on his plate and doing all jobs well reminds me that there’s nothing that can’t be done, that you don’t have to be one “type” of stylist only.

Can you describe the proudest moment in your career so far?

a satisfied client is something that i’m always proud of, but i will tell you about the happiest moment of my career: being hired as an in-house off-figure stylist back in july of 2004 after being let go from a sucky retail job at the end of 2003; that’s where my career as a stylist began.

click click – 10-02-10


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

Toronto-centric stuff…

Karma for commenters and linkers…

library finds – 09-02-10


For Library Finds, I take a few books out of the library and share with you photo of a page or two or perhaps a random excerpt with brief comments of my own.

Today, two books based on museum exhibitions.

The House of Viktor & Rolf. I was curious about Viktor & Rolf, because I love their designs but I don’t know much about them. So I was excited to find this book, which is a thorough retrospective of the first ten years of their career.

The biggest treasure in this book is an interview with Viktor & Rolf and images of their early collections, student work and even (above) images of them in their tiny Paris studio apartment when they were just starting out.

Its an amazing story of manifesting ambition.  Their 1996 collection, “Launch”, was an art gallery exhibition of their fashion dreams in miniature – a tiny photo shoot, a tiny showroom, a tiny runway, and even an empty, sealed perfume bottle. Over the course of their career, these things became real.

You can right-click any of these photos to see them a bit larger.

In the retrospective, they went back to the beginning in a way by meticulously building their most iconic looks on small hand-made dolls. V&R have so many fascinating ideas, executed marvelously.  I love this collection “Russian Doll”, where Maggie Rizer is dressed in layer after layer of couture garments, one on top of the other.

“Blue Screen” is just brilliant – a collection of blue garments, during the runway they were simultaneously projected with moving images using the blue screen technique. You can see the video on Viktor&Rolf’s website.

A Family of Fashion: The Messel Dress Collection, 1865-2005. This is a remarkable collection of clothing from a family of women, especially a mother Maud Messel and daughter Anne Rosse, showing some of the most amazing artistry of London and Irish fashion from the 1890s to the 1960s.  These were well off, cultured and chic women who were passionate about expressing themselves through dress and also preserving their clothing for posterity.

The family had a passion for fancy dress, especially in 18th century and traditional Chinese styles.  Maud was an organizer of a needlework guild, and both she and her daughter Anne showed a remarkable amount of creativity in their dress. Maud was a lover of everything picturesque and was greatly influenced by the past in how she dressed.

Anne was a patron of notorious couturier Charles James before he relocated to America. Her collection of James dresses are avant-garde and yet like her mother, with a great appreciation for history.  Anne was an exceptionally beautiful and poised woman throughout her life, with great confidence in how she dressed.

These are such fascinating books.  There is something about investigating the dimension of time which deepens the perspective on fashion; current fashions and collections are much more interesting when you have a sense of all that came before.

@Style panel redux

The first real hot ticket in Toronto this year, in my opinion, was the @Style panel discussion, part of the international event Social Media Week.  You had to get up pretty early to grab a spot on the RSVP list – naturally I’m a lark and signed up on 5:30am on January 29th, third on the list, seconds after Susan Langdon tweeted about it for the first time.

Four speakers, invited by Jyotika of exshoesme, brought four very different perspectives to the effects of social media on fashion.  At first I was a little skeptical – other than Cherie Federau of Shrimpton Couture, none of the speakers are bloggers – and even Cherie is primarily an online retailer, not a blogger.  So what sort of insights could an audience populated mostly by fashion bloggers expect?

The first speaker was Susan Langdon of the Toronto Fashion Incubator (full disclosure – TFI is a sponsor of Final Fashion).  Susan introduced the new Social Media Guidebook (available here) that the TFI commissioned, and that I had a small part in contributing to.  The guide is made for fashion entrepreneurs who are unfamiliar with the current social media landscape and want to be able to use the tools available to help their brand. I haven’t seen the book in full yet so I can’t comment on it other than the brief overview Susan gave us; while the bullet points seem a bit jargon-y (what the heck does authenticate even mean?) the interviews with many interesting bloggers and entrepreneurs would be well worth the cost of admission.  The questions I answered for the guide were good ones and I gave very candid answers.

The second speaker was Cherie Federau of Shrimpton Couture.  I was looking forward to hearing Cherie speak the most – the scribbly notes in the moleskine above are from her presentation (I don’t own a mobile, and I don’t live-tweet, ever). Of all of the speakers, I identify most closely with Cherie – not only do I admire her as a tremendously successful online entrepreneur, she is also enthusiastic and genuine with a great sense of humour.  Cherie is self-taught by trial and error (like me) and abides by a similar philosophy of relating to people online – essentially, be open to the world, stay on top of your correspondence, be a decent human being, and be true to yourself. Cherie’s talk offered the most real, applicable advice to living and working online.

The third speaker was Dr. Alexandra Palmer, costume curator of the Royal Ontario Museum.  She began her presentation discussing buttons on 13th century jackets – and I was wondering what the connection was (because surely it wasn’t to buttons on mobile phones).  Over the course of her talk, her insight became a bit clearer – that the application of technology to fashion is what makes new fashions possible – for instance, the development of stretch fabrics made the innovation of pantyhose possible, and pantyhose in turn made it possible for women to wear miniskirts in the 1960s.

However, when it came to the application of social media technology to fashion, Dr. Palmer seemed dubious of the advantages – she expressed cynicism that the greater speed and dissemination of trends could do anything for the development of modern fashion, that somehow the overwhelming preoccupation with speed represented a sense of loss and “waste” to her. She drew some thoughtful parallels between social media and the development of the Jacquard loom, the first computer, which put many weavers out of work. She also discussed a bit about how technology is affecting the modern retail business – such as how prolific communication makes retail innovations like pop-up shops possible.  Another revelation on retail was about how shopping for clothing is so dependent on tactility – and how now bricks and mortar stores are being used by customers to try on clothing, and online stores are used to find the best price.

During the question and answer session at the end of the talk, I was able to ask Dr. Palmer whether she had any insights on how the invention of the printing press effected the fashion industry, and whether there are any parallels from that period of history now.  Her response was somewhat surprising to me – though she acknowledged that printing sped up the trend cycle, she dismissed that the technology of printing had a significant effect on fashion, which seems unlikely. Now I am more curious about this than before. Dr. Palmer is an esteemed historian and I have enjoyed reading her admirable work on costume history, but on media, she seems uncharacteristically uncurious.

The fourth and final speaker was Lisa Tant, editor-in-chief of Flare Magazine. Lisa is the only EIC of a fashion magazine in Canada who is a prolific tweeter with a significant following online. She can seem surprisingly unguarded on twitter sometimes – just over a week ago she got some flack for “Sobbing to think that a 13 year old gets a front row seat to cover couture. No justice in this world.” which she obliquely alluded to in her presentation by saying that its best to avoid being “cute or sarcastic” on social media. I couldn’t help but find it a bit ironic that Lisa Tant would be telling a room full of fashion bloggers about social media the very next week – seating assignments really do seem unfair sometimes – and wondered if I could think of a slam-dunk question to ask her, but somehow I couldn’t.

Watching Lisa Tant speak, she seemed much more lucid and insightful than she appears on Twitter, which I think does reveal a limitation of micro-blogging. The major message I got from Tant’s talk was how magazines are concerned with the broader strokes of culture and celebrity – while what is important for bloggers is a sense of individual personality. Flare can be commended for recognizing the work of Tommy Ton before he became a phenomenon – but for the most part it seems like the publication is concerned with using the existing momentum behind individual brands – such as Lady Gaga and Perez Hilton, to drive the growth of the Flare brand.

This supports my own conclusions when it comes to the new-media vs. old-media discussion – that mastheads are becoming less valuable than individuals. Flare as a brand is not only hampered by its very corporate-ness (unsupportive Rogers policy tries to discourage the use of social media), it is more and more dependent on the brands of individuals to drive its own brand. Online, Tommy Ton is a bigger brand than Flare – and his fans will follow his work whether its under the Flare masthead, or, or on his own site.  I think that editors and old media say that the holy grail online is speed (Tant says “readers expect immediacy”) but the real prize we’re all after is actually an individual brand (Tommy often posts photos months after they are taken).  I think Tant knows this whether she says it or not – her own personal influence is getting pretty close to equal in numbers to that of Flare’s – I would even argue that it is more valuable in qualitative terms to Flare, and especially to Tant herself.

All in all it was a terrific, thought-provoking morning, and the various perspectives provided some fascinating contrasts. If you attended, what did you think? I’m up for a discussion.

career karma – Joelle Litt

The first time I saw Joelle Litt was when she was walking the runway, modeling for Ula Zukowska, with a swatch of black lace embellishing her gorgeous jaw.  Joelle is a stunning example of a human being, with long limbs and longer neck – but what makes her stand out as a model to me is a certain quality of awareness and maturity. She is a model that I have an ambition to draw, and if my dreams come true she will be posing in my studio very soon.

Besides being a model, Joelle is a writer – I used to be a regular reader of her old blog, Mad Glam (RIP), and now she writes for Women’s Post and is also building a portfolio as a stylist.  I asked her a few questions about having multiple careers in the fashion industry.

How has your modeling experience helped you as a fashion writer and stylist?

Being a model allowed me to become a part of the industry at a very young age. You get the opportunity to work with people in every single aspect of the fashion industry; working with designers, stylists, photographers, hair & make-up artists, show producers, and the list continues. A smart model will take from that experience and grow…and make contacts. As a fashion writer, I see things from a different perspective…and as a stylist…I have basically been assisting stylists for years (as a model) and was always learning tips and tricks. So there was no need for me to assist anyone when I woke up one day in October and thought, ‘I am going to be a stylist.”

You have visibly and vocally contributed your talents to the fashion community in Toronto. Why does local fashion matter to you?

Local fashion is important, not just in Toronto. Wherever I am I try to get involved in the local fashion scene. I like to be able to meet and talk to people face to face. If I have the opportunity to understand someone’s character on a personal level than I will take it, especially someone who’s work I adore. And the sense that there is a ‘community,’ is a great thing. The more that the fashion community of Toronto comes together in a combined effort, with all of its talents, the greater the fashion community of Toronto is.

Having been both a participant and an observer of the fashion scene in Toronto, what is your sense of how fashion in the city is evolving?

It’s evolving. The fashion scene is much more than just fashion week….but I need to talk about that for just a minute. When I first started doing fashion week in Toronto, back in the days of Matinee, my taxi driver would always ask, “What exactly is going on here?” And now, all I have to say is ‘to the tent!’ and they know exactly where to go…(most of the time).

The fashion scene in Toronto is much more accessible to the public. People know more and more about it, and people are in to it.

The industry is a little bit more accessible now too for people starting out…which is why alot more talent is developing, from what I can see.

What are your favourite blogs and fashion publications?

Should I lie or be honest? I don’t have any regulars that I follow…I pick up what catches my eye, and I am constantly looking for what is out there that I haven’t yet come across.

But I must say, Final Fashion just keeps getting better and better

What fashion professionals do you admire, and how have they inspired you?

I think I meet new people everyday that inspire me. This industry allows me to meet so many new people all the time – -and I love that.

But there are a few people that I have admired from the very beginning; like Pat McDonagh. I find her so inspiring because she has been a part of the industry for so long and shows no signs of stopping. She lives fashion. I hope that my career will be as long-lived. I can’t really see myself ever retiring a career as a writer.

I find the way fashion illustrator, Frederick Watson, sees the world to be so very inspiring. The world is so pretty through his eyes.

Photo credit: Richard Dubois

press – NOW wants… Heartbeats

Such a surprise to see my painting for the Heartbeats fundraiser featured in NOW Magazine, Toronto’s free alt-weekly. Andrew Sardone, the style editor at NOW gives me a shoutout in print every so often and jokes that it is no big deal – but I always love it.  The first time he did it, exactly three years ago, will forever be one of the most significant moments in the history of my site.  Thank you, Andrew.

Also, if you’re in Toronto, you should totally go to Heartbeats on February 13 and bid generously on my painting or some other red-hot work of art, all to support the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

click click – 04-02-10


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

+++ click karma for commenters and linkers. Handshakes all around.

invitation – Bijouxbead at Magnolia

Sponsor of the site, Bijouxbead, is having a Valentine’s day themed trunk party at Magnolia in Toronto on February 11.  This event will be filled with some of the sweetest fashion friends I know, so if you’re in Toronto, go and see some lovely things with some lovely company.

From the press release:

Embrace Valentine Cocktail will take place on Thursday, February 11, 2010 from 7pm till 10pm at Magnolia, 333 Eglinton Avenue West. Guests can shop while enjoying a glass of wine and delectable cupcakes, and mingle with an eclectic group of Toronto’s fashion industry insiders, media and artisan lovers.

Bijouxbead designer, Darlene Martin will be in-store to greet customers and help them find the perfect piece of wearable art as a Valentine gift for a loved one, or a special treat for themselves.