portfolio – Pippa paper doll for Bloomingdale’s

This summer I had a dream come true – I got to work on a project that brought my paper dolls to life, thanks to a dream client, Bloomingdale’s!

Pippa is a line of chic, career-girl-friendly separates, and the paper doll is a fun way to show how easy it is to mix and match.  Visit the site and click on Mix & Match to play.

Thanks so much to the team at Bloomingdale’s, I think the site looks amazing and I am so proud to be a part of it.

just a thought – compliment culture

One of my favourite aspects of the fashion industry is what passes for small talk. Small talk is usually nobody’s favourite activity, however in the fashion industry, instead of talking about the weather or the traffic, it is traditional to observe something that you like about the other person’s appearance, and compliment them on it. It is flattering, it is fun, it is positive, and sure, it can be back-handed, but as far as small talk goes it doesn’t get any better than that.

Considering that giving compliments costs absolutely nothing, and totally makes everyone’s day, they can be surprisingly rare in regular life. Not only are they a great way to show appreciation to people, they are a wonderful way to introduce yourself.  Looking for opportunities to give compliments encourages you to listen and observe others more closely and signals that you are a generous, open person.  Here are my thoughts on the best ways to offer compliments:

  • Be sincere! Don’t give compliments you don’t mean, it devalues the act of complimenting.  Don’t give half-hearted compliments, if there really isn’t anything nice you want to say to someone, why are you even talking to them?
  • Pay attention to details – if they have flaming red hair or are wearing a giant fur coat, they will always receive compliments about that thing.  Look for the less obvious flare and you will be remembered for your keen eye, and for being different.
  • What is different? If you can pick out a new haircut, manicure, glasses frames, or shoes on a familiar friend, it not only shows you appreciate them, it demonstrates how well you know them.
  • Listen instead of look. Its easy to take a look at someone and tell them what you like, but the next level is engaging them in conversation long enough that you can compliment them on their character.  Do they tell delightful anecdotes, do they have a great memory, are they considerate, do they have a fascinating life story, do they have impressive expertise, a way with words, or a devastating sense of humour? Why not let them know you noticed?
  • Follow through – don’t just give a compliment, try to use it as an icebreaker to open up a conversation about something real – take it from small talk to real talk.

Further to that, receiving compliments also has its own set of best practices:

  • Say thank you! Always receive a compliment in the same good spirit it was given.
  • Never contradict a compliment. Don’t put yourself down. Negative self-talk is toxic stuff and it is a total turn off. Treat yourself with the same social grace you would extend to anyone – that means no put downs or name calling, ever.
  • Reciprocate! Return the favour.

There aren’t very many pitfalls to complimenting – I guess if you do it too much it would seem weird, and making observations about people’s bodies can be awkward, tricky territory, but those things are just common sense.

Love getting compliments? Adorn yourself with interesting and unusual accessories and garments that make you feel confident and powerful, especially ones that have a story behind them. Be brave and get statement hair. Take good care of your skin and health. Smile and have a good time, dance if you feel like dancing, be social and daring, adventurous and open, and above all, generous with yourself and your words.

What is the greatest compliment you’ve ever received?

competition – Art of Fashion 2010

Taking place at Nuit Blanche in Toronto, the Art of Fashion competition is a chance for Canadian fashion designers to raise the bar when it comes to being audaciously creative.  From the press release:

TORONTO, ON, August 17, 2010 – Designers across Canada are invited to enter the 12th annual Art of Fashion design competition and trunk show in Toronto, where the winner will be awarded a minimum cash prize of $1000, a complimentary professional photo shoot with model, hair and makeup, street-level exposure in the window display of one of Toronto’s top fashion outlets, and more.  Entry deadline for this career-launching opportunity is Tuesday, August 31st, 2010.

The design competition and trunk show will take place at King West Fitness in Liberty Village during Nuit Blanche on Saturday, October 2nd, 2010.  To apply, designers should visit www.artoffashion.org/labelleepoque and fill out the submission form before Tuesday, August 31st, 2010.

a word from… August 10 Sponsors


A word from… is a monthly news post contributed by the incredible sponsors who support Final Fashion. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please get in touch.

Nina from the Toronto Fashion Incubator says…

tfi Press & Buyers Breakfast – spring 2011

Apply to participate to meet KEY media & retailers ONE-ON-ONE at the best and brightest event of the season! – October 5th

NEW! Pop-up shop too! Make direct sales to the consumer & earn CASH – October 4th

It’s easy to apply! Just email tfi@fashionincubator.com requesting an application.

Ashley from rock-it promotions says…

Everyone loves a good deal. If you’re ever online, you’ve probably noticed ads, blog posts and news articles about the online group-buying explosion. With lots of daily deal sites to choose from, we’re focusing on Canada’s trend-leading, group-buying phenom, TeamBuy.ca.

TeamBuy.ca is an amazing group-buying site and city guide founded, built and managed by young Canadian entrepreneurs (and pals) Edward Yao, Andrew Hutchings and Ghassan Halazon. ??The site offers up a daily deal of 50 to 90 per cent off at hundreds of restaurants, events, spas, yoga, theatre, and more in your city. A daily deal is delivered to your inbox each morning to give direct access to the deal and if enough people sign up for the deal, everyone benefits from the mega discounts!

TeamBuy.ca is live in Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax and Montreal, and will launch soon in Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and other cities across Canada.

They’ve offered up great deals like $10 for a $20-gift card to Z-Teca Gourmet Burritos (more than 1,400 Torontonians scooped this one up), $40 for a $67 wine tasting experience at Crush on Niagara wine tours, and $20 for a $57 hot bedrock bathing and yoga session at Iyashi Spa (purchased by 596 Torontonians). These are *seriously* good deals.

Vanessa from 18Karat says…

Over the summer our shop has been stocking up on beautiful and unusual jewellery pieces made by local artists. From the fun and vibrant coconut shell earrings by Lara Bazant, the Turkish inspired mosaic and cameo pieces by Murat Tunc, and the hand forged stainless steel and gold necklaces by Meredith Robb – all pieces are hand-made in Toronto. These designers are unstoppable – new pieces arrive weekly! And when we are not busy showcasing local artists and hosting juried shows, 18Karat is still imagining, designing, and creating beautiful custom jewellery.

Paige from Bicyclette says…

I am pleased to announce that Bicyclette Boutique has officially launched! On August 11, the “doors” to the online store were opened, showcasing a finely curated assortment of pieces, from brands such as Wildfox Couture, Seneca Rising, Dolce Vita, Trash & Luxury, Central Park West, Soos Rocks and Oh Dina. Selected summer merchandise is now on sale, and fall is beginning to trickle in, including the addition of Biko, Mink Pink, Funktional, Splendid, and James Jeans to the roster. Lots of exciting things to come from the Bicyclette studio.

click click – 23-08-10

Welcome to click click, the sporadic review of what I find worth clicking on the internet.

Until August 30 at the flagship location of Holt Renfrew at Bay and Bloor in Toronto, there is an exhibition of some of Tommy Ton‘s photographs in the shoe department, appropriately celebrating a favourite subject. Well worth checking out – Tommy is an international photo blogger who pursues his passion with tremendous enthusiasm, skill and style.

  • What Is It About 20-Somethings? – a long article about a subject… well, if you are blogging or reading blogs, it is probably about you.
  • Russia in color – a century ago – incredible photographs from Russia a century ago, that look so vivid they almost seem contemporary, if it weren’t for the clothes.
  • New York Regains Fashion Capital Crown from Milan – calculated based on media and google algorithms, the Global Language Monitor has ranked cities according to fashion influence.  Toronto ranks #38.
  • “The Canadian School” – speaking of ranking, this Walrus article is sort of a state-of-the-union assessment of Canadian fashion’s current reputation.
  • Fashion Tries on Zero Waste Design – terrific press for a somewhat abstract, avant-garde pattern design method which is beginning to be thoughtfully considered as a way of reducing waste on an industrial scale.
  • How to hire an artist – an interesting article which gives a client’s side of the story when it comes to working with creative freelancers. Though there is no such thing as a typical client, this piece is a great reminder that all clients have their own considerations and ways of doing business that influence whether an artist will get – or even want – the gig.

Karma for incoming linkers and commenters –

  • Another Word for Pink“You can get custom made dresses for prices comparable to retail. How great is that?”
  • Wendy Brandes Jewelry“I blog about fashion, medieval history, feminism, dogs and other things that inspire or annoy me.”
  • Salon52“Is ’statement hair’ something you strive for in your salon? Are you known for your hair?”
  • Seven Dollar Pants“We created Seven Dollar Pants after endless conversations about shopping deals and living a fabulous life on a budget.”
  • 100 to Draw“One student’s goal to draw 100 sketches per week until the week of graduation.”

fashion illustrated – the Living Doll project

My friend Caitlin Cronenberg is soft launching a brand new secret project on the heels of her first book, Poser. It is called The Living Doll Project, and as a fellow doll enthusiast, Caitlin enlisted me to help create a paper doll inspired logo illustration. Caitlin knows how to dream big and make big dreams happen, so I am incredibly excited to see what this will become.

what I wear – AG jeans from Over The Rainbow

Over the Rainbow in Yorkville is a favourite client – once upon a time they invited me to create a repurposed denim globe to hang in the window, one of the most unusual and fun projects I have ever had. It was so much fun to return to the store for a tour from the owner, Joel, and his son Daniel, talking about 35 years in the jeans business in Toronto. Joel entered the business on a whim, sharing a small space with an alterationist, and since then has grown his business to take over three stories at 101 Yorkville Avenue. Over the Rainbow is known for a wide selection of denim and an equally diverse customer base of all ages, a sincere love of jeans and tremendous, kind attitude.

Joel picked these jeans out for me right away – sure, I insisted on trying on a few more, but 35 years of experience gives him pitch-perfect selection and I went back to the first choice.  These are AG Premieres, a deliciously substantial denim that looks and feels expensive. Shortened with a european hem to the perfect length, and I have my new favourite pair of jeans – and incidentally, the skinniest jeans I have ever worn.

Thanks to Kat Lourenco for patiently taking the photos in this post.

To celebrate their significant birthday, the good people at Over the Rainbow are having a party!  If you’re in Toronto its a terrific opportunity to celebrate a downtown denim institution. August 27th and 28th, 101 Yorkville Avenue.

just a thought – extra work

Scott Pilgrim VS. The World opened last Friday to much anticipation and acclaim, at least in Toronto. The movie was filmed here, and set here. I saw it last night, but I’m going to have to see it again, because I missed seeing myself in a scene outside the Opera House.

Being a freelancer isn’t a very steady gig, and until you’ve built up a significant amount of savings, it can be brutal. I’m not going to be one of those bloggers/freelancers who pretends that I’m on top of my game 100% of the time. In April 2009, I wasn’t. I was stone cold flat broke. So I started trolling Craigslist for side gigs, which is how I ended up auditioning to be a non-union extra on Scott Pilgrim VS. The World. I’d never read the books, though of course I was familiar with them. They loved my hair, I got a callback, and my little interlude of Danielle Meder VS. Extra Work began.

Unlike this guy, who spent a single pleasant day goofing off on set, I spent about 12 days, mostly consecutive, and by days, I mean nights. 18 hour long nights. When you arrive, they put you into a place called holding, which resembles a cafeteria. Everyone sits down at tables, and the people at your table become your default group of extra friends. The funny, wonderful thing about being an extra on Scott Pilgrim was that everyone was selected for their appearance of belonging in the Scott Pilgrim universe, so everyone had a lot in common – we were all 20-something, downtown dwelling, creative types without steady jobs. My table had a burlesque dancer, a few recent film school graduates, a sketch comedian, a painter, and me.

Like a lot of shared experiences, the extra friends bonded over the course of the shoot. Our little table forged an alliance (secretly we thought we were the best table) over the course of many empty hours of waiting. Being an extra is a lot like being in high school. You’re slightly sub-human, told where to go and what to do and what to eat, long stretches of time are filled with the most inane waiting games. Add to that a high level of sleep deprivation and the requirement of wearing the same clothing every day, and a total ban on any blogging or facebookery, and you end up with hundreds of punchy young things living in a disconnected Groundhog Day style time loop. The effects are both monotonous and hilarious, creating a culture of in-jokes and intimacy with strangers.

It was my first ever real experience on a film set, and it was a revelation to see how it all went down – what all the ADs and DPs and everyone really does, the joking around and the stress to focus and get it all done, the physical effects team doing their thing, the actors, the stunt team, it really was a privilege to watch it all. We all tried to imagine what the finished scene would look like.

It wasn’t like I imagined it at all – and I’m pleased to say, it was better, unlike any movie I have ever seen. Scott Pilgrim VS. The World is a mash note to Toronto, music, dating and breaking up. Even though it exists on an imaginary, video-game world, it somehow also captures the poignancy of being young and creative in this city. For a variety of reasons, it was incredibly striking and bittersweet to me on a personal level, and though I would never want to do extra work again (unless I absolutely had to) I’m so grateful that of all the movies I could have stood around in for two weeks, Scott Pilgrim VS. The World was the one.

what I wear – summer blues

My glasses broke last week. I’ve had the glasses for seven years, and they’ve very much become part of my signature look. It was inevitable that they would break at some point, but I was emotionally and practically unprepared. I have no backup glasses, and the fix-it shop said it would take until Monday. So I got contact lenses. Its been a bit strange to go back to contacts, which I haven’t worn since I was a teenager. I’m so used to seeing my face with glasses, and it sort of feels like my face is incomplete or boring without glasses. On the other hand, I’m excited for the possibility of acquiring sunglasses.

This dress I made recently using a similar pattern to this dress, but with the added nerdy-fun of getting to match plaid.

I’m really pleased with the navy blue heels.  I saw them at Haus and instantly knew they would fit perfectly and I had to have them.  They’re a perfect, low, comfortable feminine heel. I would love a similar pair in white, now I’m on the lookout for similar styles.

fashion blog karma – The Sunday Best

I enjoy keeping an eye on who the fashion bloggers in Canada are, and one question that comes up from time to time is whether there are any menswear focused blogs in Canada. I always recommend Thom Wong’s site The Sunday Best – based out of Vancouver. Thom’s site celebrates his taste in all things, but especially clothing and music. He occasionally illustrates little story blog posts, something very rare and charming.  He also produces podcasts from time to time and kindly gave me a few tips when I started my own podcast adventures. I asked Thom a few questions about niche blogging and the connection between music and style.

When I think of great fashion blogs in Canada that focus on menswear, I think of you… and then my mind goes blank. Are there any other members of your niche I should be aware of?

That’s very flattering, but I’d hardly call my blog great if only for the simple reason that I don’t put nearly enough time into it. (Wendy Brandes has a great article on this at IFB). I don’t link to any men’s style blogs written by Canadians, but that hardly means great ones aren’t out there. I just don’t tend to read style blogs.

I just Googled “men’s style blog Canada” and the first hit is my friends at Style Salvage out of England. So maybe part of the problem is Google.

Here’s one I found at random: Blame it on Vancouver

Do you agree that there is a lack of great men’s fashion blogs out there, or is supply more or less equal to demand?

I’ve thought about this more than I should, and my feeling is supply actually exceeds demand – in the sense that any at all might be too much. Men just don’t discuss fashion the same way as women do. By that I don’t mean they simply talk about it less, although they do, but more that they talk about it differently. For example, I read Street Etiquette regularly now, but I can’t imagine reading another men’s style blog dedicated to the writer(s)’ style. Almost no one is writing about men’s style from a critical or theoretical standpoint, but I don’t get any sense that there’s a demand for that. I’d read that site.

You are also an avid follower of music – do you think your taste in clothing complements or contrasts with your taste in music?

There was an article in Radar Magazine about “twee-mo” and I was horrified to find how much I fit into it. Wes Anderson movies. Earl Grey tea. McSweeney’s. But the kicker was the styling of the two models – Moscots and bowties and fitted blazers. Basically they pwn’d me, and I had no response.

I also read somewhere that Vampire Weekend had ruined the way rock stars dress. First of all, VW are not “rock stars.” Pete Doherty, god bless him, is a rock star. Not in the sense of his popularity, but in the sense that he seems hell bent on personal destruction.

All this to say – yes, my taste in music is probably discernible from my style.

Are there any music artists in particular whose sartorial savvy is equal to their ability to rock?

Janelle Monae. Full-stop. I am completely obsessed with her. Ok, and David Byrne.

Can you describe a favourite fashion experience you’ve had?

Every time I go into Blackbird in Seattle. It’s just a nice place to hang out.