London notes – 02-12-10

They’re decorating Trafalgar Square (or as I say it, apparently, Traf-AW-lgar), for Christmas and Hanukkah. I wandered through the National Gallery while I was there. I especially loved the depictions of daily life in Europe in past centuries – and getting to see the amazing self portrait by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun in person was a spectacular highlight. I read Germaine Greer’s The Obstacle Race as a teenager, where I became fascinated with Le Brun’s story among others.

I moved into my new room yesterday. This is the westward view from the terrace outside the front door, the towers of the City in the distance under the grey December sky. It has been snowing here, and the snow is sticking. I like the attitude towards snow here – everything pretty much shuts down and its OK to stay in and take it easy. Beats the macho Canadian thing, risking your life battling the elements for the most mundane reasons.

The building I’m living in is sort of like townhouses stacked one on top of another, you enter from a balcony/hall thing on the outside of the building. The townhouse I am in is full of nice young people from France and Spain.

My room is on the top floor, facing east. More about that later this week – I’m currently setting up a sleeping/living/working space in about 60 square feet (less than 10% of what I had in Toronto), that deserves a post of its own.

I am enjoying discovering my neighbourhood – Bethnal Green/Brick Lane area. It is “the Parkdale of London” as Shawn Micallef put it. I’ve never lived in a hip part of town before, unless you count that summer I spent in Kensington Market in Toronto. It is something to see so many creative young people, fashion and galleries, immigrants from everywhere, the United Nations of Takeout, and of course classic East London accents (like a Guy Ritchie movie), traditional caffs… all over the streets, it is very lively.

Just a couple blocks away is a huge art supply store, and when I was coming back with my new task lamp I saw a sheep picking at grass under the snow through the fence. A little urban farm, I think for children to visit, it is right beside a school. The sheep looked very cozy in their wool despite the snow.

The ponies (donkeys, OK) were wearing warm jackets, looking cute even though they’re bundled up. I admit in my old parka I’m feeling less than stylish among so many fashionable girls – but I am definitely warmer, and so glad that I brought it.

watching – five comedy crushes

If you follow me on twitter or are friends with me on facebook (and if you’re not, why not?) you know that in addition to an interest in fashion I am a great fan of comedy. Besides liking a good laugh, for some reason I always seem to crush on comedians instead of rock stars or athletes. Maybe its because the comedy format often makes it easy to imagine they are talking directly to me, maybe because being hilarious is a tremendously attractive attribute. The best is when they break character a little, perhaps because it reveals some vulnerability.

So for a bit of comic interlude here, apropos of nothing, I’m sharing five of my all-time favourite comedy crushes.

Ze Frank

I became a Ze fan when he was doing “The Show”, a daily video blog in 2005-2006. Ze’s smart and funny and a bit manic and over the course of the show you get to see him when he’s hyper and when he’s tired and when he’s pissed off and when he’s excited, which enhances the imaginary boyfriend experience. I remember eagerly waiting for each show to be posted with the same anxious enthusiasm as a teenager waiting for a phone call.

Hot musical interlude: “Work This”

BONUS: nudity.

Demetri Martin

Fell hard for Demetri Martin with his breakout BBC/Youtube solo show, “If I”. This is one of the nerdiest, most unusual hours of comedy I’ve ever seen, but more than that, it is a profound story about how he figured out his own identity and ambition. Plus, he has really shiny hair. He went on to get his own show on Comedy Central, Important Things, which is also hilarious. Each year his hair gets a bit shinier and he seems a little more aware of his babe factor, but a little ego is OK – he’s earned it.

If I on Youtube

BONUS (Canadian link): Demetri explains the secret to his hair.

(Postscript: there is an extra on the DVD of Important Things season 1, where he molests a dummy, which is so ridiculously wrong and somehow hot at the same time)

Jimmy Fallon

Not many comedians can get away with cracking up in every single sketch, but Jimmy can (at least with me) because he is so frigging adorable. No wonder most of his fans are women.

He was at his best on Saturday Night Live, when he was skinny and in his 20s and just seemed a little too aware of how cute he was. Before he got all thick through the neck and started wearing a tie all the time.


Jimmy Fallon in a hot tub with Drew Barrymore, Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch, giggling non-stop: no one kept a straight face in this skit.

Stephen Colbert

I am just one of millions of Stephen Colbert fangirls out there. Maybe its because his persona is so over-the-top, but all he has to do is drop the bluster to reveal the real Stephen, even for just a second, and it melts my heart every time. (Oh, and Jon Stewart is a babe too.) No wonder there is an entire genre of fan videos out there dedicated to classic Colbert character cracks.

So far one of the greatest disappointments of moving to the UK is that The Colbert Report doesn’t seem to exist over here. Heartbreak!

Iconic Daily Show character break: the innuendo is way too much for Stephen.

Hugh Laurie

Sure, Hugh Laurie is a pinup for millions as Dr. House, but to me his most crushable moments are from his earlier career as a comedian. He’s lovely as a playboy in Jeeves and Wooster and as a daft prince on Blackadder. But the best material is from the sketch show A Bit of Fry and Laurie. His comedy team mate Stephen Fry also deserves a special mention for being a gorgeous gay crush object in his own right, well worth giggling at.

“Intimate Moment”

Bonus: Stephen Fry on “How to be Gorgeous”

London notes – 28-11-10

This is me by a glass rail in the glass exhibit at the V&A. I’ve been trying to take advantage of every reflective, light infused situation to take a photo, because photo-taking for whatever reason doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m a visual person and I’m constantly gawking at everything, but for some reason the leap between “wow look at that” and “let me pull out the camera” is not something my brain does instinctively.

Great news – I got the room I wanted!  I’m moving in on Wednesday and the next step will be turning my 60 or so square feet of space into a place I can sleep and work happily. That will be a post or two in and of itself.

Until then, I’ve allowed myself to act like I’m on vacation – since working is an impossibility anyway. I’ve been sleeping in, walking leisurely through various markets, neighbourhoods and exhibits, and eating local delicacies.

And I’ve been blessed with some clear, beautiful, chilly days do do that in. Walked over the gorgeous Tower Bridge to visit the Fashion Drawing exhibit at the Design Museum with fashion school friend Eleanor of Kitchenist. It was definitely curated to a particular aesthetic rather than being a comprehensive representation of fashion illustration. Still, it was amazing to see originals and sketches by the greats of 20th Century fashion drawing. Makes me feel better, as in “Erte’s drawings have smudges all over them too”, and “even Antonio created Frankenstien amalgams of various drawings”. I came out feeling all inspired and frustrated that I have no working studio set up at the moment.

After a diversion to Monmouth Coffee in the Borough Market (thanks for the reco Sarah!), I stopped at the Tate Modern to take in the contemporary art. There is a huge hall full of ceramic sunflower seeds. I’m not sure about what it means, I think contemporary art falls into a few categories – either “it looks neat”, or “I had fun making this”, or of course, “psych your mind”. But then I’m pretty shallow when it comes to parsing the reasons for making things – I can’t help but feel that its better to show than tell. After seeing a lot of art, I’m finding that I feel an affinity for contemporary work at the moment.

On Saturday I checked out the “Work in Progress” exhibit at the Royal College of Art. It was all various media, demonstrating some sort of thought process. There was one section where students explored different ways to create London souvenirs – I liked these little postcards that recorded London from a pigeon’s perspective – probably because the sentiments of the pigeons reflect my own at the moment somewhat. I wanted to take a postcard with me but I didn’t. Also, I didn’t notice the signs restricting photography of the exhibit until too late.

Another section explored techniques inspired by Cyanotype. On a table, various responses in graffiti were made to respond to the question “how do you respond to change”, and I photoed the one that said “DO NOTHING”, but of course I thought of my own response to change, which is “make a change”.

Another one is a computer program which automatically modifies anything typed in to create strange, nonsensical responses to your own thoughts. I wrote in something about how I was hungry for a sausage, and how I hoped I would be successful in London and make friends, and be gutsy, and this is the garble of words I got back.

At the moment, I am lonely, and I am enjoying it in a weird way. I haven’t felt compelled to make new connections yet. Without the space to work in, I feel like I’m roadblocked in a sort of purgatory, and this makes me feel oddly comfortable with a sense of disconnection. So perhaps its not so strange that that the only significant connections I’ve made in London so far are with art, instead of people.

click click – 28-11-10

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

When I revised the categories on the site, I was thinking I’d shelve the click click posts. Then some of my favourite readers protested, and I like doing these little collections of links, so click click lives on. This is a long one because its an accumulation of several week’s worth of clicks.

Kevin found this picture by Sharon of The Backseat Stylers and used it to illustrate one of the sweetest posts I’ve ever read about anyone – and he wrote it about me. I literally teared up reading it. I’m in the lower right of the picture, making the acquaintance of Brian Bailey at the VAWK FW10 show last spring. Thanks Kevin and Sharon, for capturing me as I was in Toronto, without me even realizing it.

  • David Mitchell’s Soap Box – this link was sent to me by The Grumpy Owl as a bit of a primer on Englishisms, and he picked one rant in particular on “Authenticity” which is especially appropriate for my usual frame of mind..
  • 50 years of Dr. Martens – feeling quite sorry I missed the half-hour BBC4 doc (pun intended) but thankful there is also a 9 minute documentary to watch. (Update – Good Clobber saved the BBC4 doc for posterity, thanks!)
  • Fashion’s Most Feared Critic – fount this brief profile of Cathy Horyn, pointing out the writer’s blind spots, to be reassuring. There are vast tracts of fashion culture that totally fail to fascinate me as well. I’m not going to bother feeling insecure about that anymore.
  • Princess – Annching shares her thoughts on the phenomenon whereby any woman can be a princess, though at what cost. Its something I’ve been thinking about lately and considering posting about too – though I consider myself something of an anti-princess.
  • Dear Gap, I have your new logo – touching on a subject that bugs me – the crowdsourcing of creative work by companies that can clearly afford to pay for it. Personally, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the old GAP logo at all. The trend towards softer, rounder, lowercase logos with gradient elements isn’t my thing. Still, I thought the internet overreaction to the new logo seemed to be taken a little too seriously by Gap.
  • No Make-up Week – this was a terrific blog carnival, and Zoetica’s series, from a dedicated make-up lover, made for particularly compelling blog reading.
  • The new fashion forward – Sarah Mower tackles fashion’s asynchronicity problem.
  • Toronto Fashion Bloggers: The New Class – Degrassi-style, we’ve passed along the torch of city-specific fashion blogging to the next generation.

Click Click Karma for a flock of incoming linkers and commenters, transatlantic kisses to all –

  • The Simon Tonekham Statesman“I’m into public transit, music, photography and computers.”
  • The Agenda – Anita from I want – I got breaks down the fashion blogging scene in Toronto, and mentions me and TFBB.
  • Tashrin“I love beautiful clothes, vibrant colours, anything with an ethnic flair and hearty home cooked meals. “
  • Brill Communications – the good people at Brill are blogging now and tipped their hat to me – tipping back!
  • Life by Saje“Likes – food, travelling, boys”
  • NEW BLOOD STYLE – beautiful fashion illustration.
  • Roots Buzz – Roots picked up on my Modern Satchel love.
  • What Would Jilly Wear“Dressing unapologetically… then apologizing or reserving the right to at a later time”
  • Renee Sylvestre-Williams“Renee is a writer and editor with more than 10 years online experience. She has covered fashion, real estate, shopping, health and news.”
  • Amy Uhrich“My goal is to create a unique and delicious aesthetic; to live magically and highlight the wonder in life.”
  • The Fashion Buzz“Welcome to the honeypot of style”

London notes – 25-11-10

I’m in a pub! At eleven in the morning! Good morning, London.

Today I feel jubilant, because I found the place I wanted to find, and I’m told, it will be mine. I’ll feel better about going on and on about it once all the paperwork is completed tonight. So, still holding my breath a bit. But mostly, 99% relieved of one of the major anxieties of moving.

Of course, now that the hard part is over when it comes to looking for a place (and I looked at some rather dingy and unfortunate places all around the city) I finally can approach London with a sense of relaxation. I’m going to have a week until I move and set up shop, and this will be my week to enjoy London like a tourist – see the sights, make new friends, sleep in and go out. I promise to remember to use that little Canon S90 I always carry around (I’m not a phone person, nor am I a natural camera person) to do a proper photo post or two.

a word from… November 2010 sponsors


A word from… is a monthly news post contributed by the kind sponsors who support Final Fashion.

Darlene from Bijouxbead says…

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We are launching this series with a special free shipping promotion in Canada and the US, effective now through December 16, 2010.

Lisa from rock-it promotions says…

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London notes – 22-11-10

I haven’t allowed myself to do many touristy things yet. All that is on my mind right now is finding a place. I’m lucky to have a great place to stay, but I can’t set up a proper working space here and so I can’t take on any new work. Of course I’m feeling more full of ideas and inspiration than I have in months, and can’t wait to start hustling for work instead of hustling for accommodation.

The kind of place I need is important – it will be where I sleep and where I work, so it has to be pleasant enough to spend a significant amount of time in. Wooden floors (or at least, no carpet, ick) and a good window are top priorities. I’d like it to be in a neighbourhood that offers the best of London living if at all possible because I’m here to enjoy myself, though since commuting isn’t a factor for me I’m being openminded when it comes to location. It is all a tall order to find on a bohemian budget, though I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that rental rates are fairly comparable to Toronto. Considering it is early days in the search yet, I understand logically I need to be patient. Still, having a room of my own is important, so naturally it is an all-consuming obsession.

Since this is all I really think about, my impressions of London are so far limited to the pitfalls and perils of renting, the relative advantages of various locations, the challenge of navigating an unfamiliar transit system, the grim November sky, and of course trying to satisfy my vice of choice: good coffee with cream. None of these things really gives London a fair chance to win my heart. I thought that landing here would be like landing in New York, that overwhelming sense of a big city running high on adrenaline.  The feeling I have is totally different and still not defined, and I think that has as much to do with my frame of mind as the city itself.

London notes – 20-11-10

There’s been many requests for updates, and here is a little one as I’ve only been here for 24 hours.

Saying goodbye to everyone was emotional. I was very grateful to have so many lovely people come to my little so-long shindig and I made sure to spend some quality time with my family and my grandparents before I left. Many people asked if my family will visit me over here – they won’t, they’re just not into travelling. So this will be the longest period of time I’ve ever spent away from them, and I miss them already.

Packing was tricky. I managed to get everything down into one large suitcase, one carry-on suitcase, and my satchel, but of course I made a rookie mistake at the airport – I didn’t realize there was a weight restriction for the carry-on case and ended up having to check it and pay a big old fee.

Other than that, checking in was so easy and only took five minutes. It wasn’t my first time flying (I’ve flown to New York and Las Vegas before) but it was the first time I was on my own in the airport. I was very early and found a nice spot by the gate, watched the sun set over Mississauga, and felt… nothing. After so much emotion and letting go of so many places, people and things, I have become an empty vessel.

I had a window seat on the plane. I’ve only flown a few times so I love the novelty of it all. I barely slept at all, spent most of the trip poking my head out and looking at the vast nothingness of a black ocean, not thinking about anything. Coming into England while the sun rose over the coast of the English Channel and all the foggy little fields was incredibly beautiful.

Landing in Gatwick was OK, something was wrong with the gate so we got to disembark on the tarmac which was different. I got my checked baggage OK, met a mini-cab driver with my name on a piece of paper, and drove into London.

I’m staying with my Australian Aunt and Uncle (well not exactly, it is a tangential family connection) in a suburb called Putney at the moment. They’re fun and hospitable and great cooks and I feel so lucky to have a great place to stay while I enter the next phase of this thing, which is trying to settle in my own place somewhere.

So far so good, I’m mostly somewhat jetlagged and disoriented. Everything is backwards here. Taps turn backwards, doors open in instead of out, people cross on the wrong side of the sidewalk, I do a lot of bumping into things.

Between erratic sleep patterns, I’ve bought a phone (07538 786074) and am connecting up with some friends, and trying to figure out what neighbourhoods I’d like to live in. That’s about it for the moment.

wearing – Cougar Boots

Just a quick snapshot of me in between a million other things to do before I depart to London in… two days!?

Word-of-mouth marketing outfit Matchstick offered to send me some Cougar boots weeks ago… and due to, um, life, I didn’t receive them until last night. Yesterday was an overwhelming day. I moved out of my studio for good, said a tearful goodbye to my parents, tried to get some work done on my new Macbook Pro laptop in a cafe for the first time ever, got my two front teeth fixed by the dentist, and crashed in a sleepy heap at my grandparents’ condo.

The boots – I really like them!  I’ve never had a nice pair of rubber boots before and I dig the motorcycle styling. I’d love to take them with me to London but the packing situation is pretty tight as I’m attempting to move with just one checked bag, one carry-on bag, and of course, the Roots Modern Satchel. Considering my Dr. Martens fetish, excess kilograms are a problem. I’ll work it out somehow.

I’m wearing the boots with a nice trench I bought at Banana Republic, and my new hairdo from the kids at the Aveda school. I’m off the straight iron, seeing as I’m moving to a damp country I figure I need to reconcile my vanity with my natural wave. I feel like a new girl – new teeth, new hair, no home.