twenty eleven redemption

This has been an incredible year, full of adversity and transcendence.

What follows is a redux, final fashion‘s finest for the year. Thanks so much to everyone who visits, reads, comments, emails and reaches out. Friends and colleagues, you inspire me. You are all wonderful. Thank you.


My favourite blog posts

Paper dolls

  • Vionnet – both back and front views. Braless, just the way Vionnet liked it.
  • Agyness Deyn – the first of a model series, I have a wishlist.
  • Anna Dello Russo – for the Hudson’s Bay Company. She is such a perfect fashion phoenix, delightful to draw.
  • Pink Martini Collection – my first completely hand-rendered, watercolour paper doll.

Incredible encounters

Fashion weeks and events

Extraordinary projects

Print appearances


London life

This was a year that started hard for me and then turned around in the second half. While I didn’t tick every box, I feel like I got the gist if not the gamut of my 2011 goals.

I’m looking forward to 2012. How about you?

click click – 22-12-11

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

I love these photographs of teddy girls by Ken Russell. I particularly enjoy the duality of these two photos – a vivacious girl in a quartet of girls, and then again surrounded by Teddy Boys, in a scene of bomb wreckage. BONUS: teddy boys grow up.

Karma kisses under the mistletoe for all my teds –

  • the dexterous diva – Jo throws me a few questions about being creative and calls out for more – why not tell Jo about your schtick?
  • Thinking In Shapes“I post about vintage-inspired style and clothing construction.”
  • Rebecca Howden“Books, gender, fashion, culture, life”
  • f514 – this is a wonderful fashion blog by a Montreal makeup artist, I adore her enthusiasm, honesty and ambition.

drawing – London skyline from my flat

Landscapes and architectural drawings – not something I do often. This is my second stab this year at a London skyline, this time tracing a photo I took from the front door of my flat this summer. The slavishness to photo reference means that this time the rendering is a proportional one. I quite love the view from my flat – you can see a half-dozen major East London landmarks very clearly, and of course the ever-changing sky.

four feminine elements

Of all the conventions of chick lit, my favourite by far is the quartet of queens – feminine foursomes. Like a deck of cards, each character has her suit. From Little Women to Mean Girls, from The Robber Bride to Sex and the City, this elemental formation of four recurs again and again.

Raised a skeptic, this has become my favourite kind of claptrap. I like the simplicity of the symbolism, the way it orders chaos neatly into quarters, and the way it provides a shorthand for describing essential personalities. Of course I identify with one even as I aspire to be all four. What about you?

The Queen of Diamonds is the female fire element. She is creative, combative, explosive. Beyond bright. A live wire. Fierce passions that rise and subside like lightning strikes. Intense ideas that burn bright and burn out. She signifies second chances, she loves a makeover, she lives to gamble, she deals in both delight and destruction.

The Queen of Spades is the female air element. She is an intimidating intellect. She articulates and manipulates. Her power is invisible, scentless, impossible to touch, yet it is a fantastic force. She has an untouchable quality – she’s analytical, dispassionate.  She is an authority in contrariness and control.

The Queen of Clubs is the female earth element. She is practical verging on prosaic. She is a nurturer, a manager, someone who makes things happen, someone who takes care. She is deeply sensual, super sexy, comfortable in her own body, feet firmly on the ground. She bestows abundance and obstinance.

The Queen of Hearts is the female water element. She is empathetic, emotional. Her romanticism is both refreshing and ridiculous. She takes the shape of her vessel, and easily escapes a tight grasp. She reflects those around her. She envelopes and evaporates, deserts and drowns. She deals in both despair and divinity.

click click – 14-12-11

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

While Occupy was occupying the media, I joked on Twitter that I was anticipating a “police state chic” Meisel editorial for Vogue Italia. Then I found out it happened five years ago. Hat Tip to The Grumpy Owl.

karma kickbacks to internet kindred…

  • FashionSchools – a recent interview I did on the subject of finding your role in fashion.
  • Joanne Faith“More than being ‘just a fashion blog’, she also loves to talk blogging, Auckland, and living a beautiful life.”
  • Dana Constance Thomas“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
  • I Want You To Know“Anything is possible, so expect a mix of musings.”
  • Natalie Brooke Designs“WLFD (We Love Fashion Design) is my Personal Directory of  artists in the Fashion Industry who inspire me.”

drawing – To Write Love On Her Arms

Earlier this year, a young fashion designer named Lisa Hoang invited me to create a t-shirt design to fundraise for To Write Love on Her Arms. After reflecting on some of the people in my life who have struggled with feelings of hopelessness, I volunteered this illustration.


click click – 05-12-11

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

Lists, To-dos and Illustrated Inventories of Great Artists gives glimpses into the way great minds work in between all the mundanities of every day life. This wonderful graphic packing list was created by Adolf Konrad on Dec. 16 1973.

the insider issue

In fashion, insider status is coveted by those who lack it and flaunted by those who have it. In a business that makes a shrine to exclusion, the idea of being omitted from a list or unseated at a fashion show is on a par with being excommunicated.

As someone who had the chance to walk inside the establishment, albeit in a second-tier fashion city, I subscribed to the insider glossy – being inside was good for business. I attended all different types of fashion events, took home bags of free swag, met more and more insiders, until I became a recognized feature on the scene in that city. Initially, the novelty of insider status delighted me – then I was pleased because I found I was gaining some recognition for my work and even some clients.

Everything was great. But weirdly, after just two years of this, I was beginning to recognize diminishing returns. I began to notice that I wasn’t meeting as many new people, simply because most of the same people were in attendance at these things. After I had established a core group of friends, events became less about exploring the unknown and began to become less exciting, more routine. How terrible to be jaded to generosity and special treatment so quickly.

The other thing that I began to be frustrated with was how this new layer of social obligation was obscuring the original objective of blogging. I was doing a lot of posts just because I felt I should. I felt my will-to-blog ebb and saw my traffic flatline. Last year, I gradually tried to take myself out of the loop, but it wasn’t until I moved to London that I truly got back “outside”.

Arriving in a new city where I was a bonafide outsider, I consciously decided not to ingratiate myself with the local PR companies and not to attend fashion events in a “professional” capacity. I quickly discovered that the intramural blogging league that had become so firmly established in Toronto also existed in London, and I didn’t want to risk being a part of it. I had come to see insider status as more of a liability than an advantage. On twitter, you can see it all go down in real time – fashion bloggers posting in lockstep following an event, the content being dictated by publicists instead of celebrating the individual creativity of the bloggers. Insider blogging has begun to resemble the rather faded, rote status of most printed fashion publications. I call it mid-level blogging. Being inside is toxic to creativity.

The most interesting stuff in fashion blogging (and fashion generally) is happening at the edges – the top tier and the off-the-radar zones are where it is at. Looking at professionals I admire like Cathy Horyn, Tommy Ton, Dries Van Noten, Tilda Swinton – these are insiders who know how to behave like outsiders – and their work is outstanding as a result. I love finding fresh, creative bloggers who haven’t yet been exposed to the insider treatment – their work is guileless, uncontrived, often uneven in quality – but far more fascinating than the middle-of-the-packers.

This past year in London I got my blogger swagger back. I rediscovered the reasons why I started blogging in the first place and I upped my game. I zagged where everyone else zigged – not many fashion bloggers write long posts, so I write longer posts. I endeavour to include as much original material as I can in every post, writing or illustration. Before I post anything, I ask myself two questions. Is it universal? The best way to bust the blogger bubble is to be relevant regardless of location. Is it atemporal? Will this post be interesting if you read it six seconds after it’s posted, what about six months, what about six years later? I consciously try to eliminate as many exclusions as I can. Because my social life is more varied than ever before and the stimuli I seek out are unique to my own proclivities, I am constantly discovering inspiration in unexpected places. I find my life more interesting now – and my blog reflects that.

The response to the changes I’ve made has been wonderful – but even if I didn’t notice any growth at all, it would have still been worthwhile because I love Final Fashion more than ever. I am finally writing the blog I’ve always wanted to read – because I am an outsider again.