invitation – performative lecture “Silhouettes and Signals” at The Drake Hotel on March 16


After flying back from live sketching the runways of New York fashion week, I hit the ground sketching in Toronto with a series inspired by the Queen Street West style, currently installed at The Drake Hotel. It was an interesting challenge to draw three times larger than I usually do, inverting the usual value scheme by drawing on black paper, and focusing more closely on the silhouettes by reducing my palette to a single colour.

Now that live sketching fashion shows isn’t as unique as it once was, I want to stretch the skills I’ve acquired practicing this technique, combined with my speaking experiences, to create something new. In that spirit, I’m doing something different at The Drake Hotel on March 16th to kick off fashion week in Toronto.

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Images Courtesy: Bryan Da Silva/The Drake Hotel

“Silhouettes and Signals” will be a performative lecture combining live sketching on the iPad (using the Paper app) with a trend-theory lecture – sort of a Final Fashion post “in real life”. We’ll be examining various historical silhouettes and discuss identifying social attitudes through style. Sketching my way from the distant past to the 21st century, I’ll discuss how the shapes we make with our clothing are visual manifestations of ideas about sex, politics, money, youth, class, taste and other fun stuff, and even put my skin in the game with a few predictions.

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What: “Silhouettes and Signals” live sketching lecture

Where: The Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen Street West, Toronto

When: March 16th, 2014 at 2pm

Admission: $10

This is the first time I’ve ever done such a thing (although my talk at Apple Soho was definitely moving in this direction), so it will be a novel opportunity for the style-curious citizens in Toronto to see an experimental performance and kick off Toronto Fashion Week in a weirder way than usual. Please come!

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Images Courtesy: Bryan Da Silva/The Drake Hotel




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the new studio

toronto studio

My new studio is in a shared unit, located near the diverse and lively Bloor and Lansdowne area in Toronto. The space is lovely and light, and I’m surrounded by a variety of friendly creative people in various fields. It’s been exciting and strange to unpack what’s left from the old studio and adapt it to how I want to work now. I’m pleased to say that I installed everything myself, power tool in hand. With all this space and all my sewing equipment ready to run again, I am ready to get back to working in three dimensions. I have ideas to realize.


Microsoft Fresh Paint at Toronto Pearson International Airport

One of the things I love about being a fashion illustrator is unexpected, unusual gigs. This week and next, I’m going to be hanging out at the Microsoft Windows 8 booth at Toronto Pearson International Airport, fingerpainting on a touchscreen easel using Fresh Paint, the updated version of that classic program we all know and love, MS Paint.

Fresh Paint takes advantage of the touchscreen technology, you can use your finger to blend and swirl colours, similar to the way pastels or paint work, but without the mess. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do with it – I’ll have enough time to create a fairly substantial body of work, and I’m planning on focusing on beauty and hair illustrations. I’ll post the best ones here next week.

Thanks to Microsoft for an opportunity to try something new and fun! If you’re flying in or out of Toronto and you see me, please say hey!

location independent limbo

Toronto welcomed me back with warm hugs, a sweet solo sublet, and a polished new surface. Being back in Toronto is like seeing an ex years later and they’ve had a makeover and look better than you ever remembered, and guess what, they’re sweet and steady and still like you too. London is like the more recent, exciting, high-maintenance ex who looked so sophisticated on your arm and made all your friends jealous of you while emptying your wallet and playing football with your heart.

Perhaps it’s obvious that I’ve been reading Great Expectations.

When you’re going through a transition is everyone wants to know what your plans are. I’m not great at planning so I was reluctant to announce them, but initially my intention was to apply for a French visa so I could spend 2013 in Paris. This plan was not conceived with any real idea of how I would accomplish it. As I took the first steps to assemble the paperwork required it became clear that the combination of two national bureaucracies was creating tangled logjam of arbitrary requirements that would take almost a year to sort out.

This discovery was somewhat discouraging, and yet overall I felt nonplussed. I’ve noticed something in myself as I get older, that I don’t understand how I really feel about anything while it’s happening. Realizations that explain my own behaviour tend to unfold in my consciousness a few weeks later at the earliest. This also reveals why I can’t write about topical things in a timely manner.

So I’ve been slow to sum up this change in my life. I’m still not sure yet how I feel about where I am, and where I want to be. I’m in the rather wonderful position of having created a ‘location independent’ career. I have zero familial, social, financial, or professional obligations to be at any particular place at any particular time. I am reluctant to squander this unprecedented level of freedom that has been granted to me by circumstance and technology.

I do still want to go back to Paris, whether for an extended vacation or for a bit longer if possible. I also want to spend more time in New York. I don’t have the intention to settle in either of these places, but I feel that the experience of London was an expansive one, and a necessary part of my continuing education. Spending a longer period of time in a fashion capital genuinely changes the way that you think about the subject. Being in a international, culturally dominant city makes you up your game as a creator and a careerist. I feel that I escaped a certain provincial ignorance and developed greater humility by abandoning my local identity. My work is more sophisticated and confident now than ever, and now I have a much more realistic sense of what level I am at relative to my contemporaries, my craft, and the total arc of my life and career.

Continuing to pursue the unknown, to throw myself into the milieu of fashion capitals will always be a necessary part of defining my career. I will do this; I just need to figure out logistically, how.

Another upside of being location independent is that there is no need to sacrifice all the comforts of life to location either, especially as I enter my thirties. Fashion capitals are exciting, and also expensive, snobby, exhausting places to live. I don’t want to live life trapped in a platinum champagne bucket full of pretty perfect popular people. All I need is a modest yet gracious space to work and sleep, and a variegated social life full of many types of friendly people who don’t take fashion too seriously. All of these things can be found in places much less competitive and demanding than London, Paris or New York.

The downside, if it could be called that, of location independence is the overwhelming array of options available. Having so many choices open to me doesn’t make figuring out what I want to do any easier. I’m following my own advice now – embracing the void, and letting the answer reveal itself in the absence of anything else. How profound, to be in the powerful position of designing my physical life to accommodate a career that has become utterly intangible.

career karma – Debra Goldblatt

Debra Goldblatt of rock-it promotions is one of Toronto’s top publicists for fashion, lifestyle and celebrity clients, and has been a great connector and supporter towards the fashion bloggers in the city for years. Her straight talk, genuine warmth and love of the business makes her a total PR darling.

This year rock-it promotions launched their own blog called On The Fourth Floor, and one of the most popular features is called Media Darling, asking PR-related questions of various personalities in the media (including me). I turned the table to get her perspective from the other side.

Who are your PR heroes? What inspires you about the leaders in your profession?

I have many colleagues that I work with in the PR field that are heroes. Some are owners of their own agencies and some are more junior and starting out. I don’t kiss and tell, but I will say that PR people who handle themselves with grace in difficult situations as well as have a sense of humour are my favourite people in this profession. It’s not always easy and it’s a very demanding career and a smile can go a long way.

What do you wish people understood better about PR, especially when it comes to fashion events?

I wish people understood how difficult it is to please all the people, all the time. There is a lot of ego in the fashion world which, to be frank, is quite unlike the other fields we work in (film, lifestyle, health, hospitality, etc). During a really large scale event like a show during Fashion Week, we really do try our very best to ensure that everybody is treated with the utmost respect and occasionally, there is a mistake. It could be a seat forgotten, a volunteer making an error, or an rsvp missed. Trust us that we kick ourselves harder than anybody ever could when those situations happen, so no need to kick us when we’re down (unless you’re dealing with a PR person who isn’t remorseful – then you should kick them. Hard.).

How can an independent blogger grab your attention? What do you look for when you choose the bloggers you want to work with?

I think this is very similar to the feedback we hear from media about PR professionals. I hate spelling errors and I hate it when somebody addresses a note to another agency and sends it to me. It’s impersonal and shows they are saying the same flattering things to another agency to get into an event. I like sincerity and soul. And a blog that is clean, well written and has relevant content for my client(s).

What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to bloggers?

Not acting professional. Don’t get hammered at an event b/c there is an open bar. If you want to work with us, save the slurred rants and drunk tweets until after you’ve been our guest. It’s no different than us inviting you into our house if it’s our client’s event. You look bad, we look bad. We want everybody to have fun, and believe in freedom of speech, but work with us, not against us. Positive energy is so much better than being a bitch.

Rock-it now has its own very lively, content-rich blog, On The Fourth Floor. What are your thoughts on the blogging experience?

It’s a TON of work! I’ve always had major respect for our friends in the blogging world, but it has been a really eye-opening experience to be the editor of our own site. It’s a collaborative effort in our agency, but most of it falls on a few specific team members and we def. feel the added work. We’ve had a ton of fun getting ‘fan’ mail and we just got our first piece of critical mail, which was equally fun. The Media, Darling posts have been wildly positive. I wanted to create a blog that PR professionals and students, in particular, would subscribe to because it was fun, digestible and offer something of value while being fresh. The fact that other agencies out there have been reading it and letting us know how much they enjoy it, totally rocks. I love that kind of good karma.

Full disclosure: rock-it promotions is a sponsor of Final Fashion. Thanks Deb!

drawing – Fresh Collective FW10 paper doll

Isn’t she gorgeous? I had the wonderful opportunity to work with a favourite client (and former sponsor), Fresh Collective, to create a paper doll for a press kit promoting the best fall merchandise by several designers. The best part? The doll is in magnet form and will be gracing the most fashionable fridge doors and file cabinets in the city.

There are also a limited number of paper doll kits available for purchase from Fresh Collective – and I’m told there will be some available to win in upcoming promotions.

Thanks Fresh Collective for a fun, colourful paper doll project!

giveaway – tickets to The Clothing Show Fall 2010

Hey Toronto readers, I have three pairs of tickets to give away for The Clothing Show coming up September 24, 25 & 26. Its a one stop shop for vintage & indie stuff among other wares. If you’d like to go, please leave a comment naming your most coveted fashion item this fall – I’ll pick three comments randomly next Tuesday September 21. Thanks for playing.