First Dinner Party

It has taken forever to get our house sorted, and there is still a lot of work to be done, but we finally had our first dinner guests this weekend.

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Our giant radio

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Swedish star light and painting by Dougal Graham

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The chair was my best find from the Brighton flea market

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More great artwork from friends

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Filed under Design, Events, My Collection

The Armadillos

I am sure nearly everyone has seen these photos somewhere by now, but they are still WOW!

Originally posted on vogue.co.uk, the photos really do show how extreme the Alexander McQueen Spring Summer 2010 runway shoes are. I am sure the commercial versions will be toned down a great deal, which will make these press samples a real treasure once they come out of press circulation. I am looking forward to seeing how the Spring Summer magazines are going to photograph them, and,  I am sure Steve Madden will have trouble copying these.

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Filed under Designers, Fashion Weeks, Shoes

Closet Maintenance

My closet is a sacred place. In London and Paris, half my clothes used to be in a loft or attic, because my bedroom was never large enough to house my whole wardrobe. Now I am extremely lucky, because I not only have a walk-in closet in our spare room, but I have actually transformed the entire spare room into my closet (there is a bed in there too, somewhere, for guests…)

Since I have this wonderful closet, I have become obsessive about maintaining it. This is for several reasons. Firstly, I want to be able to find and see everything, so I can constantly be reminded of how fabulous my wardrobe is, and make sure I rotate my clothes as much as possible. Secondly, because I don’t want moths or any other hideous creatures making themselves comfortable there.

I have lost a few great items to moths, so I am very pedantic when it comes to moth prevention. Also, I have been unable to find the lovely natural moth repellant I used to buy at one of my favourite London department stores, so I have developed a new system for closet maintenance here in Vancouver. And I am about to share it with you.

  1. Wash the closet walls with bleach (make sure to rinse properly) and vacuum every corner before putting your clothes away.
  2. Make sure all clothing in the closet is clean. This may sounds weird, but sometimes you might wear a shirt of jacket a few times before you clean it. Moths are attracted to dirty clothing (they love armpits.) Air out your coats if you can’t afford to dry clean them all, clean your shirts, and wash everything else. Most washing machines nowadays have handwash cycles. I have put nearly everything in there, evening wear, down jackets, knitwear, and have never had a problem. But make sure to always handwash underwire bras. Any clothes I will wear more than once before cleaning again, I leave in a separate area. So for example, a pair of leggings that might get worn twice before being washed gets left in a separate basket, that is not in the closet.
  3. Freeze all wool, cashmere, and fur at the beginning of October. That kills the moth eggs. Trust me, this works. Put the clothing in a plastic bag (double the bags up) and freeze them for 48 hours. If you have a small freezer, rotate them.
  4. Keep the closet clean and tidy, moths and bugs have less places to hide. All of my folded clothes are in drawers, I shake my hung clothes frequently, bags in dust bags, shoes in boxes or in shoe racks.
  5. I created a spray that is 20 parts distilled  water, 1 part cedar wood essential oil (thanks Camille for the suggestion) and I spray it into my closet a few times a week. Not directly onto the clothes, but around the closet so it smells of cedar wood. This smells really nice, and moths hate it. I am still working on a recipe that will last a bit longer, so I only have to spray once a week, I am open to suggestions.
  6. Take cotton balls and drop 3-6 drops of cedar wood essential oil onto them. Leave these balls in every corner of your closet (floors, shelves, etc…) and in the four corners of every drawer.
  7. If you see anything flying around near your precious clothes, presume the worst, and take preventative measures. There is no reason why you can’t freeze things twice a year, I am not sure if it is more effective, but I always feel more comfortable with my best cashmere in the freezer. When I get my dream closet, there will be a freezer in it for all of my cashmere.
  8. Cedar wood blocks also work, but remember you need to sand them quite frequently to make sure they are emitting scents. Cedar wood trunks are great for things you don’t wear very often. Lavender is also an alternative to cedar wood, moths don’t like that either. Dropping oil onto kleenex and putting them into your drawers works as well as cotton balls, just make sure the oil doesn’t stain your clothes.

Keep in mind that this is not a five minute job, it takes a full weekend to properly sort out your closet, but well worth it. There is no point spending money on clothing if you don’t invest in the time to maintain them.

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Students, design what YOU want to wear.

Wednesday night was the Arts Institute of Vancouver student fashion show, one of my first “fashion” events in Vancouver. (actually, it was in Coquitlam…and I won’t say that is Vancouver, because it is clearly not.)

I wore my Finsk Purple cut out booties for the first time:

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Image courtesy of http://www.finsk.com

Student shows are usually all quite similar, unless you are at some of the great fashion schools (for me that means Central Saint Martins College in London, Royal College of Art in London, Royal Academy in Antwerp, and a few others.) You get a lot of evening wear, some wedding dresses, and a lot of outfits that students have been dreaming about making since they were kids. There doesn’t seem to be enough reflection on what society actually needs, and what is going to get you a job. How many jobs are there designing wedding dresses? Probably not many, compared to the number of jobs designing jeans, or casualwear, or tailoring.

If I were to teach design again, which I haven’t really done in some time, I would tell the students the following:

1-Design something someone actually will want to wear, preferably you.

2-Dont design evening wear unless you are going to design something that isn’t already available in a thousand stores. Seriously.

3-Dont design wedding gowns. EVER.

4-Don’t style your models with up-dos, hair pieces, head feathers, or anything like that. EVER. EVER. EVER.

I went to the show with my friend Jason, who runs his own company. We studied fashion together in Vancouver 15 years ago, and we both admitted to having designed student fashion collection that, on reflection, were pretty tragic. The difference was, we didn’t have access to high fashion, unless we bought expensive magazines. Student these days can find out what everyone is doing through the click of the mouse, so there is no reason to design something that isn’t NOW. The strangest thing was, after each students designs were on the catwalk, they came out and did a bow. Nearly all the students were wearing outfits that were more interesting and exciting than their catwalk looks. Maybe they are looking in the wrong places for inspiration.

Here are some show highlights: (excuse the crappy photos, I am still trying to get used to trying to shoot catwalk shows from the side)

Krista Brown had a really amazing silhouette with this dress.

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This would have been fantastic with a more modern hairdo, something a bit slick to contrast the the puffiness of the dress.

I also like Savannah Qiu’s puffy shoulders here.

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Yvonne Xie designed a great dress inspired from an old-fashioned nightie, shame the shot is from the back.

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And the highlight for me was Rachel Bernado’s little summer outfits. Everything she designed was wearable and fun, she gets my top prize. Here is an example of a student designing something that is relevant to today, and looks cool on the catwalk.

(again, sorry for the rubbish images)

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If only the models had been wearing pony tails and plimsoles.

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Filed under Canadian Style, Education, My Collection

H&M Goes Home

I love this installation in the Stockholm Head Offices of H&M by UXUS, a group of designers from Amsterdam. It is for H&M Home, which looks very promising; it looks a lot more exciting than Zara Home, and feels a lot more “designed”. I have no idea when the home collection will arrive in Canada, if ever, but right now it is available in Sweden. Sweden is a mecca for modern interior design, even the most basic of homes look like an Ikea catalogue, in a really good way. The Swedes are just born with great design sense, something I will probably talk about over and over again in this blog.

From UXUS:

“UXUS followed up the Home Reflections presentation with “Interaction”, an installation celebrating H&M Home’s transition from an online and catalogue retailer, to a physical showroom where one can indulge all the senses, especially touch.”

Imagine walking into work every day and seeing this before you head to your desk!

I read about this first on Dezeen, one of the best design blogs.

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Images courtesy of H&M.

(By the way, anyone toying with the idea of getting a job at H&M, I heard they are a fantastic company to work for, but they do all sorts of creepy profiling interviews. They also expect all designers to start at the bottom, whether you have 6 months experience or ten years. Probably the reason why I am not living in Stockholm right now.)

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Filed under Design, Fast Fashion, Retailers

Rodarte Shoes

It was announced last week that the Rodarte boots from the Autumn Winter 2009/2010 collection (designed by Nicholas Kirkwood) will only be available in Dover Street Market in London. I toyed wit the idea of calling to se if they had any left in my size, not that I can really afford them (they cost £2250) but they are so bloody fantastic it might just be worth it. In the end, I didn’t call, knowing full well that they were probably sold out before they even arrived in store.

But it does make me think…I find it a bit strange that Rodarte designs pretty nice dresses, but their shoes are AMAZING. It seems there is a major discrepancy between quality of shoe design and quality of dress design. No offence to the Mulleavy sisters, who are great designers, but their shoes are from another planet, a very rock’n’roll planet at that.

Rodarte AW09/10 boots designed by Nicholas Kirkwood (image from www.dazeddigital.com)

Rodarte AW09/10 boots designed by Nicholas Kirkwood (image from http://www.dazeddigital.com)

In fact, my dream shoes are a pair of the Louboutin spike stilettos from their Spring Summer 2009 collection, and I’ll take a pair of the matching gloves too.

Rodarte Shoes SS09 designer By Christian Louboutin (image from www.harpersbazaar.com)

Rodarte Shoes SS09 designer By Christian Louboutin (image from http://www.harpersbazaar.com)

Rodarte Shoes SS09 designer By Christian Louboutin (image from www.harpersbazaar.com)

Rodarte Shoes SS09 designer By Christian Louboutin (image from http://www.harpersbazaar.com)

The Rodarte Gloves (image from www.hintmag.com)

The Rodarte Gloves (image from http://www.hintmag.com)

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Filed under Designers, Retailers, Shoes

Ode to Bottega

Bottega Veneta is one of the best fashion brands of the moment. Tomas Maier creates collections that are utterly desirable, beautifully classic, and he has helped to make Bottega Veneta one of the most exclusive fashion brands. Not exclusive in the way that they are hard to get (although the brand is not available in many retailers), but exclusive in that there aren’t sunglasses, perfumes, and cheap handbags bearing the Bottega Veneta label saturating the market.  I have yet to buy anything from the recent collections  (haven’t even bothered to check yet, but I am pretty sure there isn’t much available here in Vancouver), but it is definitely on my list. I would go for a cocktail dress in a muted jewel or nude/coffee/chocolate tone, or a leather coat.

Some images from Spring Summer 2010:

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And more wonderful images from Autumn Winter 2009/2010

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A few from Spring Summer 2009

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and finally Autumn Winter 2008/2009, probably one of my favourite catwalk collections of all time.

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All images from http://www.style.com (the site I use  for browsing catwalk shows.)

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