High Park in Toronto has a nice little section of Sakura trees, or cherry blossom trees, that only bloom once a year in late April/early May. This past April I had a yearning to wander amongst the pretty pink blossoms and pretend that I was on vacation in Japan, or even Washington, D.C., enjoying the trees in full bloom. On a whim, I asked my amazing photographer friend Landon Speers if he would be up for an impromptu fashion shoot amongst the ephemeral blooms. In a day we managed to pull together a great team that had Landon's good pal Warren Hrycun assisting with photography, the lovely Brae Mason handling makeup/hair, and the beautiful Deirdre Buryk modeling my silk Atmos Dress. The saturated cobalt blue really stood out against that backdrop of pale pink flowers, I am super happy we did this while we could! One of my favourite things about the day, aside from spending it outside in the beautiful park, was the number of park visitors who began taking snapshots of what we were doing! We became something of a tourist attraction at that point, which actually ended up adding an interesting element to some of the shots. Here, check out some of the behind the scenes photos along with the real dealios.
Make-up party with pain au chocolat and strawberry strudels.
Landon taking some test shots.
Staging a shot in 2 parts (I'm floating!)
Attracting an audience.
How to put a model in a tree while wearing silk... this is something like Step 3.
On Sunday, Leigh and I spent a long day of shopping for plywood and screws and everything else necessary to construct a table for my studio. After that, I popped over to visit Jodee and Helena at their Pretty Freedom boutique at 167 Augusta Avenue. Located 1 block west of the heart of Toronto's vintage clothing shopping area, they've already begun to set themselves apart - and they're not even open yet!
It was a beautiful day, so they were set-up outside stuffing rows of cute vintage shoes, finishing signs, and just enjoying the fine weather. It's always a real pleasure being around these two who are so full of creativity and energy. Oh, and they're oh so fashionable too. Taking a peek at their shop and stock is proof of their good taste.
The shop is decorated with some wonderfully unique furniture pieces, including a display table crafted from a discarded door, an old donated painter's ladder, antique mirrors, a charming chandelier-lit change room, and bamboo clothing racks - the latter being an honest creation from Jodee's Filipino self.
What stock is already out is a charming selection of summer's must-have rompers, art-chic dresses, denim jackets, glamorous vintage party dresses, and jean shorts for both ladies and gents. Sure, every second-hand and vintage store may have the aforementioned items, but Pretty Freedom has done a really great job of cutting out the clutter you will find elsewhere. Here, you will find only items hand-picked for their quality and overall fashion aesthetic. That means that with everything looking so damn good, you'll have a hard time deciding which cute dresses to actually take home with you! Well, it's not all cute dresses. Some of the stuff in there is pretty bad ass, I must say, and so completely fun to wear. There are items for men and women, and the clothes have been steamed to perfection with essential oils to remove any of those unpleasant odours that sometimes keep people away from great vintage clothes.
The first pair of "mum bums" I pulled off their rack were a perfect fit - needless to say I now have them at home to wear on my bum. I had a fun time breaking in their change room - I think I tried on half the store. After a helpful consultation with Jodee I left with a number of fab outfits for my summertime fun-times. I did a little photoshoot at home with my goodies, please forgive my silly wannabe model poses and rather, get stoked about the clothes! They're officially opening next week (fingers crossed), so check them out soon - I'm certain you'll love Pretty Freedom!
The sweetest thing: Floral romper with lace collar
Saturday night fever: 70s disco dress with flounce neckline
Art bitch: 80s butterfly sleeve dress
Sunglasses at night: The little black dress with a twist - you can't see the great fringe trim at the neckline, or the cutout back.
La vie en rose: 70s pink pleated disco dress
The girl from Ipanema: Mum Bum shorts
Can you tell I love the mum bum? You won't find quality Levis for a better price.
I've been super fortunate to have found such wonderful support from the Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture. It's been the wonderful team there that has kept me moving on numerous projects, including the Lady Maganda terno I made last November. Most recently I created a piece for the Vinta Gallery and re-launch of the Kapisanan website in April. I'm a little slow on this post, as the gallery has now been cleared out to make way for the Pretty Freedom pop up shop, opening very soon. Get excited!
So, since you almost definitely missed the exhibit, here are some photos of my creation. My piece, titled Pagbalik Pasalubong focused on the changing nature of relationships when distance is involved, and was an exercise in reclaiming items that once meant something, giving them new life and new meaning. If you think this sounds like a load of poo, then try reading my full artist statement!
I deconstructed a Barong Tagalog, which is a traditional men's shirt in the Philippines, and created a contemporary summer dress, great for layering over a bikini top or tank. Barongs come in all sorts of colours and cuts and feature different embroideries. I purchased this one in the Philippines in 2006. Many of them, including this one, are made of piña (fibres taken from pineapple leaves). It's a really great fabric that is sustainable, breathable on the body, and has an elegant look similar to linen. Piña is usually white or ivory in colour, but this shirt had been dyed with a gradient which gave it very contemporary look. I enjoyed creating this piece, I think it's quite a cute lil' number. It looks a little big on the judy, as I draped it on a size 8/10 judy, and this one is about a size 2/4. Oh well. The puff sleeve is detachable, and I do intend to make detachable butterfly sleeves to go with this dress. Stay tuned for those. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in purchasing this dress, it is for sale. Make me an offer.
My final project to hand in this past semester was a corset. It was for my corsetry course, wouldn't you know, and the assignment was to create, you guessed it, a corset. Any corset at all. It could be draped, flat drafted, based on a historical pattern, or a combination of anything you wanted at all.
I am a fan of certain elements of a corset, but as a whole I'm not necessarily in love with the look of a corset, in particular the typical contemporary corsets that are on the market. It's got to be something really beautiful and not overly gothic, fetishistic, or cutesy pie for me to really fall for it. So, when designing my corset I wanted it to be something that reflected my personal tastes. That meant, above all things, no lace-ups.
I altered a historically accurate pattern of an Elizabethan stay to fit my body, and drafted a peplum for the bodice. I wanted the peplum to resemble the petals of a flower, or the bulbs of various flora such as that of a lily. I used a strong cotton/Lycra blended fabric, flat steel bones at centre front and back, spiral steel bones in the bodice, and plastic boning in the peplum.
Oh, by the way, I did this in the few days I had immediately after the Serpentinata madness ended, and the corset was actually due. I busted my butt in the studio, pulled an all-nighter with my pal Laura (thank goodness she was there as moral support!), and handed my corset in in time. It garnered rave reviews from my prof, and I was super excited to do a shoot with this.
Obviously i couldn't wait, because here are some images of this baby, on me. I had intended to try out a "look" for the corset, and by the time I had the shoes on, I thought I was halfway to a shoot so why not try out some stuff. I added some makeup, false lashes, accessories, and set-up a camera, self-timering my way through an American Apparel inspired photo shoot. Even featuring the AA hooter shorts, from my time back in the day as an Edmo AA employee. Anyway, enough chit chat. Prelim Pocahontas Petalos glam. A real model with a John Smith still to come.
I'm still working on a super long blog post about Serpentinata (I HATE blogger publishing), but in the meantime, here's a little preview of a music video for a new song by Jhevon Paris called "She Got Me". It features Pat K. of Stereos, and some vocals by Girlicious. To be honest, I had no idea who these people were before a great stylist, Madi Styles, asked to borrow some of my clothes for the shoot. I was super excited, and now that I see this clip I'm even more excited. Oh, and it turns out I actually like this song. You might notice that the major hook is a revamped chorus from a certain BSB song. Anyway, I'm super excited to see the full video! In this clip you can catch a nice slow motion turn of a model wearing my Cotinga Jacket. There's also a behind the scenes video floating around where I noticed another model wearing my high-waisted silk pleat pants. I must say, they look gorgeous on her. Anyway, I'll post the full thing when it's finally in circulation. Until then, enjoy a whole 30 seconds.
P.S. Did you know that Stereos are from my lovely hometown of Edmonton? There's a deeper strange mutual friend connection story in there too that involves my past as a freelance "stylist" (HA!) and a music producer pal of mine, but it's actually not that interesting so I'll shut up now. KTHXBAI.