Tag Archives: Calgary

Loafin’ around

Two favorite things about this outfit post: loafers and the old library. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is Memorial Park Library in Central Memorial Park (between 12th Avenue and 13th Avenue SW off 4th Street SW). It is the first purpose-built library in Alberta, opening its doors to Calgarians on January 2, 1912. Neat tidbit on this library: Andrew Carnegie funded 80% of the cost and encouraged City Hall to fund the rest. The library was closed when I got there, but I remember briefly visiting it a long time ago and what I recall is that it is just as beautiful inside as it is outside. I know most people don’t visit libraries much anymore, but they are neat places especially if it’s an old one so if you’re loafin’ around one afternoon I encourage you to check one out!

Speaking of loafing… I don’t know what it is about loafers, but I adore them. My mom always used to say I was weird for liking “granny-ish” shoes, but whether it’s the prep appeal, the tassels, the comfort, or all three elements, they definitely have a cool factor about them and I am excited to see them return with a vengeance this fall. They are the perfect alternative to ballet flats and can be worn with virtually everything. As with flats, it’s great to have a pair of loafers in basic black, but also look out for different leathers (supple calf vs structured patent), colours (camel, burgundy, chocolate brown), and texturing (faux croc, pebbled leather).

Blazer: Aritzia; silk top: Joe Fresh; shorts: Club Monaco; scarf: department store in Korea; loafers: Topshop; watch: Philip Stein; bracelets: Tiffany

Loafin

Alexander Wang small heels, $495 Forever21 loafer shoes, $23 TopShop loafer shoes, $66 Cole Haan mocassin shoes, $198 Jeffrey Campbell leather flat shoes, $115 Sperry moccasin loafer, $90 Christian Dior flat slip on shoes, $550

Have a terrific weekend!

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Power Couture

Fashion will not wait. Four words Calgary native and Toronto-based Caitlin Power self-motivates with. The petite powerhouse has created quite the stir within the local fashion community as well as nationally over the past few years. And with a self-motivator like that, Caitlin has not waited around since graduating from Lethbridge College with a Diploma in Fashion Design and Merchandising. She has already produced three collections and a fourth much-anticipated F/W collection is to be released later this month.

Caitlin’s self-titled high-end women’s ready-to-wear brand appeals to the sophisticated, independent, and powerful woman looking for a polished look with some rock ‘n’ roll edge apparent in the classic silhouettes with a twist inspired by distinct architecture, superior tailoring that combines feminine and masculine lines, and leather elements that mark all the collections.

F/W 2011 is inspired by Victorian Goth and foregoes the obvious colour blocking, cut, and detailing of previous seasons for a darker palette with quiet hints of green to target and showcase subtle details on an ensemble of dresses, shorts, skirts, bustiers, and dress shirts. Although the collection is described by the designer as the most wearable collection to date, it is by no means a boring one. The signature leather details are more lucid while the silhouettes of dresses and blazers are more precise. The piece that epitomizes the collection is the black sheath with leather shoulder panels that is beautifully detailed with individual flower pieces set with a black bead much in the style of paillettes.

The fashion scenes in Calgary and the rest of Canada may be evolving at a snail’s pace as the mass slowly absorbs fashion culture, but with major talents like Caitlin Power emerging, it is worth anticipating and nurturing the development of Canada’s fashion industry.

Caitlin Power F/W collection will be available mid to late August at Mealan (Calgary), TNT Boutique (Toronto), Homegrown Boutique (Toronto), and online at Ukamaku.

Caitlin Power will also be featured at PARKLUXE, a fund-raising initiative by PARK.

“I don’t consider myself a very fashionable person, I just like to create.”

Caitlin Power F/W 2011 lookbook images by Jason Eng from Caitlin PowerPhoto of Caitlin Power by Jessika Hunter.

 

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Secret Rooftop

I must divulge a secret. Ok, maybe it’s not top secret because I’ve already told many people and I’m not the only one in a city of roughly one million that knows about this place. It’s my own (or I like to think it’s my own) rooftop patio oasis at the Mission Starbucks in Calgary, complete with music and heat lanterns for chilly summer evenings. I love to go to this hideout to enjoy an Americano, study, hang out, and people watch (extreme people watching available with zero creep factor!).

Cardigan: Banana Republic; silk tank: Club Monaco; linen pants and belt: Zara; patent flats: Maria Sharapova for Cole Haan; watch: Michael Kors; necklace: Heart Oiseau.

Since I’ve divulged my secret rooftop patio, won’t you tell me where your secret hideouts are?

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Rastaquouère

I am always looking for and attracted to beautifully crafted clothing for men and women. There is something so delightful about garments that are created with true workmanship that takes my breath away and renews my appreciation of fashion as art and not simply as this thing that is. Combine this admiration with my love for children and dare me not to fall in love with Rastaquouère, a Calgary-based haute couture line for children. The moment I laid eyes on designer and owner Marie-Michelle Melotte’s carefully and lovingly handcrafted pieces, I swooned and wished for adult sizes then for a child to dress head to toe in Rastaquouère. Marie-Michelle graciously agreed to answer a few questions for Style Atelier and did so quite eloquently.

Where does the name Rastaquouère come from and what does it mean?

Rastaquouère is a 19th century French word which has a pejorative connotation. It was coined during the Belle Époque to describe exotic looking individuals, usually strangers, who shamelessly exhibited their wealth and loud clothing. I’m all for the rehabilitation of words with an objectionable past and when I was looking for a name for my project “rastaquouère” seemed to be a good fit. I’ve always been a bit of a stranger everywhere I go and people have always been intrigued by my ethnic origins. I liked the ring of the word, its historical political incorrectness , and its resonance with my process of a marginal sort of luxury.

Which designers do you admire and why?

I’m torn between the classics and the iconoclasts! Yves Saint-Laurent and Courrèges for their simple shapes, clean lines, perfect cuts, and impeccable design. Madame Grès, Poiret, and Jacques Fath for the indescribable beauty of their clothes. Hussein Chalayan and the Japanese (Kawakubo Rei, Yohji Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe among others) for challenging the traditional constraints of medium and shape. The theatrical colour schemes of Kenzo and Christian Lacroix. The wonderful and intelligent pied-de-nez of Moschino and of the fringe dwellers—the likes of the late Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood.

What does fashion mean to you?

The word itself unfortunately connotes the current and the trendy which is a marketing ploy and a mass-produced conformist masquerade… all of which is incredibly boring. Too often creativity and process is sacrificed for productivity and output. We often confuse choice and selection. That dress you’re pulling off the prêt-à-porter rack isn’t necessarily a wide-ended choice you’re making—it’s a selection that you’re making amongst the small spectrum that a retailer has afforded you based more on mass throughput than on anything vaguely inspired. As we can’t all afford bespoke tailoring and haute couture, sewing for yourself, altering, and riffling through vintage clothing stores are great substitutes. Fashion is something that is very complex and intimate. Fashion should be about invention, not consumption. As long as you’re thoroughly content with what you’re putting on and presenting to the world, because ultimately, that’s fashion’s two-part contract—individual choice and the reception of the other. No Elle magazine must-have list should contaminate that. The language of fashion is very intriguing to me… what we choose to show and what we don’t, what is meant by items of clothing and what isn’t. I guess I don’t actually know what fashion means to me and maybe that’s a good thing as it leaves plenty of space for invention and re-invention!

Did you study fashion design? How did you get into creating such beautiful clothing for children?

I have a degree in French literature with minors in Spanish and Drama. I’ve always been intrigued by fashion and costume and have always wanted to be a part of that world. I used to fill entire sketchbooks with costume drawings for every play I ever laid my eyes on! I have no formal training in fashion design or clothing construction and everything that I’ve learned in the way of the cloth has been as a dilettante through books, pattern instructions, trial and error, and watching my mother-in-law work her 40 year old cast iron Singer. I used to be incredibly afraid of sewing machines—they were a foreign mechanism to me. I have my mother-in-law to thank for having patiently and painstakingly taught me everything from threading a machine to the techniques of hand embroidery. I’ve found that creating garments for children is much less daunting than creating clothes for adults… it’s a process… I’ll get there someday!

Where does your inspiration come from? 

I don’t know if it’s inspiration as much as it is observation. Being receptive to everything around you can create some pretty fertile material for creation. Sounds like a line from a fluffy self-help book, but “life” is a good muse!

You spent many years in France. How does that time influence your work?

I’ve spent a total of three years living in France (and two in Cyprus) and have strong ties to the country—my husband is French as is my son. French is my first language and I have origins, family and friends there so it’s a pretty big part of me. I’ve been fortunate to have been exposed to those intensely French things such as emphasis on touch and quality, ceaseless innovation, impeccable and uncompromising construction, the historical, microcosmic weight of excellence. Being part of an important hub of Europe also meant being able to sample first hand important fashion, costume, art and textile related exhibitions, museums and merchants.

Your clothing is made of some very exquisite fabrics and entails some very intricate details– very couture.

I like to let the fabric speak for itself, therefore it has to be carefully selected for each individual project. Fabric is the foundation and the catalyst for everything. I don’t like over-manipulation or modifying the natural structure and drape of a fabric. That seems to defeat the purpose. I emphasize natural fibers and rare or precious materials not out of snobbishness but because tactility and texture are very important to me and if I don’t enjoy what I’m touching and sewing with then I can’t ever hope for the garment to turn out properly or for the process to be satisfying.

I’m dying to know—will you expand into women’s and men’s wear?

I like the universe of childhood. It’s whimsical, it’s forgiving, and it’s fleeting. Sewing children’s clothes also requires less fabric so I’m freer to experiment with costly materials without ruin! We’ll see what happens with the children’s line and if it’s successful I just might branch out into the grown-up world!

Where/how can we purchase your children’s clothing?

Rastaquouère e-shop is set to launch Fall of 2011. Items are one-of-a kind and limited in size, but no one else will be wearing the same thing and that’s a definite edge at recess!

Any last words?

Support handmade. “Strike a small blow to the forces of mass production.” (http://www.buyhandmade.org/why-buy-handmade)

Connect. Reconnect. Don’t be afraid of your own creativity!

Rastaquouère owner and designer, Marie-Michelle Melotte. All images courtesy of Rastaquouère.

To see more of Marie-Michelle’s designs and to stay informed on the launch of her e-shop, visit Rastaquouère.

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