Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Artisan Made Outer Wear

Closet Content Analysis: Clothing Art/Closet Gems

Choices: Winter Coats & Jackets


Insofar as winter outer wear goes, after you have had the long camel coat, the black wool pea jacket, the down-filled parka or the shearling jacket, it’s time to purchase something unique. Shopping at arts and crafts shows, artist-owned co-operatives or museum and art gallery shops, even for winter outer wear can be rewarding. First you are supporting a craftsperson, local or international, and second you are getting a piece never seen in a department store.

The coats here are examples of work by master artisans in Canada and Eastern Europe.

Sometimes it feels like it hurts when you make a big purchase, so I really beleive that the more expensive things should be gems that you keep in your closet, not trends. 
- Amber Valletta

Artisan-made coat purchased at Galerie d'Art, Quebec City, October, 2004
Carolyn, Toronto-born and raised and now living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, bought her "festive holiday coat" in Quebec City. The artisan's shop was just inside the wall of the old city and was filled with Quebec-made knit, woven and sewn crafts and clothing. When Carolyn saw the coat she just had to have it and when she put it on, she visualized herself in a horse drawn sleigh. In fact, she did take a horse-drawn carriage ride after buying the coat. She only wears the coat two or three times a year, however, like a precious gem, it doesn't get "old" and it still makes her feel special.

The coat is reversible: red velvet "patchwork" on one side and blue wool on the other. It is stitched with multi-coloured crocheting and beading details. It features a hood and scarf which are also reversible.

Savelia decided to bring old world craftsmanship to Canada after meeting a master seamstress in Ukraine who made beautiful coats with the centuries-old tradition of appliqu├ęs. She brought them to Canada and sold them to friends, family and acquaintances as well as through artisans' shows and her self-sponsored fashion shows. Recently, unfortunately, the artisan in Ukraine is at a standstill since she is now becoming too old to maintain a steady stream of articles for a retail trade and must find an apprentice or apprentices to learn her craft. That puts Savelia with only two or three coats left in her inventory (the one in the photograph is the one long coat left) with an undetermined timeline for replacements.

I received what was called an "Eskimo" parka as a Christmas gift when I was a teenager in Manitoba. In Canada, the term "Inuit" now replaces all former references to "Eskimo". It was a beige wool parka, similar to felted wool, with Inuit inspired designs on the lower park of the three-quarter length jacket. It had a fur-trimmed hood and a dark brown waterproof overlay with matching Inuit designs. When the two-piece parka and shell was no longer a fad, it became a "gem" because of the timeless quality. These jackets are now being sold online as "vintage Eskimo parkas".

There's never a new fashion but it's old.
- Geoffrey Chaucer

Monday, 10 December 2012

Recurring Trends

Closet Content Analysis: Trends

Choices: Doing It Again?

NICE                   NO THANKS         NOTE-WORTHY            NEED           NEW

It was the seventies and platforms were all the rage. 

Platforms, 1973.

These were my "dress" shoes - platforms to go with navy and white polka dot "hot pants" - OMG! I remember the shop on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, long gone now. I knew no one else would have a pair like these in Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada where I went to high school. Years later, my husband, when he was teaching Sociology, took them to a class to use as a motivational set. I still have them and they are still in wearable condition.

My objective for this post is to address the question that when you reach a particular age, and you have lived through a trend decades ago, is it ok to wear the trend when it recurs? I read somewhere, that if you have lived through a trend once, never try to wear it again.

NO THANKS;  Maybe NOTE-WORTHY: When I see peplums, considered a major trend in the winter of 2012, my immediate reaction is that I don't want or need anything with a peplum. I had several in the 80s and that was enough. Although I write this, if I was shopping for a suit or more formal attire and a peplum was one of the choices, I would not dismiss it entirely. I would not buy it for trend's sake but if it looked good, it would be considered.

NO THANKS: When I see retro-polka dots, that too is part of my past that I don't wish to revisit or reinvent. This is a definite NO THANKS.

NO THANKS: When I see colour blocking of contrasting colours side by side, I recall an oversized top from the early 90s that only evokes clownish memories and I am glad I have forgotten it (until this moment anyway).

NO THANKS: When I see short shorts as an alternative to a skirt, I remember "hot pants"; therefore, short shorts other than at the beach, will never again be part of my wardrobe. I know, never say never but I am of a particular age, when I can truly say "never" again to short shorts, no matter what the trendsetters call them.

NOTE-WORTHY & NEW: However, when I saw these platforms, I didn't mind and I bought a pair. So I broke the "never again" rule with a pair of platforms I purchased while I was in Romans-Sur-Isere in the south-east of France in September, 2012. This time they are black with no embellishments at all. I have worn them several times and have felt quite good in them. One of my friends exclaimed that these were the most practical sensible shoes she's ever seen on me.