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


  1. I can still picture the Eskimo parkas. I always loved them as a kid. I guess I was intrigued by the fact they were "made from the land" or made from the resources you had. I've never tried one on but I'm sure they are as warm as my warmest parka. Sure could use on these days. BURRRR!

    I LOVE the red coat in the pictures, I could see myself wearing that.

    Merry Christmas and thanks for sharing.

    1. Season Greetings and belated "Merry Christmas" to you too. The season is filled with so much socializing I feel that I could crawl into bed and stay there for a whole day. No such luck, not at least until the middle of February it appears! This is what happens when you spend 6 months away, the year of socializing is compressed into 6 months in any one place.

      Seems like it is warming up; only -18 today!

    2. Hi JoyD. Belated season greetings to you too. Sorry to hear you were feeling overwhelmed from socializing. I feel the same way but from work. YUCK! Christmas travel + full flights + cold weather + "cranky" airplanes + unexpected things = one VERY tired airplane maintenance guy. I haven't been home from work till 3:00 am all week and now I'm on days off I don't expect to be up till midnight Dec 31. Where's my bed. I see there's a much need warm up in the weather coming your way. Happy New Year and BIG kiss on the cheek.

    3. I remember a flight, where the clean-up crew forgot about one of the toilets during this busy season. We had to land at another location to attend to them. I often wonder whatever happened to that crew. Surprising how not cleaning one toilet could become so expensive for the airline.

      Work and socializing - if these are the worst of our problems, we're doing all right. Happy New Year to you Brian and 2 bises (that's kisses) one on each cheek as the French do - but I never remember whether one starts on the left or the right, no matter - it is the intent! As well thanks so much for the "blog support", it is greatly appreciated.

  2. Yes work and socializing are great thing to be doing. I can think of too many people who wish they could work or socialize, instead they are battling the big "C" Cancer. I'll take a lifetime of crummy shifts at work if I never have to say "I have cancer" (or any of the terrible diseases out there)

    We are both luck. We have a great life, we have our health and we have our happiness.

    Thanks and 2 bises for you too.

    Happy New Year!



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