Sunday, 22 January 2017

Bad Advice


Recently I was at a dinner party that included a local business man, who appears to be relatively successful. He is not someone who I would seek out for advice; however, he was ready to give it as he asked me about my jewellery. His wife refers to it as homemade. I take slight exception to this; although, I do make it in my home so technically I guess it is homemade. However, homemade suggests cookies and pickles more than artistic endeavour. 

I answered his question by describing where I "was" with it. The following advice was not what I expected. He suggested that I "copy" the designs of a very successful Canadian business, Hillberg & Berk. I was deeply offended. Don't get me wrong, the designs of Hillberg & Berk are beautiful and I think highly of the founder's designs as I do of other independent jewellery makers' designs. But his advice to copy the designs is close to blasphemous. It's like suggesting to a potter that he or she should use another potter's designs because that particular potter sells more pottery, or that a painter should copy a piece that has been done by another artist, or that someone should write another War and Peace because of its success. He obviously has no concept of the creative process or of the pride artisans take in their own designs or their own work.

Now if he had said to me, you should take a look at Hillberg & Berk's marketing strategies over the past ten years, I could accept that. There are steps, procedures, and even rituals that lead to success with good designs and if you so desire, you could follow those strategies and you will move toward marketing success. But he didn't; he told me to "copy" designs. Now I am not only offended. I am livid. Enough of that. 

The Creative Process
JoyD Creations
Pink Faux Oversized Pearls & Crackled Quartz with silver discs, Spring, 2011
Photo Source: JoyD Creations
My designs have come about from laying out my materials and component parts and then staring at them, leaving them, coming back to them, staring at them, and putting together pieces and parts. Sort of like a jigsaw puzzle. I look at historic jewellery, at what's happening on the trend scene, at classic designs by luxury brand houses and at thousands of photos online. For the most part, I create as I make and also as I take apart. I have created with new materials, with vintage parts and with broken odds and ends. Each piece is a pleasure because of the process and the parts.

Multiple strands of turquoise stones, silver chain, black cord and silver crosses, Winter, 2012-2013.
Photo Source: JoyD Creations
Of course, clients have brought in photographs of big name brands but never have they asked me to copy. They might say, " I like this pendant idea" or "I love these colours" or "I want something like this but without the . . . " and I collect the component parts and come up with a design that they either like or don't. Very often, most clients are pleased with what I have created and those who aren't don't have to buy the piece even though they originally commissioned me. Obviously I don't work in diamonds.

Turquoise and Silver, 2011.  Photo Source: JoyD Creations
Like any other artist or artisan, I am proud of my work, happy with most of my designs and very pleased when someone wants to buy it. I'll leave it at that.

Commissioned Piece in Jade, Rose Quartz and Chinese Coins created by JoyD.
Photo Source: JoyD Creations

Friday, 20 January 2017

Melania Looked Fabulous

Michelle Obama and Melania Trump on
Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017
Photo Source: Daily Mail
No one can deny how lovely Melania Trump looked for the inauguration. And we can thank Ralph Lauren for providing the pastel blue sheath and bolero. The gloves and shoes matched the outfit perfectly and I haven't seen that kind of match-matchy since I was in Europe. Even though I'm one of those who like that sort of thing, I recognize that there are probably many more who don't and I deliberately work at not matching perfectly in my own outfits when I am in Canada. In France, I do become more matching conscious.

Maybe Donald should have chosen a pastel blue tie to match Melania's outfit. Now there's a 1970's moment! At least that would have shook things up a bit in opposition to his usual red tie, power suit look.

Lauren has dressed many first ladies and many of them for their husbands' inaugurations so I'm not joining in on the criticism of him for choosing to design for this particular first lady. I read in the New York Times that Lauren chose to dress Mrs. Trump out of "respect for the office". I get that. After all this is the fifth first lady upon whom he will have had the privilege to feature his work.

Photo Source: A.G. Nauia Couture
It has been reported by major news agencies that Melania Trump looks to Jacqueline Kennedy as a mentor and model. But of course.

The suit Jacqueline Kennedy wore to her husband's inauguration was designed by Oleg Cassini and it too was in a pastel blue. Notice as well that she is wearing opera-length gloves. Because Melania chose pastel blue and chose classic and chose the gloves as well, I can't see that she will ever be acknowledged for determining her own fashion sense but rather she will be seen as a reflection of Mrs. Kennedy no matter what she decides to wear. She stopped short of the pillbox hat and that was a good thing. But I do admit copying Jacqueline Kennedy's style is not a bad thing. 

However, it may represent yet another situation in which she is unable to think for herself. Remember the words she chose to incorporate in a speech that she had taken from a talk that Michelle Obama presented previously. You can read here what the Huffington Post wrote about that.

But I digress . . . 

Photo Source: Vanity Fair
Ralph Lauren was a popular choice. Not only was Melania Trump choosing to wear his designs but Lauren also provided the white pantsuit that Hillary Clinton decided to wear to the inauguration. I probably would have rather seen Clinton be inaugurated but I don't know if the fashion world would have been ready for a resurgence of the "pantsuit". 

Now we will wait and see: Will Melania come into her own as the first lady? And how long will it take before her husband becomes impeached? Will she wear a peach pantsuit to his impeachment? I'd like to see that. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Lucian Matis . . . a Canadian Designer

Lucian Matis is an artisan through socialization and environment, an accomplished designer by natural inclination and talent, and a Canadian via emigration from Romania in 1999. He represents the positive vibrations of what it means to be transplanted and flourish in a new location. He's blooming and so are his creations.

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau in a
Lucian Matis dress
standing beside Michelle Obama.
Photo Source: Global News
The self-confident women who wear his designs radiate the poise many women aspire to. (See the celebrities wearing Lucian Matis designs.) 

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the wife of Canada's prime minister is of course my favourite. It is as if he is designing just for her, yet I can imagine myself in this orchid accentuated dress.

As I began writing this post, I realized that I became acquainted with this designer through television in 2008. It was Project Runway Canada (no longer produced) that introduced Lucian Matis to Canada and it is now a pleasure to read about his well deserved accomplishments.

The future appears to be unfolding in miraculous ways for Lucian Matis, for Canada's reputation in fashion design and for us. There are beautiful dresses and as two January 6th Twitter and Facebook messages tell us, soon to be functional and perfect handbags. 

I am pleased to write that business is good for this Canadian designer. (You can shop online at Lucian Matis.)

Friday, 13 January 2017

Sophie (and Justin)

With a new American first lady about to make her way into the White House on January 20th, 2017 (or maybe she won't want to live below her means), it will be interesting to see how she fulfills the role and what she will be wearing as she does it. The wife of the prime minister of Canada does not have the duties imposed upon her that the "first lady" of the United States does. Even though there are no official duties "required" of her, there are expectations and she does not have a support staff to help her as does her American counterpart. If Sophie wants to be philanthropic, she has to manage the three kids and make her own arrangements. She has been criticized by the press for alluding to the fact that she is not given extra support. Expectations are high for both roles but the management is quite different. 


Sophie Gregoire Trudeau has a beautiful, natural and well-respected presence on the international stage and it is reassuring, from a fashion blog perspective, that she has also taken to promoting Canadian designers (in the same way Kate Middleton has in the UK). In fact back in March of 2016 when the Trudeaus were hosted by the Obamas, both women wore Canadian designs to the state dinner. Michele Obama wore a gown by Jason Wu, who grew up in Vancouver and Sophie wore a design by Lucian Matis. 

Photo Source: Global News

The Trudeaus have style and when I am at social events in France, there is always someone who comments on their good looks, their style and their relationship. One Belgian even said to me, "you should be proud" and I guess I was and am. 

So what is Sophie wearing?

2012, before Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister

The Trudeaus. Photo Source: HuffingtonPost

2015, Sophie in Erdem Moralioglu when Justin Trudeau was sworn in as Prime Minister

Photo Source: Huffington Post
2016, at the Canada Day celebrations - How can you not love her? By the way, the red jumpsuit is a design by Lucian Matis . . . again . . . nice.

Photo Source: Huffington Post
There are many beguiling photos of her online and it's worth the time to search for "Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and Canadian designers" to see what she is wearing. Have fun!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

A Clothing Analysis Frustration Point


You know that little itty bitty tag; that itty bitty tag made out of polyester and sewn on with plastic thread that factories put on your angora or cashmere or wool or cotton clothing . . . a tag that is perhaps 1/1000th the size of the entire garment creating a most bothersome situation. What's with that? 

I bought a lovely pair of pyjamas, made out of a soft silk and cashmere blend; the kind of pyjamas that you dream about; the kind of pyjamas that one says, "I am blessed to have such lovely pyjamas." I washed them by hand, gently pushing the organic laundry suds through them and then rinsing them in lavender water. I hung them to dry and even ironed them. I imagined the feel of the fabric next to my skin. I was happy. I put on my beautiful pyjamas and fell asleep.

I think it was 2:00 A.M. or maybe a few minutes after when a bothersome itch woke me. The point of annoyance was at the nape of my neck. An annoying scratchy feeling returned each time I tried to push it aside. I finally removed my pyjama top and found the culprit: the manufacturer's tag all golden polyester sewn on with plastic thread. It is difficult to find the right tools at two in the morning to remove a tag that has been diligently sewn on with more thread than the entire garment. I decided to wait until morning and finished the night sleeping in a mismatched cotton flannel top. 

So what is with that? I began looking at all the tops that I had removed the labels from. This has been a recurring hindrance in my life. Never mind, if you have hopes of taking gently used items to a consignment store. 

I remember a woman who related to me that she removed all the tags from her children's clothing because of the bothersome itchiness. It's hard to concentrate at math when the tag is annoying you. I can relate. 

There are several ways this can be avoided. Manufacturers need to use a fabric that is softer so that you don't feel it. And plastic thread should be banned. Why would they use plastic thread on the tag when the entire garment was made out of natural fabric and the other thread was at least unobtrusive if not also natural? Or they could place the tag on another side seam that may not come into constant direct contact with the skin. But I am preaching to the converted or at least to an audience that may have the same frustration. The likelihood of a manufacturer making their way to this blog is remote and so I will stop here and simply continue cutting out the labels on any of the tops I buy.