Thursday, August 30, 2012

London Alexander - The Journey Continues

All Eco Fashion Week photos courtesy of Peter Jensen

I wrote a series on this blog called 5 New Designers to Watch and one was on London Alexander.  This talented menswear designer first came to my attention when only in his first year of design school and I have been following his progress ever since.  With his graduation looming on September 25th, it's amazing to reflect on the fact he has already launched 3 collections and shown 2 seasons on the runway at Eco Fashion Week. I have full confidence this young talent has what it takes to make it in the tough fashion industry.

Alexander decided to start his business in 2009.  He remembers,  "My aunty is a seamstress who owns an alteration/sport store in Squamish.  She taught me everything I knew up until I started school at Vancouver Community College in 2010.  Most people would do the traditional step-by-step process:  school, internship and then eventually finding a job.  For some reason I didn't do it this way.  I enjoyed designing, so I just did it."

Initially, he enrolled in just two courses at VCC to test the waters - Fashion Illustration and Photoshop For Fashion.  Then Alexander decided he needed to acquire the basic skills if he was going to run his business properly. The attack was two-fold:  entering the Fashion Design Program along with lots of sheer hard work networking and researching as he established his brand.  "A lot of the business side of things - locating factories, sourcing out fabric, proper spec sheets, delivery times, shop connections, branding my label - has been through trial and error.  Tips from people I've met through networking have helped me make hopefully the right decisions."

Fall/Winter 2012 took it's inspiration from the African-American civil rights movement during the years 1955-1968.  Fabrics include imported tweeds from England to add a classic twist and camouflage print for a military twist.  The palette features Black Panther colours of gold, red and black.  "I focused on two styles - the political dress of Malcom X and Martin Luther King, Jr.; and the urban military style of Huey P. Newton and the Black Panthers. The combination of these two diverse styles gives the collection an urban chic feel."  This brand is designed for the man who likes classic tailoring combined with high end street style and Fall/Winter 2012 fits the bill perfectly.

Malcom X - Martin Luther King, Jr. - Black Panthers
Launching a new collection each season, building his brand, showing two seasons at Eco Fashion Week and working part-time has meant design school has proven a roller coaster ride full of highs and lows.  There just aren't enough hours in the day.  In the end though, London Alexander feels the journey has been worth it.  His upcoming grad collection will be based along the lines of his Spring/Summer 2013 collection - that's right, he's doing both at the same time - but we will have to wait for his grad show on September 25th (details below) to see it.

For more information on London Alexander you can check out his website at

VCC's grad show - Fiat Mode XXV - will be held on September 25th at the Italian Cultural Centre.  It will be an amazing show!  To purchase tickets click HERE.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Random Acts - The Bicycle and The Escalator

Stock Image
I have struggled to come up with my Random Acts of Kindness on a more regular basis - again the problem of working from home - but 2 days ago the perfect opportunity arose and I almost managed it anonymously.

Stepping off the Skytrain, the transit system in Vancouver for readers not in BC, I had an older man in front of me maneuvering a bicycle through the crowd.  Usually one of 2 things happen.  Either they take the elevator to street level or they carry it up the stairs.  This man chose neither.  For whatever reason, he chose to take it up the escalator, not a popular idea with other commuters

As the bicycle really began to tilt upward, I could see that he was struggling a bit to keep it in control as he was a little bit too far ahead of it.  Bing! The light came on.  I quietly placed my hand at the back of his bike seat and applied just enough pressure that he didn't notice the difference, but I could see him relax that little bit. Up the escalator we rode until just near the top when he glanced back and noticed me assisting him.  A broad smile and thank-you was nice, but this time I was hoping to achieve this one secretly as it for some reasons gives me more satisfaction.

Today is a quiet day, so nothing out of the ordinary may come up, but I'll definitely be watching.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

100 Years And Women Still Change Their Name?

I know this is controversial, so let's start out with a disclaimer.  I realize this is a personal choice and applaud the fact everyone has the right to make up their own mind.  Now onward and upward.

My daughter is now of the age where friends are starting to marry.  Out of curiosity, I brought up the subject of women keeping their last name and was surprised at the response - it is still not acceptible.  Over 100 years ago feminists such as Lucy Stone began the fight for women to have this right and here we are today with my daughter telling me that it's still the norm to take your fiance's last name and that unless you have a REALLY good reason for doing it, you're looked at oddly.  Wow! Fortunately there are still some open minded women around.  All Womens Talk offered a short and sweet piece called 8 Reasons to Keep You Maiden Name that is a great re-cap.

When I was married 27 years ago, I never thought about changing my name.  It wasn't an act of feminism, I just felt it was an out-dated tradition and saw no need.  I was not my husband's property, we were a partnership - Anderson and Wilson, ESQ.  I had no idea the fact Glen couldn't have cared less was unusual, that some men feel slighted. The only people that lost it were my family and their biggest question was how would they address envelops.  I mean REALLY?  That's your biggest worry?  For years I received mail addressed to Mr. Glen Anderson and Marilyn.  A few did it the old fashioned way.  

My favourite moment was at the hospital after giving birth.  Our kids were labeled Baby Wilson and Glen was called Mr. Wilson.  We both had a good chuckle.  Kids bring up the second question that was a poser for everyone else - what will you name the kids? We had a standing joke that with our names Anderson and Wilson, it would be fun to give them other common last names - Smith, Lee, Jones, etc. - a different one for each child!  Fortunately saner heads prevailed.  In the end each was given my last name as their middle name - no hyphenation. Our health insurance came through Glen's work, so it proved the easiest.
When I think back I can come up with several reasons that ultimately fed into my choice - 

1.  It left all legal documents in one name.  I was immigrating to Canada at the time and the fact my immigration office applauded this decision as the right choice was empowering. It simplified the process then and continues to.

2. I had a few friends with failed marriages, some who had also remarried, with a myriad of documents in several last names and saw the overall inherent simplicity.

3. I knew women who had to take the step to legally change their name back after a particularly bad marriage broke up.  They didn't want a connection of any kind. Who needs that!

4.  I absolutely detested losing my identity.  Mr. and Mrs. Glen Anderson on an envelope would have made me feel like a chattel. Where is the MARILYN?  I have my own name and am an equal partner in this marriage, something I am fortunate my husband rejoices in. 

5. It would have made me feel like someone's property.  

6. Glen never felt it was a slight in any way and I love him even more for that.  He is confident in who he is as a man and a husband. It was a non-event. 

The internet is a wonderful source of information.  A quick search pulled up several articles and I found what they shared depressing.  In an article in the Huffington Post called Should Women Change Their Last Names after Marriage, they cite an Indiana University study where 71% of respondents said that women should change their name.  Not only that, 50% of those went further to say it should be required by law - turning the clock back 100 years. When looking at those who chose to keep their name, the percentage goes up amongst women who pursue higher educations, work in upper echelon jobs or are in the arts. For those who want some statistics, I have included a paragraph from the above mentioned article. 

 "The practice of women keeping their last names, first introduced in the U.S. by suffragette Lucy Stone in the 1850s, adopted by members of the Lucy Stone League in the 1920s and popularized during the Women's Rights Movement of the early 1970s, peaked in the 1990s at 23 percent. By the 2000s, only 18 percent of women were keeping their names, according to a 2009 study published in the journal Social Behavior and Personality. Now, according to TheKnot, it's at just 8 percent." 

For awhile I know women tried the hyphenated last name option.  It was doomed to failure right from the start for several reasons, the biggest being it's just too long.  It also didn't solve the envelope issue as they would still come addressed the traditional way.  The few women I knew who tried this option gave it up after about 5 years. Can you imagine if you were divorced and re-married?  Would you create a new hyphenated name or just add a third.  What is saddest is that women are still harrassed for deciding to keep their own name. Below is another excerpt from that same article.  Why would giving up our last name and taking our husband's have anything to do with loving them more? What an out-dated concept.

"When writer Julia Porter blogged about deciding to keep her name, commenters accused her of not really loving her husband. It's not an uncommon response -- women who blog or post to online forums that they are keeping their names are often asked whether they are really committed."

There is a new trend a few have taken where husband and wife unite to take a new name.  Eric Jankstrom (televsion - NYC) and Laura Lindstrom changed to the Jankstroms.  They found the idea of creating a new family tree appealing.  Then there is Amos Kenigsbert and Emily Zeugner (media, NYC) who now go by Zeeberg. Emily felt changing her name to her husband's would have sent the message that, ""I'm shedding my identity, I'm joining your family. As a feminist, it really bugged me. I'm glad that we created our new identity."  However it didn't solve all the problems as they still received invitations to Mr. and Mrs. Amos Kenigsberg. "I just saw the envelope and I felt such annoyance, and on a small scale, kind of outraged. He gets full billing and his full name, and the only thing I get is Mrs. It just really pissed me off."  To me this option still falls under the way too complicated heading.  Who wants paper work in several last names, especially if the marriage fails?

In the end it comes down to each woman exercising personal choice.  The reasons I hear for changing their name include pressure from the fiance, pressure from the families, romance, tradition and more. What I would love to hear instead are solid reasons based on something more concrete.  I can only encourage women to think this through.  Hopefully the decision is yours to make without undue outside pressure or influence.  My personal kudos to Quebec where names are not changed at marriage.  The option is still there to apply to legally change your name later, but it's not the norm.

An internet search will turn up many more articles to read for those who want more on the topic.  A few you can check out include The Grioecosalon, Pop Culture and a more personal blog called Somebody Has to Say It.

Further reading (I haven't had a chance to look at these yet) - 
 Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage - Stephanie Coontz
Making a Name: Women’s Surnames at Marriage and Beyond Harvard Professor Claudia Goldin and graduate Maria Shim 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Earth Art - The Little Green Dress Projekt

The 11 on display as of August 19, 2012
One of the privileges of what I do is constantly meeting new and interesting people.  Enter Dawn Russell. She decided to go back to school at the University of the Fraser Valley a couple of years ago to study textile arts.  Her final project showcased last spring involved weaving original fabrics and dying them using time, water, sun and rusty rebar or organic materials. Phenomenal!! She also happens to work at Van Dusen Gardens and when we met for lunch a week ago, she shared about the various Earth Art Exhibitions being displayed over the summer.  The one that caught my imagination was the Little Green Dress Projekt by artist Nicole Dextras.

A graduate of Emily Carr, Dextras is both a teacher and an environmental artist who has had exhibitions across Canada and as far away as Mongolia where she participated in Land Art Mongolia 360.  Her award winning work - created in a variety of mediums - has been published numerous times including in ELLE Canada and the book My Green City (Berlin).  For this eco-conscious art installation, the starting point was the ubiquitous little black dress, first introduced by Chanel in 1926 -

"The concept behind the Little Green Dress has been extrapolated from the age-old fashion adage that every woman should own a little black dress and brings this notion into the realm of today’s environmental awareness. It proposes instead that women should have at least one item of clothing in her wardrobe that is produced in a sustainable and equitable manner. The aim of this project is to promote awareness on the impact of industry on our environment and to offer a realistic opportunity for change by creating a demand for better practices through consumer purchasing. For this reason the dresses will be made entirely from organic materials; Wear it and Compost it!"

Over the course of the next 34 days, the number will grow to a total of 28 and displayed in a triangle shape with the newest at the front and the oldest at the back.   Each dress is created with one particular woman in mind.  The women were selected for their support of eco-fashion and each provided the local organic material used to create their garment.  Once finished the garments are put on display in the gardens and left to the elements to naturally decompose.

In walking around the display and looking closely, it is obvious that the material chosen varies widely from dress to dress.  I even saw sea weed and insect tunneled bark turned inside out.  The photos shown on this page are from the blog site and showcase what they looked like before put on display.  In the top photo you can clearly see the changes that have been occurring over the time they have been exposed to the elements including the debris fallen on the ground around a few of them.

Each dress is unique and defined by the type of organic material provided the artist.  Dextras also creates them onsite in a clear glass greenhouse so that visitors can watch creation come to life.  Curious to know more about the process and the amount of plant material use for each dress?  There is a great write-up with photos here.  I love the fact this artist is open to sharing the process in case others would like to try it.

Van Dusen located at 5251 Oak Street with parking lot accessed on 37th. Hours and admission price (very low) are found on their website at  Although open year round, I would take a moment to visit this great location while the weather is beautiful.  This is a natural garden that displays things as they are.  There are no potted plants coming out of greenhouses, so each month offers something different to view.

Update - the final complete collection!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Adhesif Clothing - I Remember!!!!

EFW Runway Photography by Peter Jensen
Other photos unless otherwise noted are courtesy of Adhesif.

"I am inspired by the historical content and the obscurity [of vintage clothing] - the weird characteristics - and am attracted to anything out of the ordinary like unusual textures and detailing. As a visual artist, I enjoy the creativity involved in combining the various textiles to create new designs." - Melissa Ferreira

* * * * * *

I have to admit - I've been a slug all summer and haven't been posting much.  This blog was supposed to go up a long time ago.  BUT it turns out the timing is perfect after all as Adhesif and Forsya Boutique are having an amazing sidewalk sale on Sunday, August 26th.  For information on this sale click here.  The universe is in charge and doing well.

I had the privilege of meeting Melissa Ferreira about 7 years ago when my daughter was doing some freelance modeling.  This designer became one of my first interviews when I stepped into writing a  year later.  Looking back, there have been many personal wow moments and I have searched high and low to find photos of just a few of my favourites from previous seasons. The first design I fell totally in love several years ago was angora knit capris.  They were part of a sweater/capri set created from vintage sweaters.  I adored them and had them photographed for submission to Gestalt Magazine in NYC in 2006.

Image by Sean Azar
Now it becomes a little more confusing as to the actual timeline, but here are a few more I distinctly remember. There was a collection of re-worked, dispersion-dyed denim called Rags to Riches that were phenomenal.   Then there was a mens jacket with an original, large silk-screened wintery white tree on the back.  Another collection she offered hand-made pill box hats to complete your Adhesif ensemble and then honestly, who doesn't crave a pair of her fingerless mittens or one of those amazing coats.  Over the seasons, each collection is anchored by a strong selection of dresses. separates and coats that vary from year to year - feminine, retro, funky, down to earth - that draw a continually larger client base to the label.

Image by Gregory Crow
Image by Lumondo

What I love about this designer is her range.  From soft and feminine vintage looks to wild and colourful funky wear, Ferreira's touch can be seen in each and every design.  In fact she is involved in every step along the way from flipping through 1,000 pound bales of garments to find the materials needed each season, to designing, cutting, sewing, finishing, sales, merchandising and cashier.  All garments are created from reclaimed materials which insures that no two seasons, in fact no two garments, are exactly alike.  Each has it's own unique charm.

Left image by Gregory Crow

In 2010, Ferreira decided it was time to open a flagship store at 2202 Main Street.  She shares, "I have always been very passionate about promoting eco-consiousness.  When deciding to open the shop, I wanted to showcase not only Adhesif's vintage re-worked designs, but also feature the works of some 30+ other very talented local artisans and designers who are following the same mantra - everything from beautiful handmade jewellery to a few other clothing lines.  The store also offers on-site tailoring and alterations so instead of discarding what you have we'll fix it for you.  That's smart consumption!"  As each item is unique and deserves to the featured, the store is set up like an art gallery.  It's the kind of shop a customer can pop in on a regular basis and enjoy the experience of finding new items of interest each time.

Adhesif is a home grown indie label, so being a part of local events is important for the brand.  Ferreira has shown her collections at Eco Fashion Week for the last three seasons.  "It is always great fun and provides the brand with excellent visibility in terms of both media and public attention." The brand has also been a regular at Circle Craft's traditional Christmas Market for the last seven years.  Ferreira takes on another role as the organizer for the successful "Nifty For Fifty" sale that happens every April.  It features 30 local designers selling handmade wares for $50 and under. A great chance to support local designers at a price everyone can afford!

For Fall/Winter 2012, you'll see polished, but cozy layering inspired by real women the designer spotted on the streets during travels in Germany and France. Titled "Big City Lights," the collection showcases a luxurious mix of fabrics such as reclaimed lambswool, cashmere, jersey knit, silk, cotton and denim in an colourful combination of mustard, amber, blue, red and chocolate.  This season Ferreira is particularly proud of her outerwear offering.  "In Europe there were lots of cute, 1960's three-quarter length box cut coats which inspired the Boxcar Coat.  It has become my favourite piece in the entire collection."  This colourful jacket is created from vintage Melton wool blankets and sports an asymmetrical collar, elbow patches and a reversible applique.  The perfect accessory?  Adhesif's fingerless mittens which are a best seller year after year.

Ferreira always has many ideas of where to take her eco-collection - both local and global - but the focus for now is to continue to build her brand and express her creativity. Her sound advice to those just starting out is, "Be prepared to make a lot of sacrifices.  You'll need to work your little behind constantly, so you better be passionate about what you're doing.  Get your work/yourself out there!  The rest will fall into place."

Be sure and stop by the Adhesif Boutique at 2202 Main Street. to see the latest in offerings and don't forget the sale this weekend. Other locations are listed on the website at

For media inquiries, please contact Nicole Stewart PR.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rainbow Slaw

From A Taste For Adventure
Blog Site!
I am actually sharing something from another blog - Taste for Adventure by Tablespoon  - and can only encourage you to check this blog out.  The recipes are great and the photos so beautiful they make your mouth water.

I am an avid fan of coleslaw in many forms and probably now have about ten recipes I rotate between.  I have no idea why I crave coleslaw, but I can make a lunch out of it any day of the week and often include it as a part of a menu where I need to prep most of the meal ahead of time.  While I still love a more traditional greens combination, if you're going to have salad a part of your daily diet, variety is the key.

This recipe was posted by the above blogger on Facebook and it immediately caught my attention because it was so bright and colourful.  Coleslaw can end up a combination of pale greens in general, but the use of Red Cabbage took it to a whole new place in the colour spectrum.  Add in carrots, snap peas and 2 colours of pepper and voila!

The ofiginal salad dressing with a whole tablespoon of cumin is different and if you look at the comments, most people prefer to cut back on this spice.  It does have a very strong, distinctive flavour that people either love or don't, so be cautious and add this ingredient in small increments.  You could easily use a dressing you prefer on this. I offer it with a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette, but show the original dressing at the bottom. To me the biggest appeal is the beautiful colour and crisp texture.

Rainbow Slaw Salad

8 Servings

Salad mix -

3 cups    Shredded Red Cabbage (I prefer finely sliced by hand)
1 cup      Grated Carrot
4            Thinly Sliced Green Onions
1 cup      Sugar Snap Peas, Sliced
1             Red Pepper, Sliced
1            Yellow Pepper, Sliced
1 cup      Chopped Cilantro

Honey Mustard Dressing - from Quinoa, The Everyday Super Food 365
(new option - see note below)
1/2 cup    White Wine Vinegar (or if you like a stronger taste - Red Wine Vinegar)
1/2 cup    Olive Oil
1/4 cup    Honey
2 tsp        Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste

Just whisk the ingredients together and set aside.  Drizzle over the salad just before serving and toss to coat. This recipe makes more than you will need for the slaw, so you will have some to enjoy another day.

NOTE - I no longer use the recipe above, and now make an impromptu dressing without much measuring.  I bought a bottle of Peach White Balsamic Vinegar and Basil Olive Oil at a specialty shop and inserted special pour spouts in them.  I do a several swirls around the bowl of each - approximately equal amounts, add about a Tablespoon of Honey Dijon Mustard and a Tablespoon of honey.  After a good toss I taste it and add more vinegar and olive oil if needed.  Simple, easy and delicious.

Hats off to a Taste for Adventure by Tablespoon for this wonderful offering. I have to admit I wasn't big on the Cumin dressing, so switched to one that I love. I can't wait to try more on her blog site.  I have several other posting on Olio by Marilyn that offer more coleslaw recipes, so feel free to wander through my Let's Talk Food folder.

A Taste for Adventure Cumin Dressing

1/4 cup    Honey
1/4 cup    Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
2 T          Vinegar
1 T          Cumin (Careful - most comments suggested a lot less)
1/2 tsp     Salt
1/4 txp    Pepper
1/3 cup   Olive Oil

Mix honey, lime juice, vinegar, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Whisk in olive oil and set aside. Add all salad mix ingredients to large bowl and toss.  If making this ahead of time you can set both of these aside for a couple hours.  Shortly before serving toss the salad mix with the dressing.  The amount you use is up to your taste as some like a lot of dressing, some like just a light taste.

Time to break out all those great cool summer salads while the season is upon us!  Fall is coming soon enough.