Friday, April 29, 2016

Daughter of Mine by Laura Fabiani

When her mother falls seriously ill and the relationship
between her parents becomes suddenly strained, a carefully hidden family secret is revealed and Tiziana's seemingly idealistic world is turned upside down. 

Synopsis -

Tiziana Manoretti is an only child in her late twenties blessed with loving parents, a promising career, and a best friend who fiercely protects her. When her mother falls seriously ill and the relationship between her parents becomes suddenly strained, a carefully hidden family secret is revealed and Tiziana's seemingly idealistic world is turned upside down. After discovering she was born in a Naples orphanage and subsequently given up for adoption, Tiziana sets out for the small town of Gaeta in an attempt to find her birth parents. Meanwhile, her best friend Christopher is sending her mixed messages, causing her to wonder if there is more to their relationship than just companionship.

As she becomes intertwined with a handful of interesting characters who help her uncover her past, Tiziana needs to decide whether her feelings for Christopher are deeper than she realizes. She discovers herself and others all while her family's resilience and love for one another is tested when confronted with a shocking truth. The answers lie in a box found in a closet in Italy, and Tiziana must determine if she wants to embrace the heartache and the pain from her past in order to learn forgiveness and find peace in the future.

Review - 

I love escaping into a great novel, especially when it features a strong, intelligent, educated female character in the lead role. Daughter of Mine by Laura Fabiani offers just that in the role of 27 year old Tiziana Manoretti - a Canadian/Italian mechanical engineer living in Montreal. Add in a splash of unrequited love, family discord, a long held secret, international travel and good food, well you get the idea.

Tiziana had just successfully finished a project when she was blindsided by her mother's sudden health challenge. As it could have a hereditary basis, the doctor recommended she be tested.  That lead to a confrontation between her mother and father on whether to share a secret - dad on one side, mom on the other. The secret was devastating. She was adopted. It didn't take long before she was on a plane to Naples to visit the orphanage where she was born and hopefully connect with her birth parents. Unfortunately, someone behind the scenes was putting up roadblocks at every turn. 

There were several things I loved about this book. The characters were well developed. After a few pages of walking in their shoes, I felt I could picture each in my head and understand why they acted the way they did. Then there was the attention to the surroundings. I can only assume the author has visited the area as the detailed descriptions of both the buildings, the countryside, the food and the people brought them to life for me. Well done.

Buy The Book  Amazon  Barnes & Nobles Books-a-Million  IndieBound

Meet the Author - 
In 2008, Laura began blogging about books shortly after she published her first book. She started Library of Clean Reads, a book review blog, and discovered the joy of reviewing a variety of genres. Her children have joined her in this venture and they spend many happy hours reading books together. A Special Care Counselor by profession, Laura has co-led and developed programs for seniors with dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease. She has a passion for the topic of neuroscience and wellness.

Throughout the years she has met and worked with wonderful publishers, both traditional and indie, as well as publicists and authors. Best of all, she discovered the world of book bloggers--a community of special people who spend their precious time sharing their love of books and all things related to books.

Taking part in book tours has always made Laura feel more connected to authors and the publishing field. She organized her own virtual tour when her book was published and she learned several things. As an author, it exposed her to actual reader views and social media. As a book blogger and book tour organizer, it taught her the amount of work it entailed. And she loves it!

You can find Laura blogging at Library of Clean Reads and Essentially Italian. She is also the owner of Italy Book Tours, Je Lis Blog Tours and Il Mio Libro Blog Tours.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

2016 The Show - Samantha Stringer, VESUVIUS

Runway Images by Christopher Pike Photography and Thomas Gould Photography
Editorial Images by Samantha Stringer

Every April, fashion design students from the Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design showcase the culmination of their four years of studies. On one special night they offer their portfolio and lookbook as well as a three look collection on the runway.

36 talented students were a part of 2016 The Show, presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc. and I want to offer my personal kudos to each and every one on a job well done.

While I write a show recap for Metro-Living-Zine (read it HERE), I always choose a few students to feature in a solo Q and A. It's always several things that come together when selecting a student.  I met Sam Stringer originally at Vancouver Fashion Week where she was plying her talents as a photographer and was extremely impressed with her eye. Her backstage captures in particular were striking.

It's always a little unnerving when I actually know a student in a show. What if I'm not impressed with their work? What will I say?  No worries - Stringer offered a beautiful collection of hand-detailed, couture gowns that are both editorial and runway ready. Well done.  A note on her line - Vesuvius - from the media kit:

'Vesuvius, the premier collection from Sam Stringer, showcases luxurious evening gowns for black tie events. By providing the creative, motivated entrepreneur with an artistic extension of her brand, Vesuvius gowns combine traditional mastery with modern aesthetic. Vesuvius features a signature dress, Joan, created in collaboration with local artist Jack Wass, reinventing his original painting “Come Home” into a unique gown."

= = = =

Where were you born, where did you grow up?

I was born in Victoria, BC, and I lived there until I was 18 when I moved to Vancouver to attend KPU.

What were you like when you were young? 

I think it is safe to say I was an over achiever. I liked to take on a lot at once, I loved learning so school was very exciting to me. I was pretty outgoing and social and always had a million things on the go (I guess things haven’t changed much!)

What were your interests in High School?

I had a few main loves in high school, mostly artistic. But I was also very into academics, so I became very interested in philosophy. Coming from the Challenge Program at Esquimalt High really helped me realize my passion for academics, something that I continued through my design schooling. I was also very taken with the music scene in Victoria. I was in about 10 different musical ensembles in high school and fell in love with Jazz through the program. Most of my time in high school was spent in the music room. 

And of course I was also interested in fashion and photography. I was always running off on my lunch hours to take photos with friends and putting together shoots in our spare blocks. I always loved sewing, but it wasn’t until my high school sewing teacher came along that I really became inspired to do this for a career. She knew I was passionate about sewing and I wanted to go a million miles an hour and start making dresses, but she made me sit down and learn the basics and the techniques I needed to move forward. I completed all of my electives early in high school so I could spend more time sewing. In my final year I was in the sewing room ¾ of the day. It was heaven.

Looking back, can you remember any signs that you would end up in fashion? A personal story would be great here.

My interest in fashion started so early that it is hard for me to remember what age, but my mom always tells me it was from the moment I was capable, I would put together my own outfits every day and wouldn’t let them change my mind. I wore a tiara and a pink tutu on my first day of preschool. There was no convincing me otherwise. The first moment I can remember that I realized this was something I wanted to pursue was when I was 8 and my Nana signed me up for a weekend sewing class at a small store in Victoria. There were a few domestic machines set up and some fabric and I remember that when we asked the instructor how to do something, she would come over and just finish the piece for me, and it made me so angry because I wanted to do it myself so badly. So after the class finished, I went home and borrowed my grandma’s machine and started learning from there.

Check out the intricate couture draping on both front and back.
Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design. Was you family supportive?

My family was extremely supportive of my fashion career. Aside from the fact that it was pretty obvious that was what I was going to end up doing, I came from a family of artists so pursuing this kind of career wasn’t just approved of, it was expected. Some of my friends in high school were pressured to become scientists or mathematicians or something in academics, while I grew up with my mom who is a painter, my dad who is a photographer, and my brother who is a musician. Art came naturally to us. Being able to pursue something in this field made my parents happy, and when I started pursuing photography I was able to connect with my dad’s teachings.

Why did you choose to study at Kwantlen Polytechnic University?

Choosing a fashion program is very tricky because it is a craft we don’t tend to learn much about in high school. I had dreams of living in New York or London, so in my early years in high school I checked out FIT, Parsons, Pratt, and Central Saint Martin’s (reach for the stars right!). And while I fell in love with the lifestyle and the cities, I felt like there was something missing from the schooling. At a university fair in grade 11 I got brochure from Kwantlen, a school I had never heard of, and I started doing some research. At that point I was also looking into Ryerson and other Canadian programs, but something about KPU stood out. What really pulled me in was the fact that they taught not only the artistic side of fashion, but the technical side.

This program puts a lot of emphasis on production and saleability of garments, something I was very interested in. A lot of other programs do a fantastic job of teaching the creative side of fashion with illustrations, colour theory, etc, but KPU also taught us how to produce factory quality pieces and how to work with production overseas. I ended up having to choose between the London College of Fashion and KPU, both of whom had offered me a place. But it was the technical knowledge and marketability aspects that really drew me to KPU in the end.

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you, what was easy for you? Are there any high, low or funny moments you can share?

The last four years have been the most insane times of my life. I had spent years being told “this year is going to get hard, you are going to have so much homework.” All through school and every year I was underwhelmed, I wasn’t challenged, and then I came to KPU. On the first day of school some older years told us that we would have dozens of hours of homework a night and we would be living at school. Of course I just laughed because people had been telling me for years, but they were absolutely right. We ate slept and breathed fashion in this program. 

I was so enthralled by being in a city with an actual fashion industry that any spare moment I had I was attending countless events and networking. The classes inspired me to look into different parts of the industry that I didn’t even know existed. By the time 4th year rolled around, I was spending 15 hours day sewing and producing my collection. In the final weeks leading up to my photoshoot, I was sleeping an average of two hours a night and eating 1 meal a day. But the best part was, I was LOVING it. This program felt tailor made for me, I have always had such an appetite for learning and so finally being in a place where I was learning about my passion was the best thing that could have happened to me.

My classmates really made the program special for me as well. Working with these women inspired me to be a better designer and gave me the best safety net I could ask for. We all had ups and downs through the program. We are a graduating class of overachievers so we tended to drive ourselves into insanity every once in a while. But we had some incredible moments too. Plus with the lack of sleep we ended up having some hilarious moments. Toward the end of 4th year I was madly hand sewing one of my gowns. It was crunch time and I was sewing with my piece on a dress form. I had been hand sewing for about 11 hours. I was delirious and I confused myself with the dress form and literally stuck a needle a good inch into my thigh when I finished my stitch as if to say “there, done!” I was so tired I just burst out laughing. I couldn’t even feel the pain.

What was the inspiration for your grad collection? Share anything you'd like readers to know?

Vesuvius was inspired by a few different things. Fabric has always inspired my design and hand sewing techniques inspired many of the looks. But the overall theme of the collection had a different inspiration. I had always known that I wanted my collection to feature evening gowns, but I wanted them to have a purpose. The main inspiration behind the collection was art. I wanted to use fashion as a foundation to celebrate local art. I collaborated with Jack Wass, using one of his paintings as inspiration for one of my gowns “Joan”, where we used his art as a print on my fabric. Combining art with fashion is very important to me and being able to celebrate local talent really relates to my personal values.

Some other looks from her portfolio
Describe your collection.

Vesuvius is an exclusive collection of black tie evening gowns that fuse art with fashion, made for the entrepreneurial, self-made woman as an artistic extension of her brand.

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

Luxurious fabrics were key in creating the looks for the Vesuvius collection. I used a lot of silk in my pieces because of the gorgeous drape and weight of the fabrics - mixing these with novelty fabrics like baroque applique’s and molten tulle. The colours of Vesuvius are scarlet, gold, blush, and black, all showcasing the rich and elegant theme inspired by trend forecasting and baroque looks.

Do you have a favorite look?

I really fell in love with each of the three looks I produced for The Show. Joan, the black printed dress made in collaboration with Jack Wass, has a special place in my heart because of the fusion of art. Amelia, the scarlet silk draped dress has my heart because of the amount of draping involved and the mixture of cowls and pleats. Jeanette, the gold strapless gowns with baroque overlay, is definitely the dress that I gave the most of myself to. This dress required so much attention to detail. Each section of the applique was hand cut and hand stitched to the delicate tulle, a painstaking process but the result was stunning. I have never been to proud of a piece as I am of that one.

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

This is the question I am asked most as a designer. The fashion industry has become so over saturated with the introduction of fast fashion that it is very had to justify what we do, What makes my work different is my investment in art and the celebration of collaboration. I would not be where I am today without the help of some incredibly talented artists; painters, photographers, models and beyond. Being able to celebrate those connections and put value back into clothing is really what my brand represents. Fashion has always meant more than just clothes to me because it is my passion, but it is my goal to give others that expression by fusing their values and their passions with mine. 

Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for a while, launch your own line, take a break and travel? 

I had grand plans of taking a break from fashion and working in other fields this summer, but that just doesn’t happen when you launch yourself at a show like the KPU grad show. I have had some incredible opportunities come along and have accepted an offer to produce my full collection, so I have decided to dedicate my time to sewing full time this summer in order to do so. My collection will be launched this September and I am hoping from there to start taking on some custom clients and making individual pieces for local women. 

Please share a quote on what fashion design means to you if possible?

“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life” – Bill Cunningham. This quote has inspired me in so many ways since I began designing. It is something I always keep in mind in my work, because fashion means something different to everyone. I think this can be applied to so many different sets of values.

Anything else I didn't ask you want mentioned?

Collaboration is something I value more than most things in my life/ I love the chance to work with new people! Send me a message or follow my work for more updates!

Links - 
Facebook: Sam Stringer Designs
Instagram: sammyjay666
Twitter @StringerDesigns
Email -

For information on the fashion design program at KPU go to

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Five Truths About Work-Life Balance by Jae Ellard

Our current habits and perceptions often get us stuck 
and prevent us from creating the life we desire.

Get unstuck, learn the truths about work-life balance.

Synopsis -

Work-life balance has nothing to do with work. Really. It also doesn't matter what words you use to describe it. The fact is, most people share a similar desire to create easy joy and meaningful engagement across the roles, relationships and responsibilities that make up life.

Our current habits and perceptions often get us stuck and prevent us from creating the life we desire. Get unstuck, learn the truths about work-life balance.

Review - 

I was personally very drawn to the title of this book - The Five Truths About Work-Life Balance. As a full time writer that does freelance work, maintains a very active blog, has a column in a local magazine and a whopping three books waiting to be written, balance comes hard for me.  So many times at the end of the day I feel I'm not managing those two elements very successfully. I needed some serious insight on how to work towards a better outcome. When the book arrived I immediately brewed a cuppa and found a quiet space to dive in.

What I found inside wasn't content in the traditional sense.  The five truths are listed, and there are some supporting comments, but the book really is laid out as a series of graphic poster pages with a few words on each. The best way I can describe it is a quote - a nugget of thought - per page.  The truths and ideas shared on those pages are strong, but what I feel is missing is deeper insight and support for those struggling to find that balance.

In the end this book is super easy to read, short and inspirational. It has nice graphics with important truths shared, but the content was too limited for anyone wanting serious insight.  I would love to see the author take the strong ideas contained here, take the exploration of this subject to a much deeper level and offer a more comprehensive book on this important topic. Hopefully she'll consider doing this in the future.

​Buy the book: Amazon

Meet the author: 

After years in senior communication roles crafting content for executives, Jae collapsed from stress-related adrenal fatigue. This life-altering experience propelled her to research human behavior, neuroscience, mindfulness, and organizational relationship systems.

In 2008, Jae founded Simple Intentions and developed the Mindful Life™ Program, which includes four group coaching workshops to generate reflection, awareness and action at the organizational and individual levels. Jae has taught the skill of awareness to thousands of employees at multinational corporations in more than 50 countries including China, Russia, India, Japan, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Germany, United Kingdom, Norway, and the United States.

Jae contributes to the Awareness at Work column for Mindful Magazine, the Healthy Living section on Huffington Post as well as the Simple Intentions blog. Jae has a master’s degree in Communication Management from Colorado State University and a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Communication from Metropolitan State College of Denver. She holds certificates in co-active coaching and organizational relationship systems coaching and is the author of seven books.

Connect with the author: Website Twitter Facebook

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The Art Institute of Vancouver - Bahareh Memarian, EXTINCT

The Art Institute of Vancouver (AI) let me know a while back that one of their talented students had been invited to show at New York Fashion Week (NYFW). Would I like to interview her? YES! Most assuredly. But life has a way of interfering. My schedule filled up with deadlines and this interview somehow slipped through the cracks.

On April 12th, AI held its annual show - Atelier 2016 - at their Refrew Street campus. Here 23 talented students graduating from their Fashion Design program offered two looks each from their portfolio in a runway setting. The exception was the final designer - Bahareh Memarian - this very same student. It was time to reach out for an interview.

Memarian presented her entire seven look NYFW collection titled EXTINCT. It was stunning. High end, luxurious silhouettes in deep blue and black.  As there was only a single row of seating along each side of the U-shaped runway, everyone could see the beautiful tailoring up close.  It was obvious from the audience's response that this collection was special. Everyone sat a little taller, many leaned in as models walked by for a closer look and murmurs of appreciation filled the venue.

While the designer's favourite look is the black lace and tulle number shown above, I think mine is the one featured in the program. The dress is fashioned out of a beautiful deep blue lace lined with nude fabric. There is a high slit detail offering red carpet sex appeal. Lastly, the faux fur trim placed around the bottom not only finishes off the look elegantly, but adds a touch of weight. This weight keeps the train from floating randomly. It glided effortlessly along the runway behind the model while keeping it's shape.

This is one new designer who I will be keeping my eye on.

= = = =

Where were you born, where did you grow up?

I was born in Tehran, Iran and lived there until about age 19.

What you like when you were young? 

I loved colours and I loved drawing and painting.

What were your interests in High School?

I studied biology in high school, trying to become a doctor like my father. But I knew deep down that I was not going to be one. I always loved so many different things, but at the same time I wasn't super passionate about any of them. My heart was in the arts because that was the area I was always more confident in.

Looking back, can you remember any signs that you would end up in fashion? A personal story would be great here.

I’ve always had my own way of putting my clothes together and was known as a very colourful person. Birthdays were my favourite because my parents would throw my brother and I the most colourful party.

As a kid I loved to find some alone time. I would go into my mom’s closet and play around with her stuff. My other favourite thing was to colour the Disney princesses my dad used to draw for me. Those were happy times as a child.

Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design. Was your family supportive?

I ended up going into architecture after high school. I learned a lot, but I think it was limiting my creativity more than I wanted it to. It was not the right career path for me. I started to think about the things that make me happy and decided I'm the happiest in my closet. I talked about it with my parents and they encouraged me to go for Fashion Design -- more than they’ve ever done in the past. I’m very lucky to have parents that literally always trust and support me. 

Why did you choose to study at The Art Institute of Vancouver?

I talked about fashion schools in Vancouver to a few people and read about the program on the Internet. I booked an appointment with an adviser at the Art Institute and went for a tour at the school. When I saw everyone working in the labs, I couldn't wait to start my classes there.

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you? What came easy? Are there any high, low or funny moments you can share?

I think it was harder for me when I first started because I didn't know the technical vocabulary or how to sew at all. I definitely frustrated my instructors a few times for sure. But after a few quarters I started getting the hang of everything and it all started to make more sense. I was finally able to pull off making what I had in my mind and that’s where I started actually believing that I could become a fashion designer. There were (and still are) so many long sleepless nights, but you could easily forget about them when you finished sewing the last hem and saw the garment hanging perfectly. 

What was the inspiration for your grad collection? Share anything you'd like readers to know?

I love old Hollywood glamour and the sensuality of its women. It was kind of my fantasy to use that as the inspiration for my first collection and go extravagant. More importantly, I love animals and wanted to bring more depth into my fashion so I used faux fur and all cruelty free fabrics to make this collection. 

Describe your collection.

"Walk like you have three men walking behind you." —Oscar de la Renta. This is how I wanted women who wear my pieces to feel and walk. This collection is called Extinct. It’s sultry and voluptuous yet elegant and very unique. Women similar to Sophia Loren inspired the collection. One reason I chose this name was that sensuality and ways of dressing up in old times has been fading away with modern fashion. Additionally, I wanted to remember those innocent animals that go through so much suffering while living, and their painful deaths to become a third of a purse or a shoe or a piece of a person’s coat. I made a 100% cruelty free collection, which consisted of high-end women’s eveningwear. I wanted to prove that a compassionate luxury fashion is possible. 

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

Lots and lots of marvelous beaded lace, faux fur and Peau De Soie in black and dark shades of blue. Pieces included tops and bottoms, a ball gown, a tuxedo and very unique faux fur coats.

Do you have a favourite look?

It’s very hard to choose but I think the black lace bodysuit with the tulle skirt would be the one for me.

Your collection was chosen to showcase at New York Fashion Week in February 2016. Can you share a bit about being chosen and what the experience was like? 

The first thing that comes to my head is “ surreal”. It was a moment I would see in my dreams. Looking at how everyone reacted to my designs and actually seeing that I'm not the only one loving them was a very fantastic feeling. It gave me more confidence and encouragement to do what I love in the future. I’m so happy and grateful to The Art Institutes for having had such a wonderful opportunity.

What was your hands-down favourite moment from your trip to NY?

When the music changed and it was time for my designs to hit the runway. I literally can’t put in words how I felt in those few minutes.

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

I love modernity, but I think there a few factors of femininity and womanly power that can be incorporated into designs. It’s mostly going towards the more manly looking forms and styles which I love. But I want to keep the old day’s femininity and sensuality more and combine that with the comfortable and functional beautiful modern styles to create pieces that make women feel beautiful, confident and elegant.

Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for awhile, launch your own line, take a break and travel?

No breaks for me at this point. I do sometimes make individual pieces and try to sell them if I can. I would love to have my own line eventually and that’s a work in progress until I have more experience in everything. Right now I’m looking to work for an independent designer or company so I can have guidance but still am able to be creative, get experience and go from there.

Please share a quote on what fashion design means to you.

"Luxury is the ease of a t-shirt in a very expensive dress." ―Karl Lagerfeld 
"In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different." —Coco Chanel

 Is there anything else I didn't ask you want mentioned?

Maybe just one thing to keep in mind; although nothing can ever be a good excuse to bring pain and misery to a living creature, some think that real fur is more environmental friendly. That is the logic they go with it over using faux fur. However, the fact is that the process that the animal’s skin and fur go through until they become something wearable is more damaging and harmful for the planet earth than making faux fur with synthetic materials. 

Links - 

For information on the Fashion Design program at The Art Institute of Vancouver go to -

Monday, April 25, 2016

The First Annual Fashion for Relief Victoria!

Guest Article!

Last night, in the quiet streets of Victoria BC, 16 year old Stuart Cameron launched his first philanthropic fashion event, Fashion for Relief Victoria. It was produced by Victoria’s own Concept-Couture, a fashion production company founded and run by Cameron himself.

Inspired by Naomi Campbell’s annual fashion event, Fashion for Relief, the producer wanted to change the face of fashion philanthropy by creating an event catered to helping those in need, but also providing a platform to promote local boutiques as well as up and coming fashion designers!

Here are our top picks from last night’s historic fashion event!

Verve Fashion S/S 2016

Verve Fashions opened its doors in 1996 providing Victorians the opportunity to shop designer labels for both men and women at a substantially lower price! For this show chose to Verve feature beautiful dresses, skirts and tops made for every woman.  Flowing hems, loose fitted styles and high quality fabrics in a variety of colours made for made for beautiful collection. Margot Fletcher, owner of Verve is there to help you find the perfect garment for your next special occasion.

Not Just Pretty S/S 2016

Inspired by the emerging direction of style and sustainability in fashion, founder Pam Skelton opened an eco-boutique in 2005 with a  focus on environmental and social responsibility. Here you'll find the very best garments available in vibrant and cutting edge fashion. Not Just Pretty has become the go-to boutique for simple and easy ready-to-wear clothes! The looks featured this evening offered billowing fabrics, primary colour palettes and neutral earth tones! A beautiful collection! 


Flavour is a locally owned clothing store that focuses on providing current Men's and Women's fashions at affordable prices.  Since opening in 2003 the company has grown to include two additional island locations at Uptown and in Courtenay, as well a sister store called 8th & Main with two locations in Vancouver and one in Toronto. The looks Flavour chose to show at Victoria for Relief were playful, easy summer outfits that could be worn dressed up or down. All were simple minimalist, but of exceptional quality.

Victoria for Relief was top notch event from start to finish. Over three thousand dollars was raised this evening, all of which will be donated to the Cool Aid Society to support their goal of building 360 new apartments this year for the homeless. "

It's hard to believe the whole event was organized by a 16 year old - Stuart Cameron! Now that is just extraordinary.

Behind the scenes video -

Links - 
Twitter - @_ConceptCouture

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Interview With Author Jan Moran - The Winemakers

Can you share a bit about your journey to becoming a writer/published author?

My first book was a nonfiction title, Fabulous Fragrances, which set me on the course of developing the FragranceIQ and SkinIQ touchscreen experiences for Sephora stores around the world. A few years ago, after Sephora acquired the company I'd started, I returned to writing with my first historical novel, Scent of Triumph, a novel about a French perfumer during World War II (think Coco Chanel meets Kristin Hannah's Nightingale). The Winemakers is my second novel for St. Martin's Press.

Where do you find inspiration for your storylines? For the characters you create?

My settings are generally drawn from places I've visited, while the stories are centered on strong females characters. I'm fascinated by the roles extraordinary women have played in history. My sagas often begin from a seed of inspiration and blossom from there.

Your recent book, The Winemakers, is set in Italy. Do you have a personal connection to this country? Have you traveled to the countryside where this book is set? If not, how did you go about bringing a sense of reality to the setting?

Spotlight on The Winemaker
I love to travel and, yes, I have been to Tuscany (and loved it). The Brunello di Montalcino wine is one of my favorite wines, so I became interested in its history and the winemaking industry in the region. I have a vivid memory for sensory details, especially for the sense of smell, and it's easy for me to conjure a setting again. I also have winemaker friends who supplied many technical details. I was fortunate to spend time in Napa Valley conducting more research... which necessarily involved a few glasses of wine.

How do your organize your time when working on a new book? Research? Working on Manuscript? Pre-marketing?

For The Winemakers, I started with research in Napa Valley. The story formed in my mind quite quickly. As for writing, I write a manuscript completely through first, let it rest for a week or so, and then return to begin edits. I often log long hours into the night, because I become so excited and obsessed with the story.

As an author - what do you enjoy most about writing process? What feels like a chore
Actually, I like it all. Plotting and writing the initial story is a joy, and editing is like polishing a diamond, perfecting the pieces until they shine.

After publishing so many books, does it get easier or harder to come up with a concept for the next?

Ideas are plentiful; it's sometimes difficult to choose between ideas.

What would you most like readers to know about you?

I think most readers can sense that I write to entertain and share experiences, yet I also work to infuse characters with an emotional arc. None of us is perfect; neither are the characters in my books. (Besides, wouldn't that be dull?) We've all made mistakes, but what interests me are the creative, courageous ways that people find to resolve their problems, and how they grow through the experience. 

I like to write multi-generational stories with meaty roles for each generation. Finally, my love of travel and different cultures threads through each novel because I'm eternally curious about people of the world. 

Do you have any advice for young writers just entering this competitive industry?

Never give up! More options than ever exist today to see your work in print.
Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Pinterest   Facebook   Instagram

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Winemakers by Jan Moran - Book Spotlight

1956: When Caterina Rosetta inherits a cottage in the countryside of Italy from a grandmother she's never known, she discovers a long-buried family secret -- a secret so devastating, it threatens the future of everything her mother has worked for.


1956: When Caterina Rosetta inherits a cottage in the countryside of Italy from a grandmother she's never known, she discovers a long-buried family secret -- a secret so devastating, it threatens the future of everything her mother has worked for.

Many years before, her mother's hard-won dreams of staking her family's claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition; but as an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragic secret that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother's buried past.

From author Jan Moran comes The Winemakers, a sweeping, romantic novel that will hold you in its grasp until the last delicious sip.

​Buy the book:   Amazon  ~   Barnes & Noble  ~   Kobo  ~  Chapters
                                        Books-a-Million  ~   Book Depository   ~  iBooks

Meet the Author

Check out a fabulous behind the scenes interview with the author HERE!

Jan Moran is a Rizzoli bestselling and award winning author. She writes historical women's fiction for St. Martin's Press (Scent of Triumph, The Winemakers), contemporary women's fiction (Flawless, Beauty Mark, Runway), and nonfiction books (Vintage Perfumes, Fabulous Fragrances). Her stories are smart and stylish, and written with emotional depth. Jan often draws on her international travel and business experiences, infusing her books with realistic details.

The Midwest Book Review and Kirkus have recommended her books, calling her heroines strong, complex, and resourceful. She likes to talk to readers at and on social media. She lives in southern California and loves lattes and iced coffee, anything chocolate, and Whole Foods Double Green smoothies to balance it all out.

Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Pinterest   Facebook   Instagram

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Monday, April 18, 2016

2016 The Show - Claire Cormeau, NUAGE

Runway Images by Christopher Pike Photography
Editorial Images - Photographer Katrin Braga, Hair/MUA Vanessa Kuan, Model Mel Kobayashi

Every April, fashion design students from the Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design showcase the culmination of their four years of studies. On one special night they offer their portfolio and lookbook as well as a three look collection on the runway.

36 talented students were a part of 2016 The Show, presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc. and I want to offer my personal kudos to each and every one on a job well done. 

While I write a show recap for Metro-Living-Zine (link to article coming on Thursday), I always choose a few students to feature in a solo Q and A. It's always several things that come together when I select a student and Claire Cormeau is definitely one that caught my eye. Her collection is called NUAGE -

Favourite Anti-Tux Look!
"Nuage questions conventions and subverts elements of wardrobe staples through ageless ready-to-wear. Age should not define us. This season, Claire reflects upon her Belgian heritage and unites her cultural experiences with her love of the surrealist artist Magritte. She challenges us to refamiliarize ourselves with wardrobe staples. Claire’s 3D printed jewelry further exemplifies her design through a surrealist lens."

Cormeau's target market is focused on mature women, but the great style elements will most likely draw a wide range of clients. I was personally drawn to the vivid jewel-toned fuschia dress/vest that offered simple elegance combined with easy wear. The deep blue bolero with dress pants and white shirt was polished and versatile. The light grey pants had an intriguing silhouette and an unexpected embroidery detail that added a bit of edge to a classic look. Cormeau also created few pieces of unique, 3D printed jewellery to finish the looks. Well done.

= = = =

Where were you born, where did you grow up?

I was born in Calgary, Alberta, but spent three years of my youth growing up in France and Belgium.

What you like when you were young?

I loved to solve puzzles and play dress-up. My mother had to hide my scissors from me as I had a bad habit of “improving” my party dresses by cutting them up. Needless to say I was destined for a career in the fashion industry.

What were your interests in High School?

In high school, I was very nerdy yet unsure of myself. I grew close to a foot in grade 10 and was like a newborn giraffe trying to find my feet. I had a few very close friends that I’m still friends with now!

Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design. Was you family supportive?

I actually chose to study fashion design a year after completing my degree in computer science. I was working in the field but I never felt like I was being true to myself. My family took a little while to warm up to the idea of my change in career. Now they are all on board and want to know everything about what I am up to!

Why did you choose to study at Kwantlen Polytechnic University?

I chose KPU because it equips you with the skills that you will need working in the fashion industry. Not to mention, the university has a great reputation in industry, so it seemed like the best option.

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you, what was easy for you? Are there any high, low or funny moments you can share?

I had a lovely four years studying Fashion Design – I learned SO much. Initially, the hardest thing for me was dealing with the uncertainty of coming up with new ideas. Having a big empty void on the page in front of you can be terrifying. But you get used to it, and now I’m finding that I really enjoy that aspect of design. The thing that came most naturally for me was pattern drafting. I’m sure that this is because I’m mathematically-minded and pattern-drafting involves a lot of math and analytical thinking.

One of my funniest moments last semester (one of many) was after a particularly hectic week I almost microwaved my salad for lunch. And then within the next few days I almost rode my bike to school with my helmet on backwards. Sleep deprivation can have some strange side effects…

What was the inspiration for your grad collection? 

For my grad collection, Nuage, I drew on my father’s Belgian heritage, my cultural experiences from living in Belgium, and my love of the work by surrealist artist René Magritte. My line challenges us to re-familiarize ourselves with iconic garments. I am playing with garment elements, making them lose their restrictive or controlling characteristics, and laughing at conventions. My 3-D–printed jewelry designs further enhance the collection.

Describe your collection.

Nuage is an ageless ready-to-wear collection. It creates an even playing field for women of all ages to dress in uniquely intellectual garments that are comfortable, long-lasting and made with respect for people and the environment. I don’t like to categorize the collection too deeply as I feel as though many of the pieces could be worn day and evening, but they are definitely for the early adopter who is ready to take creative risks.

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

The palette reminds me of a vibrant berry fruit salad. You have a gorgeous saturated navy, which pairs so well with our greys and orchid. Then you have a bright lavender and raspberry. I just want to eat all the colours!

I used all fabrics made from renewable resources. This includes wool, cotton and silk. They all feel so luxurious on and have an amazing hand. Sourcing the right fabrics was a huge part of my process.

Do you have a favourite look?

Yes! My favourite look is the Anti-Tux (included image) composed of the Wavre Trouser and the Genk Jacket. The Wavre Trouser is a real statement piece with a waistband that detaches off the body and forms a pocket. The Genk Jacket is a really interesting piece as the whole pattern is twisted. It features a beautiful roped sleeve, and full tailoring. The whole tux is made out of a luxurious stretch wool suiting, and exudes confidence with a hint of rebellion.

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

I’m bring the concept of ageless design to the table. Let me explain.

Take genderless design for example. This concept advocates that there should be a middle-ground in apparel offered for people who don’t identify as one gender or the other. People shouldn’t have to choose if they want to dress as a man or a woman if they don’t identify as a man or a woman. Genderless design offers a solve to this societal issue.

There is a less immediately apparent difference in the way that women dress as they age, but it’s still there, and it shouldn’t be! You’re just as sexy, smart and deserving when you’re 60 as when you’re 16. I want to make fashion an equal playing field for all women. This is where the concept of ageless design comes in. Dress the way that you want regardless of your age! I admire women like yourself who are fearless and take creative risks! You’re setting an example for other women who may not yet be brave enough to express themselves. I love that and it’s an endless source of inspiration for me.
I also feel as though I am one of a few designers in Vancouver who designs in color. Color fascinates me and it has such a huge effect on our lives, including our moods and how we perceive others. I’m a strong believer in color!

Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for awhile, launch your own line, take a break and travel?

I’m actually in the process of interviewing with a Vancouver-based company at the moment for a full-time position. Stay tuned for updates on that!

I want to continue on with Nuage, but on a very small scale. I really believe in the message behind the brand and I think it is bringing awareness to the obsession that the fashion industry has with youth, and the fact that you do not need to dress down as you age.

Please share a quote on what fashion design means to you if possible?

This is one of my own quotes: “All human beings have equal rights to self-expression. Fashion Design is about enabling people to express their best, most honest self.”

Anything else I didn't ask you want mentioned? Links?

My line Nuage was recently featured on Catherine Summers’ Award-Winning UK-based over 40 style blog. Here is a link:

Email -
KPU Fashion Design Program -

Road to the Grammys 2016 with Jody Quine - Part One!

Guest article by Jody Quine - recording artist, singer/song writer & owner of Rockstar Branding Design

4:48am and my eyes pop open. My alarm isn’t set to go off for another 12 minutes but I know the day is here. For the last nine months I have been working towards this day, this trip, this week. It is Grammy week.

I am a singer/songwriter and recording artist for the last 20 years, I am now also a member of NARAS (The Recording Academy/ Grammys). Last year I had a song submitted with Ryan Farish in the Electronic Dance category. I was also the emcee for a red carpet event Grammy Weekend called The Soiree (my write-up HERE). It was an exciting week and the events were endless. I also attended the actual Grammys and the Official After Party. It was fantastic.

Last May I had some songs starting to percolate deep within. I’d hear myself telling people I was writing but it was more of a motion within than an action. I had no set plan, no exact goal but I was feeling creative and was needing to get some ideas out. This is when I truly discovered that, though I may be able to sing and perform, and visually design the heck out of promotional materials, as well as book tours including all the travel, write songs, do social media and web design, shoot and edit music videos and pretty much every other thing an artist in today’s music business needs to be able to do, but that I was atrocious at engineering or even running something as simple as Garage Band effectively. Sure I get it, I’ve been in the studio for over 15 years working on projects, I can click all the right things, but heck it just wasn’t good. It sounded awful. And for me, music isn’t about sounding awful. 

I decided to find somebody who could engineer for me and help me get my ideas out so I reached out to Winston Hauschild, a producer and Canadian darling in the West Coast music scene. Somehow on that first meeting, the flow was so simple and conversation so easy that instead we decided to make a full record. I agreed to record 10 songs. 

And me with no money but some music I needed to get out, I stepped into gear.

My only option was to crowdfund. My husband and I have three children and the money I make designing part time goes to supporting our family and making ends meet in Vancouver, the super expensive city we live in. I’ve crowdfunded before and my fans have always been there for me, however there is something quite challenging, about asking for money. The difference this time was I didn’t see it as asking for money, I was making music, something I felt so deeply that needed to come out, and that is what I needed help with, so I asked for some help.

In 30 days I raised what worked out to be just over $8000. It was enough to demo 7 songs and cover some expenses including my ferry rides back and forth to the little Island Winston lives on just off the coast of Vancouver. In July Winston and I got to work.

During the demo-ing process I took some footage and posted a few videos. I started recognizing the sound I felt in my heart and heard in my head was what was coming out, more ME than anything else I had ever created. Winston and I were tapped right in to who I am as an artist, it was magical. I started to feel that it was possible I could get a record finished in time to take with me to Grammy week in February.

So I raised more money privately and borrowed the rest.

Everything about this new record I did by feel. I felt 10 songs was the way to go, not 9 but 10. Perhaps when you hear it you’ll think maybe I should have stopped at 8. I knew I wanted to do a cover song and my sister had been long requesting I cover a song that was on repeat when we were children during our parents divorce - We Belong by Pat Benatar. When we were recording or had session players in, it was all based on how it made us ‘feel’. Sure I was aware of song length, tempos, keys, and of course lyrical content, but I think the best music is there to make you feel, so we’d better as heck, FEEL while we’re making it.

Then something amazing happened. After being in touch for over a year, I was also able to secure Andrew Scheps to mix. He is lauded as one of the best Mixers in the world. He has mixed songs for AdeleLana Del RayRed Hot Chili Peppers and more. Winston and I had all of our recorded tracks to Andrew by late September. Andrew is a super busy guy but by mid December Andrew sent over my first mixes and after a few back and forth I was thrilled and we were ready to Master. Andrew suggested Eric Boulanger of The Bakery.

Eric a mentee of Al Schmitt, and protege of Doug Sax and had recently gone out on his own. Eric had a window of time available for the very next day before leaving for Russia for Christmas and he set to mastering. On December 22nd,Eric sent over my Masters. I spent all Christmas listening to the record on repeat.

Knowing that leaving for the Grammys was only seven weeks away, it was time, actually overdue, to design the cover. It took me over 40 hours to get the trifold digipak and 8 page booklet designed and up to printer spec, but it was a labour of love and something I’m very proud of.  Off to the printer it went. This process also takes some time with some back and forth and when all was said and done I was promised a February 9th shipping date. I paid to overnight one box and let the rest arrive later. My flight as already booked for LA for February 10th. Tight!

The morning of February 9th, manicured/pedicured, hairs cut, dresses rented, childcare sorted, meetings set - I looked at my tracking number online to see where my treasure box of CDs was and could see my one box had arrived in Vancouver at the terminal the day before but seemed to be going nowhere.

Since it was my last day before leaving for Grammy week and I still had much to do to including doing final prep in my home for my family during my 1 week absence, seeing my chiropractor for my bad back, getting my annual Grammy oxygen facial with Lisa Blair of The Skin Girls, as well as pick up merch from Music Heals to take with me to the Grammys! I had arranged for somebody to be there to receive the package, but by 11 a.m, I checked the site again and was concerned as to when the box was going to get onto a truck already and find it’s way to my house, so I called.

“Oh yes, your package is here… but no it didn’t go out on the truck this morning, we weren’t aware you needed it TODAY.” What!? I paid for overnighting it and you didn’t think I needed it today!? I kept calm but wouldn’t budge. It was their issue to solve. The best they could do is get it downtown for me and as I was going downtown anyways they had the truck driver keep in touch with me via the phone.

As I found myself between afternoon appointments downtown with only 15 minutes to spare, my Dad (in town to help out with the children) and I grabbed food at a little corner dive in Railtown. I paid the check before the food came and went to stand on the corner with my sandwich in hand. As the precious seconds ticked by a huge white truck came beating down the road. We were on the edge of gastown and the most inner city these large trucks can go. The white mammoth turned at the corner I was on, threw on his flickers, and out jumped a mid-sized man with a concerned and helpful look in his eyes. He shimmied up the huge white door.

There on the cargo bed of this mostly empty truck sat my small box of CDs. A lot of hullabaloo for such a small package, but to me, it was worth it. I chuckled as I signed for this box of dreams, and he handed it to me. Phew! All that I had been working for was now in my hands! My dad had just finished his lunch, came out the door beaming, and we were off to my next appointment. We even made it in time to pick the kids up from school. 

The next morning I was at the airport by 6:30 a.m and on a flight to Los Angeles. Grammy week was waiting and I had copies of my new CD, a collection of my best songs and my true heart’s expressions, and I was taking it with me.

Stand Up is coming out April 22nd. Pre-order your copy on iTunes NOW!