Garrison Bespoke is Changing Menswear in Vancouver

One of our biggest challenges is Vancouver isn’t really a suit city.
— Will Yoshikawa Chen, Co-owner of Garrison Bespoke

Garrison Bespoke commits to making the best handmade suits for men around the world. The west coast branch of the company has only been around for two years and has a lot to live up to.

Garrison Bespoke Toronto has often been referred to as Canada’s best bespoke tailor—recommended by Sharp Magazine, GQ, and has outfitted the big four professional sports teams (Toronto FC, Raptors, Maple Leafs, and Blue Jays). Arguably, more notable is the list of men who wear a Garrison suit. From Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adam—who play the duo of Harvey Specter and Mike Ross in USA Network’s lawyer drama Suits—to Drake, who wore several pieces lined with material from Raptor’s jerseys in his role as their Global Ambassador. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, actor Laurence Fishburne, and many other notable Canadians brought recognition to the brand as its clout in Toronto and beyond grew exponentially.

When Chen and his co-owner Richard Wong opened in Vancouver, the problem wasn’t a lack of high-profile buyers to wear their products. It was finding the rest of their customer base. One of the challenges faced by the bespoke suiting shop is their location—currently housed in the back of a salon downtown.

One of our biggest challenges is Vancouver isn’t really a suit city,” Chen states, addressing a crowd at the Vancouver Club last Wednesday. Garrison was celebrating a successful second year and showcasing several new product offerings for the upcoming FW 2019 season. To a passerby, there may not have been anything pioneering talking about suits in a wood-paneled room full of onlookers sipping scotch, but Chen’s address told a different story. 

“We have been doing a push in lifestyle tailoring, thinking less about the colour or the cut, or how wide your lapels are, but what your lifestyle really is,” says Chen. He elaborated on their clients, who were increasingly working in industries not traditionally associated with suiting—like technology, cannabis, and cryptocurrency. These were customers who wanted something versatile, for a wedding or client meeting where formality wasn’t taken too seriously.

The products he highlighted included the Rugby Stretch Suit and Storm Coat, both well suited to their style and ethos of tailoring. The Stretch Suit will feature four-way elasticity, which on the surface seems to be a product suited for men with a more muscular figure, but goes much further than that. Stretch fabric in a suit isn’t necessarily about making business clothing that wearers could cycle or do yoga in (retailers like Kit and Ace and Lululemon have covered those areas). Garrison is making menswear more accessible by making it easier to wear day-to-day. 

One of the most common complaints about wearing a suit and tie can be downright uncomfortable, fabrics can be prone to overheating and make activities like getting out of a car or dancing on your wedding night a chore. Making menswear accessible seems to be about making it make sense for the basics, not necessarily trying to create new standards of what is appropriate to wear for meetings. 

The Storm Coat is an extension of this, with fabric originally designed for RAF pilots, designed to keep the wearer cool during a dogfight and protect them from the elements in the case of a bailout. Nothing could be more in order for rainy Vancouver winters, which push the limits of outerwear on the best of days.

Well-chosen products like these are helping Garrison to establish a larger presence in Vancouver. Similar to their Toronto location, they are actively looking for their own retail space and aim to find a mixed retail and private lounge concept. They are in talks to develop a specially-milled cloth with Dormeuil in the hopes of partnering with the Canucks, much like Garrison Toronto’s partnership with Toronto FC. Also, being Vancouver’s go-to bespoke establishment doesn’t just mean keeping it within the metro area, and they are looking to hold trunk shows in Victoria, Seattle, and Kelowna. But with this planned growth comes a commitment to the integrity of their brand, seeking out interesting people to build relationships with, not just sell to.

This extends to other purveyors and designers in the area. “We really want to connect with a lot of local brands out there when it comes to accessories, we know where to send people,” says stylist Ryan Page, a recent addition to the team. Like any movement in culture, competition only goes so far, and Garrison sticks to what they know they can do best while promoting other designers in the community. If the health of Vancouver menswear can be measured in growth, rather than suited men on the street, then maybe it is doing a lot better than its reputation insists.

Photos by Pulse Digital.

garrisonbespokevancouver.com

@garrisonvancouver

Bold and Sophisticated: Women’s Fashion at the 2019 Deighton Cup

The 2019 Deighton Cup event returned for its 11th year on July 20 and it was one for the books. The annual horse races celebrated with cocktails, oysters, macarons, cigars, and the well-dressed socialites placing their bets. As one of the few occasions where Vancouverites can showcase their fashion creativity in full swing, everyone eagerly showed off their style.

Without a cloud in the sky, the bold and bright suits, dresses, fascinators, and top hats shined at Hastings Racecourse. Flowing gowns, midi length dresses, and visually striking hand-made hats and fascinators complemented the reds, pinks, yellows, blues, whites, and champagne colour palette. Women in pairs gave a slight nod to their partner’s looks with matching colours or flowers—while some women wore one colour from head to toe, coordinated with their friends or matched with one of the Audis parked in front of the VIP booths. 

The best dressed were given cash prizes in the Style Stakes Awards, for the man and woman who “push the fashion envelope in dressing to impress.” The Belle du Jour and Gallant Sartorialist winners this year were picked by Liz Bell, who has walked the runways of Dior, Fendi, Karl Lagerfeld, and more. 

Judged on creativity and style, the womenswear cash prize was awarded to Victoria Fawkes, whose hand-made hat represented the racehorse track—complete with grass, riders, and fences. Fawkes’ 1950s style pink dress was complimented with pearls, white gloves, and a small stylish handbag.

Bold looks didn’t just stem from the Style Stakes candidates. Most notably, a woman dressed up like a hot air balloon with eight to ten large helium balloons over her head. The ropes keeping them in place were held by four women trailing behind her. 

Since Vancouver is known for its laid-back West Coast style, it was exciting to see the women dressed up similarly to British and Australian horse race attendees. “This is a great event because people want to get dressed up,” explains a Deighton Cup regular—her outfit worthy enough for a royal wedding. “We can go out anytime with our friends but can’t get dressed up like this unless someone is getting married.” 

Asides the men who sported pineapple, flamingo and dollar bill patterned suits, the annual fashion social event not only proved Vancouverites can dress up, but they know how to have a great time doing so. 

Check out our men’s coverage here-

Dapper and Gallant: Men’s Fashion at the Deighton Cup

Photos contributed.

deightoncup.com

@deightoncup

Dapper and Gallant: Men's Fashion at the 2019 Deighton Cup

The 11th annual Deighton Cup returned to Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver this on Saturday, July the 20th, and for one day of the year, it wasn’t faux pas to be overdressed on the West Coast.

Building off last year’s event of 7,000 attendees, this edition seemed even more popular, with the track concourse nearly full to capacity, and a variety of vendors offering cigars, oysters and cocktails to enjoy in the hot summer sun. 

Two of the day’s best-dressed won cash prizes in front of a panel of judges in the “Style Stakes” Awards for being crowned Gallant Sartorialist and Belle de Jour respectively amongst fierce competition. Between the glasses of champagne and panama hats, there was even horse racing.

The Deighton Cup is an especially notable day for menswear in Vancouver, a city where walking down the street wearing a full suit often makes you look out of place, save for a stretch of several blocks between Granville Central Station and Coal Harbour. Case in point, as several members of the Micro Macro team waited for a cab after the event, a woman approached to ask why everyone was so dressed up, wondering if there was a themed wedding happening in the neighbourhood. 

This seems to be the prevailing assumption in town, that you should only be dressed up for a notable life event or company Christmas party. There is a sharp drop off after this, where people often revert to athleisure, meaning anything you can wear to cycle lazily around Stanley Park on a Sunday on a tandem bike and even lead a lunch meeting if you work in tech. Of course, this is a functional style choice that makes sense for the city we live in. However, it is always interesting to see how people dress up when given the chance.

Going in with this bias, it was a surprise to see such a strong menswear showing at the event. As it grows in popularity, more men are eager to plan ahead for an outfit suited for the races. This growth is assisted by the growth of made-to-measure tailoring, both online and in-store, that have made it affordable and easy for anyone to have a custom suit made, and to make outside-the-box choices when it comes to style.

A pleasant surprise at the event was the use of summer suiting fabrics, with many breezy and dapper linen and cotton pieces taking center stage. Investing in a summer suit for Vancouver can be somewhat counterintuitive, as the temperature this summer has rarely hovered near thirty degrees Celsius. However, pieces that would’nt have looked in a place at a Tuscan vineyard wedding were seen frequently.

A finalist in the Gallant Sartorialist award, Martin Barclay showed off one of the more unique suits at the event, a wide striped blue and maroon ensemble with a cane and gold lapel chain in the shape of a lion’s head. The gold chain and other pieces are expected to be part of Barclay’s own men’s accessories line Tyrock Barclay, which is currently in development.

Another honourable mention goes to Kelvin Lopes, who showed off a three piece suit from Surmesur Custom Menswear in a chocolate brown, with extra wide peak lapels and a shawl-collar vest, accented by white tassled loafers. This look is versatile across seasons, and showed excellent use of often-overlooked customizations that can make any suit stand out.

When asked about whether the event was helping to make Vancouver into a stronger menswear city, Lopes was optimistic. 

Pictured: Kelvin Lopes (third from left) with friends.

Pictured: Kelvin Lopes (third from left) with friends.

“I definitely think the Deighton Cup can help Vancouver improve its fashion sense,” he said. “It’s a great event where people get to actually put some effort into dressing well in a city where Lululemon is king.“

As this edition of what is arguably Vancouver’s top menswear event comes to a close, its influence on suiting culture can’t be understated. An event like this is about getting people out of their comfort zone and trying to out-dress their friends and the strangers around them. Even though Vancouver may never be a city known for suits, at least one day a year, we can feel like it has that potential.

Check out our women’s coverage here-

Bold and Sophisticated: Women’s Fashion at the Deighton Cup

Photos contributed.

deightoncup.com

@deightoncup

Tattoo Culture: Past and Present

In 1991, a tattooed “Iceman” was discovered on the Italian-Austrian border. This buried cadaver was carbon-dated back 5200 years, making him the first tattooed individual known to us today. He is by no means an exception, however, but an example of the rule. Tattoos have been found on bodies belonging to all ancient cultures. Ancient Egyptian women buried near royals and elites. Britons marked in accordance with their societal status- so noticeably so that the Romans dubbed them the ‘painted people.’ Tattooed cadavers have been found in the Chinese Taklimakan Desert, Greenland, and Peru. We can only guess at the meaning behind the ink, but according to Joann Fletcher, an archaeologist at the University of York, tattoo symbolism spans a wide spectrum: from marking criminals to identifying religions to distinguishing royalty. Even such, there exists a common thread that pulls all of these ancient tattoos together: identification. Tattoos said something about who you were.

Flash forward to the 1800s, when American sailors used tattoos as a form of identification as well as a means of storytelling. The tattoos of a sailor were a sort of resume: a combination of identification information and a list of experiences.

After the American Revolution, American sailors were desperately seeking to avoid the English Royal Navy draft. Sailors were issued government ‘Protection Papers’ in order to reaffirm their American citizenship and dodge this dreary fate. Extremely unreliable, however, these papers contained only vague, generalizable descriptions. In order to solve this problem, sailors would use their tattoos as descriptors for the ‘Protection Papers.’ Commonly used tattoos were significant dates, crucifixes, or names of loved-ones.

But that was only the heading of the resume. A list of achievements and experiences followed suit. Within the variety of stock sailor tattoos that exist, there lies a code that marks where a sailor has been, and how far he has travelled. The iconic swallow tattoo is one such mark. According to sea-faring legend, each swallow signalled that a sailor had travelled 5,000 nautical miles. Similarly, a full-rigged ship distinguished that its bearer had sailed around Cape Horn, and an anchor indicated that he had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. Tattoos said something about what you had done.

Where does that bring us to today? Do we have more in common with ancient Egyptian priestesses tattooed in order to assert their status, or the sailors, for whom tattoos tell their life story? Are they a mark of who we are or what we have done?

According to Hannah Ravening, a Fine Arts student at Emily Carr and an aspiring tattoo artist, tattoos are about collaboration and sharing art. It is a “highly collaborative process,” she tells me, and the industry in Vancouver is “very supportive and non-competitive.” When asked what compels most to get permanently inked, she says that some want to distinguish themselves as belonging to the “edgier” side of life. The majority, however, “are expressing their individuality, similarly to how people wear particular clothing and makeup.” What attracts Hannah to the tattoo scene the most is the communism of it all- the openness and collaboration. There is a sense of camaraderie and creative flow that connects artists in the tattoo industry, a common vein that links those who tap in and participate.

The tattoo community can be traced around the world today, thanks to social media platforms such as Instagram. Artists can travel to foreign fan-bases and hold flash tattoo sales. An artist in Vancouver can collaborate with an artist in Berlin. In sync with this heightened awareness of tattoo culture in foreign countries has come a decrease in culturally appropriated tattoos. Hannah remarks that a decade ago, Canadians commonly got mandala or Chinese character tattoos, but artists today refuse to give a client a culturally symbolic tattoo unless it is common to both of their cultures.

Today our tattoos tell not only a story, but also who we have become as a result of that story. Tattoos show at once belonging to a group- be it a sailor’s union, ancient Egyptian royalty, or North Van (ever seen a mountain biker with the North Shore mountains around their ankle?) and uniqueness. We mark ourselves to share who we are, reflect on where we come from, and remember where we want to go.

Hannah has a cherry bomb tattoo on her lower back to commemorate a fruity summer backpacking around Europe. The cherry bomb is also a nod to Cherie Curry, lead singer of the punk band The Runaways, and Hannah’s personal inspiration. Her tattoo illustrates an experience that influences who she is today. It is also a reminder of who she wants to be in the future.

Profile Image- “Much tattooed sailor aboard the USS New Jersey.” December 1944/ Lt. Comdr. Charles Fenno Jacobs (1904-1975) for the U.S. Navy/ General Photographic File of the Department of Navy. National Archives and Records Administration, Local Identifier 80-G-470222

A Night of Art, Fashion and R&B in Gastown

Event organizer 2Cream2Sugar, in collaboration with the Hide+Seek group, showcased a wide range of local artists Saturday, May 25 at their “Street Dreams” warehouse party in Gastown.

Featuring a multidisciplinary lineup of visual artists, fashion designers and musicians, the night saw a wide range of creative influences in an intimate studio space. After watching the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks to reach the NBA Finals on a large projected screen, the crowds were in a good mood to enjoy visual art displayed around the space all night long, and runway shows of local fashion designers paired with musical acts.

Several designers presented reworked fashion pieces including ACiD ART in their debut show, and KSLAM clothing, the product of Casey Lamb who was featured here after her designs were shown in the S/S19 edition of Vancouver Fashion Week. KSLAM’s key pieces included a dress made completely of reworked leather belts, and accessories constructed of dangling knife blades. Kash Kulture and JB Gear rounded out the night with streetwear offering.

^ only Fara and Elijah Blond were R&B artists, the others fall into the category of Hip Hop. Girard a rapper joined Elijah on stage and DKAY, another rapper, also joined FARA on stage. Teon Gibbs was accompanied by Makadi and Amber Bayani who are R&B vocalists.

R&B acts Fara, and Elijah Bond paired well with runway shows, especially Fara who energized the crowd with 90’s covers and her own original content. Elijah Blond and Kid Sharif later ushered in the night with darker, trap-influenced tracks. Visual artists Mescondi Photography, Taylor Borque Designs, Tim Rolls, Dani Oz, and Max Bryan introduced a range of art on display and for sale. When asked about the idea behind 2Cream2Sugar’s Vancouver events, organizer SJ preaches the importance of bringing together groups of creatives that may not usually share the same stage.

“Community over everything,” they said. “Specific to Vancouver, the visual artists, musicians and designers in the past have kind of been in their own little silos. But that’s slowly been changing as the creative scene here grows—that’s why 2C2S’s past few shows have been about tearing down those barriers and bringing the entire creative community together.”

SJ also feels fortunate to have the opportunity to put on 2C2S’s events during a period of time that is favourable for the grassroots creative scene, especially over the course of the past decade where creative events have moved away from being commercially-driven, and not focused on accessibility. 2C2S is one of many groups running without external funding that SJ claims “do whatever [they] can with no help from the corporate side of art and music in the city.”

This attitude towards showcasing creativity resulted in an evening where a diverse group of creatives could flaunt their latest work and build connections with other members of the community. In an environment where spaces to organize these kinds of events on can be expensive and difficult to secure, it seems best to get as many artists under one roof as possible.

2Cream2Sugar is planning to hold a similar event in Vancouver this July.

Article Cover Photo

Nick Brons

Featured Artists:

Fashion

ACiD ART

JB GEAR

Sleepless Mindz Clothing&Design

KSLAM

Kash Kulture Apparel 604

Music

Teon Gibbs

Kid Sharif

Elijah Blond

Fara

Ryu Darko

Visual Artists

Mescondi Photography

Taylor Borque Designs

Tim Rolls

Dani Oz

nayrbxam

The Return of Old-School

Automation. Digitization. Smaller, faster, sleeker. These are the directions in which progress goes nowadays. We want the technology in our pockets to keep up with our accelerating lives. Yet if this is the case, then why are certain old-school technologies making a comeback? No one knows what a Walkman is, but every North American hipster worth their salt owns vinyl. Perhaps in the form of a suitcase turntable with Bluetooth and a pastel-blue exterior. Or perhaps even a restored old-school turntable given away at a garage sale 10 years ago when it wasn’t worth the basement space it took up. And maybe all they own on vinyl is Taylor Swift and Jay-Z. Nevertheless, vinyl sales have increased by 50% since the early 2000s, and half of new buyers are young people.

people started to rediscover real things they can actually hold in their hands...and in their soul forever.
— Florian Kaps

Another vintage trend yellowing the edges of technology culture is Polaroid cameras. Or rather Fujifilm Instax cameras. Every freshwoman in university has a series of Polaroid photos hanging below a string of faerie lights in their dorm. And many Instagram photos nowadays are in fact photos of Polaroids.

The instant camera was invented in 1947 by a brilliant man by the name of Edwin Land. Before the invention of digital cameras, using an instant camera was the only way to see a photograph almost immediately after it had been taken. But now we have digital cameras. Even better, we have supercomputers in our pockets that act as high-quality cameras.

So why bother with the impracticality of instant cameras? Is it just a trend? Or is it something more significant? Has smaller, faster, sleeker taken away a piece of our creativity, a piece of our identity that we never knew was missing?

According to Fujifilm, “an innovative product is one that helps people experience their lives and the world in a fresh and exciting way.” For Geoffrey Belknap, a historian of visual culture at the University of Leicester, each innovation offers “a specific lens on the world” and a unique “material presence.” He “wouldn’t say that we are going back to analogue technologies. We are just starting to remember the specificity of their value for doing work that digital images can’t do.”

Florian Kaps, an entrepreneur and lover of Polaroid technology is of the opinion that “this is not a trend, but the (not very surprising) discovery that the trend called digital creates a virtual outcome to be experienced just with our eyes and ears. Therefore people started to rediscover real things they can actually hold in their hands...and in their soul forever.”

We view much of our lives on a screen, and we own virtual things instead of tangible things. Music from an app, photos from an app, dating on an app. Through instant photos and vinyl, we are taking back the use of all our senses, and taking back ownership of concrete things. We want to own our music and own our photos, so we reach for Polaroids and vinyl and the satisfaction of actually holding something in our hands.



Why we should re-read 'The Velveteen Rabbit' by Margery Williams

The Velveteen Rabbit pg 25

This children’s tale, first published in 1922, is about a stuffed toy rabbit and its journey into becoming a ‘real’ rabbit through love. The story confronts the most basic philosophical questions that we struggle to answer throughout our lifetime; ‘Who am I?’

The story is rich with profound quotes, depth, and wisdom. It chronicles the story of the rabbit’s desire to become real through the love of his owner, a young boy. The boy at first shows preference for the shinier more advanced toys instead of the old-fashioned velveteen rabbit, but becomes fond of him when the rabbit keeps him company when he falls ill suddenly. The longer the boy loves the rabbit the shabbier and more worn out the rabbit becomes. The rabbit’s insecurity with his appearance is removed when he realises that the love he has experienced has made him a real rabbit. The story ends with the rabbit leaving the nursery to join the other ‘real’ rabbits in the woods.

“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”


The Velveteen Rabbit shared piece 1

This rich quote is full of complexity and depth. It talks to us about how appearances don’t matter because they are not permanent. The more vulnerable you are, the more you experience life. The more you have loved and have been loved is what matters and what makes you real. Love exposes us to pain, hurt and vulnerability, which in turn makes us stronger and helps us become ‘ourselves’.

“He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these.”

I think a lot of people can relate to this quote. We can’t be real without shedding ourselves bare and possibly getting hurt in the process. The thought of being open and vulnerable is scary yet it is something that makes us experience happiness without restrictions.

The Velveteen Rabbit pg 37

“He didn’t mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn’t matter.”

This is applicable in today’s age with social media and the necessity of perfecting our image to the world. The minute we let go of those expectations we can start experiencing true relationships.

This story of yearning to be something and the hard journey it takes to get there speaks to a lot of our own personal stories. Let’s take a leaf out of this book and love a little louder so we can become our authentic selves.

Illustrations by William Nicholson in ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ by Margery Williams (1922).
From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

A Tale of Three Bookstores

Shakespeare and Company

Nestled on the shore of the Seine across from the Notre Dame is possibly the most famous bookstore in the world. Established in 1951, Shakespeare and Company was a creative nook for writers of the Beat Generation, and continues to attract artists from all over the world to its hallowed shelves. During the day, tourists pour in and out, eager to sit where Burroughs sat and breathe the air that Wright breathed. These artists did more than sit and breathe and write in the building across from the Notre-Dame- they were also invited to sleep in the single cots squeezed between book shelves upstairs in exchange for helping around the shop! George Whitman, the owner, described his business as a “socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore.” It is estimated that 30,000 people have graced these cots since the store’s opening.

The bottom floor of Shakespeare and Co. is a meticulously-stuffed bookstore, where even the tiniest of us must watch to avoid bumping into shelves. At the back of the store, though, is a creaky, narrow set of stairs leading to where the real magic happens. Upstairs there are an infinite number of books too old and too precious to buy, but ready to be read. There’s a typewriter that sits overlooking the Seine and the Cathédrale beyond. There’s an old, slightly out-of-tune piano with a note on it that kindly entreats the player to play softly after 8pm. And there are letters climbing up the walls from visitors worldwide who have felt the urge to leave their mark on this historic place.

At night, Shakespeare and Company is a haven of warmth with the glow of yellowing pages. Open until 10pm, the tourists and their noise are shuffled out by nightfall. Only the stable energy of the books remains, and you can feel why this was the centre of bohemia for the entirety of the 20th century.

Atlantis Books

You know how every Greek travel advertisement is the same shot of white rooftops overlooking a deep blue ocean? This is Oia!- a town built into the rocky face of Santorini island. Most of Oia is resorts, fine dining, and souvenir shops. But there is one commercial enterprise that doesn’t feel like an enterprise at all. Atlantis Books is built into a white cave below street level on the edge of town. To enter the shop, you must manoeuvre your way down a very narrow set of stairs and through a small garden in order to enter a cramped cranny of bookshelves.

Many visitors get caught up with what is at eye-level however, when they should actually be looking up. The roof of Atlantis Books is scrawled with words and a timeline illustrating the life of the store. This timeline begins in 2004, when the doors of the shop opened with the goal of “bringing great art, literature, and conversation to one of the most beautiful environments in the world.” They got the beautiful part right. The roof of Atlantis Books offers a view on the Aegean Sea with the centre of Santorini island springing up in the forefront. I would recommend the roof of Atlantis Books as a prime reading spot, but it is impossible to focus on reading a book with that horizon in the background.

Livraria Lello

To anyone else whose childhood was entirely defined by Harry Potter, have you ever wondered if J.K. Rowling dreamt up Hogwarts entirely from her imagination, or whether she was inspired by real life along the way? The answer is the latter. Rowling lived in Porto, Portugal, for two years, and visited Livraria Lello, a beautiful bookstore in the centre of town. Established in 1906, Livraria Lello is the brainchild of the Lello brothers, and a long-time pillar of Porto literary and social circles. The facade of Lello is reminiscent of the Neo-Gothic, Art Deco, and Art Nouveau styles, but as though this mashup isn’t artistically sufficient, Lello also boasts intricate woodwork and massive stained-glass windows.

The second you step in the door, it is clear what is so ‘Harry Potter-esque’ about the place: the staircase. It twists and winds and bends over on itself. Unlike the Hogwarts staircases, however, it is bright red. The bookstore has reached an iconic status thanks to Rowling, a status that the owners have capitalized on: you must pay in order to get inside. Lello also has its own souvenir store, complete with Harry Potter propaganda in both Portuguese and English.

It is worth the hype though? Absolutely. This is by far the most beautiful bookstore I have ever seen, and it is absolutely worth pushing through the throng of tourists in order to pluck one the hundred identical Harry Potter books off the shelf.

Cover photo by Bonnie Elliott.


VFW Street Style

Every season, the most creative and stylish fashion fanatics descend on Vancouver Fashion Week to spot the latest trends and witness incredible design from across the globe. Now it’s time to shine the spotlight on them! Let’s celebrate their amazing skill in putting an outfit together and take inspiration on what to wear for the next season, FW19, set for 18th-24th March 2019 at the Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza.

Photos by @liyageldman.

Guo Pei: Couture Beyond

Vancouver art gallery tries on Couture for first fashion focused exhibition

Fashion is stamping its mark on the esteemed history of Vancouver Art Gallery as Guo Pei makes her art debut with Guo Pei: Couture Beyond. If the designer’s name doesn’t send any bells chiming in your head perhaps the image of Rihanna gracing the steps of the Met, clad in a cascading canary yellow fox fur cape while a team of people scurry around her to help carry all fifty five pounds of the embroidered silk, may jog your memory. For the first time in Canada, the intricate, artfully detailed creations of the Chinese fashion icon are on display and you certainly don’t want to miss it!

Boasting over 40 designs, the avant-garde silhouettes in each collection embody Guo Pei’s overall aim to capture the magnificence of China’s last imperial dynasty along with a reestablishment of ancient crafting techniques lost in a changing empire. Fashion enthusiasts and art lovers alike are treated to a showcase of career triumphs by the only Chinese national to be invited to join Paris’ Syndicale de la Haute Couture, as they wander through the halls holding collections from 2006 to Spring 2017.

On entering the exhibition, the curators (Diana Freundl and Stephanie Rebick) welcome guests with the awe-inspiring works from Guo Pei’s debut couture collection, Samsara (2006) and whisk them away with the next installation of dresses from An Amazing Journey in a Childhood Dream (2008). Rounding the corner the 1002 Nights (2010) collection holds the focal point of the exhibition that stands alone on a spotlight lit platform in all its golden glory. Yes, we are talking about that silk 24-karat-gold-spun-thread cloak that really is as majestic up close as it was under the glare of flashing cameras.

A personal favourite, the collection didn’t let Rihanna fame overshadow the rest of the pieces, in particular, a silk embroidered gown adorned with Swarovski crystals, hand-painted motifs and topped with a porcelain ornamented tasselled headpiece inspired by the traditional Chinese pale blue and white porcelain bowls.

Splattered with symbolism, Guo Pei continues her blending of ancient tradition with modern sensibilities as the exhibition seamlessly snakes on to Legend of the Dragon (2012) which breaths life into the mythical dragon of the Chinese Zodiac. In the rotunda of the gallery, Guo presents a dynamic display of her collaboration with MAC cosmetics in 2015 from Garden of the Soul.

A youthful vibrancy radiates from this installation, with models sporting colourful wigs to complement the electric blues and oranges of the beaded, crystal embellished shorter dresses.

Concluding the groundbreaking exhibit of expert intricate detailing by one of TIME Magazine’s top 100 most influential people, visitors are bid farewell by an LED lit masterpiece of glittering gems as a dress almost resembling a lampshade, topped off with a bejewelled religious metal cross rounds off the final collections, Encounter (2016) and Legend (2017).

A revolutionary individual herself, there never has been a more deserving creator to revolutionize the future of VAG exhibitions than Guo Pei and her couture works of art.

Organized in collaboration with SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion and Film the exquisite exhibition is at the Vancouver Art Gallery until January 20, 2019.

By Lucy Norris

@LUCEBLOGGER

Photo: Courtesy of SCAD

Yellow Is Forbidden: Designer Guo Pei

When Rihanna walked the red carpet at the 2015 Met Gala sporting a 25-kilo dress spun from gold and fox fur, the fashion world gawked, and a new star was born: Chinese designer Guo Pei. Raised in Beijing (and still based there), Guo has become much more than a top fashion personage—being Chinese, she is both a living example of China’s rising fortunes and a political symbol, whether she wishes to be or not (she says not), of the possibilities for achievement under the Chinese regime. (It is not for nothing that Time magazine put her on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2016).

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Now, the legendary designer’s story has spurred the new documentary Yellow is Forbidden, made by Auckland filmmaker Pietra Brettkelly.

Brettkelly’s deep-dive chronicle of Guo as person, fashion star and emblem benefits enormously from the fact that she had full cooperation from the energetic designer. But this isn’t hagiography: the behind-the-scenes access to the preparations for Guo’s make-or-break Paris runway show, while both fascinating and tense, show the conflicted side of the fashion world and Guo’s place in it.

With a client list that includes Beyonce and Rihanna, fashion lovers ought to be waiting on the edge of their seats to see this eye-opening story and Vancouverites have the chance to see the film on the big screen this week at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Yellow is Forbidden (https://goviff.org/yellow-is-forbidden/) is playing Oct 7 & 10, with Guo Pei herself set to attend the film’s opening screening at the Vancouver Playhouse on the 7th, ahead of an exhibition of her work titled Guo Pei: Couture Beyond opening at the Vancouver Art Gallery (https://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/the_exhibitions/exhibit_guopei.html) later this month.

More information about Yellow is Forbidden can be found at the VIFF website: https://goviff.org/yellow-is-forbidden/)

For $2 off your ticket price, order online with the promo code VF18YELLOW

 

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/262913757

 

Monti: Rome's cool, creative quarter

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Traveling to any major tourist destination can always be a stressful situation; weaving in and out of tourist traps, dodging vendors selling goods etc. But...in the middle of the mayhem in Rome, just a few blocks away from the Colosseum, there is a haven for locals and visitors alike...Monti! The streets here are so picturesque, it feels like walking into an Anthropology store in real life. Rows of buildings coloured in pastel shades and hanging vines, the smell of Jasmine flowers radiate off of every breeze...

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...Needless to say, I was completely enchanted by this neighbourhood. My husband and I spent much of our time wandering these winding streets. 

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If you're familiar with Italian customs, then you know about Aperitivo. If not, it's like Italian Happy hour, where drinks are often accompanied by free snacks or a buffet. Here in Monti, the locals gather around the Piazza della Madonna dei Monti with a beer or a wine from the bar across the square. It's an excellent place to gather with friends, or people watch if you're traveling solo. For those interested in a little more structure and more of something to eat, Aperitivo at Analema Cafe has an excellent buffet and a great atmosphere. 

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Have a little time before dinner? It's time to get that perfect "Roma Photograph". Trust me, it won't take long to find a picturesque spot. There's also Gelato right around the corner from the Piazza if it's hot and you need to cool down a little or if you're just in the mood for a tasty treat. Really, is there ever a bad time for Gelato? (No, the answer is no).

I scream, you scream, we all scream... for gelato?

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For dinner there are so many incredible places lining the streets. My husband and I chose to try Urbana 47 (recommended by the Roman Guy) on their Monti travel guide. It's trendy and delicious with rotating daily specials that will blow your mind. In addition to an excellent cocktail selection. 

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Be sure to take a stroll through Monti next time you're in Rome. I guarantee your stomach and Instagram feed will thank you.

LISBON – LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

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We might never be able to explain what makes us connect with certain places or people more than others. This instant unexplainable connection might not happen very often but that’s what makes it special when it does. I clicked with the Portuguese capital as soon as I landed, little did I know that this short trip will have such a big impact on me.

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Lisbon took me by surprise because I wasn’t sure what to expect, and not having much time to explore the city due to a hectic work schedule made the experience a little more intense then I imagined. Nevertheless in the short time I had I discovered a town full of history, taste, color and a lot of soul. I also discovered that packing 4 pairs of heels and no flats is a big (actually make it huge) mistake in an old steeply town that is built from tiny slippery cobble stones.

The emotional souvenir I took from this trip will remain disclosed for now, but what I will reveal is that you will be seeing me in front of those pastel buildings very soon.

Words by Roza Sinaysky @moodyroza

Photos: by Liya Geldman

MUSIC REVIEW: Sloan

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The Canadian rock vets from Nova Scotia, now based in Toronto, have released their twelfth full-length after the longest break between albums of their career. The album, fittingly called 12, features twelve tracks, with each of the four members contributing and singing three songs.

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Bassist Chris Murphy takes the mic on opening track and lead single “Spin Our Wheels” which provides my favourite chorus of the album with a classic Blue Rodeo rock vibe. His other contributions include “Don’t Stop” and “Wish Upon a Satellite” which show off his well-oiled vocals but deliver less of a punch than the opener.

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“All of the Voices”, sung by the bearded guitarist Patrick Pentland gives off a Nirvana vibe minus the vocals, while the single “The Day Will Be Mine” delivers a driven beat and infectious chorus. Pentland caps off his contributions with “Have Faith”, another favourite of the album, with an uplifting message and a harmonic chorus. Jay Ferguson, also on guitar, has the most stand out voice of the group, with a higher pitch that lends itself to a poppier feel on his tracks with a Beatles-like sound.

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Drummer Andrew Scott’s tracks show a Led Zeppelin influence with the slower moving tracks of the album that fail to grab me as much as the others. 27 years into their career, Sloan has proved that they can still pump out a solid set of rock tunes, and with equal contributions from each member, the album keeps you on your toes. 8/10

Music Review: Hey Ocean!

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Hey Ocean! is a female-led alternative pop trio out of Vancouver that recently returned with their fourth studio album after taking a few years off. Singer Ashleigh Ball and guitarist/co-vocalist David Beckingham have been friends since childhood and their shared vocal duties throughout these nine tracks adds quite the variety to the album.

Pop-friendly “Amsterdam” starts the album off strong with arguably the catchiest hook of the nine tracks. “Can’t Let Go” changes pace completely and sounds like a song from The War on Drugs before moving into another pop-strong hook and they take influence from UK bands like Keane and Snow Patrol on the slow burning “Just Enough”.

The title track is a daydream amid it all where Beckingham’s airy vocals float through the somewhat funky verse into a Beach Boys- esque chorus. Bassist David Vertesi takes the lead on “Soul of My Heart”, that gives off a slight The National vibe with his baritone vocals and slow-paced delivery overtop dark guitar.

“To the Sea” is a dismal finish to the album consisting of Ball softly singing over a light piano and aching violin of losing someone to the sea. A pleasant listen with a range of influences led by a talented vocal pairing, Hey Ocean! has made a graceful return. 6.5/10

Sunny Days - A Summer Playlist

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One of my favourite things about summer is listening to happy, upbeat songs. Dancing to The Beatles or Vance Joy while doing dishes instantly makes my day a bit brighter. Here are my top tunes inspired by summer road trips, throwing a frisbee around on Wreck Beach, and sitting around the campfire with friends. Take a listen, and enjoy the sun!

Playground in the Desert: Coachella

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Imagining my childhood I can clearly remember being curious about the ordinary and looking at everything with wonder. Walking through the entrance into Coachella there is a palpable shift in energy, where each individual is filled with this feeling. Coachella, a music and arts festival based in Southern California, is a wonderland for the child at heart. There’s a youthful excitement about all aspects of the festival. The fashion, food, and artwork are all so awe-inspiring, let alone the music. Coachella felt like a playground, a place to be in the moment (besides making sure to post insta worthy photos on social media) and a place to have fun.

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The fashion is unlike normal streetwear, it’s more edgy and adventurous. Every festival-goer expressed themselves through their carefully curated look. From swimsuits to rompers and everything in between, almost every style was on display.

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The food is a whole new adventure, and also played on the idea of nostalgia. Restaurants such as Mom’s Spaghetti, which offered a classic spaghetti and meatballs, brought each individual back to their childhood. Or, Seabirds vegan grilled cheese with creamy pesto offered a new twist on a classic favourite.

And of course the main event, the music, was just as attention-grabbing. Odesza’s performance featured futuristic drones, which moved into different formations throughout their songs. Petit Biscuit performed with a lot of energy, with screens showing space graphics of the universe.

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The artwork was so playful and captivating. The Do Lab stage was a beautifully created tent-like area which featured a flower-like water gun, reminding me of gym class when students would sit underneath a large coloured parachute. Even the Balloon Chain, by Robert Bose, which featured a line of balloons leading to the sky was a marvel. The artpiece Lodestar by Randy Polumbo, was something out of a storybook.

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Coachella is about living in the moment, a huge party set in a desert playground. I’ll definitely be back next year.

Polaroid images taken by Alexa Wenzel.