ANASTASIA LOMONOVA a fashion design rock star

ANASTASIA LOMONOVA has a unique story and a unique namesake label. Born in Ukraine, raised in Cyprus and now lives in Montreal, ANASTASIA is an enigma that’ll keep you guessing fashion show after fashion show.

One common thread since the establishment of the namesake label in 2007, has been dedication to showcasing a creative vision that’s independent of popular trends. For example, both SS and FW 2012 collections lack the widespread inclination of the overwhelming use of colour. As much as I enjoy including colour in everyday wardrobe, there’s something to be said for an impactful dress in a neutral palette that can be worn casually or dressed up with statement jewellery pieces for a night out.

ANASTASIA LOMONOVA also brings a lot of unconventional structure to her collections, mixing fabrics, playing with shapes and different shades of neutrals. Her work seems contradicting when romantic influences are combined with dark colours and flowy shapes are actually superbly structured designs. That said, the collections still feel emotional, elegant, stimulating, and created for ambitious women.

Check out the online boutique, or contact Anastasia directly for custom order pieces through her web-site.

All images from Anastasia Lomonova web-site.

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CHARLOTTE HOSTEN: breaking rules, maintaining tradition

I truly can’t imagine anyone not appreciating, enjoying and loving CHARLOTTE HOSTEN jewellery. The Montreal-based designer captures imagination with original, boundless, luxurious and distinctive pieces.

When I saw CHARLOTTE HOSTEN colliers, I was reminded of a few quotes by Alexander McQueen, a man I admire because of his humble, brilliant, honest and self-proclaimed blemished nature. He’s been quoted stating: “I spent a long time learning how to construct clothes, which is important to do before you can deconstruct them”*and “You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.”**

CHARLOTTE HOSTEN pieces, to some, may seem overwhelming but they are perfectly balanced with unique beads, chains, ribbons, charms, fabrics, leather, pearls, jewels, and feathers. Each piece has a lot going on but it’s exceptionally designed and balanced because of the designer’s intimate knowledge of the basics, and innate desire to push boundaries as well as emphasis on imagination and creativity. To create prominent pieces that will be cherished for generations on end, one first has to know the basics, and then work within those basics but with progression to achieve new greatness and evolution.

To note, CHARLOTTE HOSTEN colliers are the perfect gift you can gift yourself or a friend. They will make any and every simple dress or outfit stand out. You can find certain pieces on Etsy.

* Bolton, Andrew, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, pg.30, Yale University Press, New Haven

All Images from Charlotte Hosten web-site.

JOHN FLUEVOG crème de la crème of shoes

JOHN FLUEVOG is known around the world, yet, so many are unaware of the brand’s existence and have no idea that it’s Canadian, based in the wonderful city of Vancouver. None the less, I kind of understand, because the brand has been around since the 1970’s and it’s a staple and a cult … of awesome. I’m convinced that I can be friends with anyone who wears and likes JOHN FLUEVOG shoes because only the crème de la crème wear them. True story.

What amazing detail! John Fluevog

I can proudly call myself a regular at the JOHN FLUEVOG Queen West boutique in Toronto. It’s a bit of a custom of mine to visit JOHN FLUEVOG boutiques in the cities that I visit not only because of the possibility of getting a new, unique pair of shoes but also because, somehow, the best, most fun and personable people work there. So it’s a great way to make friends in cities you don’t know. Also, true story.

Class with pizazz for men

Going beyond the amazing designs, shapes, colours and styles of the shoes, JOHN FLUEVOG is a company with amazing culture, fun marketing flair and lovability. For example, the Jobs section of their web-site reads “You’d have to be insane not to want to work for John Fluevog” and rightfully so, because the company supports its talented employees through “The Fluevog Artist Grant  [that] makes $10,000 available to eligible Fluevog staff every year, and may be split between candidates based on merit as decided by the Committee.”

I adore how these look in pictures! Yet, I tried them on at the store and they’re just a wee-bit too narrow. Very stunning still

They also have a fabulous online store, although if you have a wider foot (guilty!) I would strongly suggest, if you can, going into a boutique and try a few styles on as some fit quite snug.

I feel LOVE

These look gorgeous with jeans and one of the most unique pattern I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately for me, they have a high arch and I couldn’t fit my foot!

NEW Queen Transcendent Elizabeth design by John Fluevog

All images from www.fluevog.com and there’s so much more.

CREEP by HIROSHI AWAI – Japan meets Canada for men’s fashion

In my humble opinion, CREEP is the quintessential Canadian, and especially Torontonian, brand. To me, Toronto has always been a truly international city. Firstly and most importantly, because our streets are filled with people of different races, backgrounds, sexual preferences, political views, hair colours, you name it, we go it, and we get along quite nicely! Secondly,  because we’re recognized for our cultural and financial influences including the third largest stock exchange in North America – TSX, a humbly successful film festival – TIFF, and a booming condo market that has attracted serious international dollars.

SS 2012 Collection by CREEP – I’m loving this whole look, and the model

That said, CREEP is a Canadian because it represent what we’re about. The brand is originally from Osaka, Japan founded in 1997 by Kiyofumi Awai. In 2008, Hiroshi Awai, Toronto bound since 2000 and also Kiyofumi’s younger brother, became the creative director of CREEP, now a men’s only line. The label’s head-office is in Toronto with international distribution offices in London, UK, Los Angeles, USA, and Hyogo, Japan, and a substantial list of stores from Vancouver to New Zealand carry the line.

On an international scale, Canadian fashion is mostly known for our tuxedo, parkas, fur, and plaid. And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The rest of the world has been trying to dress like us for the last three years! Why are we afraid of it? CREEP, for the FW 2012 collection, embraced the Canadian fashion and, as they’ve been doing since the beginning, incorporated the Japanese requirement for high quality and design. The functionality, stylish designs, just the right amount of patters and colours, as well as, an overall contemporary flare of all of the collections, make CREEP a go to brand for young, international men.

I know at least dozen guys who would sport this whole look, especially the orange Eskimo short parka from FW 2012 collection, CREEP.

There is something mesmerizing and oh-so-cool about the blazer, I think it’s the pattern – SS 2012, CREEP

Canadian, eh? FW 2012, CREEP

This FW 2012 look remind me of Vancouver, CREEP

All images from www.creep-clothing.com 

LOVE JULES create leather goods differently

LOVE JULES LEATHER credit their passion for creating leather goods to isolation, being based in Whistler, B.C., and travel, including their recent trips to London, Paris, Amsterdam, New York City, and San Francisco. The journey of the creative duo, consisting of Jules and Josh, began in 2008 after Jules, a Nova Scotia College of Art and Design graduate, apprenticed with a Dartmouth leathers, fell in love with the craft, began experimenting and, like many free-spirited B.C. young souls, decided to do what felt right. And now,  “LOVE JULES has grown to where it is today a result of nothing more than passion, perseverance, and trial & (much) error.”

Custom Handcrafted Guns N’ (Victorian) Roses Boat Shoes – Cream patent print – Etched Pistols – MADE to ORDER

What caught my eye were the LOVE JULES superior distinctive boat shoes that they have coined as “Westsiders”, a play on Sperry’s “Topsiders”, and high-tops.  Each pair are easily identifiable by a simple yet unique logo at the top of the tongue, and cool personal designs that have been hand etched with a wood burning pen that won’t fade or crack like the screen print designs. Finding out that each pair is individually hand-made (with very minimal machine support) by Jules and Josh in their Whistler basement / studio was unimaginable!  None the less, this makes it easy for the customer to order whatever size, etched design or personalization they want. To see all the availability, give LOVE JULES Etsy site a go.

Josh and Jules of LOVE JULES

I contacted LOVE JULES with a few questions to incorporate in this post and because the response that I received was personal, simple and honest I had to share it.
We’d like to be known as that little rogue mountain based shoe company who does things just a little bit differently than everyone else. 
Josh and Jules

Navy & Faux Denim n’ Tan Leather Boat Shoes with etched ANCHORs – MADE TO ORDER

If you want to be known for one thing, what would it be? 
Perseverance. A lil’ nothing that became (hopefully) something. 
The ideal next 5 years for Love Jules looks like:
  • A little work-live mini-factory/ creative space here in Whistler, filled with beautiful & burly machines & a vegetable garden in the back. 
  • We’d like to produce a volume of shoes that is a lot by our standards but a drop in the bucket as far as the shoe industry is concerned. We’ll continue to design & produce in-house
  • We’ll never compromise on quality, and we refuse to get lazy. We want to be perpetually growing (creatively).
  • The ability to support the local community by actually employing local creative types would be a dream. We’re a great team, but we’re only two-strong right now. We’ve got room to grow. 
  • The connection to our customers is important, and it will always be a goal to predominantly sell/ communicate direct. Though, it would also be cool to align ourselves with some like minded retailers… maybe one in each of the cities we love. Something to give us that much reason to jump on a jet plane every now and then… 
  • Collaborations. Lots of collaborations.

Handcrafted HIGHTOP Leather Boat Shoes – Distressed Black and Purple with purple Pendleton detail and liner – MADE to ORDER

Handcrafted HIGHTOP Leather Boat Shoes – Distressed Oiled Dark Tan Cowhide & etched pistols – Dark Brown CUFF

REBEKAH PRICE JEWELS

Now that fall is in full swing, winter is tip-toeing into our lives, and holiday season is very close, I already overheard people talking about holiday parties, Starbucks Canada has rolled out its infamous red-cup, and, admit it, you already started thinking about gift-giving. Many women, myself including, tend to purchase gifts for ourselves. REBEKAH PRICE, a Toronto-based jewellery designer with the namesake brand, is that perfect gift for yourself that you can flaunt during the holiday parties adding a lot more sparkle, colour and confidence to the warm, cozy and happy season.

Bow Tie Collar Necklace from Fall 2012 collection

REBEKAH PRICE, born in LA, studied business and design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, interned with Elie Tahari, and,  in 2007, launched her line in Toronto while raising three kids. Since the launch, REBEKAH PRICE show-stopping jewellery have been featured in so many renowned magazines including Vogue, Fashion and InStyle, that I feel out of touch with the world. If I had one word to describe REBEKAH PRICE, I’d choose: Superwoman!

Rebekah Price

The rings, necklaces, cuffs, bracelets, and earrings are whimsical, colourful, sparkly as well as strong, independent, statement making and a little rough around the edges, making them perfect for anyone. Although many are using Swarovski crystals, Rebekah differentiates her pieces and makes a statement by surrounding the antique sparkling delights with brass, oxidized silver, gold and rose gold (my personal favourite).

Sphinx Collar Style A, Fall 2012 Collection, Rebekah Price

One of my favourite things about the brand is the life-loving, fun and energetic attitude despite the extravagant, strong and glamorous designs that are usually associated with poshness. REBEKAH PRICE web-site blares Fatboy Slim’s remix of “I’m a Rainbow Too” by Bob Marley, which is fantastic. Most young women would, at first, feel a little intimidated looking for, purchasing and wearing daring pieces like Rebekah’s, but the energetic and laid-back song on the site makes anyone comfortable browsing and buying. I think this speaks volumes of the designer’s personality and enables the consume connect with the brand.

REBEKAH PRICE abfab pieces can be found at luxury retailers including Holt Renfrew, contemporary boutiques, and for the online shoppers, check out eLUXE.

“Betty Line Collection” by Rebekah Price was designed in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The collection in names in honour of Rebekah’s late grandmother.

I LOVE THE HOROSCOPE collection!

Great colour combo in the Double Rivoli Necklace Style B, Fall 2012 collection

STUNNER Goth Ring, Fall 2012

Braided Fireworks Band Style B, Fall 2012 collection, Rebekah Price

Images from http://www.rebekahprice.com

PHILIP SPARKS humble tailor with distinct flavour

PHILIP SPARKS, a Toronto-based designer, has romanticized men’s style just enough so that it’s still very much masculine but is admired by women (me, especially). PHILIP SPARKS TAILORED GOODS INC., established in 2007, is a men’s and women’s clothing and accessories brand that’s 100% Canadian and is defined by the “nostalgic feeling, referencing vintage details and classic tailoring, but a contemporary sensibility.”

I’ve dropped into the boutique on Ossington St. in Toronto a few times, and although the atmosphere is minimalistic, the men’s clothes are anything but. Philip, as a designer and a businessman, is very aware of what his target market, the successful yet humble men, are looking for and feel comfortable in. PHILIP SPARKS, the clothing line, is classically tailored to perfection and stands out from the crowd just enough not to bring too, too much attention. I believe it’s enlightening to what men’s fashion should be: comfortable, outstanding quality and shape, distinctive but not outrageous.

I died and went to heaven when I saw these!

PHILIP SPARKS, the designer, has collaborated with DANIER –  a collection I believe to be unbelievably striking; as well as TOWN SHOES. You would wonder who benefits most from such a collaboration, after all, DANIER and TOWN SHOES are two of Canada’s major retailers and collaborating with Philip Sparks brings serious exposure for a fairly young designer. None the less, Philip’s distinct taste and vision certainly bring the right customer to the stores and definitely the revenue. So, it’s a win-win for both parties.

Every person in their right mind would want this bad as their travelling companion. Philip Sparks for Danier.

Philip Sparks, Fall 2012 Collection. Loving the understated look that will have girls’ heads turning

Philip Sparks Fall 2012 Collection. Classy with just enough to differentiate you from the crowd

Another great suit by Philip Sparks, from Fall 2012 Collection

* Image’s from Philip’s web and Facebook page and Danier.com

WE HAVE THE TALENT, PROMOTE IT MORE

ASHTIANI is an emerging, award-winning, luxury fashion brand that, since it’s inception in 2011, showcased four distinctive and on-brand collections that deserve international praise. In contrast, during the SS 2013 Toronto Fashion Week, ASHTIANI’s collection was presented to a select few on one of the small runways. Despite the space limitation and lack of influential eyes, ASHTIANI’s SS2013 collection got some of this year’s best reviews by Evan Biddell of The Star calling the designer “truly one of the undiscovered gems of the Toronto Fashion Week”. The Globe’s Deirdre Kelly named Golnaz Ashtiani “as the one-to-watch”. Although the designer has been featured in mags and blogs, overall, not many fashionistas, bloggers or editors truly rave about it, not to mention the common Canadian.

ASHTIANI AW12, SS12, AW12 looks

Although marketing and PR teams are of vital importance to grow and expand a label, the costs associated with them are sky-high and, most of the time, unaffordable for emerging designers. As such, for the first few years, just like in every start-up, the owner is the head chef and the bottle washer. Point in case, Bojana Sentaler, the Creative Director behind Toronto-based SENTALER luxury coats, is just beginning to expand her one-person shop after three years being in business and achieving doubling revenue year after year! 

It’s incredibly admirable for Bojana Sentaler, Creative Director behind SENTALER luxury coats, to achieve success doing everything on her own for the past three years.

Of course, part of the responsibility of becoming a publicly notorious fashion house, brand or label is that of the designer. But, the designer’s true calling lies in creating the life-style that the rest of us envision.

Designers are visionaries, first and foremost.  Twice a year, they create and showcase a direction in style and fashion for the rest of us, before we even realize it’s what we want. I believe that’s tough enough.

MICHI, a luxury lifestyle brand, has been designing and producing rule-bending active wear in Toronto. Looks from Fall 2012 collection.

Radio and TV stations in Canada must broadcast a certain percentage of Canadian Content, as defined in the CRTC regulations. According to Fraser Institute, an independent Canadian research and educational organization, annual broadcast content quota on Canadian TV stations must consist of a whopping 60% Canadian programming, and at least 50% of prime-time programming (6:00 pm to midnight). For radio, MAPL regulations require 40% Canadian Content. Although such policies are  a burden and a cure, supporting Canadian talent is important and beneficial for the talent, and, at the very least, it’s also good for the rest of us from the entrepreneurial and economic perspective.

From Mark Fast’s Faster luxury basics line. Not sure how to wear this but Christian Aguilera pulled it off.

I can’t help but wonder why don’t Canadian personalities, hosts and other public figures promote Canadian fashion designers to help, globally, showcase our talent? Canadian magazines should consistently and independently feature Canadian designers and fashion. This would greatly help the designers grow and remain Canadian. MARK FAST, a Winnipeg-born designer who made  knit wear internationally popular as well as sexy and racy, has been based in London since he started his label. Mark, studied in Europe, made his connections there and it makes perfect sense  to start-up shop there. DAVID DIXON, somewhat of a Canadian fashion veteran, was quoted in a March 2012 article on CBC, stating that “Over the past few years, Canada has become a little hot spot, and a lot of these designers … Jeremy Laing, Erdem — even though [they’re] not based here — still represent Canada.” They certainly represent Canada but does Canada support and assist in representing them as much as, say, London or New York?  Golnaz Ashtiani, graduated from London College of Fashion and moved to Toronto. A brilliant talent that we can only hope will stay in Canada.

ANASTASIA RADEVICH is a Montreal-based luxury shoe designer with an incredible knack and passion for modern and futuristic shoe-design.

I would love to challenge Canadian editors, stylists, bloggers, self-proclaimed fashionistas and PR professionals to continuously search out and promote unique Canadian talent that will help those fascinating and risk-taking creative minds grow, expand, stay Canadian, and gain global brand recognition. JOE FRESH will always be featured in the news because they have the knowledge, reputation, and resources. And, most certainly, Louis Vuitton is going to get the best ad space in a glossy but when will ASHTIANI, SENTALER, ANNE SPORTUN, ANDREW FLOYD, MICHI and ANASTASIA RADEVICH become international names? The longer we wait, the more these designers fall into the possibility of being mimicked, tempted to move their brand elsewhere or be offered the fame of working under an already established fashion house.

Some of the looks from Joe Fresh SS 2013 collection, from https://www.facebook.com/joefresh

SENTALER luxury coats

It is just right to have luxury coats designed in a city that lives for fall and winter, Toronto. SENTALER luxurious outerwear specializes in stunning, quality driven and perfectly crafted coats that are hand finished with alpaca, one of the world’s finest fabrics.

As much as I am a rock-n-roll type-a-gal, more so than not, I am drawn to elegant staples. Coats are a staple that I splurge on for a few reasons, including:

  1. it lasts longer than a season
  2. it has to complement what’s underneath and thus, should be versatile and elegant
  3. it’s worn a lot
  4. it can make you feel and look like a powerhouse.

Of course, no one says you should only have one coat but my rule of thumb is that YOU SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST ONE QUALITY COAT, and that means putting up a bit more cash than usual. If you’re in the market for a beautifully tailored coat that will make you happy, contemporary and confident, I highly suggest SENTALER.

Along with the beautiful designs of the Sentaler coats, comes a beautiful and intelligent designer, BOJANA SENTALER. It is truly important in any industry but in fashion especially, to have the right personality, smarts and creativity come together to form a successful business. Bojana has now been featured in a lot of magazines, TV shows and blogs but what I find most endearing about her is her personal sense of confidence and sophistication. She is a great role model for young women.

All images from Sentaler web-site.

ANNE SPORTUN EXCLUSIVE, part 2: custom jewellery

ANNE SPORTUN‘s design and creative process is unique, stylish and contemporary which is also embodied in her jewelry. In addition to the pieces you can find in the flagship store (742 Queen St. W., Toronto) and online, ANNE and her team also accommodate customers in one of a kind, custom jewelry. And, they have truly perfected the art of custom jewellery creation with utmost success.

Anne Sportun One of a Kind ring

Who wouldn’t adore a ring that combines the memories of your grandmother’s engagement ring, your mom’s elegant flare and your own personal style? However, looking for a trustworthy designer who can hand-hold you through the delicate process of creating something new from something sentimental is a thought not many of us are comfortable with.

Luckily, ANNE SPORTUN and her team have been assisting customers with designing pieces for their new beginnings (engagement, wedding, new job, tax-return, new wedding, divorce) for a long time. From the moment you walk into the flagship boutique, you will be accommodated by caring staff with in-depth understanding of jewelry as well as customers needs. They  are extremely accommodating, understanding and hard working. For example, ANNE SPORTUN’s team worked with a passionate, young professional on designing a ring that incorporated stones from the rings that she already owned. Completely understanding the monetary hardships of  a young professionals, ANNE’s team also credited the young woman for the precious metals in the rings that she no longer wanted (she actually got rid of all the rings from her previous boyfriends!).

Working with Anne Sportun was amazing. Fantastic experience for me the whole process. The ladies were always really helpful and always cheerful. It was a long process due to my end but they were never anything but amazing. I am really happy I had this experience with them and have an incredibly ring I havent taken off since I picked it up at their store. Couldnt have better things to say about a company.

Just one satisfied customer that was more than happy to provide feedback to me when I e-mailed her!

For those looking for the perfect engagement ring, ANNE offers something called a ‘Presentation Ring‘. The lucky guy is assisted in choosing an ANNE SPORTUN design that he believes his future wife would love. He proposes with the ring and, if the lucky girl believes that she would like something different, the couple can return to the store to either choose a different design or a custom order. Read further about the Presentation Ring on ANNE SPORTUN’s blog.

One of my favourite custom ring ideas is the “new beginnings” ring. The idea behind it being that a fashionable woman who passionately decided to move on with a new life after marriage, works with ANNE to design and create a new ring for herself from pieces of the old one! It’s brilliant to be this accommodating and understanding of today’s desires and needs of everyday women.

Ladies and gents, go mad with investing ‘portable wealth’ that will not only increase in value but will bring you joy!

Also, check out the original Anne Sportun post and Anne Sportun Exclusive, part 1.

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Images provided by Anne Sportun’s marketing team. Thank you!