Fashion in Song – Fashion Is Danger (2009)

This 80’s send-up is by New Zealand comedy team The Flight of the Conchords.

L-l-l-look look look

I’m the edge, I’m the chic, I’m the taste
I’m a larger than life with just a hint of lace
I’m avant-garde, I’m the heir, I’m the vogue
I’m the she she ohh hee hee, I’m the man a la mode

Pr-pr-president reagan
Thatcher th-th-thatcher

Ooh ooh ooh ooh
You think you know fashion, well fashion’s a stranger
You think fashion’s your friend, my friend
Fashion is dangerposing at the bar

(Posing) posing sitting down
(Posing) posing in the distance
(Posing) posing with my arm
(Posing) posing with my leg
(Posing) posing like a swan
(Posing) posing for a portrait

Hey! Hey-Hey! Hey! Yeah, Ooh

You think you know fashion,
Well, fashion’s a stranger
You think fashion’s your friend,
My friend, fashion is danger

Moscow, Berlin, Paris, London, Tokyo, Wellington, Rome, Geneva
New York City
New-New-New New York City, ooh

You think you know fashion,
Well, fashion’s a stranger
You think fashion’s your friend,
My friend, fashion is danger


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Canadian Fashion Connection – The Woodward’s Jingle

If you grew up in Vancouver in the 1960s and 1970s like I did, you knew this tune – the $1.49 Day jingle. I blogged about Woodward’s, the Vancouver department store that was in business from 1892 to 1992 a while back, but I didn’t mention their famous advertising jingle.

The tune was written by Australian-born Tony Antonias on February 17, 1958 while he was the creative director of the Vancouver radio station CKNW. He had just returned to work after a Christmas holiday in Australia to find a new typewriter on his desk, and an unwelcome assignment on his work plan. He was to write a creative advertisement for Woodward’s. When he hit his computer in frustration, the machine made a couple of ‘dings’ that started the tune in his head.

The ‘$1.49 day’ ad was used to promote a number of specials that always made Woodward’s the place to be on any given Tuesday (I recall stockings, underpants and bath towels were commonly promoted on Tuesdays.) Three years after the jingle was first aired in April 1958, Tony received an award from the Hollywood Advertising Club in California for creating one of the world’s best radio advertisements. Like it or not, it sticks with you!

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Grammy Wowzers

Like I said in the post about the Golden Globes, I don’t watch any of these shows anymore, but I do like to see the red carpet frocks and there were some real show stoppers at this year’s Grammys. Edgier than most awards shows, the Grammys offered some fun pieces that I thought were worth noting. Some of the overall trends included LOTS of shoulder, vintage cowboy, 60s retro, and for some reason — hats…

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CAFTCAD First Annual Awards

Last night was the first annual awards for CAFTCAD (Canadian Alliance of Film & Television Costume Arts & Design). The national organization promotes, networks, and shares knowledge with Canadians involved in costume design in film, television and other forms of media.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

About 200 gathered at the Aga Khan Museum (most dressed creatively – as one would expect from the crowd), to honour some of the many talented people who work in the costuming industry. Kenn and I were delighted to be asked to each sit on a panel that picked nominees for the various categories. The nominations were then voted upon by the general membership to decide who would be recognized for excellence at the awards event.

Sgawaay K’uuna – The Edge of the Knife

Entres nous, some of the categories were really hard to decide who should be singled out, but I did have some favourites. It was hard not to notice Debra Hanson and her team’s brilliant work on the Daphne Guiness inspired styling of Schitt’s Creek. Also, the building, breaking down and creative designing for A Series of Unfortunate Events and the tiny budget used to recreate the traditionally-dressed Haida community for Sgawaay K’uuna were stand-outs for me. All of these took home awards for excellence – for a complete list of nominees and winners, check out the CAFTCAD website.

Schitt’s Creek – Moira Rose channeling Daphne Guiness…

Excellence in Crafts – Costume Illustration: A Series of Unfortunate Events– Season 2 Illustrator: Keith Lau 

Excellence in Crafts – Textile Arts:  A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2 Key Breakdown Artist: Sage Lovett, Breakdown Artist: Chance Lovett 

Excellence in Crafts – Building:  The Shape of Water Cutter: Tamiyo Tomihiro, Seamstresses: Ying Zhao & Sylvie Bonniere 

Best Styling in Commercials & Music Videos:  Woods Canada “Is There” Stylist: Marie- Eve Tremblay 

Best Costume Design in a Web Series:  Chateau Laurier Costume Designer: Joanna Syrokomla 

Best Costume Design in Short Film: ROPEd Costume Designer: Joanna Syrokomla 

Best Costume Design in Low Budget Feature: Sgawaay K’uuna – The Edge of the Knife Costume Designer: Athena Theny 

Best Costume Design in TV – Contemporary: Schitt’s Creek Costume Designer: Debra Hanson 

Best Costume Design in TV – Period: Anne with an E Costume Designer: Alexander Reda 

Best Costume Design in TV – Sci-Fi/Fantasy: A Series of Unfortunate Events Costume Designer: Cynthia Summers 

Best Costume Design in Film- Contemporary:  Hold The Dark Costume Designer: Antoinette Messam 

Best Costume Design in Film – Period: The Shape of Water Costume Designer: Luis Sequeira

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As Seen In – 1837 sunglasses

This painting of Nathanial Olds was done in 1837 by Jeptha Homer Wade and is in the Cleveland Art Museum. Olds is wearing shaded glasses, similar to this pair I recently found online:

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Basotho Heritage Blankets

Blankets featured in the film Black Panther were manufactured in Randfontein, a small mining town in South Africa by a company called Aranda Textile Mills. The company was started by Dr. Magni, an Italian who immigrated to South Africa with his two brothers after World War II to rebuild their family’s weaving industry that had been destroyed in Prato during the war. The first blankets were produced in 1953. In the 1980s, the Basotho heritage style blankets, which are worn every day in the colder higher regions, were designed by two Englishmen, R.D. Shrubsole and Colin Tunnington, who were experts in Basotho culture. The stripe, which was originally a weaving error, has become a trademark of the blankets. The stripe is worn vertically to denote growth. The blankets began to be sold in Johannesburg about 30 years ago with a branch store in Ficksburg, on the border of Lesotho.

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Fashion in Song – Sex Is In The Heel from Kinky Boots (2013)

The sex is in the heel even if you break it
The sex is in the heel, honey you can’t fake it
Jack it up ’cause I’m no flat tire
Mack it up six inches higher
The sex is in the heel so just embrace itFrom London to Milan
Stilettos are an ism
In red and neon life
Gimme Jimmy Choo, Choo, Choo, Choo, Choo, shoes
New York, Paris, Hong Kong
Live it like an ism
Seduction amplified
The heel is the transmission Asserting actual scientific reason
Heels tense the leg and the hindquarter region
Lifting the rear and making it appear
Pert and ready for mating seasonThat’s the scientific view. But you know what I say?
The sex is in the heel
Fierce as you can make it
The sex is the appeal
Kinky boys can shake itPump it up
Pump it up
Till it’s ostentatious
Funk it up, Funk it up
It’s contagious
The sex is in the heel so just embrace itFrom London to Milan
Feed that chic hot feeling
In red and neon life
Won’t go nowhere without
M-m-my Manolos
New York, Paris, Hong Kong
Stilettos leave ’em reeling
Seduction amplifiedThe heel should hit the ceiling
The heel should hit the
The heel should hit the ceilingFrom London to Milan
Stilettos are an ism
In red and neon life
Gotta lotta p-p-p-p-p-p-Prada
New York, Paris, Hong Kong
Live it like an ism
Seduction amplified
The heel is the transmissionThese are brilliant. I’d wear any one of them.You are not our niche market.There are some very interesting ideas here.They’re all stiletto heels. It’s physically impossible to make a
Stiletto that can bear the weight of a full-grown man.Not so fast.If we could mold the steel
One piece from ball to heel
We’d underpin it, and remake it
So not even Don could break it.Sorry? I said…We’d underpin it, and remake it
So not even Don could break it.Yeah? You think? We can do it. We can do it. We can do it! From London to Milan
Stilettos are an ism
In red and neon life
Gimme big red boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boots
New York, Paris, Hong Kong
Watch out worldWatch out worldHere we come!

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2018 Academy Award Oscar Nominees

This year’s Oscar nominations for best costume design didn’t surprise me much because there weren’t many films to choose from – 2018 wasn’t a year for genres that lend themselves to costume design. I can only think of three other films that could have been nominated: BlacKKKlansmanBohemian Rhapsody, and, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Mary Zophres

Only one nomination surprised me and that was Mary Zophres for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. I was surprised because I had never heard of this Coen brothers film. Turns out it was a Netflix release, so I watched it last night and the costuming was fine but nothing made my heart race because of its artistic vision or authentic recreation. In fact, the costuming was loose – sometimes made for comedic effect and at other times for authenticity. The part about the wagon train, pictured above, is supposed to be set some time just after 1872, according to a conversation in the film, but the costuming looks earlier, and wagon trains were pretty much done by the Civil War.

The Favourite – Sandy Powell

Mary Queen of Scots, costumed by Alexandra Byrne, and The Favourite, costumed by Sandy Powell, are both beautiful looking films but they distort history by ignoring authenticity. Both these stories are about actual people and actual events, but in these days of ‘truthiness’ and alternative facts there is little regard for authenticity (and so help me God I will smack the first person who says ‘but it’s not a documentary’.)

Mary Queen of Scots – Alexandra Byrne

Don’t get me wrong, the costumes are beautiful. If either of these films had been plays at our local Stratford Festival I would have thrilled over the costumes. But these aren’t festival stage plays, they are multi-million dollar films with teams of professionals, celebrities, location shoots, and time to take and retake scenes until they are perfect… They squandered the opportunity to make something more than just a pretty pastiche based on a colour palette and mood board.

Mary Poppins – Sandy Powell

Sandy Powell was also nominated for The Return of Mary Poppins. The only film I have yet to see, but what I saw in trailers and stills looks fine. This is a musical fantasy, so the costuming can be whatever the designer and the Disney/Mary Poppins universe wants.

Black Panther – Ruth Carter

The final nominee is Ruth Carter for Black Panther. I am not a ‘super-hero’ genre fan (unless it has a talking raccoon), and I thought this movie was particularly awful, although the costuming was the best part of the movie (it was the plot and dialogue I hated.) Ruth Carter, who is somewhat new to costume design, shopped all of Africa for design inspiration and left no tool in her bag when she created the costumes. There were ‘too many notes’ in the cluttered designs as well as some cheap fabric choices – a white athleisure net dress, and some baggy kneed leggings on the female guards come to mind – so not my favourite…

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms – Jenny Beavan (best in show….)

I will make no prediction of who will win this year because I don’t know – I guess Mary Poppins would be my choice if I had to pick from the nominations, but if I could pick who I think did amazing work I would have to go with the un-nominated Jenny Beavan for her costuming in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

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Canadian Fashion Connection – Newlands

Andrew Newlands was born in Scotland in 1840, and was married with two children when he immigrated with his family to Canada in the late 1860s. In the 1871 census he is recorded as working as the superintendent of a woollen mill in Preston, Ontario. In 1884 he opened his own mill in Galt, Ontario making jersey cloth, glove and shoe linings, among other products.

By 1890 he had opened another business called the Galt Robe Company that made “Saskatchewan Robes” – a brand name lap rug for use in sleighs and carriages. With the extinction of the vast herds of Buffalo on the Western Plains, the large haired buffalo hide robes, which had been popularly used as sleigh and carriage rugs, could no longer be found. Newlands created a substitute robe he felt imitated the qualities of the buffalo robe by using multiple layers of wool blankets, a rubber membrane (for waterproofing), an imitation lambskin for softness, and a piled wool that loosely resembled buffalo hide.

Saskatchewan ‘buffalo’ carriage robe, c. 1890s

Newlands died in 1899. Who owned the mills for the next 16 years isn’t clear, but the company continued to operate under the Newlands name. In 1916, 36 year old George Dobbie bought a half share interest with his partner Joseph Stauffer, merged Galt Robe with Newlands, and officially changed the name of the company to Stauffer-Dobbie Ltd., although the Newlands brand of yarn continued to be made until around the time of George Dobbie’s death in 1951. The yarn brand’s name was then changed to Lady Galt (a line of towels was also called Lady Galt which were produced into the 1970s.)

1948 Newland’s knitting book (and apparently the last one printed under the Newlands’ name) with 1947’s Miss Canada on the cover.
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Contemporary labels worth collecting… Hoss Homeless

Privately owned by AT LEAST S.A., this Spanish women’s fashion firm is headquartered in Madrid. Founded in 1994 by Constantino Hernandez Duran, who worked his way up through the advertising business and fashion industry before starting his own company, originally called his company Hoss Homeless. The company changed its name in 2007 to Hoss Intropia (a combination of introspection and utopia) when it sought international expansion as ‘Homeless’ had a negative connotation. Intropia conducts wholesale business, as well as retail through their own Intropia stores.

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