Review: Tales of Endearment

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In 2017, style blogs are a dime a dozen.

This is merely fact, neither a good nor bad thing until interpreted by those in the fashion community. (Bad news to the magazine industry, good news for brands looking for free advertising.)

In a city such as this one, you’ll find folks everywhere who have their own blog. The writer of this article has one, for example.

And out of all the blogs and YouTube channels and personal branding has come an influx of deserved and undeserved book deals. This has often been the way for many a franchise: conquer one medium, find another.

In 2010, however, this was not the norm, as Natalie Joos points out in an introduction to her book, Tales of Endearment: Modern Vintage Lovers and Their Extraordinary Wardrobes. That year, Joos created her blog of the same name, a vintage-focused tour through the lives and passions of friends and strangers. The site launched in the pre-blogging-blowout years and became hugely successful. Now, seven years later, Joos has compiled stories of some of the most captivating vintage-lovers she has come across in her travels.

The book itself is beautiful, which is something I would expect from Joos based on her website design and her eye for photography alone. The photographs accompanying each story capture their subjects in their homes, outside, formally and candidly. Joos shoots areas of their home, beloved pieces from their wardrobe and other things that can be more intimate and revealing about a person than any answer they can give to a question. And many of those wardrobe pieces (I’m thinking of the completely mind-blowing closet of stylist Catherine Baba) are just to-die-for. If I’m ever feeling a bit down, looking at beautiful vintage clothes is a pretty easy way to cheer myself up. If you’re the same way, this is an ideal coffee table book to have on hand.

Joos writing style is that of the blogger: casual, anecdotal and familiar, like a friend recounting an encounter to you over Eggs Benedict, instead of something you’re reading from a book penned by a stranger. Part of Joos’s charm comes from her ability to take these larger-than-life characters and make them more relatable.

And these characters are strange. They are international, diverse, unrelated except for their collective love of vintage clothing. It makes me wonder how Joos finds everyone she features, and above all I commend her for featuring the style secrets of Dee Hilfiger, Maxine Ashley, and Greg Banks in the same book. Seeing their stories back-to-back is fascinating and provides endless style inspiration for whatever persona you are inhabiting in that moment.

I believe this to be one of Joos’s strongest points, and my favourite part of the book. Within its pages, she tells the stories of an incredibly varied cast of characters, each one as endlessly fascinating as the last. It’s the people who populate Tales of Endearment that make it great. While Joos’s writing and photography convey their stories in a pleasant way, something also needs to be said for finding so many different perspectives on the same topic and giving each perspective space to come across genuinely.

Reading the book has turned me into a fan of the blog, which I did not read regularly before. It’s a bit of a wonder, isn’t it, that publishers turn to books as their next conquest after finding success on the Internet. But people like books, the same way the stars of Tales of Endearment like vintage clothing. It has a weight to it, a meaning and intent that isn’t found in its faster, modern counterparts. These days, it feels like a choice.

I’m going to recommend this one to every vintage lover, fashion lover, anyone who likes a good short story, and anyone who likes meeting new and interesting people. Like me, I think you’ll find yourself endeared.

Tales of Endearment will be available in Canada starting November 21st. You can visit the blog here and follow Natalie Joos on Instagram here.

5 lessons to learn from Berlin street style

Edgy, alternative, and eclectic are the best words to describe Berlin, Germany’s fashion capital. The city is known for its multiculturalism and open minded energy. The artistic atmosphere along with the creative community and the massive music scene made Berlin so vibrant and full of life. The local fashionistas are surrounded by their own arty beat and it’s rare to find  uniformity in the way Berliners dress. The only rule is that there are no rules. So it should come as no surprise that even the most conservative piece will get an avant-garde treatment.

Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the city became the symbol of liberalism and anti-conformism. Even the graffiti in every corner of the city are more colourful and defiant than in any other European city. The street fashion reflects this city vibe. Here, it’s all about edgy streetwear rather than high-end, glamour looks.

We thought it would be great to break down some street style photos of the electric city.

Photo: Søren Jepsen

Too cool for school 

Berlin’s underground scene is the best platform to evoke your hipster side, so no wonder Berlin has become the hipster capital of the world. The “anti-chic” style, the attraction to dark colours and grungy looks the city is known for will put your fashion forward look to a test, simply because it’s almost impossible to beat their cool attitude. From distressed clothing and biker jackets to avant-garde pieces, think rough boots, flannel shirt, studs details and quirky accessories. Combine all together to create an original look. 

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Photo: WWD

Rules are made to be broken 

In this tolerant cosmopolitan city, there is no dress code. Over the years, Berlin has become a hotspot for fashion industry, designers, and creatives. It is flooded with independent designers and boutiques that will recharge your creativity. No doubt it is the world leader in street style that requires thinking “outside the box”. Their mantra is ‘Make anything old look new again’ and they achieve it by mixing vintage and high street for the perfect urban layers look. In this city of no style rules, a tough jacket can team with ultra feminine pants; mixing busy prints are never too loud and bright summer items are not only for sunny days.

Street style at Berlin Fashion Week
Photo: WWD

Vintage paradise

Second hand clothing stores are very popular in Berlin. The locals’ love affair with vintage shops provide you the perfect platform to recreate your own style and will blow your mind with inspirations. In the heart of Berlin,Mitte, you can find fashion boutiques that sell vintage accessories such as brim bowler hats or retro sunglasses and fashion garments like tutu skirts and leather goods. The exclusive vintage designer pieces prosper alongside new vintage from big names in the fashion industry such as Vivienne Westwood or Bernhard Willhelm. They allow you to mix and match and create a look that is all about being fun and unique.

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Photo: Søren Jepsen

Think green

The fashion scene in Berlin is also motivated by sustainable production and eco friendly thinking. Slowly but surely green concept is getting more recognition and becoming more accessible for local costumers. Eco Fashion brands have managed to step into conventional Fashion Week and this is already making sustainability easier. Berlin’s relaxed and nonchalant attitude goes hand in hand with the way they open up to new perspectives. It leads them to seek alternatives to mass production common in the fast fashion world. The result: ethical and affordable fashion brands that are using recycled materials spread across the city.

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Photo: WWD

Free love, 1oo% comfort

The street style in Berlin puts a lot of effort on feeling comfortable. Unlike other big cities in Europe, functionality plays a major role here. No more body-con dresses or stilettos. The attitude in Berlin is more relaxed with loose-fitting silhouettes and easy shapes like flowy skirts, A-shape dresses, or boyfriend jeans. Whether it’s blurring the lines between feminine and masculine elements for a casual look or dressing up for a glamourous night, keep in mind that your outfit should allow you to breathe and be loose enough to move around in. You can resonante a fresh energy without feeling like you are trying too hard.

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Photo: Søren Jepsen

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Etsy: Made in Canada Returns for Its Third Year

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Photo: Etsy

Etsy: Made in Canada is taking place across Canada next Saturday, September 24th, and I couldn’t be more excited. Etsy, if you are unfamiliar, is a magical online world where artisans and vintage curators find a common home in a global marketplace to sell their unique goods. You can find anything from handcrafted tote bags, to knitted scarves, 1990s Calvin Klein, and scented candles. It is a mecca for the imaginative mind, searching for a completely inimitable find. For Etsy: Made in Canada, fans of the e-commerce site will be able to attend the country-wide pop-up marketplaces and shop in person for the perfect item.

Photo: Jillian Darcy Botting
Photo: Jillian Darcy Botting

Each city has a local Etsy Street Team, led by Etsy Team Captains, who have been the organizers behind the event, to “unite the community to celebrate quality craftsmanship and the artisans, entrepreneurs and communities defining the maker movement in Canada.” In Toronto, the high demand means that there will be two locations for the event, MaRs Discovery District and Artscape Youngplace. Vendors such as jewelery designer Creme Coterie, cookie queen The Teeny Tiny Bakery  and tote and pin artist Nesslee, will all be participating at the Toronto location– just three of the many local artisans involved in the event in Toronto alone.

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Swoop Me Tote | Nesslee

I have personally found much success on the site, including but not limited to, a handmade replica Anne Boleyn necklace (for a friend), pennant strings, sustainably made frill pajama shorts, 1980s Cherokee sandals, and a pink linen two-piece suit. What makes Etsy: Made in Canada so fantastic is that it highlights not only the plethora of artistic talent the world has to offer, but what your local artisans have to offer. So if you have love of unique, patiently crafted designs and finds, make sure to locate where your local Etsy: Made in Canada event is happening near you!

IRVRSBL.com proves that fashion really is timeless

 

 

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Remember all those designer monogram suits Lil Kim used to wear back in her prime in the 90’s? Or those memorable colourful dresses by Thierry Muglar that would cascade down the runway in the late 80’s and early 90’s? Well no need to ponder the blast from the past and search high and low for those items any longer. Bringing authentic designer pieces from the past to the present is what Australia native, Clare Ferra, has brought to the masses with her website irvrsbl.com. From Chanel suits from 1995, to Moschino blazers hailing from 1993, Ferra has got them all.

Turning her hobby into a career, the Sydney College of the Arts alumni has taken her hobby of selling vintage designer apparel on eBay to now a certified shopping website where many around the globe can share her passion for one-of-a-kind fashion pieces that are treasured as art. And having a former career in film and television aids the business woman in choosing pieces that will be favoured by all, and have heads turn as you walk down the street.

Having launched irevrsble.com this summer, Ferra has gotten many clients, feedback, and of course vintage apparel, to keep not only her, but her clients happy and continuing to come back for more. She shares with Novella Magazine her inspirations that keep her going, her passion for fashion and vintage, and why every fashion lover should have at least one vintage piece in their wardrobe.

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NM: What inspired you to create a designer vintage shopping site?

CF: I’ve been buying vintage since my early teens and it’s something I’ve always had a knack for. As time passed by, my tastes became increasingly sophisticated. When my university graduation rolled by (I studied fine arts in video), I thought that perhaps I could capitalise on this skill, but approach it in a totally different way to what had been done previously and make something highly curated and very aesthetically driven. There’s an excess of vintage stores that describe themselves as ‘tightly curated’ but we’re exceedingly strict about what makes the cut.

 NM: What is it that draws you to vintage?

CF: What goes around comes around! I’ve always been an avid researcher and love the history of fashion and pop culture. From this, I’ve learned that nothing is truly original and styles that make it on the runway today are always heavily influenced by those from the past. From a practicality standpoint, you can get something totally current and by a top designer at a fraction of the cost if you buy vintage. Then there is the added bonus of knowing that you had the original piece. We sell pieces by influential fashion houses, and many of them are collectibles in their own right that have stood the test of time. The same can’t be said about buying new.

Secondly, there is the issue of quality and sustainability. I must preface this with the point that not all vintage is created equal; fast fashion did exist in the past too, so just because something is vintage it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s well made. However, with regards to designer clothing, these days there has been a marked drop in quality as design houses are pressured to deliver more profits. In terms of quality, you are guaranteed to get more bang for your buck if you buy vintage.

 

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NM: What are the best selling items from the online store?

CF: Our Fendi Zucca print pieces from the 90s are incredibly popular and seem to fly out the door. Everyone seems to want to get their hands on a classic Fendi printed pair of pants, and stylists are constantly requesting these pieces for editorials. We predict head to toe Fendi print, a la Lil Kim is going to be a very popular look in the coming seasons.

Mid 90s Chanel (’94, ’95, ’96, 97) pieces are also quite sought after. We put this down to the fact that we stock the Chanel pieces with crazier prints, which are quite difficult to come by.

NM: Which designer sells the most product from the online store?

CF: Overall we sell the most Moschino, but I would say that this is because it is a designer we have stocked the most. Now that Jeremy Scott has very much brought the label back into the public eye this has helped our sales significantly as people are hungry for original Franco Moschino pieces.

 

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NM: Which notable pieces does your store carry?

CF: One of the most notable pieces we have in store is a Thierry Mugler rainbow leather jacket from his S/S 1990 collection. It’s honestly a once in a lifetime find and an iconic Mugler piece. Recently we also acquired a 1991 Gianni Versace Warhol print suit; Elizabeth Taylor owned the same piece and it was auctioned at her estate sale. As well as a Chanel bra and short set which was a key piece from the S/S 1994 collection.

NM: How would one style vintage designer clothing?

CF: Because we are quite “fashion forward” in our buying, our pieces integrate quite seamlessly into a contemporary wardrobe. The real challenge is how to wear the crazier statement pieces. For me personally, if I’m wearing a showstopper of an item I like to pair it with simpler pieces so people know where to look. For example if it’s a crazy printed jacket or blazer, I’ll pair it with a (quality) black tank dress. Simple pieces in bright, contrasting colours work well too

Contrary to what a lot of people may think, head to toe vintage is totally doable too and it’s totally possible to wear all vintage without looking like you’ve come straight from a Halloween party. Just take a look at our lookbook for inspiration.

NM: Which celebrities have been seen in your pieces?

CF: While I’d love to rattle off a list of names I have a duty to respect the privacy of our customers and have to remain tight lipped!

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NM: Do you feel everyone should have at least one piece of vintage clothing in their wardrobe?

CF: Absolutely. We live in such a throwaway culture these days, and I see far too many people purchase poorly made trend pieces which last half a season and get discarded. Also, for the sake of individuality, I’d love to see more people wearing vintage. Dressing is an art form and there is certainly something to be said about having rare one off pieces you know other people don’t (and can’t) have.

 

NM: From the roster of designers you carry, which one is your favourite?

CF: Currently my favourite designers are Thierry Mugler and Jean Paul Gaultier. Both of these designers are similar in the sense that they have created some seriously show stopping pieces in their careers, but the good pieces can be quite difficult to find. To wear, I also love Issey Miyake. From a practicality standpoint his pieces are amazing! The lazy girl in me loves his pieces because you don’t have to iron them.

NM: What is next for the irreversible brand?

CF: We’ll be shooting a new campaign in a few weeks which is exciting. As well as this expect loads more rare and museum pieces and new brands!

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Photographer – George Sandman Popov, Stylist – Kurt Johnson, Model – Sophie Wilde @ London Management, Makeup Artist – Mary Jo Costache, Hair – Jen Kilpatrick

Toronto’s Vintage Crawl Is Coming!

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One of my favourite vintage events of the year is little over a week away, so I wanted to make sure that I was ready. The Toronto Vintage Crawl spans the city, as far west as Bloor and Roncy, and all the way east to Queen East and Broadview. For me, it’s essentially the Nuit Blanche of vintage, as I hop on my bicycle and make my way through the map, finding hidden gems along the way. Here are some tips so you will have a successful Vintage Crawl.

1) Plan ahead: with 45 unique stores, you must plan ahead in order to maximize your crawling abilities. As mentioned above, it spans essentially the entire grid, and if you too are cycling, you have to have a plan of attack. Figure out which stores are your be-all-end-all and go from there. There’s nothing sadder than arriving at your favourite store as the Crawl is coming to an end. From House of Vintage in Parkdale, to One Heart in Kensington, to Common Sort in Riverdale, there’s a starting, and finishing, place for everyone.

2) Dress appropriately: yes, the days can still reach hit 20 degrees and higher, but you can feel the cool undertone even though the sun is blasting on you at 2 p.m. If you’re cycling or walking, you will need to dress for the weather, because when that sun goes down, you’re going to be wishing you grabbed that flannel. Or maybe you will find your dream flannel on the Crawl. Either way, don’t mess with the elements.

3) Bring a backpack: you will be hitting many stores, and to avoid carrying many bags, load those sweet finds up in a backpack to keep your hands free for more vintage digging. As well, pack that backpack with your dinner and snacks, as well as water. You’re crawling for six hours, so trust me when I say you will need some form for sustenance.

Don’t forget – the Toronto Vintage Crawl is NEXT THURSDAY from 5 p.m. – 11 p.m! For a full list of vendors, visit http://www.vintagecrawltoronto.com/ and follow @vintagecrawlto and post pictures with your rare finds with #VCTO.