Friday, October 5, 2007

An Ode to Divine

"He was my Elizabeth Taylor, he was an actor who started his career as a homicidal maniac and ended it playing a loving mother, which is a pretty good stretch, especially when you are a 300 pound man." says John Waters about his muse Harris Glenn Milstead, aka DIVINE.

My first glance at Christabel's website imediately summoned Divine into my head. A drag actor who got his start by pulling THE MOST RIDICULOUS SHIT I HAVE EVER SEEN, Divine was made famous staring in John Waters films. Be warned when i say the THE MOST RIDICULOUS, it is not an understatement, at all. He's the self proclaimed Queen of trash, and actually ate shit (real human shit) on camera in his first film. puke.

But none the less, you have to admire somebody who is so outside the box that he didn't even realize that he had broken it, then walked all over it in 8inch bondage platforms and full body spandex jumpsuit. Oh, and no eye brows. It is this same spirit of uter-non-conformity that makes this Christabel so fantastic.

My only question is how is it possible that there is an artist around toronto, that is chanelling mad sixties misfits Divine and Leigh Bowery, who managed to stay under our radar? I'm disapointed in us. Until now.

Everything Old is New...

Everything in fashion really does go in circles, doesn't it? I clearly remember begging my mother NOT to wear her one piece leopard print leotard in the eighties and here I am posting photos from the same eighties Italian Vogues that she used to read... Bodysuits are the perfect example. I'd say that American Apparel is pretty much responsible for bringing it back - but look at the original by Gianni Versace circa 1982:

I'd take that over the American Apparel one. And over the new Martin Margiela version, too:

And of course, Gianni doesn't deserve all the credit. Julie Newmar, the original catwoman deserves at least a nod:

I love catsuits...

Monday, October 1, 2007

White Night, White Heat

Like just about everyone else in the city, I went out for Nuit Blanche on Saturday. I have never seen so many people on the street at one time in Toronto in my life. Sorry - with the sole exception of a big olympic hockey win a few years ago, I have never seen so many people on the street at one time in Toronto in my life. Barriers were erected along Bloor St. to keep pedestrians off the road, and sidewalks between University and Spadina were so crowded I felt like I was shoving my way through a packed bar... I didn't think T.O. was lacking for things to do but I stand corrected. Apparently all night, city wide, corporate funded art parties were what was lacking.

I stopped at the Art of Fashion: Surreal Journey to see the Paper People Clothing installation by my friend Jenn Fukushima. Jenn graduated last year and has been working like a one woman sweatshop on her line since she was still in high school. Her clothes look just like her. Colourful vintage fabrics, patchwork seaming and wild texture seem like they'd be hard to wear but surprisingly, I'd wear just about anything she makes. Jenn had live models curled up in her installation, whom we immediately joined on the floor with a glass of wine making paper people, funny crowns and feathered headgear.

While I was there, I discovered the incredible weirdness that is Chris Cunningham. His display featured a rainbow coloured KKK ensemble, eyeball covered fetish gear and a dress that incorporated a television into it.
Not exactly a drag queen, I would classify Chris as more of a performance artist in the vein of Leigh Bowery or maybe a designer like Gareth Pugh since he makes his own costumes. His style reminds me of anime or surrealist paintings. I suspect he might be an illustrator as well as a performance artist because of his inspirations, but it's just a hunch. I'll let you know if I find out because I will definitely be keeping an eye on him...

You can find more of his work here:

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fourth Year Collection/ Inspiration Boards

So this is my inspiration board for my grad collection. Inspiration comes from strange places sometimes. I was bored one night in August, flicking through youtube videos and listening to Rod Stewart like I'm prone to doing when totally by chance, I happened upon the entire collection of 'Suspiria' videos - that's the Italian horror classic from the 1970's, if you don't know - all online and all in German. I watched the whole thing, in German. It was that good. Have you seen Suspiria? It's absolutely THE best art direction you will ever see in any movie, ever. There's possessed ballet teachers, murder scenes in million dollar bauhaus apartments and more blood than the Red Cross can shake a stick at. Fabulous.

Anyways, I had been thinking about doing something graphic and quite stylized for my collection, as I was sure I wanted to avoid using the 'bubble' silhouette that's been everywhere lately and this fit perfectly with the look I want to acheive. I've been using the term 'Neo-bauhaus' to describe it. I like it because it's an architecture movement, rather than a fashion one. It's sharp and clean, simple, symmetrical; all the things I want my collection to be.

Overall I'm fairly happy with the result - the colours are simple, the bloody feet in the background are repeated again at the bottom for a little 'oomph', and the logo works with the rest of it. Incidentally, the logo is my name (Irene), cut in half by a stylized woman's torso. I had to cut a number of amazing images to keep this board looking cohesive, but I'll post them here later so you can see why I'm so in love with this movie.

Getting Physical at Extreeeeeme Fitness

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Motel Madness Part Two - Motel 5

Summer's nearly turned into fall, the leaves will start changing soon and I'm trying to spend as much time as I can lying on a sandy beach before I start my collection in September. And what better place to do that than at Wasaga? Wasaga is a million miles of powdery white sand, endless streams of gin and tonic and the beach is lined with penny arcades, biker bars and especially cheap motels.

I have what could possibly be classified as an unhealthy obsession - bordering on a fetish - with old motels. There's something so cinematic about them, I think I could stay in one every night. It's the bad lighting mixed with the heavy drapes that gives a theatrical effect, but it's also more than that. It's the feeling of being cached away where no one can find you - unless you want them to. The impermanance and the feeling that you can get away with murder - figuratively of course - while you're there are part of the allure as well. And I'm not the only one who feels like this. While I was writing this, I found this website: ( featuring shots of the lovely Dita Von Teese posing in a seedy motel.

You'd think a fashion student would be interested in fancy boutique hotels or something more cosmopolitan, but not me - I like the ones that smell a bit like old suitcases, with wood panelling and plush carpet from back when they were built. The ones where it's easy to pretend that Bettie Page just made a movie in the room next to the one you're sitting in. The thing with me is that I spend nearly every waking minute thinking about new places for photoshoots. I say it about six times a day: "Wouldn't this be a great spot for a photoshoot?". If you ask anyone I know, they'll tell you.
Wasaga beach is cheap motel heaven, and I think it would make a great spot for a photoshoot, so stay tuned.

Motel Madness Part One - Santa Fe Motel

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

cyberdog says rave

So admittedly I haven’t done my research on this one, so I can’t tell you how long Cyberdog has been around, or who started it or whatever. But all I really need to know I found out in my visit to the store.

It’s in Camden Market in London, england, and it was the most intense shopping experience I have ever encountered. The store was all done up like a night club, including half naked gay pole dancers and a dj spinning hard psy-trance. It had every item imaginable in fluorescent plastic, from coasters and cup holders to crazy fake cyborg arm warmer thingies.

Here are some photos that we worked hard for, getting scolded by the staff and eventually asked to leave.

Ps. I decided that it would be really fun to try and apply for a job there because each and every employee had rainbow hair, Mohawks or silicone hair extensions, mad face piercings, and obviously a closet full of merchandise. I was wondering how openly they would discriminate against people applying, as well as secretly hoping that I would be cool enough. Turns out they need an application filled out and a photo, but they were out of applications, and I don’t have THAT much time to waste…

pss. Yes, those ARE a selection of fluo chaps...not one, a SELECTION....

i heart fluorscence/ buzz is a buzz kill


So, it starts with our love of all things vintage, whether out of honest appreciation or of recognizing their hilarity. But eventually these two motivations become really blurred and you’re really not sure whether you think something is ridiculously hideous but funny to wear, or if you whole heartedly think its amazing. This gray area is my favorite.

This is where the obsession with that late eighties, early nineties fluo mad shit starts off. Mix in a little nostalgia for the three-tiered skirts in that unspecifiable synthetic material that I was rocking as a 4 year old, a shit-load of acid-wash and my uncontrollable, Pavlov-like attraction to bright colours and its full-blown. Sweet for me cause I’ve be got that direct vintage access, and now I’m head to toe in wildness and lovin it, eat your heart out.


But of course the trend is right around the corner, the media starts using the word ‘rave’ (which helped to kill the rave scene in the middle of the nineties, classifying anybody full of plastic beads, wide pants, and pixie cuts) but now donotes that embrassing part of your past whos pics make you shudder. Then Rolling Stone Magazine tacked on the ‘NU’ *puke* when referring to The Klaxons, who are really just The Strokes on E. ‘Nu-rave’ as a term is born. Then the leach-like fashion industry uses the term for a few fashion editorials in a few magazines and the look has been branded.

All the attention and labeling, whether it’s accurate or not, just gives handles to any advertising desk-guy, or Stitches trend-spotter. Creating neat packaging for people and scenes, which are, in reality, anything but. And all we can do is watch all of our quirky obsessions multiply, becoming more and more popular and main stream, get exploited until the whole basement floor of the Eaton’s centre is serving it up, and all our dreams are in the gutter.


So it’s a little dramatic, but it always happens. Nu- rave fun isn’t quite dead yet though, as long as the Neon Plastix are still playin, and my mom still teases me about my fanny-pacs, it’s still going strong in my closet.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Caribana Colours - Part ll

Caribana Colours

More Caribana

Knowdresscode Does Caribana

I love Caribana. I biked down Yonge St. taking as many pictures as I could. I got kind of overwhelmed at one point by all of the nice outfits. It seemed like every group of friends had coordinated not only their own outfits but also those of their friends and boyfriends as well. Why do people go to an expensive, shitty club on Richmond when they can walk down Yonge St. and see the best outfits since ever for free? (By the way, I biked down Richmond and the clothes there were second rate compared to over here. I think it might be the dresscodes down there. They obviously don't KNOW what they're doing...) By the way, the girl in the yellow tank had on royal blue tights in about the colour of the one piece on the second girl. That colour is like crack, I can't stop wearing it.

Anyways, what I want to talk about are those amazing digital print t-shirts that nearly every guy was wearing tonight. I love them. And it's about time guys had some colour in their wardrobes. I'd even love them enough to wear them myself if they weren't all size XXL. (More on that later.) Why don't they make them for girls? Okay, the green sweater here isn't bad but I'd like to see that print made as a sweater dress and maybe tights as well. But more than just hoodies, please!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Knowdresscode (Our First Post!)

Dress.code [dres-koh-d]

1. A uniform

2. A set of rules regulating the garb or type of clothing of a select group of individuals under specific circumstances.

Know.dress.code [noh-dres-koh-d]

Proper noun.

1. The absence of rules or regulations concerning garb or type of clothing worn.

2. A Toronto based designers collective made up of young fashion illuminati who are dedicated to nurturing creativity, style and innovation and to creating a more liveable, more sustainable world through design.