Canada, Style, Toronto, Travel

Fashion Follows Form: Fashion That Makes You Think

Per my travel blog yesterday on my wonderful time in Toronto, I mentioned the fashion exhibit that my girlfriends and I went to see at the Royal Ontario Museum, entitled, “Fashion Follows Form”.  I felt it deserved its own blog post.

Located in a hidden section on the fourth floor and although small, the exhibit was powerful.  It presented three different questions that really made you think about how one shape does not fit all, and that there are some niche markets out there that could be big business for the right designers:

1. How do you construct clothes for the handicap?

2. What if you do incorporate less-often used materials into fashion – how does it change the silhouette?

3. Have we been shopping for outfits all wrong?

Designing Clothes for the Handicap

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Well-known, Canadian designer-to-the-stars, Izzy Camilleri, was approached in 2004 by a handicapped journalist, asking her to create a functional, yet fashionable wardrobe for her.  It was then that IZ Adaptive was born (you can read the full history here).  She had a small but wonderful collection of her designs on display, ranging from functional leather jackets, to trench coats and wedding attire.

It was a wonderment to see how she was able to deconstruct even the most classic of pieces, such as a trench coat, that makes you really think about HOW clothes are constructed.  Her exhibit explains that even clothing for abled-persons isn’t designed for sitting – it’s designed for standing.  The standard patterns used are a straight cut, causing most dresses, skirts, shorts and pants to ride up when we sit down.  For a person who is wheelchair-bound, it doesn’t make any sense thus, she designed an L-shaped pattern that is more comfortable and flattering.  It also reduces the amount of “bulk” that can result from ill-fitting clothes in a sitting position.

Her exhibit makes you think – how else can a pattern be reconstructed to accommodate other types of functional needs?  Will fashion ever get away from mass production, one-shape-fits-all standards?  Will more designers emerge for specialty clothing that accommodate special needs?  This could open the door to new lines of business for already existing designers.

Updating Classics Using Mixed Materials

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The other half of this exhibit was centered around silhouettes, updating classics and how the use of mixed materials can change both dramatically.

The image above is an unbelievable fur and mesh mix dress from a classic silhouette pattern.  The bulk of the fur and the leather belt accentuates the femininity of the garment while providing a unique twist on an evening gown.  In person, it’s stunning.  Fur isn’t something widely used past outwear and accessories, provoking thoughts of what other materials can be used to create wearable designs.

But, it’s not just about material and finding inspiration within a silhouette or a classic.  It’s also about the detail and appreciating the painstaking process that a designer goes through to complete their work of “art”. In the image below, you can see the creative use of beading, colors, materials and shapes.  Take a look at each piece and study the detail.  Take a look at how these outfits actually flow together to create stunning, complete looks.  It makes you realize that individually, you may never wear these pieces but instead, they were made to go with each other.  When you look at it this way, it changes our way of shopping. Instead of shopping for individual pieces, we start to shop for entire outfits because “the look” is actually what we’re after, not just the pants or the shirt.  (Check out my Pinterest page for examples.)

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Being enthralled with fashion and taking the time to really study this exhibit, it was inspiring and impressive.  Even if you’re not a fashion enthusiast, walking through this exhibit gives you a newfound appreciation for those that can take something simple and turn it into a wearable masterpiece.  I highly suggest that anyone, who finds themselves in Toronto, checks it out.

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Canada, Toronto, Travel

Itinerary: Toronto, ON

This past weekend, I helped celebrate a girlfriend’s birthday.  For the last month or so, we deliberated on where to go, discussing the usual spots, such as Miami, Nashville and Charleston.  I came up with the idea of Canada.  For us Americans, it’s (unfairly) something we never think to visit and yet, it’s a beautiful country.  Although snowy and cold this time of year, a winter/holiday jaunt in a new city sounded like a lot of fun to all of us.  Below is our itinerary of where we stayed, visited and dined.  We highly recommend a visit there!

CN Tower and 360 Restaurant Holiday Brunch

When in a new city, you have to be a tourist, right?  The CN Tower was the tallest tower in the world (at 1,815 ft.) until 2010.  It’s about a 70 second elevator ride to the rotating restaurant, 360 The Restaurant, which sits at the top (check out the video below).

It takes 70 minutes to do a complete rotation, giving you views of Toronto and Lake Ontario.  We managed to see one and a half rotations.  Check out the pics below:

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Price: $65 per person 

Royal Ontario Museum

Our next stop was the Royal Ontario Museum to see the “Fashion Follows Form” exhibit.  This museum kind of has a little bit of everything in it (think of it as a Smithsonian mashup) – dinosaur bones, animals, bugs, gemology (my favorite), artifacts from around the world, an art gallery and this.

The exhibit deserves it’s own post (which can be found here) but if you do have the time to go to this museum, I highly suggest it – it’s always great to get in a little culture.

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Price: $10 per person

Visiting Santa and The Eaton Centre

One of the best parts about visiting a wintery place during the holidays, are all of the holiday decor and events going on.  Behind our hotel (Marriott Eaton Centre), was a back entrance to the Eaton Centre mall.  Along the path to get there, was a little Christmas cottage with Santa clearly napping inside.  His “helper” let us in to take a couple of pics, by which he was then quite “jolly”.

Canoe

On the 54th floor of the TD Bank building (66 Wellington W.) sits one of Oliver and Bonacini‘s award-winning restaurants, Canoe.  Known in Toronto for their impeccable menus and service (as well as locations), it was the restaurant I was most looking forward to experiencing, and we were not disappointed.  We were given a table overlooking the CN Tower and Lake Ontario at night, which was beautifully lit and quite peaceful.  The ambience definitely gave you a first class feel and the food portions were perfect.  I can’t wait to come back and try the other ones in their portfolio.

Price: About $100 per person, including two glasses of wine.

High Tea at Fairmont Royal York

If there is one experience you should do around the world (wherever it is provided), it would be high tea at the Fairmont.  Having never done this before, it was one of the most incredible “dining” experiences I’ve ever had.  The Fairmont in Toronto is just exquisite, even more so because of how impeccable it was decorated for Christmas.

In the Library room, we had a staff of three providing us with amazing service, even remembering to make me gluten-free versions of the finger sandwiches, scones and pastries they set out.  It was such a lovely, relaxing experience that we vowed to not just do this tea wherever we are, but to also never stay in any other hotel again (I’m starting a Fairmont travel fund).

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Price: $60 per person

Christmas Market

… I mean how could you NOT want to go there?  It’s a fun experience for a few hours.  The Toronto Christmas Market is set in the Distillery District, amongst boutique shops, art galleries, breweries and restaurants.  There are spirits vendors, providing free samples of holiday cocktails, holiday-inspired treats, performances, Christmas ornament vendors and more!

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Some things to note on travel:

  • Porter is the easiest way to get to Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ) on a direct flight, although not all U.S. airports include Porter.
  • YTZ has a lounge with free beverages (coffee, tea, sodas and water), free wi-fi, and a living-room like atmosphere to relax in before you are paged for your flight.
  • Yes, you need a passport to get in and out of Canada and their security rules follow the same rules as the U.S.
  • Taxis are not always available in Toronto.  They have rotations – we discovered that between the hours of 2-5, it’s their “break” time, so don’t be surprised if no one stops!
  • There is Uber but that is just as difficult to get
  • You can calculate taxi fares here.  But note that with traffic, two miles is about $13.
  • Conversion rate – $1 for 1 CAD.  Banks will be different – USAA’s conversion rate was $.88 for 1 CAD
  • You need an international cell plan for Canada – definitely don’t forget that!