When I helped promote the Braderie de Mode Quebecoise in Gatineau this past fall, my eyes were opened to what felt like hundreds of Canadian (Quebec-based) designers. I always knew our neighbours to the east were super stylish (Montreal, I’m looking at you!), but to see so much talent gathered under one roof was pretty amazing.
One of the Canadian designers who completely captured my heart is Nadya Toto – her Italian background translates to minimalistic, yet sophisticated designs, but what I love best is the touch of whimsy and femininity. I walked away with this simple long sleeved sheath dress in burgundy. I’ve worn it many times already because it checks off all my boxes; effortless, relaxed (it’s so comfortable), and chic. This is one of those pieces where you truly reap the power of a good investment purchase. Not only is it classic, but it’s a great foundation piece from which to build so many great looks.
Give her website a browse; it will be worth it. I often fall into the trap of thinking that sustainable style and ethical fashion mean scouring the web for hours to find the right combination of style and sustainability (plug for shopeitheror.com where you can find Canadian-made clothing all in one place!) when we have some amazing Canadian designers in our own backyard.
Dress: Nadya Toto // Boots: AGL at Nordstrom (old, great alternative here) // Scarf: Toria Rose (old, alternative here) // Coat: Mackage, old and altered, but love this one // sunnies: Kate Spade at Merivale Vision Care // Good hair day (sorry, felt like it had to be mentioned!): Fiorella at Rinaldos (the power of a great cut – this is what it looks like 4 months grown out!) // pics by: Melody Iafelice
Since it’s been a while since I had a long Italian-coffee chat with someone interesting (most recent coffee dates with friends not included; lady friends who fall into this category, please don’t be offended!) I am excited to issue today’s post. It’s subject is a very interesting character by the name of Amir Zargari. For those of you who are not familiar with this name yet, you will likely be hearing more of it as the year progresses.
Amir is the founder of Babes and Gents, an edgy, indie and cult-like fanbase-inducing fashion line (wow that was a mouthful!) based in Ottawa. As with most Ottawa-based endeavours, the reach extends far beyond this capital city but luckily I was able to have a sit down with this young gentleman just around the corner from my place. Here is what I found out:
The idea of Babes and Gents had been stewing in Amir’s mind since grade 12 when a friend had suggested putting his artwork on tee-shirts. To give the story some perspective; even though Amir was headed to Waterloo for a degree in engineering, his background is painting. Now we know what happens when an artist heads off for an engineering degree… Magic apparently…
After a short time at school and a co-op at RBC in Toronto, Amir decided to come to Ottawa and go to the University of Ottawa for business the following fall, which quickly turned into full time designing, planning, prepping and brainstorming for what is now a well known clothing label: Babes and Gents.
So how does one come up with a line that features easy to wear, casual clothing but that seems to speak volumes about the wearer? The concept is loosely based around Amir’s group of high school buddies that used to go clubbing regularly, branding themselves almost the same way Babes and Gents brands it’s fans. The same way you feel when putting on a great pair of stilettos, these raw and edgy tees and crop tops have a vibe that are best identified as street. The line is also about branding (their Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal lines are all made to order – check them out here), and in a world where personal branding and image are what sets you apart, this idea was perfectly timed and primed for today’s cool kids. A catchy name that identifies with everyone but designs that are distinctly unique, Amir’s product is wearable, sellable and increasing in popularity.
This is good for him, because as the company grows, Amir plans on giving back. 10% of all profits go towards UNICEF. For most companies that have just celebrated their first birthday, philanthropy is not always top of mind. However Amir grew up with a strong belief in always giving back. His parents taught and practiced this daily in the household and he is upholding that value.
If that isn’t inspiring enough, I asked him about his inspiration. Amir has a lot of idols, feeding of multiple artistic platforms: Kanye, Tiesto, John Varvatos, Crooks and Castles, Joe King, to name a few. When asked where he sees the brand in 5 years he first tells me that he sees this experience now as an education. If this is his education I can’t wait to see how he fares in the real world. In five years we might see the brand take to the North American market and even go international.
I think it’s at this point that spilled my tea all over the poor guy so figured we should call the interview quits and take some photos instead. Like a good spokesman, he’s sporting his wares (not completely tea-stained, thank goodness!) and graciously posed for my so-so skilled camera.
New York Fashion Week is in full swing and the internet is full of street style photos and dazzling collections issued by designers whose names we hear and revere. But everybody starts somewhere, and over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend a fashion show in Ottawa (we’re having our own Fashion Week). The presentation was by a young Canadian designer originally from New Brunswick whose self-titled label Elise Bourque was a breath of fresh air amongst this dreary winter weather we’ve been having.
Official photos of the show are not up yet, and I thought you would prefer the shot below (featuring the designer wearing some of her best pieces) instead of my blurry instagram photos.
Baguettes are hot. A Celine tote is to die for. But today I’m all about a Canadian line of bags that has captured my heart.
M0851 creates the lightest and softest leather accessories around. They are simple and streamlined, and while they won’t catch any street photographer’s lens for being bedazzled or shaped like a banana; they are by far some of the best bags I’ve seen come out of Montreal.
I recently bought their “weekend bag” and have used it almost every day since that purchase. It’s tall so it fits my laptop and magazines (a more vertical way to hold these items) AND everything else (tiny umbrella, wallet, phone, agenda, ballet flats, and sometimes my lunch!). Somehow they make the leather as light as a feather (wish all my posts rhymed so well) and because it’s such a classic and simple design it goes with everything I wear.
I’ve worn it with Converse sneakers on my way to the airport and with pumps to an event. Although I’m not a huge fan of a cross-body strap (how are you supposed to wear it without squashing or separating the girls?!) it is so helpful when shopping and airporting. It’s a pricey purchase, but worth the cost of being Canadian designed and manufactured and lasting for a loooong time. These puppies age like Jane Fonda. (ie; amazingly well)
Since I am surrounded by beautiful things during my job at WOLF&Zed, I can’t help but share! And now that my fall “practical” purchase is out of the way, I can focus on the trendy pieces … maybe i’ll be buying that bedazzled banana shaped clutch after all …