All posts by Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

How to Declutter your Closet and Simplify Your Life

The leaves are turning and the balancing act of work, commuting, and after-school programs have returned. Autumn weather can be beautiful, but the reality of juggling schedules is often a chaotic backdrop to nature.

Declutter your closet Pilgrim's laundry

One way that you can reduce your stress levels is to declutter your closet, get your wardrobe working with you by covering the essentials. Then pair your choices with the right accessories to refine your look. Call it a minimalist approach, a closet detox or time to cleanse, the goal is to give your cupboard (and you) a chance to breathe. Here are some helpful tips from fashion bloggers:

Olivia Youngs of Simply Liv & Co had these tips for a spring clean-up, but the same rules apply any time of the year:

  1. Put away your out of season pieces
  2. Donate clothes you haven’t worn all year or don’t see yourself wearing this season
  3. Choose a colour scheme
  4. Ditch the doubles
  5. Rely on a few key statement pieces and keep the rest basic

Vicki Archer spends enough time in France to believe that French women have perfected minimalist style with three (3) effortless pieces – black pants, white shirt and sunglasses. Call it French style; you can read her full post here.

Jill and Luke at Sutton & Grove talk about “Less is More” in this article on minimalism. They ask, “Why do we Try and Keep up with the Joneses?”

Italian Style Declutter Your Closet

Tips on How to Declutter your Closet:

I am not going to pretend it is easy to give your closet a once-over. Sometimes clothes, like photos, can evoke memories. Perhaps you bought that sundress on a beach holiday that you dream of repeating. Maybe that black dress is the one that caught his eye. You paid a lot of money for that pencil skirt, and so on.

Confession: It took six years, a renovation and a house move for me to finally give up my corporate “power suits.”

Artwork California Declutter Your Closet

My tips for wrestling the closet demons are as follows (in no particular order).

  1. Practice closet accounting FIFO – first in first out. If you have had an item for a long time, the chances are high that it either no longer fits or is out of style.
  2. Pretend you are moving or renovating. If you were doing either, you would need to empty your closet and dresser drawers. Now, that you have everything in a pile take a hard look at each item before you put them away.
  3.  One in One out. Just bought something new? That’s great! Now remove at least one item from your closet. I still try to follow this one.
  4. Enlist a friend or friends. Maybe you are not objective enough so invite some girlfriends over for a private fashion show along with some wine (I am sure that will be enough incentive). Let them be your fashion police.
  5. Hire a professional. Sounds crazy? Not at all, you go to a hairdresser, nail salon, dentist, gym and so on. Why not bring in someone who does closet organising for a living?

Now that you have cleaned up your unwieldy closet, simply add a few simple accessories to give your look some punch. Sign-up for our newsletter and download our e-guide to picking accessories.

Cinch it up – How to Tie a Scarf Belt a Video

Colleen Poitras is an Ontario-based fashion designer. Her work marries strong materials; stainless steel, concrete, leather and gemstones into minimalist designs for the “Pretty. Rocker. Chic.” The result is gorgeous one-of-a-kind jewellery, handbags and belts.

Although, she admits her that tomboy side surfaced as a child, her first love remained fashion and style. Poitras studied the art and trade of jewellery making at George Brown College and the Mississauga Living Arts Centre. You can read her full designer’s backstory here.

Artist Statement:
I believe that every day gives us the right to express ourselves, the right to be bold or the right to be subtle. I create each piece as a form of expression. I love when my pieces take a back seat to a fabulous outfit as much as I love it when my creations are the focal point to a look. Every look tells a story, and I am blessed to be part of that very personal journey with my clients. We all have pretty, we all have rocker and we all have chic in who we are. The choice is yours…who or what combination will you be today?

One of the latest Colleen Poitras creations is a scarf belt. Made from soft bison leather this belt is just what you need to tie up your blousy shirt dress, or add some punch to your sweater dress.

How to tie a Scarf Belt?

Download her video here.

Scarf Belt Bison Leather Colleen Poitras

Staying Cool Fashion Ideas for those Hot August Nights

Neil Diamond was not kidding; August can be hot!

However, for those of us who love summer August can also be bittersweet as we know the end is approaching. Hot August nights are a bit of a tease, the days are getting shorter just when the lake water is warm, the corn and beefsteak tomatoes are in their prime, and the mosquitoes are almost gone.

August is for summer living. Bathing suits and tank tops are all you need for those lazy days on the dock or at the beach. However, as the sundowner hour approaches, and you have scraped off the sand and sunscreen it’s time to slip on something carefree. We call it “Staying Cool Fashion.”

Cashmere Vest Artigiani Milanesi Staying Cool Fashion IdeasA cashmere vest by Artigiani Milanesi is a basic that is certain to beat any of your t-shirts for that spot as a “go-to” favourite. This sleeveless top made with 100% cashmere, is breathable and ultra-soft. Available in three (3) sizes and eight (8) different colours this vest will take you from summer into autumn as a great base layer.

Gracie Lacey Cashmere Sweater

The Gracie Lacy Cashmere Cardigan is a delicate sweater intended to turn your casual look into sexy. This sweater works just as well with jeans as it does with a skirt. The intricate lace-inspired pattern gives this cardigan a translucent feel. Throw this dress into your weekend bag and your “what do I wear in the evening?” dilemma is resolved. Available in eight (8) colours.

Silk Shibori Scarves Indigo Lavender Staying Cool Fashion Ideas

Sometimes all you need is a little colour. Morija Reeb a weaver by trade loves to work with silk. For this ultra-light scarf, she used a traditional Japanese technique called Shibori to create textural patterns on cloth. Available in indigo-lavender or burgundy-grey-rust, this silk scarf is easy to pack and provides that layer you might need once the sun has set.

No one said you had to change out of your shorts, after all, it’s still summer. Add a simple necklace or dangling earrings, and you have already updated your look. Browse the selection of beautiful jewellery options here.

Enjoy the hot August nights while they last.

Oh…and why not pack in this bison leather tote bag?

Travel size Tote Bag Staying Cool Fashion Ideas

 

Evolution of Clothing Brand Cassandra Elizabeth and New Direction

We recently spoke to Toronto clothing designer Cassandra Burrell regarding what she describes as the transition from a “young” brand to a universal clothing line.Her enthusiasm is contagious when she talks about an anticipated August launch (pre-orders accepted as of August 1st) for the latest additions to her “Cassandra Elizabeth” clothes. These new pieces are a key milestone in this brand’s evolution, with her vision to flatter a wider audience and ignore the seasons.

Read  her backstory here: Cassandra Elizabeth Designs Eco-Friendly Clothing for Busy Women.

Cassandra Elizabeth Canadian Clothing Brand

A Capsule Collection

Burrell believes that it is time to take her designs “to the next level” while maintaining her basic goals of any size and any season. There are a total of eight (8) new Cassandra Elizabeth pieces.  The new clothing includes three (3) sweaters, three (3) T-shirts and two (2) pants. Described as a capsule collection that will cover everything you need for wardrobe basics. The pieces are all neutral foundations (black and heather grey).

Cassandra Elizabeth Canadian Clothing Brand

Sustainable fabrics, Bamboo and Tencel, factor in the new Cassandra Elizabeth pieces. However, Burrell is also adding hemp and cotton as textiles used in her clothes.  She continually vets her Canadian-based fabric suppliers for their eco-friendly manufacturing practices.  One such example is Burrell’s choice to select a bamboo that is broken down mechanically rather than chemically, a cost differential she feels is worth it for the environment long term.

The new Cassandra Elizabeth collection promises to offer a relaxed fit without appearing slouchy. The pieces can be worn individually or layered to change a look or adjust for the seasons. Burrell has designed for every age group while offering a universal fit and maintaining a minimal aesthetic. She shared this, “I love seeing how people accessorize my clothing.”

A Universal Brand

The launch date of early August is intentional. The objective is for the Cassandra Elizabeth patterns to navigate seasonal changes as a year-round collection. Burrell shared that she began working on this project in February (2017) and to launch date, it will be seven (7) months. A quick turnaround for any designer. According to this Burrell, the scheduling is perfect as it reinforces her brand’s universality (all ages, all seasons, all bodies) and it allows her Toronto-based manufacturers to collaborate with her in their slower periods.

Due to changes in her production process these items are no longer available on Atelier, but please visit her website to place your orders. We will continue to follow the Cassandra Elizabeth creative journey and fashion direction.

Ontario Weekend Getaway? Visit Kingston for Art, Culture and Food

For this Ontario getaway, we turned to the artistic couple, Robert and Lisa Aucoin for some locals’ tips on how best to visit Kingston, Ontario.

Battery Bistro Visit Kingston

Located on the north shore of Loughborough Lake, Iron Art’s studio and workshop are about 20 minutes north of Kingston. The Aucoins are passionate about their location and the many benefits of living in Ontario’s lake country. Robert Aucoin is an artist to his core; please read this designer’s story and about “Iron Art” here. Discover his small leather craft (belts, napkin rings) and metal productions (buckles, pendants) here.

Why visit Kingston?

Culture and fun: Situated on Lake Ontario, Kingston is halfway between Montreal and Toronto. This beautiful city has Lake Ontario lapping at its doorstep, and it is home to Canada’s oldest degree-granting school – Queen’s University (established 1841). Also, known as the “Limestone City,” many of Kingston’s public buildings were constructed in the 19th century with locally quarried stone. Before Ottawa became Canada’s capital, Kingston held the honour as the seat of the Province of Canada, from 1841-44.

City Hall Visit Kingston

While you are in the area, there are plenty of visits to do including historical sites, local artisans, food and craft markets and art galleries. The city has tree-shaded public parks and lots of water activities for families to enjoy.

Music: From our dock in late July, we can enjoy the hot summer nights and hear the sounds of “The Canadian Guitar Festival” across Loughborough Lake. This year’s show runs July 28-30th. In late August, Kingston hosts the “Limestone City Blues Festival” four evenings of blues under the stars (August 24-27, 2017) – details here.Guitar Pick Belt Buckle Iron Art Designs

Design inspiration for one of the Iron Art metal buckles, the guitar pick, came from both those shows. Limestone City Blues Festival inspired the blue version of the guitar pick.

Hungry in Kingston

We are lucky as there are many great chefs in Kingston, it’s a great city for food lovers to visit.

The Kingston Public Market is the longest continually running market in Ontario. On Saturday mornings, in July and August, local chefs in demonstrate their top recipes to the gathered crowds. Afterwards, for a small fee (roughly $2) the audience can sample the food, while it lasts.

Market Square Visit Kingston

Just a drive 20 minutes north of Kingston plan to visit the Limestone Organic Creamery, a certified organic farm since 1998. They sell their milk along with several locally produced items, such as honey and cheese. As a bonus, the Creamery is only five minutes from our studio.

Where to Sleep?

Kingston has accommodation options for everyone.  There are charming B&B’s, beautiful hotels, and seasonal accommodations. Or, if you travel just outside of town you can stay in a tent and visit the hundreds of lakes and campgrounds surrounding Kingston. Here is a link.

“Must See” Attractions

There are so many it is hard to narrow it down!

Fort Henry guard Visit Kingston

These are only a few suggestions: Fort Henry, Kingston Penitentiary Tours, the Tett Centre, Agnes Etherington Gallery, Kingston Waterfront, Prince Edward County and Picton Beaches and Thousand Island Tours.

Here is a helpful tourism link.

Waterfront picture Visit Kingston

Image Credits:
Kingston Tourism: Battery Bistro, Kingston City Hall, Kingston Market, Fort Henry Guard, Waterfront
Iron Art: Handwoven metal chair and guitar pick

GOBLE Canadiana Collection Explores the Landscapes of Canada

The idea evolved from Cindy Goble’s coast-to-coast travels, her vision for a unique design project resulted in the Canadiana Collection. Goble has travelled from the “Rock” (Newfoundland) to Canada’s Pacific shores, in British Columbia. She decided to dedicate her first capsule collection to the landscapes of Canada. So, it is no coincidence that the GOBLE Canadiana Collection appears at the same time as the country is celebrating its 150th year.

GOBLE Canadiana Collection Infinity Wool Scarf Maritimes

As a Canadian, this grouping of designer hand-knits and silk prints will immediately take you back a few years (or more than a few) with imagery of the multi-striped Hudson’s Bay blanket. In 1800, the Husdon Bay Company commissioned the manufacture of these iconic off-white (they call it Oxford White) blankets, with four primary coloured stripes. These wool covers served the purpose of being warm, with the unfortunate addition of also being heavy and itchy.

GOBLE Canadiana Collection Bucket Bag Wool Arctic White

GŌBLE’s Canadiana Collection has nothing to do with childhood memories. Designed as statement pieces and contemporary wardrobe patterns. Colourful interpretations from Goble’s cross-country travels inspired her reflection of Canada’s landscape in four major hues.

GOBLE Canadiana Collection Large Square Wool Scarf RockiesThe Arctic is represented in a bright white evoking imagery of the vast snowy tundra. The Maritime coastal waters appear in medium-blue backgrounds. Captured in a tan shade are the endless expansive wheat fields of the Prairie provinces. And, her selection of dark-chocolate brown suits the awe-inspiring granite spires of the Rockies.

GOBLE Canadiana Collection Knit Beanie Cap Wool Rockies

Goble did not stop at colour in this collection that pays tribute to Canada’s 150th anniversary. The grouping includes warm woollen knits for those cold, dark nights that we know will eventually return in the autumn. She uses whimsical touches of fox and beaver fur for design flair. For the warmer months of the year Goble created a playful grouping of bright silk scarves.

GOBLE Canadiana Collection Hand Woven Wool Scarf Prairies

Shop now this collection is only available in 2017.

Tulip 150 Handbag Signature Design to Celebrate Canada150 Milestone

Canada is a young nation relative to its peers (think of the other countries in G7, NATO, EU Zone, Commonwealth and so on). However, 150 years is still a significant birthday it was a milestone worth celebrating.

On July 1st, cities and towns across Canada celebrated with fireworks and live music. The 150 Tulip (or Maple Leaf Tulip) bloomed this Spring – One Tulip One Canada – in time for the annual tulip festival in Ottawa here. (Image credit above: Ottawa tourism)

Canadian designers are marking the year with signature pieces.

Tulip 150 Handbag Red Ostrich Leather

Designing Canada 150

Christine Vonbun’s birthplace is Austria, and where she earned her Master-Craftsman in Handbag Design. For several years now, Canada has been her home. Toronto, Ontario is a place that she enjoys for its ready access to natural beauty.

Tulip 150 Handbag Red Ostrich Leather

To recognise the significant 150th year of Canada’s confederation, Christine Vonbun designed the Tulip 150 handbag, the latest addition to her leather purse collection. This small bag makes a bold design statement to celebrate the milestone of Canada’s 150th birthday year.

Tulip 150 Handbag Red Ostrich Leather

This handbag made with neutral beige leather is the perfect “will go with anything” colour. However, Christine’s design is sensational with the striking black Italian leather bottom, and the red ostrich flower (tulip) appliqué adds that flash of colour that will make others notice.

For the full details on the limited edition Tulip 150 purse click here.

(Note: This sharp red tulip bag will only be available in 2017).

Canada150 in Kingston Discover How Iron Art is Celebrating

We asked Ontario designers Robert & Lisa Aucoin of Iron Art about their plans for July 1st, Canada’s birthday – Canada150.

With everything going on in the world, this celebration has made us think about how thankful we are to be in a country at peace, with freedoms other countries don’t have. There is so much beauty within one nation, and so unique from one coast to the other. You may never be able to explore it all. There is always something in nature to be inspired by as an artist in Canada.  We are thankful to be Canadian artists, living and working in this country.
How will you celebrate the holiday weekend?
We will be celebrating at an art show in Kingston Ontario, the former capital city. Every Canada Day we take part in the Artfest Kingston show which is full of fun for the entire family.  Artists from all over Ontario and beyond participate at the event.
Iron Art RAW COPPER INUKSHUK
What is your birthday gift to Canada?

As a Canadian symbol, I love the Inukshuk. I think it would make a great gift for anyone. I have also been making Canadian Maple Leafs (photo above) out of copper taken from the Parliament Building roof in Ottawa. If there were anything more fitting to give as a Canadian birthday gift, that would be it.

Shop the Iron Art leather and metal collection.

Canada150 – Canadian Designers Celebrate with Signature Designs

On July 1st, Canada will have at least 150 reasons to party. To celebrate the nation’s 150th birthday, we asked a few Canadian designers these two questions:

  1. What does Canada’s 150th birthday signify for you?
  2. If you were to give Canada a birthday gift, from your design collection, what would it be?

Canada's 150th Birthday Bucket Bag Wool Arctic White

GŌBLE

Based in London, Ontario, Cindy Goble’s luxury brand GŌBLE focuses on effortless and comfortable fashion for women. Goble learned to knit at an early age, taught by her mother. It is a skill that she has since shared with her daughter. Working only with top-quality wools, GŌBLE designs luxurious knitwear. The collection also includes a stunning range of silk scarves. Please read the full story about this designer here.

Cindy Goble:
I am proud and grateful to call this vast and diverse country my home. Both of my parents were European immigrants who found freedom, safety and success here in Canada. Creating a new life of choice in this country, my father became a hardworking, successful entrepreneur, and my mother a creative homemaker. They both inspired me to follow suit.

My parents took us on a road trip through the Canadian prairies and to the West Coast. Skiing the Rockies near Lake Louise in Alberta solidified my love for Canada. Venturing east through the Maritimes and out to the “Rock” opened my eyes to the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean and stunning Newfoundland landscapes.

Canada's 150th Birthday Infinity Shawl Wool Maritime Blue

My birthday gift to Canada is my Canadiana Collection – available only in 2017. Canadian travels were the inspiration for this GŌBLE Canadiana Collection, and I am proud to present four major Canadian landscapes the designs:

Arctic – snow and ice
Maritimes – lakes and oceans
Prairies – wheat fields
Rockies – rock and mountains

This special anniversary collection also addresses the diversity of the Canadian seasons. There are hand knits to comfort and keep us warm in winter. In warmer months, the soft, caress of luxury silk scarves adds a light touch. This capsule collection is my tribute to the country I love and call home – the true North, strong and free!

Canada's 150th Birthday Silk Print Scarves Inspired Canadian Landscape Arctic

Take advantage of a 15% discount on the entire Canadiana Collection from June 24-July 1st. Use coupon code GobleCanada150 at checkout and get free shipping in North America! Explore the GŌBLE collection here.

Canada's 150th Birthday Tulip 150 Purse Red Ostrich Leather

Christine VonBun Exotic Leathers

It was not a straight line. Christine VonBun relocated to Toronto, Ontario, via Cape Town, South Africa. She followed her dual passions for stunning landscapes and fashionable leather handbags. Read her fascinating backstory here.

Christine VonBun:
Canada150 is a significant year for all of us, but maybe even more so if you have selected Canada as the country where you want to live. I find it hard to believe that this country is so young. The town that I come from in Austria which is celebrating its 800th birthday this year. This Canadian anniversary is a major milestone in moving forward and adapting to the new challenges that this country encounters.

Compared to many populations, Canadians are fortunate to have access to so much untouched nature, water resources and open land close at hand. We must do more to protect our natural resources, make more conscious decisions and reduce our footprints.

We should all celebrate this national birthday and be thankful for what we have. This summer, our plan is to paddle our canoe in all those amazing parks, lakes and rivers as often as possible in awe of what’s around us.

Canada's 150th Birthday Tulip 150 Purse Red Ostrich Leather

I designed the Tulip 150 bag as a birthday gift to Canada. I think this purse has a fitting personality, a youthful look (150 years is relatively young) it is representative of the colours of our flag and of a flower which is very meaningful to this nation. The handbag’s black base is to signify that in a world which is in flux we should remain grounded. Besides, I think Canada looks great with a red tulip. Discover additional details on the Tulip 150 purse here.

Holiday discount offer: To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, Christine VonBun is offering 40% off any ostrich handbag (in stock) from now until July 1st. Take advantage of this fantastic offer and use coupon code Canada150Handbag at checkout. Here, is the link to her collection. Note: this offer does not include the Tulip 150 purse.

Canada's 150th Birthday Key to my Heart Beeswax Candle

Bees Wax Works

Jill Smith’s fascinating background includes the career transition from ballet dancer to Chandler. She works with pure 100% beeswax, which arrives in 45-pound blocks, to produce an exclusive collection of beautiful candles. Read her story here and about the art of chandlery here.

Jill Smith:
We will celebrate by a festive day at the Salts Spring Island local market that weekend and by spending time with friends. We plan to dress in red.

Canada's 150th Birthday Simple Fern Beeswax Candle

My birthday gift for Canada is the Simple Fern Candle. When we designed that candle, I wanted it to reflect the world we live in out here on the wild West Coast. These gentle twisting ferns grow in the ditches in our gulf islands. Inspirations are easy when we just pause and look around our beautiful country.

Canada's 150th Birthday Black and Gold Memory Necklace Anastassia Sel

Anastassia Sel

At nine years old, Anastassia Selezneva and her parents emigrated to Toronto, from the Russian city of Volgodonsk. She explained that from an early age artistic activities occupied her after-school hours. She experimented with ballet, piano and visual arts, but in the end, it is working with metals and gemstones where she finds the most inspiration. Read why this designer has her sights on New York’s fashion runways for her jewellery.

Anastassia Selezneva:
My birthday is also on July 1st, so Canada and I go way back (smile). It’s an exciting day and has always been my favourite holiday of the year. The weather is usually perfect, and we get to celebrate this beautiful country. This year is particularly special as I will visit Ottawa with my family who is coming from Belarus, for my wedding.

Canada's 150th Birthday Black and Gold Memory Necklace Anastassia Sel

My gift to Canada in recognition of 150-years is the Black and Gold Memory Necklace. Evocative of a gold nugget (or egg shape) this organic piece hangs on a long antique sterling silver chain. Throughout history, the egg has symbolised birth and rebirth. It seems relevant to give this symbol on Canada’s 150th.

Happy 150th Canada!

 

 

Leather Handbags Christine VonBun Shares her Design Story

One of our goals at Atelier is to communicate our designers’ artistic journeys. However, it’s even better when they share the design story behind their leather handbags.

Handbag Design Story Hope Ostrich blue leather

Holiday Discount

Before diving into this designer’s story, we want to make sure you don’t miss this generous offer.  To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, Christine VonBun is offering 40% off any ostrich handbag (in stock) from now until July 1st. Take advantage of this fantastic offer and use coupon code Canada150Handbag at checkout.

Handbag Design Story Ostrich Harper Blue Leather

Dedication

In our view, anyone who has chosen a creative path is brave, for many reasons. Work with raw materials is intensive and in some cases quite physical. Mastering a craft can often take years of trial and error.

Christine Vonbun Leather Handbag Design Story

Designers must first turn their creative vision into an attractive outcome. The Financial Times published an interesting article on “How artisans across the world are crafting a living” by Jonathon Foyle. The process of finding buyers for small production, handcrafted goods can be daunting. The potential sales channels are limited by available time. You will encounter artisans manning booths at craft markets, and in bricks and mortar retail outlets. On top of that they need to establish an online presence and dabble in the virtual world of social media.

Luxurious ostrich leather handbags

Christine VonBun works exclusively with high-quality leathers and speciality skins. VonBun trained in her native Austria and achieved a master craftsman certification in leather work. Her work in South Africa at a renowned design house gave her the confidence to create her line of handcrafted leather handbags. Spend a few minutes reading her designer backstory here and the detailed process required to fashion a leather purse here.

These luxury leather handbags are signature accessories, pieces that you will use for many years.

Christine Vonbun Leather Handbag Design Story

During the “Originals – The Spring Craft Sale” in Ottawa, Ontario, Christine VonBun was interviewed by CTV about her beautiful bags. Watch Christine share her design story with CTV here.

Bella Leather Handbag Morris B Design Story Christine Vonbun

Italian leather handbags

Christine VonBun’s Morris B collection is an Atelier exclusive.  Made with exquisite Italian leather these bags share the same details as her ostrich handbags. However, the price point is more affordable due to the relative ease of working with Italian leather vs. ostrich – explore the Morris B collection here.

Christine has to say about her Morris B Collection,

“User-friendly on-trend bags which work for the wearer from day to night. Uncomplicated, stylish with a twist of fun.”

To celebrate Canada Day on July 1st, Christine VonBun has designed an adorable purse she calls the Tulip 150. This small bag makes a bold design statement to commemorate the milestone of Canada’s 150th birthday. This sharp red tulip purse will only be available in 2017,  order your’s today. (Note: this handbag is not included in the Canada150Handbag offer)

Tulip 150 Leather Handbag Design Story Christine Vonbun