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Category Archives: Fashion Accessories for Women

Visiting Canmore Project A Pop-Up is a Gallery of Canadian Designers this Summer

Bordered by the serrated granite spires of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Canmore, Alberta is a beacon for artistic souls. It is also a town where it can be hard to find parking on a summer weekend. And, the number of mountain bikes might just outnumber the rabbits (ok maybe not).

Project A Pop-up Canmore

Jade Ansley is a metalsmith and one of those artistic souls, with a big idea for Canmore’s Main Street this summer.

“Project A is a curated pop-up gallery dedicated to promoting the work of emerging artists and makers. The gallery aims to create relationships between the public, other galleries, and artists, to build their careers.”

Ansley’s is naturally artistic, her mother is an interior designer, and her father is in construction. She says, “I have been an artist since I was a small child and started my first ‘business’ at age seven.”

This Canmore native studied jewellery design at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design (NBCCD). In 2012, Ansley began the 3-year NBCCD program and achieved a diploma in Jewellery and Metal Arts. A graduate studies program followed, dedicated to business within the arts.

“The graduate program was the course that got me into curating and business – I ran my first Project A pop-up in Fredericton (photo below)  as my thesis. It was funded by the government of New Brunswick (Heritage and Culture office), and featured 19 graduates and current students at NBCCD.”

Project A Pop-up Fredericton

Project A – Canmore is a larger undertaking. Ansley is assuming the rental risk of a vacant retail space on Canmore’s main drag. Her vision is to entice locals and summer tourists into the pop-up store to view (and buy) the work of 40+ emerging Canadian designers. These artistic productions include jewellery, clothing, leather goods, textiles, furniture, pottery, sculptures and paintings.

Project A Pop-up Canmore Construction

Project A Pop-up Canmore Construction

The bright and lofty space is perfect for the gallery concept that Ansley hopes to create for her impressive list of artists and anyone who ventures inside.

Coast-to-coast collection of emerging designers

Nu Ceramics – Fredericton, NB (pottery for your daily rituals)
The Spinner Weaver – Saint Johns, NB ( fashion and home decor)
Cassandra Elizabeth – Toronto, ON (women’s clothing)
Christina Pupo – Toronto, ON (furniture design)
Uppdoo – Toronto, ON (leather handbags)
Co Create Co. – Edmonton, AB (home décor you can’t live without)
AdrianMartinus – Calgary, AB (woodwork)
Kerry Langlois – Canmore, AB (painter)
Jennifer Wharton – Fort Simpson, NWT (ceramics)
And many more…

Project A Pop-up Artists

Project A Pop-up Canmore Artists

The Project A Pop-up opens its doors at 709 Main Street (Canmore) on June 1st and will run until approximately September 30th. Watch for special events and promotions all summer.

Fashion Know-How: Key Tips to Picking the Perfect Accessories

Early into my high school days, I discovered that there is a real talent in picking the perfect accessories.

In my view, I was unceremoniously moved from the local co-ed public school (read: where there were boys) and sent to an all-girls high school. Few people are truly confident entering Grade 9, and even fewer can pull-off a self-assured look wearing a blue tunic, grey knee socks and navy loafers

Certainly, not me!

Picking Perfect Accessories Cindy Goble Scarves

The theory behind a standard school uniform is that it takes the “what am I going to wear” decision making out of early mornings. The standard puts everyone on a level fashion playing field. However, even in those days, the trendy girls could assert their fashion style with accessories (as long they did not push the boundaries too far).

Picking Perfect Accessories Cindy Goble Scarves

Do you have a foundation wardrobe?

Fast forward to the working world realities of the morning rush, business travel and a limited shopping budget. This often translates into a wardrobe that gravitates towards the fundamentals. Weekday essentials might include a white blouse, a stylish black suit (or pants and a blazer) and a sensible pair of black heals. Evenings and weekends might mean dressing-up in that perfect little black dress or chilling out over a latte wearing your favourite pair of jeans.

Picking Perfect Accessories Morija Reeb earrings frost leaves

Fashion tips for picking perfect accessories:

Once you have built the foundation of your wardrobe, it’s time to project your style with the right accessories. Add a flash of colour over a neutral top with a scarf. Catch someone’s eye with the bling of a contemporary designer jewellery piece. Choose a bright handbag to carry the essentials or as a statement piece.

Picking Perfect Accessories Leather handbags Sophie Christine Vonbun

We have created a downloadable e-guide to help you pick the perfect accessories. This booklet will dispel some of the challenges behind selecting the perfect handbag and the “must have” jewellery.

Picking perfect accessories Black-Gold Memory Necklace Anastassia Sel

Is it time for a closet make-over?

Are you starting a new job?

Are you trying to cull an unwieldy wardrobe?

Sign-up for our newsletter here and we will send you the free e-guide for picking the perfect fashion accessories.

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Fashion Tips Picking Perfect Accessories Style Guide

Sterling Silver Designer Necklace Giveaway for Mother’s Day

Can’t afford to take your mother on a trip to Bali this year?

Neither can we, but there is a solution!

Show her how she is special this Mother’s Day with a new sterling silver diffuser necklace. The design inspiration for this understated 18″ chain comes from the sandy shores and turquoise waters of Bali.

Mother's Day Sterling Silver Necklace Giveaway

Katja Presnal the founder and visionary behind the lifestyle brand Skimbaco is offering the necklace (photo above) to one lucky winner. The beautiful ONE DROP teardrop silver necklace with a turquoise lava bead on a cable chain.

Skimbaco is not something you will find in a dictionary, but rather a combination of a Finnish slang word “skimba” for skis and “co” for Colorado (the place she and her young family were living at that time). Read more about the brand here.

A long time believer in natural healing, Presnal discovered the personal benefits of essential oils during labour with her second child. As a sought-after writer and motivational speaker, she has had the opportunity to visit many countries around the globe and had the pleasure of visiting local farms for a better understanding of edibles (herbs and produce) cultivation. During her extensive travels, Presnal discovered that daily use of essential oils contributed to her physical and mental well-being.

Her personal essential oil usage led to the inspiration for a classy jewellery line. Designed with materials that work well to diffuse essential oils, each piece is stunning. Explore the Skimbaco collection.

Suspended on a teardrop of sterling silver the turquoise lava bead, on this exquisite ONE DROP necklace, is intended for your favourite essential oil. Read more about the importance of scents and emotions here.

How do you enter this giveaway?

  1. Sign-up for our newsletter here
  2. Please share with a friend (and don’t forget to let us know)

The lucky winner will be selected via random draw on Mother’s Day (May 14th).

Good luck!

Looking for Mother’s Day Gifts Designer Shopping Ideas

You are right! There is no reason to wait for a single Sunday, in May, to tell your mother that you love her. However, you must admit that if you do not send a card, take her for lunch or give her a small gift to acknowledge the day, it looks bad. We thought we would help with a few Mother’s Day gift ideas.

Mother's day Designer Gift Ideas

Zen Mama (or one needs a bit of calm in her life)

Give her a natural beeswax candle handcrafted by Chandler Jill Smith. These custom edition candles are available in three beautiful designs. Made with 100% pure beeswax sourced in Alberta, Smith creates these candles in her sweet-smelling garage on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia.

Why buy candles made with beeswax? They are a healthier choice. Slow burning beeswax candles produce a bright light and a non-toxic smoke. Read five (5) reasons to choose beeswax candles over paraffin here.

There are three Bees Wax Works candle designs to choose from (click here), but is “Key to My Heart” might be a good choice for your mother.

Just saying…

Key to my Heart Beeswax Candle

Pro Hostess and Entertainer Mom

Is she a passionate foodie and loves cooking? Get your mother something to brighten up her kitchen. Anouk has a series of alpine inspired European linen aprons and tea towels in five (5) different designs.

Anouk European Linen Aprons

Does your mother feed off the energy of social gatherings surrounded by friends and family?

These hand carved serving boards are long lasting gifts that are perfect for entertaining. West Coast weather permitting, Kathy Clark of Schooner Lane Designs cuts these hardwood boards on her Bowen Island deck. Using her trusty electric saw Clark hand cuts walnut, maple and cherry hardwood into a shape that will eventually become a cheese or charcuterie board. These serving boards are finished with food-safe beeswax and mineral oil paste. Schooner Lane Designs serving and chopping boards are created from rough off-cuts, giving this wood a renewed purpose.

Choose any one of these boards for your mother. Our personal favourite is the heart handle version. Add a special touch by requesting to have the board engraved with your mum’s initials.

Heart Handle Hardwood Boards

Fashionista Mother

Give her a scarf or shawl to add a pop of colour to her spring outfits without any additional bulk. Check out at the designer options here.

How about a little bling to make her eyes sparkle? We have a selection of unique, designer jewellery from earrings to rings, from bracelets to necklaces. Consider buying mum a semi-precious gemstone piece for added strength, clarity or confidence. Shop the jewellery options here.

What lady doesn’t want a new handbag? Our designers use high-quality leather, vintage fabrics, and beautiful silks. Browse the handbag selection here.

Mother's Day Fashion Gift Ideas

What are the Pantone Colours for Spring Fashion in 2017

The Pantone website describes the colours for Spring fashion this year as follows:

“A Mixture of Vitality, Relaxation and the Great Outdoors. From colors that are bright and vivid to those that convey a sense of earthiness, our top 10 colors for spring 2017 are reminiscent of the hues that surround us in nature.” Read the full article and descriptions of these selections here.

What are the Colours for Spring Fashion in 2017 Pantone

These top-10 colours were selected in September 2016, at the same time as global supermodels strutted the fashion runways in during New York Fashion Week. In time for May flowers, we thought we would dig through our designers’ collections and see how they aligned with the Pantone hues for this Spring.

Designer Fashion For Spring:

Silk Chiffon Scarf Cindy Goble Pink

Ontario artist Cindy Goble covers the pale pinks, dark blues, hot reds and pumpkin oranges in her line of silk chiffon and square wool scarves.

Oversized 100% wool scarf this wrap is Red Hot

Nancy Newman has the blue tones covered in her “Doris, the day bag” which is available in four different vintage cotton fabrics – bold teal to subdued cream. These purses are just the right size to hold the essentials (keys, lipstick, credit cards, cellphone) while you run your errands.

Doris-fabric-daytime-handbag-in-Green-Kantha

Weaver Morija Reeb created a series of gorgeous dangling earrings. Made with lightweight silk fabric the earrings were heat etched to produce dazzling hues. Available in pale peach, grey, teal and frosty indigo these earrings are certainly evocative of the great outdoors.

Peach-Coloured-Silk-Petal-Earrings

Christine Vonbun’s Mimi cross-body handbag comes in a crystal blue that is almost a perfect match to Pantone’s refreshing “Island Paradise.”

Mimi-ostrich-leather-designer-handbag-in-crystral-blue

From her Morris B Collection, the Adie shoulder bag made with soft Italian leather. It is available in four colours, including a versatile denim blue.

Adie-Italian-Leather-handbag-in-beige-and-denim-blue

Melanie Neves’ Kĕme Jewellery gets its name from a twist on the ancient Egyptian word “khēmia”, meaning transmutation of earth. Handcrafted with metal clay, her creations are inspired by nature, and so are the colours she uses in her wave stud earrings and leaf wrap rings.

Wave Textured Stud Earrings 2 Two Leaf Wrap Around Ring 1

Explore the rest of our designers’ collections here.

Easy to Wear Jewellery for Spring Fashion

It was a long winter in North America. Record snowfalls at Eastern ski resorts competed with the slippery streets of Vancouver and Seattle. After months of the “white stuff,” it’s time to lighten up your look with some new accessories. All it takes is a pop of colour or the sparkle of a semi-precious gemstone to transition and outfit from dull to irresistible.

Atelier - Designer Jewellery for Spring

Unique Designer Jewellery

These Canadian designers handcraft their whimsical jewellery using shiny gold, stainless steel and sterling silver. The eye-catching interest comes with how they have combined metal chains with powerful gemstones and dynamic crystals. Silk and leather create a softer touch when your outfit needs to be less formal.

Crystal Cluster Garden Pendant

Necklaces are versatile accessories

All it takes is adding a glossy chain to turn your daytime ‘at-the-office’ look into ‘time-for cocktails.’ Whether the band is made of a precious metal (gold or silver), a silk ribbon, a leather strand or a string of beads adding one of these necklaces to your jewellery box is the easiest way to transform your look. Explore the designer necklace collection here.

Watermelon Tourmaline Union Necklace

Rings matter!

Whether he gave you the band or it is a gift to yourself – you deserve it. Trust us other women notice what is on your fingers. Melanie’s Keme Jewellery Sage Leaf rings radiate a natural touch. Anastassia chooses a labradorite stone for her enchanting Aurora Ring. This semi-precious stone provides clarity, improved communication and tempers negative feelings (read more here). Colleen Poitras’s Matter Series ring in stainless steel and concrete tells everyone (without you having to) that your weekends are precious.

Aurora Ring with Labradorite stone

Think of your ears as real estate that you can accessorise with a stylish ear crawler or a pair of fashionable ear studs made with metal clay. For the perfect lightweight accessory choose a set of silk earrings by designer Morija Reeb. Using natural silk as the base material and a heat etching process, she adds several layers of natural dye to achieve the desired shades. These delicate earrings look like tiny leaves or butterfly wings (take a look here).

Metal Clay Leaf Stud Earrings

As the warmer weather approaches, expose your limbs to some natural Vitamin D and buy a bracelet to celebrate. Colleen Poitras has two bangles with sparkling gemstone charms. Katja’s Skimbaco collection combines practical and beautiful in the essential oil diffuser bracelets. Buy a designer bracelet today.

Do it Yourself Handcrafted Designer Leather Handbag

We asked Toronto designer Christine Vonbun to explain what it takes to make one of her luxury handbags. She is clear that top-quality leather and access to the right tools and machinery are essential to the production of her purses.

Handcrafting Leather Bags

Vonbun uses a walking-foot sewing machine designed for leather. Each stage of production requires a selection of hand tools; including traditional double-facetted knives for cutting and specialised skiving knives for thinning the leather at the ends. Vonbun uses a fishbone knife for turning the leather edges, along with a variety of pliers, hammers, small screwdrivers and chisels.

Each handbag requires some glueing, which means different adhesives for separate parts of the process.

The most important piece for hand working is a large soft flat stone, according to Vonbun it must be a fine sandstone – her’s came from her Master in Vienna.

So, what are the steps to handcraft a designer handbag?

1. Leather selection

Red Ostrich Leather used for designer handbags

2. Cutting the leather

Cutting the template for a red ostrich leather handbag

3. Thinning the edges
4. Gluing sections

Gluing straps for red ostrich leather handbag Gluing pieces for red ostrich leather handbag

5. Stitching pieces

Hand stitching red ostrich leather handbag

6. Joining parts together

Red ostrich leather bag is starting to take shape

7. Creating the liner and adding fasteners

Preparing the interior details for a deigner ostrich leather bag

8. Inserting the liner and top stitching the two pieces together

Inserting the suede liner into ostrich leather bag

9. Adding straps

Adding the shoulder strap to red ostrich leather handbag

10. Final Product

Finished product Adele red ostrich leather handbag

And, if you work on one ostrich leather bag at a time that process might take 12 hours. Are you still considering a DIY project of making your own handbag? Maybe you should shop designer fashion instead!

Take a look at Christine’s full collection here.

Adie Collection Leather shoulder handbag designed by @ChristineVonBun

 

Exclusive, Luxury Italian Leather Handbags the Morris B Collection

Christine Vonbun handbags designs are timeless, fabricated in striking leather colours these bags are intended to be accessories you will enjoy every day and continue to wear for a long time.

Bella Italian leather handbag in black @ChristineVonBun

Vonbun has this to say about her Morris B Collection, “I want to create user-friendly on-trend bags which work for the wearer from day to night. Uncomplicated, stylish with a twist of fun.”

Based in Toronto, Ontario designer Christine Vonbun only sources leather for her handbag creations from reputable merchants; Klein Karoo Leather (for ostrich) and an importer who sources directly from a selection of reputable Italian tanneries. Working with the same suppliers for years and she refuses to compromise on quality.

Adie Italian Leather handbag in taupe and denim blue

After attaining her Master Craftsman certification from Modeschule Hetzendorf, a dedicated fashion school in Vienna, Austria, Vonbun moved to South Africa. While in Cape Town, she worked at Cape Cobra Leathercraft a premium manufacturer of luxury leather handbags, where quality control is essential. You can read her full backstory here.

Soft ostrich leather remains her preferred handbag material for its durability, interesting texture. “It is also the only exotic leather that gets more beautiful the more you wear it, the leather absorbs the oil from your skin and the textured quill areas get shiny and wonderfully soft.”

Bella Italian leather handbag in taupe @ChristineVonBun

However, Vonbun readily admits that fine Italian leather also produces beautiful results at a more approachable price point, which is why she has launched her Morris B Collection. To handcraft a purse using high-quality Italian leather requires significantly less production time (< 50%), as compared to an ostrich leather bag; where cutting, and matching the quill pattern requires patience and extraordinary skill.

Adie Red Leather shoulder handbag designed by @ChristineVonBun

The Christine Vonbun Morris B Collection is an Atelier Boutiques exclusive. Handcrafted with the same attention to detail Vonbun has created these gorgeous designer handbags at affordable prices.

The Adie purse is exactly like the ostrich leather version (Adele). This shoulder bag is large enough to carry all you need, without being bulky. Lined in gold fabric this purse has two interior pockets and a magnet closure for security. Available in four Italian leather colours: red, taupe, denim blue and black.

Adie Collection Leather shoulder handbag designed by @ChristineVonBun

“Sophie” is available in black and red Italian leather. This pouch-style handbag is both playful and practical with its roomy interior. The drawstring closure also acts as the carry handles, and the shoulder strap is detachable. The Sophie bag might just become your best girlfriend.

 

Sophie handbag in black leather by designer @ChristineVonBunSophie handbag in red leather by designer @ChristineVonBun

Soft and curvy Bella is a stylish bag with a top zip closure. This tiny purse is the perfect companion for running errands and for keeping the essentials (keys, smartphone, credit cards, lipstick) safe. Bella is the accessory that you need for that lunch out with friends or an after-work cocktail. Available in four colours deep red , taupe, tan and black.

Bella Italian leather handbag in red and taupe @ChristineVonBun

Explore the full Christine Vonbun Collection.

Country Weekend in Uxbridge Ontario with Nancy Newman Textiles

Nancy Newman lives in rural Ontario, near the town of Uxbridge, which she describes as a wonderful place to live. Removed from Toronto’s big city hassles Nancy enjoys a view of a farmer’s field from her workshop. Her studio is full of light with a vaulted ceiling and a wood burning stove takes the chill off during the winter – “A lovely space.”

Nancy Newman Textiles work in the studio

However, to the untrained eye, one might describe Nancy’s studio as chaotic (her word), cluttered with leather and fabric samples during the design phase of a vintage handbag. This seemingly messy environment is what allows Nancy to mix and match the traditional fabrics with the perfect leather and accessory combinations.

sewing-machine Nancy Newman Textiles work in the studio

Nancy practices slow, sustainable fashion.

nancy-newman-studio-shot-1

The mission behind Nancy Newman Textiles is to “Save the planet one purse at a time.” She is accomplishing this goal by mindfully using textiles that were destined for the landfill and by honouring and continuing old textile traditions. Nancy explains her choice is to use leather, and not ‘vegan leather’ in her handbags. “This is a conscious choice for me because once the leather finally ends up in the landfill, it will decompose in a matter of months, where the polyurethane will be there for over 100 years.”

Cross body handbag with cotton and leather

If a customer just purchased a vintage fabric handbag, and asked  how they might spend a weekend in rural Ontario what would you recommend:

“Uxbridge, Ontario has a vibrant arts community, and it is a place where you always meet someone you know when you are out.”

Go for coffee at Nexus a newer cafe in town, with excellent hot drinks and friendly owners.

Designer Bucket bag with a Vintage Bohemian Flair

Have breakfast at Scrambles connected to the Foxbridge Golf Club, this restaurant is a great place to get a home-cooked – simple breakfast at a terrific price.

The Tin Cup Caffe is the best place in town for lunch with their tasty soups, perfect coffees and the friendliest staff around.

For dinner, there are several choices, but my two favourites are the Urban Pantry, which has a more upscale menu and vibe, and Frankies Ristorante, a family-run gluten-free restaurant and bakery.

The Fly Cotton Shoulder Bag in Natural Cotton

Shopping in the downtown core is charming.  We have Blue Heron Books, voted one of Canada’s 10 best-loved bookstores by CBC. If you need a new outfit, Woods and Woods Clothing has served the community for 26-years with everyday fashions at reasonable prices.

Don’t miss this “iconic” spot in Ontario’s countryside: The Foster Memorial resembles the Taj Mahal it was built as a mausoleum by Thomas Foster for himself and his family. Concerts are held there frequently because the acoustics are amazing.

Where do the local’s go? The Second Wedge Brewery Co. serves their artisanal beer in a relaxed environment, with occasional live music.

Sleep here: There are several B&Bs in the Uxbridge area this is a good reference website.

Read more about sustainable fashion and how Nancy Newman is turning textile traditions into handbags.

Handbag tote mali mud cloth and leather @NancyNewmanTextiles

Cassandra Elizabeth Designs Eco-Friendly Clothing for Busy Women

Clothing designer Cassandra Burrell explored the fashion communities on both Canadian coasts. The Halifax native tells us that she moved to Vancouver for artistic inspiration after graduation from New Brunswick’s College of Craft and Design. During university, Burrell’s acquaintances began ordering custom dresses, reinforcement of her focus towards a career in fashion design.

Cassandra Burrell Headshot

Burrell describes both coastal cities as beautiful yet entirely different. Where Vancouver is brand conscious and trendy, her hometown of Halifax has a reputation for supporting local designers. After opening her first bricks and mortar store in Halifax, Burrell has settled in Toronto; Canada’s largest city and the hotbed of the fashion industry.

Eco-friendly Women’s Clothing

Cassandra Elizabeth Designs are minimalist styles, inspired by her friends’ personalities and in many cases named after those same people. Burrell’s interest in fashion began at an early age. However, it was designing exclusive clothing for her network that gave her the impetus to launch the Cassandra Elizabeth Designs brand. Burrell’s first fashion show was entirely one-of-a-kind cocktail dresses (sold for charity). She tells us that “I love evening wear and hope to keep this a large part of my brand as it grows.”

Suitable for a broad audience, Cassandra Burrell designs for practical wear. Cassandra Elizabeth clothing is crafted with eco-friendly, long-lasting fabrics including Tencel, bamboo, linen, silk and hemp. Burrell is clear that she only uses textiles if she is confident that the supplier processes fabric in a way that limits harm to the environment.

Next up for Cassandra Elizabeth Designs?

Near term: “I am already working on the Fall 2017 Collection. It is full of neutral tones, clean silhouettes and one pop of colour! You will have to wait to see which one.”

Longer term: More Canadian boutiques in the next few years.

The practical Maris Dress made with bamboo cloth is best described as free-flowing, comfortable and easy to wear. The non-wrinkle fabric is perfect for travel or a long day at work. This understated dress will look just as good as it did when you put it on in the morning.

Farrah Tunic in Bamboo Fabric Side

Farrah is a longer tunic style dress with a geometrical hemline. An “easy to throw on” design allows you to wear this dress without looking like you are drowning in fabric.

Shauna Bamboo T-Shirt

These two easy-to-wear bamboo tops are certainly wardrobe essentials. The Shauna Top is that “go-to” t-shirt when you just want to make dull look attractive. The Lacey Tee is a mid-length top designed for comfortable wearing with leggings or jeans, so functional you might want to buy it in both colours.

Long T-Shirt in Bamboo Lacey Tee

Made from 100% Tencel the Oversized Blazer that will keep you warm with an extra layer, and add a touch of style to any outfit including your favourite jeans.

Oversized Tencel Blazer by CassBurr Designs

 

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