Our Blog

Category Archives: Fashion Accessories for Women

Smart Designer Shopping for the Uncomfortable Realities of Travel

Unfortunately, the glory days of travel are long gone; glamorous overland excursions, plush ship berths, expensive china and silver flatware remain legends of past voyages and dreamy novels. Although, you can still find handcrafted leather steamer trunks, smart cosmetic cases with shiny buckles and monogrammed hat boxes – in flea markets.

Travel Air #TravelTips @Atelier_boutiq

Today’s reality of airline limitations on baggage weight, size and quantity force you to pack wisely. Standing in the queue at airport security, balancing your laptop, spare change and shoes, is usually enough torture to ensure that you do not select more than the absolutely necessary items for your trip.

Mediterranean Boat #TravelTips @Atelier_boutiq

However, black suits and white shirts are boring.

Essential Poncho @ArtiganiMilanesi

At Atelier, we have travel solutions for your next voyage, accessories to brighten up your suitcase without adding weight or bulk. Here are some smart shopping ideas for your next out of town business meeting:

Essential Cashmere Cardigan this Italian tailored sweater will keep you warm on the plane or in the conference room. Available in multiple colours.

Essential Cardigan @ArtigianiMilanesi #cashmere

A stunning 100% silk scarf by Morija Designs, is easy to pack and will dress-up with any outfit.

Smart Designer Shopping Travel Silk Scarf

Eye-catching and comfortable to wear jewellery like the Collins Necklace or the Matter Series Ring in stainless steel will steal the show at your next client appointment.

Collins Necklace #Jewellery @Erinlaura #MadeinCanada

 

 

Inspired by Art Deco KOTI Designs Luxury Silk Evening Handbags

“Home” in Finnish is KOTI, the name that Kaarina Talvila chose for her company. For her, it is a fitting name linked to memories of her mother who first taught her how to sew. KOTI Designs is also evocative of the fact that Kaarina is very settled in her adopted city of Vancouver, a place where she has lived since 1980, and the fact that she is at home (literally and spiritually) in her studio.

Silk Canister Purse in Violet and Cream Silk @KOTIDesigns

 

We were curious about the KOTI Designs story; from geology to silk handbag design. Kaarina Talvila achieved a major in geology from the University of Toronto and subsequently worked for a Fortune 500 company in computer support for mining exploration – mapping and data analysis. Now, she creates geometric patterns for silk evening bags and finishes them on a 35-year old on Viking sewing machine.

Silk Canister evening bag in Steel Blue and Chartreuse @KOTIDesigns

 

When did you start KOTI Designs?

I started KOTI Designs on a very part-time basis about twelve years ago (2004), when my children were in elementary school, but I didn’t turn it into a full-time undertaking until about five years ago.

Why did you start KOTI Designs?

Despite the early career in a science-based field, I’ve always been a creator  – right from childhood. In fact, I took time off from my software work to go back to school to do a crafts program, but I never thought it was a viable career choice. When I was a stay-at-home mom, though, with children in school all day, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to pursue, finally, the creative life I’d been wanting for as long as I could remember.

Square silk Purse Red and Purple @KOTIDesigns

Can you tell us about the crafts program?

I already knew how to sew, thanks to my mother, as well as high school Home Economics classes and years of sewing my clothes. Before starting my new venture in earnest, I took a two-year hiatus from my software career and attended Capilano University for their craft program, which encompassed weaving and surface design, as well as drawing, design and art history.

How did you learn to work with silk?

When I was at Capilano University, we got a good grounding in working with all natural fibres, both for weaving and surface design.

Why do chose to you work with silk?

When I was doing table linens, I was using natural linen because of its durability, but for my evening bags, silk was the only choice. Silk is elegant and lustrous. It represents refined quality and still has an aura of the exotic. And, most importantly for me, silk is unmatched for rich and vibrant colours.

silk-evening-bag-half-moon-shape-in-black-and-scarlet-and-gold @KOTIDesigns

Your designs are inspired by Art Deco and the Japanese aesthetic – what is it about bold, precise patterns that speak to you?

Art Deco is very geometric, and that’s me with my math and science background. My designs are very controlled and precise, but also minimalist, and that’s where the Japanese aesthetic comes in. I love the balance and apparent simplicity of Japanese design.

Can you describe your workshop (atelier)?

I have a lovely studio space. It’s on the second floor of my home in West Vancouver, with windows that look out over Burrard Inlet and a walk-out deck. I’m a bit cramped for space, but the beauty and serenity more than make up for that.

silk clutch evening bag in black rust and red @KOTIDesigns

How long does it typically take to make a bag?

I usually make the purses in batches of four or five – do all the cutting, then all the sewing, etc. It’s much more efficient than doing them one at a time, but if I were to work it out per purse, it would be about 3.5 to 4.5 hours, depending on the style.

The beautiful KOTI Design bags are made from fine silk cloth and fabricated with an exacting eye. The full collection is available here.

Image credits: Photos provided by and published with the permission of KOTI Designs

The Yin and Yang of Erinlaura Designer Jewelry

For this young Vancouver designer, opposing energies create unexpected harmony in her jewelry. Erin Johnson has lived in Canada’s west coast metropolis for several years now. Originally, she moved to attend the University of British Columbia, but the city’s many attractions keep her close.

Mia Necklace #Jewellery @Erinlaura #MadeinCanada

Erin founded her company Erinlaura Jewelry three years ago, the brand is a combination of two names – her grandmother’s and her own. Erin describes her grandmother, Laura, as an influential force in her life and one who continues to provide guidance. As a young woman, Laura emigrated to Langley, British Columbia from Vieste, Italy, with her spouse and they started a family. Young and resourceful Laura made everything from scratch from pasta to blankets, from bread to clothing. Erin credits her grandmother with teaching her how to work with her hands.

“She has always taught me to be strong and never give up. She has also taught me that it is ok to fail, which is an important thing for anyone starting their own company.”

Experimenting with materials Erin designed a delicate ring for herself using rose quartz and unwittingly launched her company. She wore the ring to work (at fashion retailer Aritzia) and before she had finished her shift co-workers were placing orders for similar models.

Collins Necklace #Jewellery @Erinlaura #MadeinCanada

Each Erinlaura Jewelry piece is named after one Erin’s best friends (clearly, she has a few). Combining rough cut stones with delicate chains is the yin-yang of Erin’s work. She tells us that she is attracted to the flaws in gemstones and it is in those blemishes that she sees the beauty and the possibilities. Her base materials come from stores in Vancouver and Arizona, and her inspiration from her surroundings.

Check out some of Erin’s “friends”: Mia, Kristen and the Collins necklaces. Rough semi-precious stones wrapped in fine strands of gold.

Cali Necklace #Jewellery @Erinlaura #MadeinCanada

Before we let Erin get back to her studio, we asked her to share her favourite Vancouver haunts, and where she hopes to see someone wearing her jewelry.

#TastesofVancouver

Coffee: 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters – Start the day with the perfect raw almond milk latte.

Breakfast: Café Medina for the best brunch in town.

Lunch:  Lift for an excellent view of the water and fresh oysters too.

Dinner:  AnnaLena Restaurant for tasty share plates and even better cocktails.

Stay: Rosewood Hotel Georgia with its unbeatable central downtown location.

Classic Vancouver?: Take a walk on the Seawall.

Healthy activity?:  Quarry rock hike with a Honey’s Doughnut in Deep Cove afterwards.

Look for Anastassia Sel Designer Jewellery on New York’s Fashion Runways

Volgodonsk is unlikely to be on many travel bucket lists; a Russian city located on the Tsimlyansk Reservoir, where the nearby nuclear plant is a local employer. This town is where Canadian artist and rising star jeweller Anastassia Selezneva was born.

Anastassia Selezneva emigrated to Toronto, with her parents, when she was nine years old. Artistic activities occupied after-school hours and much of her Canadian childhood. She explains that she had limited time to “hang-out” as she experimented with ballet, piano and visual arts. Selezneva attributes these touchpoints with creative circles to her desire to attend the Etobicoke School of the Arts.

Orion Earrings #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

However, Selezneva says that her journey to jewellery production began as an artistic outlet

“I started to fiddle and experiment with jewellery in November 2012. Wire wrapping, learning about stones, their properties, and teaching myself how to solder. I needed a creative outlet and my finance job was not giving me that.”

Black Tourmaline Union Necklace #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

Her practical business degree, from York University (Toronto) a safe choice, but one that did not fulfil her artistic needs. Selezneva’s diversion with jewellery has led her to global fashion centres;

“Anastassia has created ‘haute couture,’ one-of-a-kind works for Toronto, Milan and New York Fashion Week runway shows.”

Selezneva is now laser focused on her business and her Anastassia Sel brand. She recently (June 2016) graduated from the George Brown College fashion studies program.

Branch Ear Crawlers #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

“This program is intensive and not for everyone. It has very high expectations. To succeed in this program, you need to have patience and dedication to the craft. The one-year program that I took, gave me a solid foundation of the different aspects of the jewellery industry such as goldsmithing, surface finishing, gemology and technical drawing.”

Why did you move towards jewellery from other creative directions?

I remember always going through my grandma’s jewellery box and having a wild fascination with how much beauty it holds and how different jewellery can be. I think my inspiration for jewellery design came at a very early age, but it took some time to blossom into something concrete. Looking back, I cannot pinpoint the exact moment when I decided I will be a jewellery designer. It just happened naturally.

Can you explain how you choose a stone for one of your pieces?

I have always gravitated towards rough stones. I love nature and looking at raw, rough, organic forms brings me closer to it. Ideally, in my comfort zone, all of my pieces would have rough stones. However, as a designer, I have to be versatile and appeal to various clients. If I were to choose my favourite stones, it would be black kyanite and rainbow moonstone. They are polar opposites. Kyanite is rough and dark, and moonstone is light, airy and smooth. When I design, I let the materials talk to me. It depends on the piece, but I typically start my design from the stone and create the piece around it.

Vitae Necklace #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

You work with recycled 14K gold and sterling silver. Can you share your sustainability philosophy as it relates to jewellery?

The way I see it is we as a society need to learn to reuse the resources we have to create a sustainable environment. Resources are finite, and we have to be conscious of how we recover and use it.

Cosmic Ray Ear Crawler #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

How do you find the inspiration for your pieces?

Nature is a big part of my inspiration. The freedom that comes with the natural environment. The place that we are whole, authentic and small. In urban areas we have titles and hierarchies, in nature, we are one. Mortal. Finite.

Union Necklace #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

What do you want someone to “feel” when they are wearing one of your pieces?

Empowered and authentic.

Topus Necklace #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

At Atelier, we are thrilled to be able to showcase jewellery designs from this young designer, who is quite clear that she would like Anastassia Sel to be New York City-based in the future. For now, she shared a few of her version of “where the locals go” in Toronto:

Favourite restaurant in Toronto?

Bar Raval for hipster tapas and Bairrada Churrasqueira for their great patio and Portuguese food.

Favourite coffee shop in Toronto?

Balzac’s Coffee Roasters.

Favourite thing to do on a Saturday in Toronto?

I typically escape the city to a beautiful park like Algonquin, Tobermory or Hilton Falls. However, if I do stay in Toronto I usually check out what festivals are going on (Wine/Beer/Music) or go to a lively patio.

To see the exclusive Anastassia Sel collection currently available on Atelier click here.

Colleen Poitras is Changing Your Look With Pretty Edgy Jewellery

Tomboy to jewellery designer. Colleen Poitras says “Ironically I was more my father’s daughter growing up, a tomboy who loved sports and wanted nothing to do with fashion. I’m not sure when the shift came, but it did, and I was suddenly sewing my clothes in high school, falling in love with fashion and really big earrings!”

After high school, Poitras studied the art and trade of jewellery making at George Brown College and the Mississauga Living Arts Centre. She now credits her mother’s work as a seamstress with unlocking her interest in fashion. “I was always creating something, but my first love was fashion. There is an excitement for me pairing clothing and accessories and seeing how the right combination can make an outfit come alive!”

The Colleen Poitras company tagline – Pretty. Rocker. Chic – is a perfect description of her work. Her shimmering stainless steel Endure Cuff hard-core enough for Wonder Woman yet flawless with that little black dress. The delicate Breathe Bangle is pretty enough for your niece, but you know you want one too. The Falling Chain Necklace is a waterfall of airy stainless steel chains bound by a touch of leather.

Matte-Series-Ring in Stainless Steel

You work with a selection of materials; leather, concrete, stainless steel and semi-precious stones.

What attracts you to those materials?

It’s really interesting to me how my material choices happened rather organically. I hadn’t thought to work with leather until I needed some supplies that required me to go to a leather supplier and I was drawn in right away. The minute that I started working with leather was when I found my voice as a jewellery designer. Concrete was another medium that was unexpected. Again, the possibilities excite me!

Matter choker leather and stainless steel

Of all the materials you work with is there one that is your “go-to” and if so why?

Leather is definitely my go to material. However, I am also having lots of fun experimenting with the concrete and mixing it with metals and leather. What I love about leather, are the endless possibilities – it offers versatility that lends itself to well to my designs.

Significance bangle moonstone @ColleenPoitras

Your work seems to strike an impressive balance between edgy (just on the end of trouble) and feminine keepsakes.

Do you design with a person or place in mind?

I love that this comes across. I wouldn’t say that this is 100% intentional, but I do design what I would wear, and I am a combination of all of those things. I think we all are! We all have a little pretty, we all have a little rocker, and we all have a little chic. Every day is different which is what makes every day so fabulous!

Can you describe your workshop?

I have big windows that let in a lot of light giving it a very “lofty” feel. My photography accessorizes the walls, and I’ve had a custom work table built specific to my needs. It is light and airy with a bit of industrial edge. The perfect “me” workplace (okay in a perfect world I would have a little more space)!

Colleen Poitras designing Canadian women's jewellery

With any one of the Colleen Poitras pieces, you can almost guarantee that you will rock it in your jeans or bring your evening dress alive, but you might need to battle someone for these limited edition pieces. Check out the full collection here (quickly) before her gorgeous pieces are sold out.

French Designer Fashion Style. What is a Carré Silk Scarf?

Surprisingly, it was not Hermès that invented the word carré, but once the company launched its line of square silk scarves, the luxury fashion world has not looked back. Since 1937, there have been over 2,000 unique designs for Hermès carré silk scarves. Worn by royalty and coveted by many, you can read the Hermès story here.

French Carré Silk Scarves

A luxury scarf does not start with humble beginnings; the silk has to be top quality. In the case of a carré silk scarf, the fabric must be cut in an exact square. The raw edges are sewn and then rolled and finished by hand — roulottage is the mark of a premium brand.

French Carré Silk Scarves

Why buy a square scarf? The shape allows for more options for wearability. You can see what we mean with in the Hermès Maison des Carrés.

Petitjean Paris is a new line of ready-to-wear silk clothing for women. Léa Petitjean is the company’s founder, she completed a degree in luxury marketing and has gained an appreciation for excellent craftsmanship, from her work with Van Cleef & Arpels jewelers. However, it is quality fabric that “speaks” to Petitjean. Her approach to nothing short of perfection becomes clear when you understand that she vetted many French artisans before determining whom she would trust to execute on her vision, including established silk printers in Lyon.

French Carré Silk Scarves

Atelier has been fortunate to secure a limited number of silk scarves from Petitjean Paris’s introductory line – Les Jurassiennes. These scarves are “Designed in Paris and made in France.” Gorgeous enough to frame – order your carré today.

French Carré Silk Scarves

Image credits: Photos provided by and published with the permission of Petitjean Paris

What are the 5 Good Reasons to Buy a Cashmere Sweater

A few years back I was invited on a girls’ trip — massages, pedicures, shopping and cocktail bars. Wrong! We were hiking.

What to pack for a long walk on the Camino de Santiago? The resounding answer was a cashmere sweater. The group was headed to walk a section of the Camino Frances starting at the French-Spanish border and over a six-day period we would cover about 120 kilometres.

As our departure date loomed the email volume escalated (the group was not exactly “What’s App” savvy at the time). Well past our youth hostel days, we chose a self-guided, partially supported pilgrim tour. In other words, we had engaged a service to move our bags from one destination to the next, and to book our accommodation. Yes, I admit we were doing a bit of a “princess” tour and thrilled we had picked that option when our first three days were rain-filled downpours that would have made Noah proud.

Luxury Cashmere Sweater Anouk Cardigan Artigiani Milanesi

Here, are five (of many) reasons you should own a cashmere sweater:

It is a natural fibre – Cashmere comes from the soft undercoat of Cashmere goats that have been bred to produce the hair in greater quantities. Think of this filament as the fleece layer that you put on when the weather gets cooler. The cashmere belly-layer is “harvested” when the animals begin shedding, typically in the spring (May-June). The cashmere is combed or sheared (less desirable) and sent to a de-hairing facility to remove the coarse hairs. Only then, is the fibre ready to be spun into yarn.

It is not itchy – Unlike sheep wool,  the cashmere fibres are separated by hand from the coarse outer hairs leaving a soft, downy textile. This time-consuming process is manual, but the result is well worth the effort for the wearer. Did you know that it takes, four-six goats to produce enough fibre for one sweater?

A perfect travel companion – Honestly, who doesn’t like linen, but for backpack travel talk about wrinkles! Cashmere, it can be folded, rolled, stuffed and it still looks perfect.

Lightweight – Have you ever put on a wool sweater to get rid of a chill, only to feel weighed down? Cashmere is eight times warmer than sheep’s wool, yet significantly lighter.

You deserve it. Is there is a favourite sweater (or two) in your closet, the one with threadbare elbows? It’s time to buy a new one. A high-quality cashmere garment made with longer hairs that have only been combed (not sheared) should never have the annoying tiny pills on your sweater.

Handmade in Canada from 100% Cashmere, nothing less.

Gracie Lacie Cardigan @ArtigianiMilanesi #cashmere

Indulge with Luxury Sweaters by Artigiani Milanesi Cashmere Artisans

Cashmere is now being handcrafted into luxury sweaters in  a country built on the fur trapping, down-filled coats and Kodiak boots! Artigiani Milanesi established its bespoke Italian cashmere tailoring on Bowen Island in 2014.

Rosa Palmira Feroldi (Rosetta) was only two-years-old when she and her five sisters, orphans of WWII, were taken in by the nuns at the convent in Cremona, Italy. The nuns would knit clothing for the children, and young Rosetta insisted they teach her how to use the knitting machines. At 21 years old, she left the convent and headed for the industrial fashion-centric city of Milan.  Rosetta established her cashmere weaving business in 1959 catering to local clients from Milan and international fashion brands.

Luxury Sweaters Anouk Cardigan Cashmere Artigiani Milanesi

Davide Bizzarri, Rosetta’s son, apprenticed with his mother to gain an understanding of their business – he officially took over Artigiani Milanesi in 1995.  Davide shares his mother’s enthusiasm, ruthless attention to detail and quality, and her design flair.

Milan’s frenetic pace prompted the Bizzarri family (Rosetta, Davide and his wife Rebecca) to relocate to Bowen Island. Artigiani Milanesi Milan was packed into two 40-foot-long shipping containers and shipped to a 1,600 sqft boutique and workshop on Canada’s West Coast.

Artigiani Milanesi are true artisans. You can find a selection of their essential cashmere pieces  – scarves, ponchos and sweaters for sale here on Atelier.

 

Designer Creations! Newsletter delivered twice a month.

Email address