Style SEEN: Nicole Bridger’s Love Local Launch

Nicole Bridger Love Local

Last week we had the chance to check out Nicole Bridger‘s Love Local launch event. The idea behind Love Local was to invite in a variety of local designers who share Nicole’s philosophy to also share her retail space to promote for Valentine’s Day.

Jessica Walker, Wholesale Manager of Redfish kids, holding up the double sided bubble dress

Jessica Walker, Wholesale Manager of Redfish kids, holding up the double sided bubble dress

One of the first designers that caught my eye was, interestingly, a children’s wear line called Red Fish Kids. The brand has been around for 8 years and although I have heard of it before, I have never interacted with the product. And it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the line.  Designer Lorraine Kitsos was inspired by an Asian aesthetic, as she had lived in Hong Kong for 3 years. You can see it in her kimono style dresses, mini swing Qi Paos, and use of Chinese button knot closures. We love the Flor de la Vida bubble dress that can pretty much be worn inside out!

Hiroko Kobayashi and Neil Prakash of hk + np studio with Nicole Bridger

Hiroko Kobayashi and Neil Prakash of hk + np studio with Nicole Bridger

We met Hiroko Kobayashi and Neil Prakash, a pair of architects with a knack for their designs to manifest much sooner than the construction of a building, they turned to jewelry design. Hiroko and Neil design the jewelry while a silversmith in Japan creates the final works of art. What I love about hk + np studio is that even without knowing what their background is, you can appreciate the architecture in their designs. I quite enjoy their Twist series, inspired by the ripple effect. What I see is that the meaning of a ring is given much more depth. Traditionally, a ring symbolizes eternity, as there is no defined beginning or end. But the Twist series ring shows an ‘eternal’ fluctuating curvature, which to me signifies ups and downs in a relationship, which is totally natural and should be expected rather than a linear ‘happy ever after.’

Mary Cardi buttoned up twice

Mary Cardi buttoned up twice

Having been a big supporter of Nicole Bridger for the longest time, I finally now own a piece. I went for the Mary Cardi, which I can wrap myself in it about 5 different ways. There’s a button behind the neck which allows the ends of cardigan featuring 2 buttonholes to connect. I debated it for a while: I have about 3 other similar style cardigans in my closet, and who doesn’t know I have a ton of black already – did I really need another long-sleeve drape cardigan? The cincher was the fabric. Made of super soft modal fleece, I felt like I was ‘cheating’ the audience by looking good in so many different ways, when in fact I was wearing fleece! I told just about everyone on the NB team they have to bring back this fabric next fall season; crossing my fingers that they do!

Knixwear packaging

Knixwear packaging

I also tried on a pretty set of Knixwear sweat resistant underwear. Even though I’m not a fan of lace, the Knixy Boyshort and Knixy Thong were super comfy!

Other featured designers at Love Local include AATMA crystal energy line, Urban Body Organics, Mellifera Bees (beautifully packaged honey), Jackson Rowe scarves, and Twenty One Tonnes artisan home décor, and of course for Valentine’s Day, Cocoa Nymph chcolates. These designers get to ‘live’ at the Nicole Bridger store until the end of February, so stop by to check them out!

Nicole Bridger is located at 2151 West 4th Ave in Kitsilano.

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Spotlight on the Designer: Nicole Guzzo Designs

Nicole Guzzo

I was fortunate enough to partake in a fashion shoot featuring five beautiful Asian models, which is how I was first introduced to Nicole Guzzo Designs (NGD).  What made this shoot extra memorable was the special guest star – a boa constrictor who acted as a sexy prop, entwining himself around us while we posed.  This was no ordinary boa either; he was a showbiz snake and an integral performance partner to his owner, an Alice Cooper impersonator.  Having a hard rockin’ snake around was very apt, considering Guzzo’s strong connection to music.

I had the opportunity to wear two NGD ensembles.  All of the pieces were about transforming me into a kickass rocker chick who is confident and flaunts her sexuality.  I particularly loved the bolero leather jacket with a gauzy bow hanging down the back – the leather was buttery soft and the streamlined cropped style kept it fresh and striking.

I met Guzzo again during VALT Fashion Week in November 2013 and thought it was prime time to feature her sexy designs.  I asked her a few questions, and she in turn let me take a peek into her world and what drives her creative mind.

Photographer Celina Lam |Photography Stylist Lily Li |Hair & Makeup Tiana Allinan | Model Alison Nichol

Photographer Celina Lam |Photography Stylist Lily Li |Hair & Makeup Tiana Allinan | Model Alison Nichol

Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get into fashion design? Where were you trained?

Fashion has always been in my soul so I knew I had to make it my career. After graduating from high school, I completed my degree in Fashion Design & Technology from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Richmond, BC.

Both Nicole Guzzo Designs and streetwear line REBEL UP represent a rock n’ roll lifestyle brand for those who wish to stand out and make a statement.  I have shown past collections in Vancouver Fashion WeekMen’s Fashion Week, as well as in various other shows around Vancouver.  My clothing sells worldwide from my online store; I also take custom orders through emails and studio appointments.

What is your design philosophy?

I love to push the boundaries of fashion and always urge people to go against the norm.  I believe style is all about being true to yourself and what you know, rather than blindly following what is “in.”

How would you describe your overall look/style.

The two R’s say it all – Rock and Roll!

Where do you derive your inspiration from?

Rock n’ Roll music is definitely my biggest inspiration, along with influences from high end fashion.   When I’m in my studio, music is constantly playing; some of my favourite bands include Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Guns n’ Roses, Led Zeppelin, Avenged Sevenfold, and Volbeat.  My biggest guilty pleasure (which really annoys my boyfriend) is Ed Sheeran!  I just love how calming his songs are.

If I had to choose one genre to listen to forever it would be 80’s rock ballads by bands like Whitesnake, Journey, Def Leppard, etc.

Nicole Guzzo-1

Who are your style icons?

There isn’t one person whose style I admire; rather I generally love the clothes worn by musicians from the 80’s and the groupies who were at their shows.  For example, Joan Jett, Nikki Sixx, and Cyndi Lauper all had badass personal style that was in your face and full of attitude.  They realized the importance of wardrobe and weren’t afraid to spend the time and money to develop a very distinctive style that oozed with sexuality.  I love that! 

Who has been one of your most exciting clients?

My most exciting clients are musicians in general, big or small.  When a musician wears my clothing onstage or in a music video it makes me so happy as that is where my clothing belong.

Canadian pop singer Elise Estrada is a big supporter and has worn my clothing in two of her music videos, along with the back-up dancers.  Fox Seeds winner Pigeon Park wore my designs from head to toe in their debut music video, “Lovelight.”  I created custom pieces for Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless, and I am currently working on pieces for a couple of bands that will be touring with the Warped Tour this summer.

Is your clothing produced locally? Where are they sold?

All of my clothing is designed, drafted, and sewn by me in my studio.  My graphic streetwear line REBEL UP is also produced locally.  You can shop via my online store, or custom order pieces and have them fitted in my studio.  I also sell my clothing at various markets around Vancouver.

Nicole Guzzo-2

What’s up next for Nicole Guzzo Designs?

My Spring/Summer 2014 collection entitled “REBEL TRASH” is launching in March.  It is a perfect mix of 80’s glam, English punk, and modern rock.

I have been invited to reveal my SS 2014 collection in the monthly RAW Showcase taking place in Sydney, Australia – VERY exciting for me!

I have clothing in two music videos coming out this spring, one for Elise Estrada and one for Craig Smart.  I am currently choosing outfits and styling Melena Rounis and her three dancers for her choreography video set to Beyonce’s “Yonce.”

A REBEL UP streetwear look book was just shot and will be sent to retail stores around town for their consideration.

My second collection of leggings will also be premiering very soon.

Everyday something new happens which keeps my job very exciting!

Nicole Guzzo-5

Interview by Aurora Chan

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


Photographer: Celina Lam Photography
Stylist: Lily Li
Hair & Makeup: Tiana Allinan


Photographer: Andrea Gurniak
Makeup: Nicole Friesen (
Model: Miss Morgane

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Jason Matlo Sample Sale: Big Savings on Stylish, Quality Pieces

Jason Matlo sale-1

In a trendy little studio in the heart of Gastown is where you will find Jason Matlo’s studio. When I first arrived, I heard the sound of a sewing machine and shortly after, I saw the two designers hard at work. I thought maybe I was in the wrong suite or interrupting the designers but they were very welcoming and I quickly got straight to shopping. As I scrolled through every article of clothing on the three full racks, I was surprised at the great prices. Everything from fun patterned skirts to elegant sequenced gowns filled the racks; Each garment discounted at 60%-80% off!

Jason Matlo sale-5

Jason Matlo & Wen-Chee Liu

Jason Matlo sale-2

I found lots of treasures (unfortunately, not all in my size). A beautiful black silk skirt priced regularly at $400 and now on sale for only $20 was my favourite. The gowns were also unbelievably priced, a violet sequenced mermaid gown was down to $580 from $1597. The selection was directed towards work wear and evening wear with a variety of sizing. There is a mixture of elaborate patterned pieces, neutral pieces, and solid bold coloured pieces. I even spotted a one-shouldered dress in Pantone’s 2014 colour of the year, Radiant Orchid. While going through the racks, I noticed the great quality and soft feeling of the fabric that Jason Matlo uses. After trying on a few items, I ended up purchasing a $152 black cotton/nylon tee for only $15! I had a lovely experience, got a nice addition for my closet, and even got a chance to meet the two designers, Wen-Chee Liu and Jason Matlo. Be sure to check out the Jason Matlo sale next time!

Jason Matlo sale-3

Jason Matlo sale-4

Words + Photos by DesireeAnne Holder

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Upcoming Events & Sales: Nicole Bridger, Jason Matlo, LYNNsteven

Nicole Bridger ‘Love Local’ Launch

Nicole Bridger will be hosting a variety of local brands from childrens wear to odor-nixing undergarments at her Kitsilano shop. The official launch happens tonight and the brands will be at the shop at least until Valentine’s Day for your shopping needs.


  • WHAT | Nicole Bridger’s Love Local Launch Party
  • WHERE | 2151 West 4th Ave
  • WHEN | Feb 6th @ 7:00 – 10:00pm
  • WHY | Get great gifts in time for Valentine’s Day!

Jason Matlo Sample Sale

Jason Matlo sample sale

One of our favourite designers, Jason Matlo,  is holding a sample sale this Friday and Saturday. Up to 80% off? Hell yeah!


  • WHAT | Jason Matlo sample sale
  • WHERE | 511 – 55 Water St
  • WHEN | Feb7th – 8th @ 10:00am – 6:00pm
  • WHY | Amazing designs at 80% off

Jason Matlo info via Nicolette’s blog

LYNNsteven Fall/Winter Sale

LYNNsteven sale
After heading over to the Jason Matlo sale, be sure to pop by LYNNsteven‘s fall/winter sale also in the Gastown neighborhood.


  • WHAT | LYNNsteven Fall/Winter 2013 Sale
  • WHERE | 225 Carrall St
  • WHEN | Feb 7th – 9th
  • WHY | Get a $5 gift card to The Coffee Bar to keep warm while you shop!

C. by Chelsea

c by chelsea sale


  • WHAT | C. by Chelsea sale
  • WHERE | 1834 West 4th Ave
  • WHY | Sale merchandise already 10 – 50% off – and you get an EXTRA 20% on top of that!

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Lords of Gastown Opens New Showroom

Nik Dean & Tyler Hazelwood

Nik Dean & Tyler Hazelwood

Local lifestyle apparel brand Lords of Gastown (LG) held a soft opening of their brand new showroom on January 30 and 31 in East Van, and Style by Fire was there to check it out.  I was aware of LG but their target market falls outside my usual circles so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I ventured into their hidden lair.

Lords of Gastown-10

There was an intimate crowd of mostly guys in denim and black leather hanging out, chugging back beer and chatting on top of groovy tunes.  I felt like I had walked into someone’s house party.  Everyone turned around to look at me; it was obvious I was an outsider.  I introduced myself, and the next moment found myself being welcomed with open arms, my hand holding a pale ale, and being taken on a tour of the new digs.

Jill Kacic

Jill Kacic

The LG Compound is called a compound for good reason – the showroom is only one part of the space, and it seamlessly blends into the garage which is used to customize and repair motorcycles.  Right beside the garage is the production area with a screen printing machine and sewing machine where the Co-Designer/Head Seamstress Jill Kacic works.  Down the hallway from the showroom is a spacious bar and lounge area, as well as tattoo parlour.  It became clear that LG is about fostering the motorcycle lifestyle and community by building a one-stop home for its enthusiasts to socialize in and have both their personal style and that of their bikes taken care of.

Who are the Lords of Gastown?  Tyler Hazelwood and Nik Dean, both 34, are long-time friends and share a passion for motorcycles.  They both lived in Gastown and had their routine bars where they hung out on a regular basis, which is how they got the nickname Lords of Gastown.  As a joke, they started getting t-shirts made with this name emblazoned on them.  Before long, their friends also wanted to wear these t-shirts.  They started discussing clothes and what they wanted to see available to buy, which led to designing their signature ‘True OG’ jacket in 2009.  With the help of Kacic, they started producing this jacket which features leather sleeves, denim body and black patch on the back featuring the LG graphic.  Soon they started picking up vintage jackets and re-working them the LG way, sewing on patches and altering the sleeves, etc.  Their popularity grew rapidly, leading them to expand their repertoire of apparel to include hoodies, tank tops, toques, and vests.  They began collaborating with other brands and artists, including LA shoe brand Pskaufman with whom they co-produced a limited edition line of leather boots.  Hazelwood and Dean’s mothers have even jumped onboard to help with producing a side line of children’s wear with miniature versions of the adult apparel.

LG caught the eye of iconic motorcycle brand Harley Davidson, who has picked up the apparel line and now carries it in its Langley, Kamloops, and Edmonton dealerships, with plans to expand to eastern Canada and overseas.  The demand for stock and customized pieces has created the need for the LG Compound to showcase their products to potential buyers.  Kacic is now training a team of seamstresses to take over some of the production work.  What started out as a silly joke amongst drunken friends has grown into the beginnings of an empire – LG is a prime example of the ‘follow your passion and the money will follow’ school of thought.

Besides LG’s astuteness in tapping into a niche in the apparel market, it’s the team’s warm openness that impressed me.  These motorbiking aficionados are affable and laidback, care about aesthetics and design, and look stylish while cruising their Harleys around town.  They made me want to own a bike of my own just so I could hang out at their digs and talk shop with the boys.

The LG compound is located at 49 Dunlevy Avenue in East Van.  Their apparel can also be found locally at the Menu Skateboard Shop in Gastown, as well as online.

Words + Photos by Aurora Chan

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Barcelona Designer Nerea Lurgain Pops Up at Woo To See You

Nearea Lurgain-2

This past Saturday, February 1st was the only day that Nerea Lurgain made an appearance at the pop-up shop hosted at Woo To See You boutique, the sole Vancouver stockist of the Barcelona designer.

Nearea Lurgain-4

Nerea showed a sneak peek of her Spring/Summer 2014 collection. The designer is known for her looser-fitting garments with touches of detail that aren’t too subtle but don’t shout at onlookers either. In contrast to her dark Perthes inspired collection for Fall/Winter 2013, splashes of colour are featured this time around. The collection is made up of tie-dyed pieces in black overlaid with a brighter colour. The patterns range from exotic animal-inspired prints to what the designer calls Jackson Pollock-inspired abstract designs.

What struck me when I first visited Woo a few weeks ago was that every other piece I picked up was by Nerea Lurgain. There’s something unique about her designs that stand out to a shopper seeking interesting items. Take for example this high-low shirt in a passionate red: it has a zipper in the back allowing the shirt to be worn as a tighter or looser fit. With the zipper undone, the hardware adds interest to the back of the shirt. With it zipped up when I tried it on, even though it was very loose fitting on the bottom, the bust area felt nice and snug. If this shirt is any indication of Nerea’s design skills, I’d have to say she’s a master at engineering clothing for a woman’s body.

Nearea has been designing her eponymous label for 6 years, but before that she was a painter, teacher, and had even worked in finance. When asked whether it was a big jump for her from finance to fashion, she said it was quite natural. Nerea took sewing lessons at night while working with numbers in the day. Indeed, having a strong financial background helps any creative person in business.

In Barcelona, she sells her designs at a boutique in partnership with two other designers. They also carry an array of Spanish designers at the shop. You can also find her clothing in Denmark, Japan, and the Netherlands.

We can’t wait for the Nerea Lurgain collection to pop up for spring at Woo To See You!

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Style SEEN: Ivido Jeans Fashion Show

Ivido Jeans-13

On Friday, January 31st, LuvnGrace Entertainment hosted the Ivido Jeans fashion show at the Waterfall Building. Ivido Jeans is a brand of push-up jeans designed in Vancouver and manufactured in the South American country of Colombia – the same place where hip-shaking songstress Shakira also hails from.

The show had a late start, leaving the crowd in much anticipation of the night’s entertainment. Once Magdalena Lima, designer of Maggie Fu Fashion and Zumba instructor extraordinaire, came on stage with a dynamic Zumba routine, she got everyone swaying in their seats.

Afterwards, when the models started coming out, there was immediately a sense the positive feedback from the crowd. Many people oohed and ahhed at the interesting blue hues of the denim, and of course commented on how good the girls’ assets looked in the jeans.

Ivido Jeans-18

Halfway through the show, two models even demonstrated exactly how much stretch Ivido Jeans actually have. They sashayed up and down the runway, bending, stretching, and finally performing the splits in the jeans!

Another highlight of the show was when Ivido founder Ivis Gonzalez performed a traditional dance routine with a gentleman, portraying the flirtatious dance of two lovers getting together.

Ivido Jeans-31

When asked about what exactly pushes up the jeans, Ivis told us that it’s simply in the way that the pattern is cut. This surprised us as we would have easily placed a bet on a padded seat.

Now this definitely intrigues us to go try on a pair ourselves! The Ivido boutique can be found at 638 West Broadway in Vancouver.

Words by Miranda Sam

Photography by DesireeAnne Holder

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Even If You Don’t Like Fashion, You Need to Watch “Bill Cunningham New York”

Bill Cunningham New York DVD

In a recent article on the Business of Fashion, Max Berlinger asks, “What happened to street style?” He questions whether what we now consider “street style” to be anything more than publicity stunts or staged shots. He also acknowledged long-time New York photographer Bill Cunningham for capturing true images of style on the streets. I watched Bill Cunningham, New York recently, a documentary on the photographer’s daily life. Even though it was released a few years ago, I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you.

Bill Cunningham New York Times - Detected

In a nutshell, Bill Cunningham is a fashion photographer at the New York Times, and he’s held that position since the mid-sixties. He writes one column on New York society life, and one on street style. The man works tirelessly trying to capture the pulse of style on the streets of New York, and he lets the trends reveal themselves to him. You see him working from day to night, zipping on his bicycle, wearing the same blue jacket, from one event to the next. He doesn’t care much for food (you only see him eating at grab-and-go places) nor for intimate relationships (he was asked about this on camera, and had said he has no time for it). The one relationship he has seems to be a lifelong affair with photographing fashion.

I don’t want to review the film, as there are many great reviews out there, since the movie was released three years ago. What I would like to touch upon is the character of this man.

There’s this one scene closer to the end of the film where he’s at a high-profile event, and you see the paparazzi madly photographing celebrities on the red carpet. He says to the camera that the other photographers must think he’s such a fool for not getting the money shot, but then reveals to us that it’s not celebrity he’s after, but the clothes. And since the celebrity wasn’t wearing anything interesting, he wasn’t about to take her picture. For sticking to the true spirit of great fashion, I bow to this.

Bill Cunningham New York Times - McQueened

I like to think that when Aurora and I attend fashion events, the photos of the guests we take are of people who truly show a unique sense of style. As the reporter of the team, I’m the one who takes down people’s names after Aurora gets the shot, and I’ll ask what their role is, assuming they’re in the industry. Oftentimes, if they’re not directly involved with the industry, people tend to respond with hesitation, as if their role as a student isn’t nearly as important. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about what their role is, because we’re all about inclusion, and that goes for anyone at any event we attend. That was a big part of Bill Cunningham’s work, to photograph anyone and everyone on the street who expressed a unique point of view through clothing.


Another scene that spoke to me was when Bill attended fashion week. Unlike the other photographers who fight for a foot’s worth of space in the photography pit, he chose to sit in the front row. Now this really hit close to home because Aurora and I had talked about where she should be taking photos from. Like I said, most established photogs stake their position dead centre in front of the runway, and we’ve experienced being pushed around by them. Like anything else in life, there’s a pecking order, and these male photographers try to dictate where us “girls” need to be. So even though I tell Aurora to stand up (literally and figuratively), she prefers to sit down. I didn’t quite understand this until I watched one pivotal scene.

Bill acknowledged how everyone else in the pit ended up taking essentially the same photo straight-on. But from where he sits, when the model walks past him, he’s able to capture the movement she gives the garment. To him, it’s all about the interesting details you can’t see without an angle, the nuances of how the fabric flows, and the clothing being brought to life. After understanding Bill Cunningham’s position on what he takes photos of (the clothes, and not the person), and how he chooses to take them in ‘real life’ (unlike taking photos like stock images), I was able to understand Aurora’s artistry.

Image from

Image from

Since Aurora joined Style by Fire last year, we’ve had questions come up about the direction of the blog. But after watching Bill Cunningham, New York, I definitely want to follow in his footsteps to be true to fashion, and not let the politics dictate the work that we do. Thanks for being a man of such great integrity, Bill.

As for everyone who hasn’t yet watched this incredible film, I highly recommend it, even if you have no affiliation or interest in fashion. It’s really not about fashion, but about a man who lives an authentic life amidst the superficial nature of the industry. Just as I got some personal takeaways, I’m sure you will too.

xo, Miranda

Words by Miranda

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Woo To See You x Nerea Lurgain Pop-Up Shop


One of our favourite new stores, Woo To See You,  is hosting a pop-up with one of the designers they carry! Nerea Lurgain, which can only be found at Woo, will be present at the store this Saturday for one day only. I immediately fell in love with her designs, and I bet you will too. Meet her in person this weekend!


  • DATE | Saturday, February 1st, 2014
  • TIME | 11am – 7pm
  • LOCATION | Woo To See You Boutique @ 129-1208 Homer St

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Tales & Treasures from the SMOC Collection – Historic Fashion Talk

Founded in 1992, the Society for the Museum of Original Costume (SMOC) is a registered charitable organization that collects historic fashion, traditional costume, and textiles with the ultimate goal of creating a permanent museum to display them.  Its calendar of activities include presenting historic fashion shows, providing education programs to various institutions, and providing resource materials for media and other museums.

Style by Fire was in attendance at SMOC’s latest presentation on January 19 at the majestic Hycroft Manor in Shaughnessy, entitled “Tales & Treasures from the SMOC Collection”.  Hosted by the venerable fashion historian Ivan Sayers, the audience was treated to a fascinating and humorous review of some of the highlights of recent additions to the SMOC collection.  Full of snide asides and gossipy tidbits, Sayers had a distinctly dry and caustic sense of humour which made him an entertaining storyteller.


Before carrying on, I should confess that I’m not very knowledgeable about fashion style and trends prior to the 1940’s and this was my first time at a historic fashion talk.  As such, there were moments when I was lost somewhere along the way as Sayers breezed through 19th century fashion with the ease of an expert passionate about his favourite subject matter.

The selection of historic dresses on display ranged from the early 1800’s to the 1940’s.  Sayers spoke about the predominant fashion trends and backstory surrounding each dress, supplemented by a slideshow of fashion illustrations.  What follows is a very general overview of the main fashion trends covered.

1820’s to 1850’s

By the early 19th century, the classically influenced Empire/Regency styles had given way to re-adopting the characteristics seen earlier in the 18th century, including full skirts and visible corseting of the waist.  The waistline moved down from just underneath the breast to the more natural waistline, while skirts became fuller and conical in shape.  Sleeves began to increase in size as well.

Over the next two decades, the general silhouette of women’s dresses continued to widen, with shoulders moving outwards and sloping down, while the circumference of the skirt became increasingly exaggerated.  These shapes were meant to make the waist look as small as possible, signifying femininity and petiteness.  Sleeves continued to enlarge over most of the arm.

At this time, the skirt became detached from the bodice, allowing for greater flexibility in outfits.  A number of different bodices could then be made for one skirt, depending on the occasion, ranging from daytime to formal evening.  The separated skirt also allowed for greater ability for it to jut out from the body, leading the way to the transition from a conical to bell shaped skirt.




1860’s to 1880’s

The 1860’s began with skirts being at their fullest, propped up underneath with crinolines and hoops.  Gradually over the next couple of decades, the shape of skirt moved from being bell shaped to a narrower silhouette with the bulk of the fabric moving to the back of the dress, creating a bustle.  In this way, a woman’s best angle to be seen moved from being her front and back in the first half of the 19th century to her profile.  Sleeves deflated and began trimming down closer to the arm.





It was at this time that a woman’s expected range of activities expanded from being merely a delicate flower transported everywhere to a more active one.  The notion of a woman going out for a walk became the norm.  As such, she required a walking costume, an example of which is shown below.   Albeit white in colour, it was easy to wash and would have been worn when strolling the boardwalk of a beach.

As sporting became more acceptable for women, the walking costume needed to be modified to accommodate a woman’s stride.  As a result, the overskirt was often pinned back to reveal the petticoat in order that she not trip over her hem.  This trend then began to be incorporated into regular dresses, giving rise to the polonaise skirt with three layers of skirt, as shown below.


The 1920’s saw the significant introduction of fashion into the modern era, with the abandonment of restrictive clothing of years past and the move towards more comfortable attire, including short skirts and pants.   This was a reflection of the end of World War I and the onset of a prosperous era in the US characterized by The Roaring Twenties.  The sportswear worn by women became incorporated into everyday attire in the form of a tubular dress with pleats, gathers, or slits to allow for motion.  The most prominent manifestation of this trend was the flapper dress which was functional and flattened the bust line.

Proper attire for wealthy women still continued to follow decorum depending on activity; for example, they were expected to change from a morning dress to an afternoon one.  The afternoon or ‘tea gown’ was less form fitting than the evening gown and featured long flowing sleeves and sashes or bows at the waist.




The last outfit on display was a special one, created by the celebrated local fashion designer Lore Maria Wiener.  A German native, Wiener began apprenticing as a dressmaker at age sixteen.  In 1939 she moved with her Jewish father to Shanghai to escape the Nazi occupation of her homeland.  There she met her husband and together they opened a successful dressmaking shop, catering mainly to clientele from the French Embassy.

Her stay in Shanghai was cut short due to continued political upheaval and together with husband, she moved to Vancouver, Canada.  They were lent the start-up capital to open a new dressmaking studio designed by a young Arthur Erickson.  With Wiener doing the designing and her husband taking care of the business side, the studio flourished for forty years.  Specializing in custom designed clothes based on her clients’ wishes, she started out as a one-woman operation and grew to a team of twelve staff.

Her attention to detail and immaculate construction, resulting in elegant pieces that never went out of style kept her clients returning for more.  SMOC’s ensemble was no exception, with the oriental-influenced embroidery and pleated detailing on the skirt, inspired by her stay in Shanghai no doubt.

Words + Photos by Aurora Chan

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