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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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Meet DesireeAnne: Style by Fire’s New Intern

DesireeAnne headshot

Please join us in welcoming DesireeAnne, Style by Fire’s first intern! We’re excited to have Des help us out as well as show her the ropes to the local fashion industry. Keep reading to learn more about this awesome girl!

My name is DesireeAnne, I am so excited to be apart of the Style by Fire team.

I grew up as your average tomboy girl on the cold prairies of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. When I wasn’t at the hockey rink or the baseball diamond, I was gaming with my two older brothers at home. Needless to say, I was a bit of a jock! I ended up spending the past five years working with children with Autism. I learned so much about myself from working with such amazing kids, that they inspired me to follow my heart.

My life ended up taking a 180-degree turn, and I decided to pursue my new-found dream… FASHION! I packed up Gertrude (my 1990 Toyota Camry) and headed for the west coast. From lacing up my hockey skates and singing the alphabet in Kindergarten to scoring an internship at Holt Renfrew and discussing high-end designers at fashion school, it’s safe to say I have gone from one extreme to another. Now I can’t imagine living my life any other way.

I am currently attending John Casablancas Institute, taking a Fashion Business & Creative Arts diploma and am becoming more in love with fashion every day. I don’t know where I will end up in this exciting industry but there is something fascinating about the unknown. In the few months I have been in Vancouver, I have already met so many amazing people and I know this BIG city has so much to offer me. I am looking forward to sharing stories with you and continuing to learn about the exciting world of fashion!

– DesireeAnne

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Style by Fire’s 2013 Reflections: The Style, the Struggles, and the Success

Throwback Aurora and Miranda

Aurora and Miranda circa 2007

The year’s about to end, and there are so many things to be thankful for. Probably the biggest change was coming back in full swing this year. I started Style by Fire in the summer of 2008, when a friend convinced me to start a blog. I thought, what the hell, and readily joined one of the first waves of Vancouver bloggers. Fast forward to 2013, Aurora, who had been a contributing writer since the beginning, came on board!

This year we’ve learned a lot: from positioning the blog to establishing a strong work ethic, from learning how to choose feature photos to keeping our ‘extra baggage’ safe during fashion week. Running this blog hasn’t been the easiest thing, even though most people would like to think otherwise. I can tell you right now I’ve counted at least 15 different steps to each post, beginning with attending the event to the last step of pushing that Publish button. There is a lot of work involved, as we try to get you the news the very next day, but we can wholeheartedly say we love every minute of it.

Dealing with burnout was also something we struggled with. We’re both so in love with our local fashion industry, that we pushed the limits of our boundaries – which included many sleepless nights. Though it’s something that’s generally rampant in the industry, it’s not a norm we’d like to promote. Moving forward, we’ll still give our 100% to cover events, but that might mean we’ll have to move faster, grow a bigger team, attend individually, or stay for shorter periods.

Also, looking back we see how our style has changed over the years – how’s that for a throwback photo?! That was taken during a time when I thought wearing a bra over your shirt was cool because my favourite style blogger did it. And I actually still don’t think it’s that big of a faux pas, even though Aurora will disagree! I actually still have those Club Monaco shorts and although those tights tore pretty quickly, I’ve amassed a collection of colourful tights.

Aurora says… “I got that orange skirt during my first trip to New York eight years ago. It was from the Century 21 department store which was on my must see shopping list for finding designer duds at discount prices. It’s still in my closet, along with everything else I’m wearing. Clothes I love never leave my home, no matter how seldom I wear them. This might explain why I now need to live in a townhouse…ahem.”

Running Style by Fire has also afforded us some awesome, cool, touching and funny behind-the-scenes moments. Some of my favourite chill-out moments include eating a burger or buying ice cream after a fashion show. There was also that time when we had a few days free from fashion events, and the very next day we run into each other while shopping! And of course, connecting with the fashion community. One designer we covered said the way we reviewed her collection was the reason why she designs. I seriously got teary eyed. And last but not least…

Here are some of our top moments of 2013

  1. Style by Fire becoming a team!
  2. Launching the Style by Fire Facebook page (psst… join it!)
  3. Covering 3 fashion weeks: VFW, EFW, VALT
  4. Hosting Dynamite’s shopping party & dressing Dynamite mannequins!
  5. Becoming part of the Vancouver fashion community… again :)

We are looking forward to the many great fashion moments in 2014, and of course, sharing them with you. Cheers to a stylish new year!

xo, Miranda and Aurora

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Merry Christmas from Style by Fire!


Wishing everyone a warm & stylish holiday, time spent with good friends and family, and lots of laughter!

If you are looking for a good fashion-related cause to donate to this holiday, please check out Nicole Bridger’s indiegogo campaign. The team has doubled its wholesale orders and need your support to purchase the fabric.

PS. We’re taking some much-needed beauty rest for the holidays, and will return in 2014 with more fashion show coverage, sale reports, retail news, and everything else local fashion you love reading about.

xo, Miranda & Aurora

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Great Gift Ideas at Bootlegger: For Him and for Her


This post was first published on the Metropolis at Metrotown blog. For all of you last-last minute shoppers… Check it out!

When I first became obsessed with shopping days during my high school days, Bootlegger was definitely a go-to shop all the girls hit up. And that was when it was located on the other side of Metropolis near the Zellers. The store at Metropolis has come a long way since, after moving to the former Off The Wall space in 2006. The store has updated its interiors with “exposed” brick wall and denim walls for a hip downtown vibe.

When compared to Bootlegger’s 103 other stores, shoppers at Metropolis tend to be faster when adopting new trends. For example, the management team had to bring in more gold jewelry this season. Why not bling it up a notch for the holidays? Here are a few of Metropolis Bootlegger’s best sellers, neatly packaged into a holiday gift guide.

Gifts for Him

Casual-cool (Sweat)Shirts

Known for is laid-back nature, Bootlegger is the perfect place to get casual and great looking shirts for guys. The grey Myles long-sleeve shirt retails for $49.50, while the Earl full-zip hoodie is at $59.50 and the Distillery Earl popover at $54.50. These are 3 great shirt styles all around the $50 mark!


A Jacket-of-All-Trades

The acting manager told me that this was one of the best-selling jackets at Metropolis, and I can see why! This men’s utility jacket can be dressed up or down, according to the occasion. And besides, a utility jacket should be a staple in any guy’s wardrobe. If your boyfriend/husband/brother/uncle doesn’t have one already, this is one great piece to invest in.


Denim All The Way

According to insiders at Bootlegger, the Metropolis location sells a lot of jeans! Shoppers love Mavi, Silver, and Buffalo jeans in a vast assortment of fits. One of the store’s best sellers is the slim straight fit jean by Buffalo, and the new Grayson jean by Silver (perfect for guys who like the slim look but not have their jeans feel that tight). For the special guy on your list, don’t forget there’s also the in-house Brody brand too!

Gifts for Her


Where the Party Dress At

This ostrich-feather party dress is one of many fabulous styles carried at Bootlegger this winter. Part of the Temperance collection, the Satine is a great pick because anyone will look great in an LBD, and the feathers really kick it up a notch. The art-deco style sequin dress, the Bacall (perhaps named after the sultry Lauren Bacall?), also makes a great gift.


Comfy & Stylish Sweatshirts

Who wants to be worrying about 4″ heels all the time? This paisley lace print on a sweatshirt makes it easy to be stylishly comfy. Thank the fashion powers that be that the fashion sweatshirt is IN!


Denim, No Doubt

Of course, the last item for the ladies’ gift guide is denim as well. You can’t go wrong with Silver jeans, which has been a staple for Bootlegger shoppers for well over a decade. And don’t fear the fit for whoever you’re shopping for because Bootlegger’s in-house Jeaneologists will offer you their advice. Plus, if your denim gift doesn’t fit her, keep in mind that Bootlegger’s proud return policy: “No sale is ever final.”

Stocking Stuffers


Festive Scarves

Who doesn’t love receiving (or giving) a brand new scarf? Bootlegger has a myriad of styles to bring holiday cheer to any outfit. The hints of gold and glitz are just enough to signal ‘festive’ without overdoing it. You really can’t go wrong with this one-size-fits-all gift.


Tanks for all Occasions

I found this gem of a rack in the middle of the store. Why search high and low around the mall when you can find so many tank top styles at Bootlegger? For the girls on your list who love racerback style, this is the place to get them for a stocking stuffer. Or two!


Belt It Up

My top pick for men’s stocking stuffers would be belts. A few styles come in your standard black, and in addition a few in cognac. Challenge his wardrobe with a lighter coloured belt – perhaps to go with those grey dress pants?

Bootlegger is a great place to get gifts for the entire family, as I’m told there is a family of three generations who shop together at the Metropolis location. Whether it’s something fun like a party dress, something chill like a sweatshirt or something colourful like a scar, I hope you’ve gotten some great gift-giving ideas from this list!

Words + Photos by Miranda Sam

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Got Craft? Holiday Market 2013

Got Craft?, Vancouver’s largest indie craft fair, began in 2007 by a husband and wife event management and wedding coordination team based in Vancouver.  Its goal is to build and foster support for handmade and D.I.Y. culture by offering a bi-annual boutique style market that features local handmade artisans while giving the public the chance to find one-of-kind items.  The market creates a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, offering free D.I.Y. workshops, music, food trucks, and swag bag giveaways.  Starting with 20 vendors in 2007, the market has steadily grown to this year’s holiday edition which included 75+ artists in East Vancouver’s Maritime Labour Centre.


Divina Deneuvo-02

Divina Denuevo, Spanish for “Divine Again”, is the collaborative brainchild of the local design duo Victoria Ronco and Dave Kelly.  Both are involved in conceiving and creating one-of-a-kind leather goods made from discarded and second-hand leather with antique hardware accents found in scrap yards and estate sales.  In this way, the brand is ecologically responsible while producing pieces that cannot be duplicated.

What I absolutely love is the mix of simple, clean, structured lines with a touch of ornate antique detailing.  In particular, the skeleton key fastened onto the bags sends the wearer onto an imaginative reverie, wondering what secret the key opened originally.  To help with the puzzle, the designers thoughtfully stitch a label into the interior of the bag explaining what the key was originally used for.  One of my favourites is the Wicklow Leather Handbag (being held by designer Victoria Ronco in photo) – it resembles a bowling bag, both classic and modern at the same time, perfect for holding everything a woman could possibly need on a day out.



Vancouver based jewelry designer Trudy Wynans launched Toodlebunny Designs in 2006.  Inspired by nature’s flora and fauna, Wynans incorporates various metals with natural elements, such as bone, wood, horn and semi-precious stones.  Her designs keep evolving over time which keeps her collections fresh and modern.  I noticed this eclectic aesthetic while browsing the selection on display at her booth; there was something for every type of woman’s fancy.  On one side, there was a selection of understated gold chains with a small pendant on the end.  At the other end of the spectrum, there was a distinctly tribal orange and black stoned necklace, definitely a statement piece.  So the first to go with your weekend brunch outfit and then moving on to the second to offset your black cocktail dress in the evening!



Kari Bergrud came up with the concept for Belvedere when noticing mens’ interest in looking stylish and yet the lack of availability of such accessories on the indie market.  Inspired by the gentlemen of the 50’s as well as the modern chap, Bergrud has created a classic collection of bow ties, suspenders, pocket combs, and tie clips made from vintage forks and spoons.  The name Belvedere originates from an 80’s TV sitcom “Mr. Belvedere” which featured an always impeccably dressed Lynn Belvedere who took on a job as a housekeeper with an American family.  The ties are a stand-out with their subtle colours and light cotton fabric, bringing me back to the days of garden parties and seersucker suits.  Bergrud has also gathered a collection of vintage straight and safety razors which are environmentally sustainable, albeit a bit dangerous to use!  A brand that encourages today’s men to return to an old school approach to self grooming and dapper styling – I’m a full supporter!

Got Craft? certainly offers an intimate boutique style of craft market, so no fear of running out of shopping steam.  There is a variety of gift ideas available, including stationery, toys, ceramics, and housewares, but if it’s a special something for a fashionista in your life, there is probably a larger selection of fashion artisans in the other markets.  Having said that, as you can see above, there are certainly stylish gems to be found here.

Stay tuned for Style by Fire’s announcement of the next Got Craft? Market which will be back in town in May 2014.

Words + Photos by Aurora Chan

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Shopping Alert: First Annual REDdot Shopping Gala @ Holt Renfrew

Reddot shopping gala

Mark your calendars: the first annual FMA REDDOT shopping series kicks off at Holt Renfrew this Saturday, November 23rd! In an attempt to encourage shopping local for the holidays, FMA founder Andy Chu and the FMA team have organized a week-long shopping series to promote Vancouver’s various neighbourhoods.


  • What | First Annual REDDOT Shopping Gala
  • Where | Holt Renfrew
  • When | Saturday, November 23rd @ 7:30 – 10:00pm
  • Why | Cause it’s a shopping party at Holt’s! And 10% of sales donated to the Tapestry Foundation


  • Sunday, November 24th | Downtown, hosted @ Boy’s Co
  • Monday, November 25th | Kitsilano, hosted @ two of hearts boutique
  • Tuesday, November 26th | Gastown, hosted @ Malene Grotrian Studio
  • Wednesday, November 27th | South Granville, hosted @ DKNY
  • Thursday, November 28th | Yaletown, hosted @ Bella Garnet Beauty Salon

Be sure to check out the many other retailers participating in the REDDOT shopping experience!

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Sales & Events: Oak + Fort, The British Look Privilege Clothing

Oak + Fort Sale


  • What | Oak + Fort Warehouse Sale
  • Where | 32 Water St, Gastown
  • When | Thursday Nov 14, 11am – 8pm | Friday 11am – 8pm | Saturday 11am – 7pm | Sunday 12pm – 6pm
  • Why | Who doesn’t love this local brand?

The British Look party


  • What | The British Look Christmas Party
  • Where | Guildford Centre, across from Sephora
  • When | Thursday November 21, 6 – 9pm
  • Why | Cuz it’s the best new dresses store

Privilege Clothing 6 Year Anniversary


  • What | Privilege Clothing 6 Year Anniversary Party
  • Where | 19368 Fraser Hwy, Surrey
  • When | Friday, November 15th, 5 – 9pm
  • Why | To celebrate!

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Join the Style by Fire Facebook Page!

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Style by Fire Facebook page

Guess what? We’re finally on Facebook! If you like us already, like us on Facebook to join the Style by Fire community of avid readers, fashion industry professionals, and style lovers. Plus, you’ll get access to photos and news that may not be posted on the blog. See you at the Style by Fire Fb page!


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Think Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month at Metropolis

Pink - Sephora palette

This post was originally published on the Metropolis at Metrotown blog. Click to read the full article there!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Canada, a time to learn about the most common cancer diagnosis of Canadian women over the age of 20. Most of us know about awareness month through the pink ribbon campaign, and because of its success, the current 5 year survival rate is now at 87 percent!

Since the inception of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, $170 million has been invested in research, education and awareness programs. The next time you’re at Metropolis, think pink with a purpose. I scoured the mall high and low to find you some great items that donate a portion of proceeds to various pink ribbon campaigns.

Pink - Sephora

Sephora offers a variety of limited beauty products in light pink. The 5-piece brush set comes in a lovely pink python travel pouch ($43). One dollar from each sale is donated, with a minimum of $10,000 donated to breast cancer research. A bonus is that the product hasn’t been tested on animals either.

The 4-piece hair tie set ($7) looks great in your tresses or on your wrist, while the Tweezerman tweezers ($26) add a touch of pretty-in-pink to quotidian beauty supplies. Both products donate $1 from each sale.

Pink - Clinique

Over at the Clinique counter, the feature product was The Almost Lipstick in Pink Ribbon Honey ($19), which comes in a cute pink embroidered pouch. I liked the fact that $4 of this product – over 20% – goes toward the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for any purchases made between September 15th, 2013 to January 31, 2014.

Pink - Payless

This adorable bracelet at Payless Shoes  is only $3! A fantastic coupon comes with the purchase too: for your next purchase between November 12 to 26th, you receive $10 off any purchase over $40. For shoppers on a budget, this is a great way to save for this season’s pair of winter boots.

Pink - Pandora 2

Last but not least, I stopped by PANDORA, the Denmark-based jewelry boutique. There were 3 beautiful charms to choose from: a round sterling silver charm ($50), a cubic zirconia studded ribbon charm ($55), and a rounded white Murano glass charm with a pink ribbon ($40). Each charm is unique in its own right, and regardless of which one you choose, 5% of the proceeds benefit the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

So here’s a roundup of a few items that support October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. I hope you make this a meaningful month by contributing to the cause in whatever way you can!

PS. This post would not have been possible without the help of Paul at the Apple store, who let me charge my 4S – thanks!

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