Monday, May 31, 2010

How much is that taxidermy special in the window?

This had got to be one of the grossest things I've seen in a thrift shop window - it's just icky on so many levels.

The fox about to pounce upon and kill the birdie; the REAL fox and the REAL birdie; the $50 price tag; the dust mites that surely must be coursing through every ounce of organic material on the thing; a beautiful piece of driftwood made hostage to this gruesome little death tableau - oh, I could go on.

I was all the more horrified to see a "SOLD" sign on it the day after I snapped this shot.

Almost as bad as the fox hat with fox head still on it that I saw in the same window a few months earlier (hey I'm not judging the thrift shop: they take what they receive, and they clearly have no problem selling items such as this!).

Brr. Doesn't the doll in the blue dress behind the fox, watching, make it all the more creepy?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Alexis in vintage necklace with gifted Grunge Queen shoes

This is my friend and co-worker Alexis, wearing some fabulous costume vintage bling around her neck.

I love the colours; I love it that she stole it from her sister's closet.

The piece says "West Germany" and reminds me of a brightly-hued plastic multi-tier necklace I have with the same stamp.

Apparently the necklace was given to Alexis' sis by a friend whose granny had passed on.

I like that Alexis decided to go all-black for the rest of her outfit. That way the pops of yellow and orange really stand out.

She's wearing some yellow 1980s shoes I picked up last year for under $10. They were just to great for me to leave behind, even though they weren't my size.

They ended up fitting Alexis perfectly.

You go girl!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tabula Rasa clothing in Toronto and my new skinny jeans

Fellow grungers, I know this is going to be hard to believe ... but ... sometimes I buy new.

This is a RARE Grunge Queen moment: my entire outfit here is new! Crazy eh?

I finally took the plunge and bought my first NEW pair of skinny jeans. Now I'm an addict. I bought 'em at a hip new boutique on Broadview Ave. in T.O. that I'll share more info in in a sec.

The top, bought from Eight Clothing on Pape Ave. in Pape Village. The granny crochet top, from an old-lady shop in Pape Village. The sandals, from some shoe shop, and the bling, from Gay Isber at the Royal Ontario Museum
in Toronto.

The jeans were from this new hipster vintage-esque shop on Broadview Ave. right at Danforth in Toronto.

Tabula Rasa
owner Jennifer Park has created a nicely edited yet creative collection of new and vintage women's clothing and accessories in her recently opened shop.

A former fashion student and Ryerson who designed for Le Chateau in Montreal, Park moved back to the 'hood she grew up in to open her store.

As Park explained to me, she could have opened on Ossignton but she wanted to support her neighbourhood. And if the media attentionshe's been getting is any indication, I'd say the Ossington crown may have already made its way over the Bloor St. bridge to her.

In store you can find new skinny jeans for about $100 alongside carefully selected vintage pieces that complement them.

I mean what I say about her collections, though she is not designing or selling her own clothing - yet.

But both vintage and new pieces are carefully selected to form their own collections in store. As you can see here by the "Midsummer Night's Dream" collection (I love it that she names them), a mix of new and old beauties complement eachother in colour and style to indeed form a collection of sorts.

Park is artful yet slightly minimalist in her use of the all-white space, a design ethic the clutter bug in me admires.

Everything is carefully thought and and presented - with an eye for showing the merch off rather than obscuring it ... as is often the case in vintage shops.

I like that Park interprets "vintage" through her own lens, opting for pieces with styling that is applicable today.

Many of the looks are contemporary but are crossed with a 1980s preppy look I don't like for myself, but adore on others.

Look for new and reworked vintage jewellery, along with new and vintage handbags, shoes, and clothing.

I may go back for the bamboo and recycled polyester Flashdance sweatshirt or hoodie, super soft and in pretty blue and lavender hues, only $42 for the sweatshirt and $50 or so for the hoodie.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Diana and vintage bling

Today I did a shopping column with my vintage pal Diana from A Touch of Vintage, who is looking very cool in her Preloved tunic bought and made locally in Toronto from vintage fabric relics. I also love her elasticized harness made by Montreal's I Heart Norwegian Wood. Very neat look with the leggings, vintage shades, and amazing shoes from Toronto shop Balisi.

An obvious style maven and vintage lover herself, Diana has not only a good style eye, but she also has this great talent for picking items out for others that completely suit their style personality.

As I discovered today.

While we were in the midst of our shopping sojourns, Diana presented me with this lovely 1970s burnished silver-tone pendant and chain by AVON.

She found it at a clothing swap and thought of me, the sweetie.

Needless to say, I love it. It is very MOI.

I don't know much about AVON bling, except to say that some pieces that were designed by the stars (Liz Taylor being one) are quite valuable.

After Diana and I had finished our shop, we parted ways and I was off to Leaside for an interview, again for the newspaper I work for, the Town Crier in Toronto.

When my interview was done, I was was sooo close to the Goodwill off Laird Drive that, well, I just had to pop in on my way home (don't tell me editor).

It was hotter than Hades in there, but, with bling on the brain, I did an intensive rummage in the bins splayed all over the counter in the shop.

I found this rather industrial looking pendant and chain for $2.99 (cheap for Goodwill these days, I have to say). I got it for a steal as the chain is broken, but that can be easily repaired. I like the rough-and-tumble look to it - it totally suits the rock n' roll persona I'm playing out these days.

I also found this stamped Sarah Coventry pin for less than a twoonie, made in Canada.

Beam me up, Scottie!!

Seriously, do you think Star Trek was the inspiration for this baby?

Not sure if I'll ever wear it, but if it'll come in handy if I'm ever a Star Trek babe for Halloween

Sarah Coventry bling is pretty easy to find and collectible in one sense, but I'd warn you against spending too much on these pieces as they are pretty easy to dig up at garage sales and the like. I paid $15 for a SC cocktail ring at The Bead Goes On in Toronto - a good price - yet recently saw a SC pendant for $60 in a vintage shop - too pricey for the GQ and most collectors, I suspect.

Speaking of Sarah Coventry jewellery, I also found this filigree owl pendant that's a couple inches long, again signed Sarah Coventry.

Owls are very hot now; I'm seeing them all over Etsy and the motif seems to be inspiring designers as well.

It's not really my bag, but I couldn't leave it there.

Perhaps I'll give it to Diana, to keep or to sell.

Speaking of Goodwill it's 50% off day tomorrow, though if you go to the one I did today be prepared to bring your portable air conditioner.

And if you want to learn more of Diana's A Touch of Vintage Etsy shop and studio, check out my review on a new blog I'm developing (that is still in major Beta mode, so bear with me), She Shops Toronto.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Retro oversize shades - my collection

The long weekend in Toronto has been lovely, even though I've been chained to my desk working on a contract.

Last night I let loose and went out. Here I am in my latest vintage acquisition, a pair of authentic 1970s sunglasses! Aren't they fab?

I picked them up in a vintage shop that's squirreled away in the basement of a book shop. The place is called "Vantage Ground" and it's located at 758 Bathurst St. just south of Bloor in Toronto.

The shades were $15 and still had the original tag on them (which said "Valentino", ha ha, not THE Valentino).

There was also the original sticker still stuck on one of the lenses. I was thinking that perhaps the shades were repros, or reproductions, but on second thought I don't think so. They just look too well made to be contemporary fun shades - does that sound too cynical?

I have a thing for retro over-size shades. Here are the purple ones that started it all.

I may look a little scary and pale here - it was after an event and I was tired - but hopefully these glasses speak for themselves. Second-hand but in great shape, they were reposing in the window of an ancient hardware store on Danforth called "Tracey's Hardware." And they were $3!

Then there's these crazy ones, made in Italy, ooh la la, but picked up at my fave vintage bling and handbag shop in the city, "The Bead Goes On" just off Bayview Ave. at Soudan in Toronto.

They were $15. The blue is slightly freaky on me, but I wear them when the mood and outfit is right. They are so impossibly retro!

And last but not least, I scored these vintage babies at the Toronto Vintage Costume Jewellery Club Show & Sale April 24 at Leaside Memorial Gardens - for five bucks!

Dealer Anita was selling them for her auntie - they belonged to her and Anita told me she remembered her aunt wearing them decades ago!

Actually I owe Anita a buck so they were really $4.

Which ones do you like best?

And while we're at it which haircut do you like best? As you can see I'm growing my hair after being short short for years ....

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gay Isber sample sale Friday, May 21 in Toronto

Ahh, bling.

A gal's best friend.

One of my fave local jewellery designers, Gay Isber, is having a major clear-out sale - tomorrow only! If you live in Toronto it's so worth stopping by.

Gay uses vintage chains and beads, Swarovski crystal and new elements to create big, bold and beautiful neck pieces, bracelets and earrings.

For the sale, items start at $8 and many average $20-35.

Gay sells on the Shopping Channel, at the Royal Ontario Museum, and more. This is the sale of the century!

This earrings are only $15 each.


Wish I still wore earrings.

Funnily enough, the pieces I'm showing you here, though I love 'em, aren't really for me.

I love pretty, but I need my pretty mixed with rock n' roll.

So I spent hours there while Gay and her colleague Jess helped me find just the right pieces.

There's a whole room of samples and last year's stock for $20 a pop - I kid you not. Chunky necklaces that were selling for $100+ last summer at the ROM are now 20 smackeroos.

I loved this purple Swarovski crystal and silver tone piece. But silver is just too pale for pale moi.

I did find a huge multi-tier gold necklace made of vintage chains from the 1950s to 80s.

It was originally $100, but I snagged it for $20.

Other pieces are $30 and $35, with earrings for $5 and $15.

I can't believe I didn't buy this to go with my gold chain, for $20.

As you may know, I love that combo of rock n' roll with feminine.

It still may be there tomorrow if you drop by!

I think I may go back and get some gifts.

Gay does everything from over-the-top to more classic, refined pieces she sells on the shopping channel.


Friday, May 21 from 11 a.m to 10 p.m.

55 Charles Street West
Buzz 101, Apt 1903

Oh, they have Interac!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Green dreams

Yesterday was a stressful and busy day, but I'm going to share the happy parts of my day with you:

The day began with this retro Hoover vacuum spied outside my apartment dumpster as I was heading to work in the morning.

Just look at the dust bag at the back. The pattern is so pretty it could be a handbag!

Appliances are more muscle-bound macho industrial now, perhaps to appeal to the growing male market - no longer us chicks staying at home and doing the cleaning!

When I got to work, I saw that one of the Canadian Geese that hang out around the building had had her little ones - and here they are sunning themselves on a low hill, with mommy not pictured by very nearby.

Aren't they adorable?

They'll be waddling around the area for the next few weeks. The geese come back every year. I wonder what attracts them to a semi-industrial area where I work?

Then, at lunch, some of the work gang went to the Dairy Queen nearby, which we'd never been to in spite of having worked down the street for a few years!

Here's my pal Chris, wielding a Blizzard for our editor - Banana Cream Pie or something - do you know they still put real bananas in?? We watched them chop it up and everything.

We had burgs and fries and ice-cream outside on the patio - a great way to celebrate the day as it was super warm.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bookcases gone by

Ever get nostalgic for furniture you used to have?

I found this pic yesterday of a custom-made blue bookshelf an ex gave me - romantic eh?

The same man hauled two Barrymore loveseats in mint condition out of the trash for me.

Shoulda married him.

This was from a client of his, whose entire house was blue.

The bookcase is so big it's been in Ottawa for five years. I miss it. I want it. I need to find a way to get it up here for cheap. I don't drive. I'm reliant on the kindness of bookcase-hauling strangers .... Wah.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spring closet cleanout

I want to stay home today and stare at my newly organized closet and drawers.

Busy weekend. Worked, cleaned, worked some more - then, in an effort to avoid more work, cleaned out my closet and big chest of drawers.

Every time I opened this chest of drawers I got depressed. It was so messy. So I put everything on the bed and sifted through the tees and tops.

Some went into the donation bag; the rest were folded neatly in the drawer.

I also changed over my closet, which entailed moving the winter stuff to the left side and transferring the summer items to the right side, which is more accessible as I've placed a mirror over the left side.

Doesn't this look pretty? Look at all those colours! I don't even want to think of the hidden winter side - it is dark, dark dark.

I didn't employ any fancy organizing techniques here; I just took every thing out, organized it, did some handwashing, and put everything back in in an orderly way.

There's nothing like a clean, organized closet - great for state of mind, I'd say. And hey, it looks lso pretty it's like giving my closet a mini decor makeover!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thrifted outfit at OCNA awards

This is part of the work gang at the OCNA or Ontario Community Newspaper Awards ceremony last night in Toronto, where the newspapers I work for, Town Crier and Vaughan Today, were finalists in six categories!

Who says thrift can't take you to an awards ceremony???

I'm wearing a gorgeous retro pink brocade jacket I picked up for $9.99 at a Goodwill 50 percent off sale, and under it is a TeenFlo made in Canada LBD I found for $6.99 at Goodwill.

This has nothing to do with being a Grunge Queen unless you want to get really literal about it, but I just had to get a shot of myself in the john chatting on the phone that was in there!

I loved this outfit as it was so retro chic, jazzed up with the contemporary shoes and nude fishnet stockings.

Don't know if you can make out the handbag on my lap, but it was given to me by someone at work.

It says "Meyers, Made in the USA."

Here's a closer look.

Don't you love the shape, and the detailing?

I love it that my pal Andrea thought of me when she was getting rid of this bag, which used to belong to her mother-in-law!

All of my outfit is thrift here with the exception of the shoes and stockings, but I am a firm believer in thrifted accessories making or breaking an outfit.

Take this Perry Ellis silk scarf, which I picked up on the fly yesterday before the awards for 99 cents at my local thrift shop.

I loved the birdies and the bright colours. Even though it's red, when I was scouting around for a last-minute accessory to wear with the pink jacket this leaped out at me. I threw it on and it looked just bang on with the jacket!

And when it got too warm I simply tied it around the handle of my handbag - oooh la la.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Trash rehash: magazine rack turned purse holder

I plucked this from the curb a few weeks ago as I was waiting for a friend to pick me up for an event.

I really had no intention of using it as a magazine rack, but I didn't know what I would use it for until I was looking around for a place to store it.

Necessity is the mother of invention: the only space I had for it was my bedroom, where several vintage purses have been scattered about on the floor and on a chair, poor bags without a home.

Well looky looky, now they have a place to hang out!

Effortless projects like these are at the core of my Grunge Philosophy - guess I'm too lazy and not crafty enough for the projects that require uber talent and zeal. But I do have an ability to see, rather on the fly, how certain items can be re-purposed. I'd like to think that approximates a certain kind of creativity - at the very least I sure hope it inspires others to get their creative ya-yas out without feeling they have to be Martha Stewart perfect!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Storm Window Saga

A walk by the trash bin close to my place yielded this little gem this morning: old wood window panes.

My immediate thought: ahh, storm windows.

See, every spring when I was growing up in an old 1950s A-frame house, my Mom and Dad would engage in the Storm Window Ritual.

It entailed lugging a good 20 storm windows out of the garage, which had been stored there all winter, and cleaning them before putting them on the outside of each and every window in the house.

The Storm Window Ritual was one my sisters and I quickly learned to avoid partaking in when we grew old enough to understand what the saga of the storm windows was all about.

Mom and Dad would invariably end up fighting. Dad would get impatient with Mom, and Mom would get impatient with Dad for getting impatient with her.

But, seeing those windows, I became slightly nostalgic for not just the Storm Window Ritual, but also those old wood windows.

I wonder where such windows would have come from in apartment land, where I live at the moment?

Check out these three holes at the bottom of the window (the window is turned on its side here).

You flipped up that little lever to - wait for it - let the air in through the screen! So quaint! Hardly workable, though.

I have memories blowing smoke through the screens contained by old window frames such as these; I was a teen in my bedroom doing what teen invariably do ... blow smoke through windows.

But I also remember peering out them and seeing and hearing the huge trees across the road toss their treetops around in the wind at night before sleep ... so magical.

So amazing what a bunch of old windows in the trash can evoke.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Barbie house for a fiver

If I had a Barbie I'd so be keeping this.

For the chic uptown girl: a modest mauve townhouse with pink and green accents; two levels only, but look at that front door - talk about curbside eye candy. And the front window in the master bedroom? Barbie's drooling over it already. Quelle natural light and south-eastern exposure!

If Barbie were real, this may cost half a mil.

In the 'real' human new retail world, I'm guessing $100+.

In the Grunge Queen alternative universe: five bucks, at my local thrift store, Stretch Thrift.

It folds out to reveal a kitchen and living room on the lower level, and a bedroom and bathroom on the upper level - the green bed isn't folded down here, oops, Barbie you need to work on your housekeeping skills.

Ok, so maybe Barbie's downgraded to the recession version of Barbie high-life with this abode.

But that didn't prevent my nieces - and my nephew - from loving it.

I didn't think they'd love it so well, but they played with it all night - even though there wasn't a Barbie to be had. They haven't quite discovered that phenomenon yet, for which I'm sure my sis and bro-in-law are grateful.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Borrowed bling for Innovators' Ball at Ontario Science Centre

Tip: if you're an aspiring Grunge Queen and don't want to spend the cash on bling, here's a cheap strategy: get a loaner!

Toronto jewellery designer Rita Tesolin kindly offered me some pieces from her Fall 2010 collection when she learned I was going to the LG Innovators' Ball last week at the Ontario Science Centre.

Needless to say, I was thrilled. The beaded twisted chain was heavy metal glam all the way and totally rocked with my simple black dress by Toronto designer Mark Foreman.

And look at the ring to match! Heck, who even needs to wear a dress with these sparkly statement pieces!

The look was perfect for the event, what with its "Midnight Spell" theme complementing the centre's Harry Potter exhibition.

I'd like to think I stood out among all the short, tight dresses worn by women much younger than me.

Sad to think that "that age" is approaching where we must now be, well, less exhibitionist, shall we say?

Maybe not. I'd like to think my borrowed bling, coupled with my sexy crochet stockings picked up at a warehouse sale, were enough of a ... statement.

Here's a more pro shot with me and my date - gee, come to think of it, this good looking gent was the man who took pics of me for the Toronto Vintage Costume Jewellery Club Show & Sale promo shots. Joey Cee
also took the two pics of me above.

We kind of match, don't we?

As you can see, I wore a velvet jacket over the ensemble, a thrifted Goodwill jacket made by a Parisienne designer.

Oooh la la.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Vintage Stars Wars booty & meeting Roger Christian

Check this out.

Vintage R2-D2 from the flic Star Wars. I found him last weekend at a garage sale for a twoonie ($2).

I snatched it up as I knew my seven-year old nephew, who is currently obsessed with all things Star Wars, would go wild over it.

I always liked Artoo - he's pretty spunky for a droid.

The lady I bought him from was selling off her entire collection - some were a couple bucks like this one but others were $10.

I also picked up C-3PO for three bucks (ok I can't really remember which one was 2 and which was 3).

I always liked these two characters together - they're like the futuristic version of The Odd Couple.

I gave them to my nephew yesterday and he did indeed go wild.

These vintage figurines are collectible but I'm not sure how much they're worth or sell for.

I do know, from several important sources, that the vintage Yoda is hard to find.

And apparently Artoo's head was initially made with and inspired by an old lamp.

How do I know? At the LG Innovators' Ball
the other night I met Roger Christian, pal of my date and Academy Award winner for set decorating for the original Star Wars movie (1977) .... and art director for numerous flics thereafter.

I told Roger about my garage sale finds and he said I shoulda bought the whole lot.

Sigh. If it were vintage bling the story would be different.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Punk look, thrifted, with Rita Tesolin necklace

So the Innovators' Ball last night was a blast: I stayed out way past midnight (theme was "Midnight Spell" to complement the Harry Potter exhibition) and now have a ranging sinus infection, ug.

Got some great pics of me in my loaned Rita Tesolin, which my date took and I will post later.

In the meantime here's an artsy shot of me in my Rita Tesolin sample sale piece, a 1970s Nina Ricci chain that Tesolin has embellished with stone hearts - very rock n' roll chic meets sweetheart-cutsie.

Another artsy shot by Chris, my pal and fashion photographer at work who's actually a fellow reporter.

I decided to punk my look out yesterday, inspired by that chain. So I donned a thrifted black top and blazer, and a uber short thrifted velvet high-waisted skirt by Teenflo.

Sassy patterned nylons and thrifted Nine West booties finished off the look. Meow!

This chain is so amazing; it's ultra heavy but I love the weight. At first I thought I would have preferred black hearts over the nude ones, but the chain is so fab I think a contrasting colour heart would compete with it. As is the neutral hearts don't detract from the showpiece chain.