Monday, January 31, 2011

New Tea Towels!

Here's a peak at our new tea towels hitting stores this weekend! They are grey stripes or plaid with either the giant anatomical heart, rhinoceros beetle or tulip series in bright or bold colors.

And here's just another shot of all the beetles after being printed. Such a hansom bug-ger :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lily Inspiration: Colour!

All of Glenda's Nicaraguan photos on the blog this week are rubbing off on me. One of the best parts of my job at Smoking Lily is picking out fabric colours, and right now it is all about the hot pinks and aqua blues. Nicole just finished a run of Good Wallets. Check out the inside of this one: hot fuchsia suede with light aqua blue leather and a coral zipper. So beautiful.

We upholstered a bench today in African-influenced fabric with hot, hot, hot pink. I can't wait 'till this is done; the legs are painted in bright cyanine blue.

Now that we have a shop in Chinatown, we are getting ready for the New Year's celebration next weekend. This is the very beginning of a lantern we are making for the window display. Milkman's Daughter will post a finished picture next week.

The other thing we are working on today is a new skirt in teal blue. Doesn't Aiko's ass look great in it?!

Hope everyone has a great weekend.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Food For Thought: Beach Garbage

We have probably all heard of the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch by now. A couple of years ago we were told it was twice the size of Texas, now they are stating that it is smaller than originally estimated. Whatever size it may be, plastic is a huge problem in our oceans. It strangles sea creatures, alters eco systems, and is a horrible reminder of our disassociation with our environment. How is it possible that a plastic deodorant container makes sense to me standing in the drugstore isle, when it will end up residing forever in a landfill or bobbing about in the ocean until it is washed up on shore to reside on some beach for millennia?

Plastic is a tough subject to wrestle. More moments of weakness lie within my resolve to choose responsible products and packaging than I want to admit. Then I boat in to a tropical paradise, miles from industry and the machinations of corporate civilization, and encountered the vistas below. A beach littered in a wide variety of plastic, many items not even available on the little island, but there they were, washed up for me to document. I have to admit to finding it all quite fascinating and as I looked at the photos after, I realized that the shots almost glorify the garbage. I meant to show the juxtaposition of the trash and the natural environment, but I think I may have taken my subjects to a primarily compositional level, as opposed to a documentary one. Whatever the case, this scene absolutely reopened my eyes to the problem with using plastic so ubiquitously in our everyday lives.

There are a number of artist working with beach litter as their inspiration and materials. One of my favorites is Rebecca Crawford in England.

A great ocean and beach preservation charity is the Surfrider Foundation based in California.

Love Affair Dress

Spring is about to be sprung, I can see the buds yearning to open on cherry blossom trees and you can spy all the snow drops peaking out of the winter earth.

With so much life, maybe it's time for some new infatuation, mais oui? You can look fabulous while indulging in any new desires, men or otherwise, in our new frock the Love Affair Dress. This simple, classic pull over fitted dress is made luxurious via the material. A sexy sueded cotton makes it extremely touchable.

The Love Affair dress was inspired by the vivacious voluptuous va-va-voom Christina Hendricks (from the series Mad Men) and is a dress for ladies who love their body, any size or shape. It will be hitting stores this weekend so come to any of our 3 locations and try one on.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lily Spotlight: New Books at Milk!

Books are amazing, and that is why we decided to get some in for our Victoria store, the Milkman's Daughter. There's nothing more inspiring that looking at a good book; what better to go with your new Smoking Lily skirt than a nice book? I guess they sometimes make half decent gifts as well (sarcasm: books make awesome presents!).

Here are a few of the titles that are now available for purchase. You'll find we focused in on a few categories: fashion design and crafting (imagine that!), nature and education, children's stories, a book on bread, and even bikes! I am SO excited. They are all from Raincoast books, so you can be sure of their superior quality and awesomeness.

Shadow, by Suzy Lee

A whimsical cute children's book about a little girl with a big imagination. The images are all done by Suzy herself.

Speak Italian, by Bruno Munari

Originally published in 1958, this book with help you decipher not only the language but the gestures Italians are so famous for. Well humored and educational.

Creative Inc., by Meg Mateo and Joy Deangdeelert

These two awesome women explain everything you need to know about starting your own creative business. Joy Deangdeelert is also of the blog, "Oh Joy," which is a studio favourite here at Lily.

Tartine Bread, by Chad Robertson

It's an awesome book about bread! What more do we need to say? The guy who wrote this is also the co-owner of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, where some people say he makes the best bread in the world.

The Native Trees Of Canada, by Leanne Shapton

A very cool book that is both artistically inspiring and going to teach you a thing or two about our trees. All of the images are of her paintings, using very bold colours and loose form.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vancouver Update: English Bay Dress

English Bay is only 2 miles from the Main Street shop in Vancouver, but my favorite view of the Bay, with the warm sun on my face, waves lapping at my feet, children building sandcastles and the octogenarian swimmers dipping in for their daily salt water tonic, is much further away (6 months in fact). For now, we can bask in the knowledge that winter is waning and Spring is just around the corner. The English Bay Dress will get us there in style.

In an interesting, nubbly, hemp and organic cotton blend, the dress drapes nicely from boat-neck shoulder to knee-length hem. Cute and stripy without going over to the nautical side. It layers well over long-sleeves and under sweaters, and is springily cheeky over bright warm tights, sporting a bold brooch.

Available now in all Smoking Lily shops and online. $62.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Consigner Interview: Historia Design Co.

Other than just Smoking Lily products, our stores also carry select items from local designers. Today's interviewee is Nicole Boyer of Historia Design Co. whose Baby Cardigans, Vintage Slips, Slipper Booties and Miniature Notebooks can be found at the Milkman's Daughter in Victoria.

Q: Your items have a vintage look and feel to them, where do the materials in your products come from?

A: The Baby Cardigans are all new fabric and notions, but the cotton ruffling features reproduction vintage prints. The Slipper Booties are made from 100% wool sweaters found in second hand shops, and the slips are made from a combination of new and vintage fabrics and lace. I also use antique buttons on the Miniature Notebooks and recycled cardboard. I like using second hand or actual vintage materials because I feel it gives my work that little bit more substance. I like looking at something and thinking about all the situations the material has previously been in. Who's loved it, where's it's travelled and what experiences are in it's future.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?

A: I like things that have a story behind them, and anything that has a history to it. I get a lot of ideas from vintage children's clothing and antique notions, also any piece of clothing that has pretty details. I get a lot of inspiration from the internet as well. Old patterns, books, movies, my grandparents and mom are also a continued source of inspiration.

The photo below is The Vogue book of fashion photography 1919-1979 that Nicole's mom bought for her in a thrift shop.

Q: What is your creative process?

A: When I see something that is inspiring, I draw out a sketch in my mind of how exactly I'd like to work it in with my own ideas. Eventually I refine it (make it feasible- as I can sometimes dream up some pretty over-the-top amounts of detail) and come up with a pattern. Then I lay out the fabrics and notions that I have on hand and find combinations that are complimentary. With the Slips, I like to lay out the ribbon and lace that work well together and the Baby Cardigans I match the snaps with the prints on the cotton ruffle. One of my most favourite parts of the creative process is going out and finding the materials, then again, my all time favourite is definitely the sewing.

Featured below is Nicole's vintage Singer Sewing machine.

Q: Do you have any items in the works right now?

A: I would like to make some more undergarments for women, as I have always liked really feminine undergarments, dresses and any of the old fashioned kind of stuff (like extensive amounts of undergarments suited to wearing under dresses.) The slips are getting kind of lonely; they need some friends. Also floating around in my head are ideas for men's wear. I would like to try designing a few things for men. It is such a contrast to my frilly underthings. Men's clothing also lends itself well to using materials such as plaids, wools, larger buttons, leather and metal accents, all of which I also like to work with. I have a romantic notion of dressing people up, and have always been infatuated with the way we used to dress. Perhaps in time I can bring a little of that back?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Homegrown Heroes

It's always inspiring to seeing talented Canadians make it big worldwide, especially when their story has a humble beginning.

Take Marcel Dzama, for example. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in the late seventies to a working class family, he attended the University of Manitoba, and at the same time founded The Royal Art Lodge, an arts collective (that included his kid sister) that would meet every Wednesday to draw together. During his last year of school, he lost everything (including all of his artwork) when a fire consumed his family home, forcing his family to live in a motel for four months. Instead of dwelling on the devastation, he channeled this dark time into his work, using root beer extract as ink at his grandparents' house and developing a distinctly recognisable dark brown and blood-red colour scheme that would push him into art superstardom.

Fast forward to 2011. Dzama lives and works in New York City, and is in the permanent collections of many major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. He has exhibited extensively worldwide, and has a star-studded list of private collectors including Spike Jonze, Brad Pitt and Steve Martin.

Dzama's work began as elaborately eerie watercolour and ink drawings of beasts, mythical creatures, human-animal hybrids and snappily dressed businessmen with guns and swords pointed at the beasts and each other. Bats, bears, lagoon monsters, and identically-masked women with bayonets create large-scale patterns that are as beautiful from afar as they are close up. Dzama's work has expanded into large sculptural replicas of these characters, such as bears with bats hovering overhead, tree stumps with eyes and legs, and full scenes of suited men with guns, picking bats and birds out of the sky.

Learn more about Dzama here.

My Nicaragua Vacation Part 5: Hotel Spa Granada

As promised, here are some shots of the interior of the Hotel Spa Granada. Built in 1802, a presidential home for many years, taken over by the Sandanistas in the 1980's and used, if I recall correctly, as the offices of the Ministry of Health, then returned to the family, and currently run as an upscale hotel.

I stayed there for one night. It was $95 for an enormous room with a king-sized bed, massive bathroom, two beautifully furnished balconies, lovely pool courtyard, a complimentary spa treatment and awesome breakfast. It was 4 times more than I paid for other accommodations on the trip, but soooo worth it (if only my boyfriend had been there to enjoy it with me!).