70s fashion

🍂 AUTUMNAL FEELS 🍂

We have a full spread of fall goods sprinkling into the shop the next few weeks.  We’re really feeling these 60s and 70s warm tones and textures – timeless for the season. Wide leg cord trousers, linen paisley button down, faux fur lined and trimmed tapestry parka, and a 40s wool nurse cape are a few of our favourite pieces. So many pieces to layer up to keep you toasty and stylish in the brisk air. Happy Fall!

 

 

 

Before the Bikini: Vintage Bathing Suits

new_PLH8951I’ve been missing the beach this summer. I’m aware that there are beaches for me to explore here in the city of Toronto — Hanlan’s point, the clothing optional beach on Toronto Island, has been on my radar, and there is an entire neighborhood on Queen East designated as “The Beaches.” And yet, my existence in Toronto continues to feel land-locked and productivity-focused. I had heard this about Toronto before I moved here: that Torontonians are work-oriented, focused on their (at best creative) output. I am beginning to understand this on a visceral level. I find myself spending the majority of my time indoors, in mine and my partner’s gorgeous studio apartment — a space that is ultimately a temporary refuge, as the waves of gentrification come up against Yonge Street and threaten what is currently our livable and affordable existence. I have had an immensely productive two years, as I witness the invigorating elation that you can experience once you overcome the fear of showing your artwork to other people. Artistically and academically, I have been attaining many of my goals — a matter which I, as a Type A who has long tried to deny or dilute my Type A-ness, is thrilling. But a key element remains, holding me back from being able to say that I like living in Toronto, or that I could see myself living here for years to come. Being able to take a long walk outside and breathe in fresh air is something I might have taken for granted, growing up in the prairies. The  wide open sky of Saskatchewan in all its eerie transparency (insert SK cliches here: “You can see your dog running for miles”) and the thoroughly sublime air of a west coast old-growth rainforest — these are what ultimately nourish me. As my psychotherapist has prompted me to think about, after I’ve undergone various upheavals in my young adulthood, “What nourishes you now?”

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_PLH8955 new_PLH8957 copyThese photographs of me in my vintage bathing suits were taken on the shared rooftop patio of our apartment in downtown Toronto. Although the air in our neighborhood is unpleasant — the smell of garbage and piss is a fairly dependable consistent — I feel very lucky to be able to live in such a wonderful space with some solid neighbors. Our upstairs neighbors are actors from Calgary, and me and my partner are both artists from Regina: together we form a little prairie diaspora in Toronto, a city that on the one hand we like for what it encourages in our respective practices and creative output, and on the other hand resent for its air quality. Prairie kids in the big city. What are they to do? One idea is to cultivate spaces within which micro-communities can come together.  I think of queer place-making practices, for example, and the work of my friend Anthea Black, a Toronto-based artist whose work features in a queer feminist zine I have curated entitled SELF CARE FOR SKEPTICS. Feel free to check out the zine here (http://laurenfournier.net/Self-Care-for-Skeptics-Zine). Of course, the case of queer place-making practices is much more serious than my desire for fresh air — queer place-making emerges from the fact that patriarchal and heteronormative societies continue to pose very real threats for those who do not fit into what are their perceived gender roles or identifications: for example, those who identify as transgendered or genderqueer. I wonder how much my longing for good air quality and beautiful green spaces (and safe space) comes from a sense of privilege and entitlement, and how much is valid. And then I realize that the question of privilege in relation to this question of air quality and natural environments is quite complicated. My body longs for the west coast air, and yet I (along with countless others) do not know if I will ever be able to afford to live there long-term.

_PLH8943 For now, I put on my beloved vintage bathing suits and recline on our rooftop patio, a glass of campari soda in hand, ample SPF covering my skin. As I recline I imagine what it would have been like to live in the 1960s, the era from which these bathing suits hail. So much of my reading this year has been focused on the massive social and political upheavals that came with the 1960s. As a woman, I am grateful to now have the capacity to somewhat freely create artwork — often work that uses my own body as its medium — and to write posts like these on the internet. While there is still much work to be done, and while I continue to be aware of the stakes of identifying as a feminist on the internet, I resist naive nostalgia, for I am aware of the stakes of doing so. While I much prefer the cuts of vintage bathing suits, I do not prefer retro ideologies. We must move toward inclusivity, toward making the lives of more and more people livable. As the brilliant and irreverent Hennessy Youngman says, in his parodic lecture on Post-Structuralism, “You be like: ‘I wish we could go back to the good ol’ days.’ And post-structuralism be like, ‘Um which good old days do you mean? Umm, the good old days where people owned slaves?’… You really need to know what good old days you are talking about” (https://vimeo.com/17431354)

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I found this paisley one piece bathing suit at Mintage on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. While the original tags are missing, I believe this bathing suit is made of a rather thick combination of spandex and cotton. It feels like a piece of wearable sculpture: an entirely different texture and weight than contemporary bathing suits. I particularly like the way it dips down low in the back, as well as the small skirt-like adornment. I loved wearing this bathing suit when I had a violet-grey pixie cut in Vancouver, but I also think it looks great with my blonde bob. I found these sunglasses at a flea market in Prague last summer: I paid less than 10 Euro for them, and they have lasted me for two summers now. I tend toward purchasing cheaper sunglasses, as I get nervous about the prospect of losing or sitting on an expensive pair. Pictured at the top of this article, the 1970s floral one piece, complete with the pronounced cups, is from Community Thrift + Vintage in Vancouver’s gastown. I fell in love with this pattern when I saw it, and was happy to see that the suit fit my body. The fabric is thinner than the brown paisley suit, and more closely resembles how contemporary bathing suits feel. That being said, the fabric feels more durable: I am impressed at how generously it moves to fit my body, and how well-maintained the coloring and pattern is after over four decades.

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Thanks for tuning in!  Until next time — Lauren ☾

Lauren Fournier is an artist and writer currently based in Toronto.
She is working on her PhD in feminist theory and performance art at York University.
http://www.laurenfournier.net

Photography credits: Lee Henderson (www.noattainment.com)

Weird Girls, Cool Aunties, and Psychadelic Batwing Sleeves

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What does it mean to be “weird” these days? I’ve been re-watching Friends on Netflix, which has been an enjoyable way for me to turn my brain off for a couple of hours between studying for my comprehensive exams and going to sleep. Aside from Ross Geller’s insidious misogyny, the show has stood the test of time. Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) has long been my favorite character on the show, her quirky ways and eccentricities having inspired little art freaks like myself over the last two decades. It’s true — Phoebe Buffay is the quintessential “weird girl.” Creative? Check. Musical? Check. Vegetarian? Check. Pagan propensities? Check. A well of strange life experiences to draw from in seemingly random situations? Check. Comfortably cool maternity-style dresses? Check. Crystal necklaces? Check. Chokers? Check. Not afraid to speak out about bisexuality and pubic hair? Check.

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Weird girls. Popular culture is full of them. While some weird girls are beacons of refreshing self-expression, others serve a pointed mystical function in male-driven narratives. I encourage you to google “Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG)” and let yourself get lost in an internet vortex for a couple of hours. So what does it mean to be weird, anyway? If you stand out in public? If you dress differently than your friends? If your worldview lies somewhere outside of the hegemonic mainstream? Are you born weird, or can you develop a solid sense of weirdness over time? I’m being tongue in cheek, but I’m definitely curious about the status of the “weird girl” (or weird boy, or weird genderqueer individual … indeed, gender is a spectrum!) in a time when neon armpit hair is a viral feminist trend on Instagram. Is there a necessary shock appeal to being weird? Is “weird” synonymous with “quirky” and “cute”?

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One of the things I loved most about living on the west coast was how welcomed it was to be weird. The slogan of Portland, Oregon is “Keep Portland Weird,” a phenomenon made infamous by the lovable weirdos Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen.

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Flashback to four years ago in Vancouver, BC. I was twenty-two years old, walking through dark alleys with a couple of my close friends, drinking beers out of paper bags, listening to Austra playing from someone’s Iphone, and smoking Djarums (all wonderfully irresponsible behaviors that I do not officially condone!). We were on our way to a party in east Vancouver. My friend turned to me and said, “You look exactly like what an eccentric auntie looks like!” I was swaddled in fabrics of various patterns, colours, and textures, adorned with delicious oddities like my ‘moon face’ earrings and forest green hair. I rocked the “eccentric auntie” look for a few solid years of living on Commercial Drive. Lately I find myself longing for those “eccentric auntie” days of lore. I still cherish my eclectic blouses thrifted from suburban Value Villages out west. These blouses that function as landscape paintings, blouses that depict flying cows and cherubim, blouses that manage to incorporate ‘power clashing’ into their very fabric!

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I have fond memories of going to my first Arcade Fire show back in 2010 wearing my psychedelic bat-swing sleeved dream coat featured here. Me and my black bowl-cut and orange lips, stepping into a stadium filled with hip-looking humans, not feeling very secure in my own skin back then but nonetheless knowing that I loved what I was wearing. A statement piece, one could say. One of a kind. Clothing can definitely function as a conversation starter. This is one of my statement pieces.

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We often hear of the power of scent in invoking strong memories. Our mother’s sugar cookies, our grandmother’s borscht, the patchouli incense you used to burn in your very first apartment. But what about the power that an item of clothing has in taking you back to a very specific time and place in your past? In my own experience, each item of clothing incites vivid memories. My closet is an archive that I can page through at whim.

Thanks for tuning in!  Until next time — Lauren ☾

Lauren Fournier is an artist and writer currently based in Toronto.
She is working on her PhD in feminist theory and performance art at York University.

Photography credits: Lee Henderson (www.noattainment.com)