M for Missoni

The colourful zig zag pattern has represented the house of Missoni since it was started by Ottavio and Rosita Missoni in 1953. They first sold their iconic knitwear in America at Neiman Marcus. Italy has always been known for knitwear and innovation in clothing manufacturing and the Missoni brand is a testament to that.

Season after season Missoni delivers colourful knitwear and accessories that add flare to your wardrobe. They also have a targetHome line with pillows, throws and towels all with iconic zig zag pattern. Missoni did a collab with Target a few years ago and on launch day the Target site crashed because of the demand for this brand! Here is an ad from that collab featuring Margherita Maccapani Missoni modelling some of the pieces from that famous collection.




For SS2016, Missoni featured tons of stripes in multi-colours or black & white like these outfits below. I love the use pattern and solids – it makes black & white so interesting.

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Looking at Fall 2016, colourful sweaters and over-sized blanket scarves were featured.



I have several Missoni scarves and I love the pattern and colours. I also have this adorable bear from Christmas 2013 when Missoni partnered with Holt Renfrew to raise money for African relief efforts. I spent an hour looking at every bear until I found one with the cutest face and placement of the pattern that I liked.

Check out my post on scarf tying. The video uses Missoni scarves to demonstrate the techniques.






Crazy about Tiffany’s

Film Review

I recently saw the documentary Crazy About Tiffany’s by Matthew Miele at Hot Doc cinema in Toronto. It was an excellent brand profile that included the history of the brand, designers and creative directors, the special Pantone 1837 that is a heavily guarded secret and of course the celebrities associated with Tiffany.

TiffanyI enjoyed learning about Gene Moore an innovative window designer at Tiffany. He would break crystal glasses and unstring pearls all in name of creating dynamic, interesting and ground-breaking window displays.

It also went into the detail about the deal with Paramount pictures for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Audrey Hepburn was required to promote jewellery for the brand in exchange for using the store in the film.

I enjoyed the behind the scenes glimpses of artisans setting diamonds and sapphires in a bracelet. The Creative Team working on the blue book and watching it come to life. As well as the making of the Lombardi trophy. Who knew that was Tiffany’s?

I’m proud to say I own 2 pieces of Tiffany jewellery. I have an Elsa Peretti initial “L” and Somerset diamond ring. Both are cherished pieces and they are stored in their lovely Tiffany blue sleeves when I’m not wearing them. Wish list – The bottle pendant that holds a tiny flower and the T ring!

If you love Tiffany this film is worth seeing!

Optimistic Luxury

Longchamp defines itself as optimistic luxury. Their bags and luggage have been created  by the Cassegrain Family since 1948. The “Le Pliage” line of bags is one of their most popular. These bags fold up securely so you can pack them or carry them with you when you’re out shopping. You can tell I’m a fan by my collection of Longchamp bags in the feature image.

Le Pliage comes in several sizes, formats and tons of colours. There is a mini bag with short handles (orange) perfect if you bring your lunch to work. A tote bag with long handles (grey) great for traveling, shopping, or the gym. There is also a knapsack which folds down (light blue) so you can always throw it in your suitcase. The distinctive tan leather wears well and develops a patina over time. These bags are lightweight so they don’t add any additional weight to what you’re carrying but are sturdy so you can carry a lot.

Longchamp releases special edition Le Pliage each year. Sometimes working with an artist to create a unique print. The navy blue and turquoise bag I have is named Ravenna and is from the SS2014 collection.

Le Pliage also comes in a heavier weight, tone-on-tone version called NEO (burgandy and black). What’s great about these bags is they have a removable shoulder strap so you can wear them crossbody.

Longchamp also has a full line of leather handbags (purple) in a variety of shapes and sizes.

I couldn’t resist making a paper Longchamp tote bag for the doll. I chose this green/aqua coIMG_2075lour because I considered that colour for my first Le Pliage tote bag. I ended up going with grey because it was neutral and I knew I would be adding more bags later on!

Do you have a love affair with Longchamp or another brand? I want to hear your story.



Italian Edge

Recently I purchased a Valentino handbag. Not “the Valentino” of Rockstud shoes and dark floral boots fame but Mario Valentino.

Mario Valentino was a leather craftsman from Napoli and his fame as a fashion designer peaked in the 80s with edgy leather clothing, and sky high shoes and boots. Helmut Newton shot a lot of the brand’s iconic ads. I took inspiration from these 2 ads for my paper design in this post.

Since the founder’s passing in 1991 the brand has focused on handbags.mia-black I purchased this one at the Saks Off 5th. It’s great size for going out because it will carry a full size wallet and a larger sized phone.

Paper Art

This black outfit was inspired by the halter style on some of Valentino’s leather outfits. I love tight skirt with over-skirt and billowy pockets. I added some printed black paper to take away the starkness of the outfit.



Fashion ARTographer

Recently I watched the documentary “The Man who Shot Beautiful Women” about Erwin Blumenfeld. He was a fashion photographer for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar starting in the 1940s and 50s in New York. His approach to fashion photography was artistic, graphic and original. His influence can be seen in contemporary fashion photographs.

This cover for Vogue 1950 tells the viewer straight away that this issue is about beauty. The use of white space and over exposure of the face create a mystery about the model and pace the emphasis on the lipstick and eye make-up. Another great Vogue cover is visorBlumenfeld4also a beauty issue, from May 1945. This time Blumenfeld used a visor shadow to create visual interest and make the model’s lips pop. Again we see the use of white space. This graphic approach can be also be seen in Blumenfeld’s self portraits like this one.


My favourite Blumenfeld image was one he shot in Paris when he lived there before World War 2 and before immigrating to the U.S. The model dangerously swings off the Eiffel tower in her full skirt. towerThere is so much energy and life in this photograph. It has been copied many times.

Immerging Talent

Good design solves problems but what about good fashion design? Doubtful? Then meet Roxana Khoshsokhan the designer behind the brand Beerox. Roxana wanted to provide the women of her native Iran with a fashionable alternative to the head scarf. Fresh out of the George Brown College Fashion Design program, she designed the beautiful infinity scarf featured in the lead image. She sells them online, through friends and word of mouth in Iran.

Recently, I had coffee with Roxana and we talked about fashion and design.

mc: What inspired you to become a fashion designer?

RK: I studied car design at the Domus Academy in Milan, Italy but I was always watching the fashion students and what they were working on.

mc: Car design? How did that come about?

RK: My husband and I were interested in studying in Italy. We had some basic understanding of the Italian language and felt that if we studied together as a team we could help each other and both succeed instead of struggling individually in different subjects. We are both creative so we chose industrial design and went to Rome.

mc: Wow. So then how did car design come about?

RK: One of our professors recommended us to the Domus Academy in Milan and we received a scholarship.

mc: How did your transition into Fashion come about?

RK: I’m really interested in accessories -specifically bags. A friend of mine recommended I take some courses to learn how to sew. Now I apply my skills as an industrial designer with my sewing knowledge to create bags.

mc: Now I’m excited. Tell me about your latest project.

RK: Well it’s a briefcase. I designed it with my husband in mind but also wanted to capture the colour ways used in Italian Fashion design. Italians are not afraid of colour like Canadians.

mc: How so?

RK: I did an internship at Roots and one of my projects was to choose the colour ways for their argyle socks. The design lead said my colours were too wild for the Canadian market, in fact she said we’re not Italians. Canadians would never wear those colours. Although since then I noticed Roots argyle socks are a little more colourful than when I was working there.

mc: What designers inspire you?

RK: I love Gucci. I think their bags represent Italian luxury and design. I also love Chanel and Louis Vuitton. The manufacturer I am working with on my briefcase told me that a Louis Vuitton bag still takes hours of work to produce and is produced at the highest level of workmanship. Parts of the process are automated but some of the finishing is still done by hand.

mc: With so much fashion news and access to runway shows online, do you think printed fashion magazines are still relevant?

RK: As a student I referenced magazines a lot but fashion blogs are also important and provide a lot of information about fashion.

Here are some photos of Beerox designs. Modacarta wishes Roxana all the success possible with Beerox and we’ll be checking back with her on future projects.

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Elsa Schiaparelli had a name no one could pronounce but it was a name everyone knew. They simply referred to her as SCHIAP! and her modern, avant garde designs continue to influence and inspire designers today.

When Elsa designed dresses she felt she was creating art not just clothes. She along with Coco Chanel offered women modern, less constricting clothing in the 1920s and 30s. She drew inspiration from sports uniforms and took them into everyday apparel.

eveningskeleWhen Elsa began designing evening wear her creativity knew no bounds.  Gowns and dress jackets were heavily embellished with palettes, mirrors, pearls and gold embroidery. Opposite to this was the minimalist skeleton dress that used trapunto quilting to create bones on a stark black plain. The skeleton motif has been reincarnated many times on the runway.

In 2012, the Costume Institute at the MET in New York held an exhibit where Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli had a conversation about fashion and design. It was favourite show to date! The show juxaposed Prada and Schiaparelli designs so visitors could see the parallels and influence. There was also a film by Baz Luhrmann that played in the background showing the 2 designers having dinner and conversing. Elsa Schiaparelli was played by English actress Julie Christie. One topic the designers explored was Waist Up/Waist Down. Elsa designed for a cafe society where women were seated and on display so waist up was important. Prada focuses her attention waist down to the organic, earth bound female. Evidence for this is Schiaparelli embellished jackets, Prada embellishes skirts.

Here are two images from the show catalogue that represent this idea:


I chose to do an embellished jacket for the doll. I used different papers to create a parrot which is a nod to a costume Elsa wore to a party in 1952.


The Little Book of Schiaparelli by Emma Baker Wright

Schiaparelli & Prada Impossible Conversations


Lead Image, Parrot costume, dresses – from The Little Book of Schiaparelli by Emma Baker Wright

Schiaparelli Suit, Prada Skirt – Schiaparelli & Prada Impossible Conversations

Doll – Lori Tonizzo

Iris – the review

When I interviewed Toronto Styilst Annie Aldworth she mentioned that her style icon is Iris Apfel. I had read about Iris in Vogue (June 2015 issue) and was intrigued. I had to see what this “rare bird of fashion” was all about and I was not disappointment. The documentary “Iris” by Albert Maysles follows Iris around New York as she shops, gives interviews, attends events and talks candidly about her life.

iris-apfel3Iris started her career as an interior designer and then started a weaving company – Old World Weavers with her husband Carl. The film documents her rise to “octogenarian stardom” as she calls it but what makes this such a wonderful story is it’s also about the love story between Iris and Carl. Maysles captures their tenderness and adoration so beautifully.

Iris has one of the biggest vintage designer clothing and couture costume jewellery collections in the US. The film shows many amazing pieces from Iris’ collection that it’s easy to understand why it has been exhibited in many museums, including the Costume Institute at the MET. iris_dollSlowly, Iris is donating some of her collection to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem Mass. She says in the film that “it’s better to know where your stuff is going while you’re still vertical.” The Peabody held the Iris Apfel exhibition in 2010. Click on the link and try the interactive dressing room. Check out modacarta’s Iris look.

Iris is currently playing at the Bloor Cinema in rotation with another fashion documentary – Mr. Dior.

Other Fashion Documentaries worth watching:

Valentino: The Last Emperor 2008

September Issue 2009

In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye 2012

Paper Art – IRIS header created with Japanese paper from The Paper Store , Toronto. There is no dress this week but I had a little fun turning the doll into Iris.barbie_1

Interview with a Stylist – Part 2

We continue the interview with Annie Aldworth. A stylist and photo producer in Toronto.

mc: Who’s your favourite Canadian Designer?

AA: I really like David Dixon, Lucien Matis, and Lida Biday.

mc: Who’s your fav designer overall?

AA: You should know the answer to that one. We became friends because of him.

mc: Memory refresh please!

AA: You had just been to New York and you were talking about the show Savage Beauty

that you had seen at the Costume Institute at the MET. So when I was in New York I saw the show and was so impressed with Alexander McQueen’s clothes. His ability to create a tailored jacket and then deconstruct it. You got me hooked and I recently returned to the Costume Institute to see Death Becomes Her.

mc: How was that show?

AA: It was great. Mostly Victorian era mourning clothes. A lot of the pieces will not be shown again due to their fragility.

mc: What defines great style?

AA: Someone who thinks outside box. Mixing different elements and making it work as a whole look.

mc: Who’s your style icon?

AA: Iris Apfel. I recently saw the documentary on her entitled Iris and she is fabulous. She is a 93 year old New Yorker that’s influenced fashion for decades. She has the biggest collection of couture costume jewellery in the US. She is not afraid of colour or accessories.

mc: What’s your favorite piece of clothing?

AA: Can I say my shoe collection? For me having a vintage or really unique shoe really elevates an outfit and takes it to another level. I saw a lot of floral shoes in the magazines for SS2015 but I haven’t seen anyone wearing them. These would be an example of what I’m talking about. Floral pumps with jeans. That’s style.

mc: If money was no object what luxury fashion piece would you buy?

AA: Because this is hypothetical I am going to say fur. I know it’s taboo but nothing feels as luxurious as fur. I was working on a photoshoot and one of the items I had to style was a mink lined and trimmed parka. I tried it on for fun and thought to myself – this is what luxury feels like! Please mention that I would never buy one.

mc: What¹s a classic, timeless piece?

AA: Hermes Kelly Bag. Almost every designer does their own rendition of it.

It was great chatting with Annie and I learned a lot about the biz and about her. This is modacarta’s homage to Alexander’s McQueen’s famous flower dress from his SS2007 collection. It was also featured in the Costume Institute’s 2011 show Savage Beauty.

Coming up in modacarta – film review of Iris.

Paper Art 

When I started this blog I really wanted to create this Alexander McQueen dress in paper. I saw it at the MET exhibit and was amazed that a dress could be made of flowers. This dress was a labour of love and made me appreciate how much work a designer and his/her team puts into to making one couture dress let alone a whole collection.

flower_dress AlexanderMcQueen1

Dress – painted tissue paper

Flowers – painted dryer sheets and coloured tissue paper


MET – Lori Tonizzo

Alexander McQueen Runway show SS 2007

Interview with a Stylist – Part 1

Annie Aldworth has been a stylist and photo producer in Toronto for 20+ years. She’s worked with some great fashion photographers on some outstanding brands and for all the big city Unknownretailers. I got together with her for drinks and biz chat.

modacarta: When and how did you get started as a stylist?

Annie Aldworth: In my last year of Fashion at Ryerson University, we had a co-op stint where I met Marilyn Toombes, a freelance stylist. I asked her what a stylist was and from her description, I knew I had found my career. She was a wonderful mentor.

mc: What brands/retailers have you worked for?

AA: When I started out I did a lot of catalog work for Eaton’s, Hudson’s Bay, then gradually moved on to more editorial work for WedLuxe and advertising work for Sporting Life. I have also done Pro bono work for the Herbie Fund. They published The Oceania Magazine.


SCAN019mc: What’s changed about the business?

AA: When I was starting in the business the client (brand or retailer) directed the look and the clothes were super styled – extremely severe. We had to stuff everything to create a smooth appearance – they didn’t let anything drape or flow. Now it is far more free – the client still directs but the styling of clothing is freer­ garments flow.  To gain recognition a stylist needs to have a presence on social media. Frequent posting photos of your work especially on Instagram.

mc: Tools of the trade?

AA: One of the most important things a stylist must be able to do, is notice what no one else will. Every small detail.  You have to be open minded but focus on a finished look.

mc: Is there a photo or image that you saw that you never forgot? That really made an impression on you?

AA: Not one particular image but collectively the work of Avedon. He made beautiful pictures. There was an elegance to all his images. Very graphic.

mc: What’s a trick of the trade to taking a good photo?

AA: Holding a white card at chest level to reflect light onto your face. We call it Œ”Phil”

Read Part 2 with Annie on Fashion, the Costume Institute at the MET and style.


Annie – personal photo

3 images from Annie’s portfolio