Uptown Downtown

Image courtesy of style.com

Each fashion capital brings to mind a look that it’s known for. These images may only be indicative of the way that a select group of people dresses, but they’re always inspiring (ever aspired to dress like a Parisian?). For her Pre-Fall 2013 collection, Stella McCartney infused her London girl’s style with a dash of uptown New York polish. Referencing her mother’s native Manhattan enclave, the designer’s collection included oversized coats, bold stripes and lush fabrics. She kept her client’s entire wardrobe in mind, and created clothes for morning meetings to drinks on the town. She also dabbled in eveningwear with colour-blocked dresses that could be worn with ease. But the brand stayed true to its playful, downtown aesthetic by mixing patterns and adding burnt orange and jewel tones to the classic mix of black, white and camel.

Besides the lust-worthy clothes, what’s most intriguing is McCartney’s attitude toward her customers and her desire to make women who wear her clothes feel confident. Much like the way she mingled with models and editors during her latest pre-fall presentation, McCartney doesn’t keep her clients at a distance. “I champion women.” She told British Vogue, “I think they are impressive. I think the journey of being a woman is interesting, too, and I’m on that journey with everyone else.” She’s a believer in the old adage, ‘It’s not what you wear but how you wear it,’ and that a woman’s energy is what makes her stand out regardless of what she has on. But when the clothes are this good, the right outfit will do the both. And that’s fashionable in any city.


Love and Other Drugs

Somehow the lineup of people that wrapped around the Kool Haus felt like a small crowd inside. It didn’t matter where you stood because being at a distance from Frank Ocean doesn’t make his music any less transfixing. His first official album Channel Orange had just been released, a strong debut which cemented his position as the leader of the latest group of game-changers in R&B. With detailed scenes and painstakingly chosen words, his music wove together stories about drugs, love and self-doubt in 2012. Through his lyrics, his emotions were laid bare and so whether he was speaking to a man or a woman became irrelevant. Weeks prior to the show, Frank gave listeners one more reason to have his name on their lips when he posted an open letter (originally intended to be the liner notes for Channel Orange) online, in which he revealed that his first love was a man. Before the album came his free mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra, as well as a lengthy list of incomplete tracks which have been dubbed the Lonny Breaux Collection. Regardless of how long he’d been writing music, this was Frank Ocean’s first show in Toronto. It was clear that he was on the cusp of much bigger things, and later, much larger venues.  

Wearing his signature bandana on his head, Frank opened the show with a cover of Sade’s “By Your Side.” He told the crowd he wasn’t feeling well, but his voice showed no sign of strain. The set list was comprised mostly of songs from his latest release, but dedicated fans showed their appreciation for his earlier work when they sang along to “Swim Good.” He told the audience about his experiences biking around Toronto, and how much he loved the city. Maybe it’s because he’s already shared so much of himself through his music, but connecting to the crowd sure came easy. "The more I live, the more I learn,” he said, “That us, the companionship, that's the treasure in this life."

With the lights low, he sat at the piano for his encore – a quiet rendition of “Miss You”, a track he wrote that is featured on Beyonce’s album 4. Her version sounds somewhat hopeful, as though she’s moved on. But his feels different, like it comes from someone in the thick of a heartbreaking separation. The speaker is someone desperate to be heard and to get his or her message across.

“It is so simple. A feeling. But it’s everything.” When he repeated the words it felt as though he was singing directly to each individual. The stage was dark but his voice floated throughout the room. His grip on the crowd didn’t loosen until the final note had faded.




Just a snippet of a true story...

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I have no choice but to tell you about it. I had spent the night dancing, shaking off every anxiety I had developed in the months prior. Now I was nestled beneath my pristine white duvet. Every trip comes with an indulgence and this hotel room was it. There wasn’t much left for food in the budget, but I had a modern room and a double bed to call my own. Lying there wide awake, I was prepared to watch the sun come up through my window. It wasn’t facing the shore but I’d settle for just seeing the sky light up before dozing off to sleep. Everywhere I go I make a point of watching the sunrise. It forces me to stop and to savour. In our snap-happy culture, where everything can be captured and shaded with the ideal filter, I prefer to stay in the moment memorize it on my own. I told myself I would return home feeling a sense of renewal, that I’d begin to push through the boundaries I imagined were around me and challenge any fixed notions of who I thought I was. With that in mind, I decided there was no way I could sit back and watch a new day begin from bed. When I shook her awake, my roommate quickly leapt up and followed me downstairs. We dashed onto the beach just as the sky began to resemble a water colour image that had been streaked with pink paint. I kicked off my flip-flops and stood still. I was the happiest I’d been in a long time and that day, having a friend wake up from her much-needed sleep to walk down to the beach felt like a grand, supportive gesture. As the sun rose, the heartache that had weighed down my back and shoulders for months vanished. With my feet in the sand and a smile on my face, I swear I have never felt taller.