Posts Tagged ‘Georgia Straight’

Indie style finds home in Gastown’s fashion district

September 3rd, 2009

Indie style finds home in Gastown’s fashion district
Straight.com
September 3. 2009
Patty Jones

The working hand loom at the new Gentille Alouette (left); and an Ora bag from Nouvelle Nouvelle.

The working hand loom at the new Gentille Alouette (left); and an Ora bag from Nouvelle Nouvelle.

In Gastown’s thriving fashion district, upstart boutiques and ateliers are offering something different by design.

Indie fashion is happening, right this very minute, in Gastown. In the window of the new Dickensian-chic boutique Gentille Alouette at 227 Carrall Street, Vancouver Community College fashion grad Ben Newcombe is constructing a dress on the retro-green sewing machine. “When there’s nobody else here, I pop this up onto the table,” says owner, textile artist, and designer Eliza Lau, pointing to a kick-ass–looking hand loom tucked under it.
“Hell or high water, I was going to open my own place,” Lau tells the Straight in her atelier. Lau was a stylist and special-effects costumer in her former life. She once wove “alien animal pelts” for Stargate: Atlantis . But her textile-arts roots were nudging her. “I envisioned representing local designers, providing a workspace. I wanted people to see the art and incredible skill of dressmaking,” she says. The Gastown scene is decidedly all about that DIY ethic.
“To me, Gastown represents returning to grassroots. There’s that lovely historic feeling,” says Lau. “The shop owners are a community, everybody wants everybody to succeed.” She adds, “And I think that fashionistas are discovering Gastown is a real fashion nook.”
Anyone following the bloody quill on Gentille Alouette’s sign—homage to both that nasty children’s song and nearby Blood Alley—into the boutique can nab stunning dresses ($270 to $489) and floaty felt and silk collars ($140 to $260) by Genevieve Graham, former Obakki designer and Project Runway Canada runner-up. Also on the racks are Lau’s own repurposed-leather dresses ($148 to $375) and cavegirl-sexy lei scarves ($148 to $229), woven from recycled fur, alpaca, and other exotic scraps. “My aesthetic is very deconstructed,” she says. She brandishes a work-in-progress wenchy bustled skirt, “a Vivienne Westwood ragamuffin thing”.
It’s another planet on Water Street. Moose and beavers abound in disturbing plush. Furniture emporiums and currency exchanges have accelerated breeding programs. There’s maple syrup on tap. No, wait—that’s beer. Here, T-shirts ask questions: “Does this shirt make me look Canadian?” Eh? But there is the Water Street style vanguard: Obakki (44 Water Street), Fluevog (65 Water), Alife (350 Water), One of a Few (354 Water), and Two of a Few (356 Water).

Indie fashion is happening, right this very minute, in Gastown. In the window of the new Dickensian-chic boutique Gentille Alouette at 227 Carrall Street, Vancouver Community College fashion grad Ben Newcombe is constructing a dress on the retro-green sewing machine. “When there’s nobody else here, I pop this up onto the table,” says owner, textile artist, and designer Eliza Lau, pointing to a kick-ass–looking hand loom tucked under it.

“Hell or high water, I was going to open my own place,” Lau tells the Straight in her atelier. Lau was a stylist and special-effects costumer in her former life. She once wove “alien animal pelts” for Stargate: Atlantis. But her textile-arts roots were nudging her. “I envisioned representing local designers, providing a workspace. I wanted people to see the art and incredible skill of dressmaking,” she says. The Gastown scene is decidedly all about that DIY ethic.

“To me, Gastown represents returning to grassroots. There’s that lovely historic feeling,” says Lau. “The shop owners are a community, everybody wants everybody to succeed.” She adds, “And I think that fashionistas are discovering Gastown is a real fashion nook.”

Anyone following the bloody quill on Gentille Alouette’s sign—homage to both that nasty children’s song and nearby Blood Alley—into the boutique can nab stunning dresses ($270 to $489) and floaty felt and silk collars ($140 to $260) by Genevieve Graham, former Obakki designer and Project Runway Canada runner-up. Also on the racks are Lau’s own repurposed-leather dresses ($148 to $375) and cavegirl-sexy lei scarves ($148 to $229), woven from recycled fur, alpaca, and other exotic scraps. “My aesthetic is very deconstructed,” she says. She brandishes a work-in-progress wenchy bustled skirt, “a Vivienne Westwood ragamuffin thing”.

It’s another planet on Water Street. Moose and beavers abound in disturbing plush. Furniture emporiums and currency exchanges have accelerated breeding programs. There’s maple syrup on tap. No, wait—that’s beer. Here, T-shirts ask questions: “Does this shirt make me look Canadian?” Eh? But there is the Water Street style vanguard: Obakki (44 Water Street), Fluevog (65 Water), Alife (350 Water), One of a Few (354 Water), and Two of a Few (356 Water).

Read the Full Story at Straight.com


Things to do: Velo City at Museum of Vancouver

June 4th, 2009

velo-city-graphic-sm1

Bike culture in Vancouver runs deep, and a new exhibition at the newly renamed Museum of Vancouver shows off all kinds of modern cycling styles. Velo-City: Vancouver & the Bicycle Revolution show opened last night – you can learn more about it here:  www.museumofvancouver.ca/exhibition.php?id=6. Be sure to add your favourite cycling photos to their Flickr group too!

A few of us at Salient are avid cyclists, and thought we’d bring this great show curated by Propellor Design to your attention – it’s well worth going by the museum. It’s going to be a fantastic weekend to ride around the seawall, so you should pop by the museum and check out the show. The show runs until September 7th.

See the Georgia Straight article about the show here: Velo-City pays tribute to culture on two wheels. UPDATE: VancouverIsAwesome.com also just put up an article about the exhibit too… You can see that here.

Museum of Vancouver also has a new website www.museumofvancouver.ca


Georgia Straight: Vancouver’s bright lights challenge the status quo

September 18th, 2008

Robert Fung - Georgia Straight

Vancouver’s bright lights challenge the status quo

Georgia Straight
by Charlie Smith
Published: September 18, 2008

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Gastown was on the decline, with an excessively high vacancy rate in its empty, old buildings. The area’s historic nature was protected in provincial legislation, but property owners couldn’t breathe life into the neighbourhood because of a financial straitjacket imposed by the cost of rehabilitating properties to meet modern building codes.

The situation changed in 2002 when the NPA–controlled council of the day granted Gastown heritage-building owners “residual density” of 5.5 FSR (a floor-space ratio of 5.5 square feet of building for every one square foot of property). Residual density is granted to owners of smaller buildings so they will have more air rights to sell to other developers to help cover the rehabilitation costs.

In 2003, the COPE–controlled Vancouver city council approved other incentives to encourage heritage conservation in Gastown, Chinatown, Victory Square, and the Hastings Street corridor. The heritage-façade rehabilitation program provided grants for up to 50 percent of the cost of restoring the front of a building.

That has resulted in a flurry of activity, turning Gastown into one of the most vibrant areas of Vancouver. Robert Fung, the 42-year-old president of the Salient Group, has been at the forefront. The former Concord Pacific executive rehabilitated the 97-year-old Taylor Building at 310 Water Street, winning awards from the City of Vancouver and the Urban Development Institute. Then Fung’s team added two storeys to an existing nine-storey heritage building on Beatty Street called the Bowman Block. Recently, Fung led a tour of the Flack Block, a recently completed heritage project at the corner of Cambie and Hastings streets. The Salient Group also plans to rehabilitate a heritage building in New Westminster called the Trapp Block. (more…)