Safra

Archive for the ‘In the Know’ Category

Club Monaco crosses the pond… finally!

In Fashion, In the Know on February 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm

While doing my daily jones on the fashion news circuit, I was a tad surprised to learn by British Vogue that the former Canadian fashion brand Club Monaco, was being introduced to the European market via UK retailer Browns. To attract the fashion crowd, they’ve teamed up with fashion elite such as Lou Doillon, Lauren Hutton and artist Jade Berreau. Hmm, interesting.

Lou Doillon in a Club Monaco dress via British Vogue.

Club Monaco was founded in 1985 – in Toronto – by Joseph Mimran, a rather local but notorious fashion celebrity, and his brother Saul. The line seemed to be a reflection of the minimalist side late `80s fashion: stark white architecture, monocromatic suits. When the ’90s recession hit, it went into complete severe mode with a strong black and white palette, and its signature crisp-white dress shirts. The Mimran brothers was ‘parented’ by Ralph Lauren, a great financial move with expansion into New York, Japan and South Korea, but a clash with management saw Mimran out the door a year later.

While Mimran went on to enjoy success with his grocery store brand Joe Fresh Style, Club Monaco, for the most part, seems a bit stagnant. The headquarters, its first Queen Street West location, and it’s monsterous bloor stoor are still there, but the brand itself, as an entity doesn’t seem here, nor there. Just there.

When I had told some people at prestigious publishing companies about Club Monaco, the most I got was a doey-eyed stare. I sure hope that upon announcement of its European launch those same people can at least say “I’ve heard of that brand from somewhere.” 😉


via Club Monaco

None the less, I find this all quite funny because, this is a brand that, for me, is the equivalent of walking into a local H&M – not in a bad way, of course. But it’s just so common. It’s one of the stores I make a conscious effort check out regularly, because I always find security in their sever designer-conscious garments. Which tells you a bit of how I prefer to dress. Matter of fact, I’m wearing a pair of their leggings right now. OK. I wear them almost everyday.

via Club Monaco

Joceylyn Short via Club Monaco.

I did however, always find it a bit overpriced for what it is. Mind you, they do tend to use a lot of cashmere blends and silks, but, I always seem to prefer heading to the sales racks as oppose to buying the clothes at full price.

Elle Fanning: Rodarte’s Muse?

In Fashion, Fashion Heat, In the Know on February 9, 2011 at 5:34 pm

We all love muses. But is it really necessary to have a 12-year-old strutting around in shoes she can barely walk in?

I am a fan of Rodarte, and I appreciate their latest collaboration with film director Todd Cole. But, it kind of reminds me of watching an art house horror flick, without the horror.

Shout out to Nowness for providing the video.

Toronto fashion out: London, UK fashion in

In Fashion, Fashion Heat, In the Know on February 4, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Despite the emotional roller coaster I experienced while living in London, I couldn’t help but be enamoured by its thriving fashion energy. It is the land of excess –  in a lot of ways – but it’s also an open platform to explore your style identity. Every street corner, every strip hangs on a cultural limb- and that includes fashion. So it is no surprise that  all my favourite fashion magazines – and designers – with the exception of France, are British.

Today, I came across an article on British Vogue announcing a new designer collaboration with the beloved UK-concept brand Topshop. The lucky craftsman happens to be David Koma – a designer I have profiled  on this blog:


David Koma for Topshop via Susie Bubble

and a favourite by the likes of Beyoncé and Girls Aloud front woman Cheryl Cole. I didn’t get to read the article in its entirety, but today, while having lunch, I came upon a piece in i-D by Sarah Mower, an acclaimed fashion journalist and Ambassador for Emerging Talent for the British Fashion Council. I’ve not finished the article yet, but it was an elaboration of the speech she made during the spring/summer 2011 NEWGEN awards late last year.

The article came after a 12-page layout of models all wear young, fresh designers.  The pages highlighted pull quotes from buyers and the like within London’s high-profile fashion world. But what caught me was when Ms. Mower said  the industry in London is known for its keen ability to “share and help one another.”

It may seem like a contradictory to provide a negative review on the film “Dressed,” but the problem that I have with the film is that it’s a director’s bandwagon attempt to cash in on a trend that has already come to pass. Not only that, it doesn’t help the hundreds, if not thousands of young hopefuls who need help furthering their fashion careers.

This is, by far, not the first time Topshop has collaborated with new designers. There are a stream of them:

Christopher Kane (three times)

via Frillr

Mary Katrantzou

Meadham Kirchhoff

Mark Fast

Jonathan Saunders

via fashionologie

Kate Moss for GOD’s sake

And a slew of others lesser known ones.

*All other images courtesy of British Vogue

A lot of times, it seems as though every city under the sun supports new talent except  Toronto. Mind you, we do have the Toronto Fashion Incubator, the Fashion Design Council of Canada (if you have thousands of dollars and should be “Toronto”), and a lot of local local publications show their support. We’ve made an attempt at Project  Runway, it’s true. But it’s not enough.  Not when Canada’s freshest talent, such as the aforementioned Mark Fast, Erdem Moralioglu, Jean-Pierre Braganza, Calla Haynes and Thomas Tait choose to cultivate and carry on their careers in cities that much more expensive than be here. Our department stores, on the other hand ‘showcase’ young designers once they’ve received accolades elsewhere, and seem up for collaborations with even other fashion stores, before taking up  homegrown talent.

Do I digress? No. For I too seem to find it much easier to get on in London, despite its faults, than in Toronto. But maybe it is not Toronto’s fault. It’s simply underdeveloped on the fashion front. And, as it turns out, the problem extends well beyond fashion. Canada, writ-large, is an underdeveloped country. And, as it turns out, this city is going down the gravy train. So, as it seems, there’s no where else to go, if you want to ‘make it’, but…  out.

Advanced Style

In Fashion, Fashion Heat, Global Musing, Good Look, Icon, In the Know on February 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm

“Style is something inter-growth. it’s something that’s you. It’s part of your psyche. You have to study yourself, learn who you are; that requires a lot of work which a lot of people don’t want to do. But if you don’t do that, you can copy somebody else’s style but it won’t be yours.”
– Iris Apfel

And a big bleeping shout out to Advanced Style for providing the video.

I came upon Iris Apfel while reading an article called Garb Fest in T magazine by the lovely fashion reporter Lynn Yaeger. The latter was organizing a tea party with some of the most revered fashion savants in New York. Just reading the colour descriptions of clothing by Suzanne Golden, Patricia Fox, Tziporah Salamon said reporter and Iris Apfel was foreign to me. I think that’s because this story showed me the depth behind a person’s whimsical world of style. They were a mis-match of Bottega Veneta and Comme des Garçon with tweaks of vintage resulting in a collage of quirky, colourful outfits. One like me, could only admire. But I was happy to walk away with an important piece of me after reading the article. It is one thing to try to make a statement – something we’re all caught up in these days – but to own your statement, and be able to connect each item of clothing to a piece of personal history – now that’s the real spice to life.

I am, and I’ll be the first to admit it, afraid of getting old. Maybe it’s because my personal sense of style is connected to my culture, which is hip-hop. I grew up on the latest Nike hi-tops, multi-coloured track suits and up-to-date hairstyles. As I’ve grown old-er, though I have experimented with fashion, I’ve always found comfort in “street” style. Don’t get me wrong, I can be a bit of chameleon, when I have to, but jeans, sneakers, gold chains, those are my staple. And I have been one of the few who can own that style culture and not feel, or look, like trying too hard. But as I get older, will it still suit? This is exactly the point Ms. Apfel makes finding and understanding your style “requires some hard work which a lot of people don’t wanna do.” While I don’t question my style sense as much now, when it comes to the future, well, I suppose those are questions not worth pondering at the moment. Because if this style is really you, it will grow with you.

A couple of months ago, I was talking with a friend of mine who said that he used to send his mother – a woman in her `70s – the latest Nike sneakers. He wasn’t doing it to make a statement; he simply had a discount and would send them to her. which was funny because he, a man of 32, said that he didn’t wear his sneakers anymore because he had grown out of streetwear. He to me, didn’t really stand out style wise, yet it was funny because he commented on the fact that I would wear the latest sneakers, and that I had style. So, looking back, I see this was a young lad who didn’t own his. But it’s crystal clear to me, that I own mine.


A Bathing Ape 1st Camo Apesta via Hypebeast

Fashion blog backlash

In Fashion, Fashion Heat, In the Know on January 30, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I’ve been reading quite a bit of interesting blog posts today. Yes. I’ve finally actually started reading blogs. When I initially started following blogs, I did it based on people’s opinions without really understanding the logic behind them. Needless to say, I was rather bored of blogs that consisted of pretty people taking pictures of themselves and all these unwarranted accolades. And then, it became an explosion. Post a picture of yourself wearing second-tier high-street clothing, and BOOM, you’ve got yourself about, what, 50+ comments?

When I started my blog, I had no intention of infusing myself. I’ve slaved at some of the world’s most coveted fashion outlets, and I’ve stalked the editors of my favourite fashion magazines for that freelance gig. I’ve come close, I’ve hit, and I’ve missed. A lot. So this blog, was me living a dream. And this dream, slowly, turned into an outlet that led my reality. Now, I’ve got a might long way to go. Sure, I could use some work. And yes, I’m still finding myself. But Safraonfashion.com has become an outlet that is now dear to me. I no longer use it as a means “to get that job,” but to actually build my brand. And the finished product makes me proud.

Part two. Upon taking this blog more seriously, I’ve learned the importance of creative a community. Not as some self-aggrandizing marketing machine. But actually connecting with people. Learning. Fashion blogging, the real fashion blogging, is hard work. There’s research to be done to create an interesting post. And you have to conjure up ways to be unique, which is hard enough to do as it is. But creating a community proves support. Constructive feedback, if you will. And along the way, you actually learn something about yourself.

I mean, hey, community is important to the church. And it’s no different for bloggers, right. Now, on another note, I came across a very interest post by the UK blog The Clothes Whisperer about Vogue Italia’s Editor Franca Sozziani’s rant about fashion bloggers getting frontrow. I’ve gone on Vogue.it‘s site and seen Sozziani’s admiration for blogs. I’ve seen her profile Claire Sulmers of The Fashion Bomb blog as “The Black Blog,” because of urban-based content (a categorization I’m not particularly fond of), and upon further digging, I noticed she’s even given Sulmers a job as a freelance reporter. Obviously, we can’t really blow Ms. Sozziani’s comments out of context, but she is talking about blogs writ-large. Essentially.

But I digress. This so-called backlash should be seen as a wake-up call. I am certainly thankful for it, because by making an effort to become apart of the community, I have learned to establish an actual interest in blogs. Now, I read blogs, and I know what I like. I know what I can connect with. And yes, it’s okay to admit it. I know what inspires me. And it gives me hope. While we’re not out to change the world, we can use our blogs to bring us one step – or 10 – closer to our dream. Something so damn simple.

One-to-watch: Hakaan

In designer, dress, Fashion, Fashion Heat, Good Look, In the Know on January 25, 2011 at 6:34 pm

“I feel more experienced and knowledgeable than the new generation.”


Little is known about Turkish-born, London-based fashion designer Hakaan Yildirim. I’d came upon him while reading an issue of i-d, i believe i still have the issue. in true i-d style, the raw, gritty layout was hypersexual, and absolutely captivating. I learned that his runway show was filled with top models including Natalia Vodianova, Lara Stone and Mariacarla Boscono. And Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell sat front and centre with Anna Wintour. Hakaan, was, and still is, the hot designer of the moment.

His debut collection (according to international fashion capital) won him the French-financed Andam Prize valued at $270,000, and judged by French Vogue editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld, Andam director Nathalie Dufour, Lanvin creative director Alber Elbaz, Jefferson Hack of Dazed & Confused, Virginie Mouzat, critic of Le Figaro, Delphine Arnault of LVMH, Valerie Hermann of the Gucci Group and Pierre Berge, former partner of Yves Saint Laurent – isn’t that a mouthful!

This is, by far, quite a development from his 2009 collection:


the things you can do with money, it’s true. That and of course, an immense amount of passion and talent.

Hakaan has gotten better with time. His Spring/Summer 2011 collection was draped and construction with the finest silks. With accolades on the rise, he’s becoming a strong force to be reckoned with.

If I could only own a piece of Hakaan’s lusturous dresses. Ah, but that is part of what dreams may come.

But if you can, please indulge, a dress like this goes a long way.

Designer Spotlight: Ara Jo

In British, designer, Entertainer, Fashion, Fashion Heat, In the Know, London, One to Watch, Trend on August 12, 2010 at 2:55 pm

After musing over some ridiculously talented designers, it’s time to extend the platform. You see, of course a designer’s clothes are their main cred, but it’s the OZ – the creative genius with the fuel to tackle this business – that shapes the industry. So, come on now, let’s hear it for the future of fashion.

As much as I am a fan of fresh paint splattered (neatly) within Vogue’s coveted pages, I’m also a fan of the artist who smashes a window. Or, in Ara Jo’s case, adamantly gets her shit on Lady Gaga.

Ms. Jo, a 24-year-old Londoner and Central Saint Martins alumna, has a way with forging her own opportunities. Like I said, Gaga — for one. Then there’s the audacity of turning the surrealist, un-wearable side of fashion into an enticing ensemble of glam-rock pieces. Ms. Jo has evolved since her graduate collection which showcased an infectious cobweb of nude hues and sequenced sculptures. Though it’s clear that a woman’s anatomy is still Ms. Jo’s thing, the concept has taken on a more tangible form: a Gothic collection of body-con attire.

Ms. Jo works abundantly. In conjunction with new releases each season, she’s joining forces with some other new talent by way of music, and the cerebral. And no, not more mind-bending clothes, but she’s “collaborating with a Jewellery Designer – publishing a fashion book.” When asked if she has her sights on other big name prospects – obviously, she’s on it. “Roses Gabor (Gorillaz vocalist). [Hopefully] a customised outfit for the Red Bull Festival,” she explains. And so the hustle continues…

Safraonfashion: What was it that inspired you to become a Fashion Designer?

Ara Jo: When I was thirteen [I would read a lot of] fashion magazines, [and I noticed] when most people see the nice clothes in them, they’d want to buy them – or try them on. But I wanted to make them! That’s how I started to create clothes. Yep. I wasn’t good at it – considering I was only thirteen – and [I had] never made clothes before. But I was really into creating something that I could wear!

SOF: What do you want people to think of when they see your designs?

AJ: I want to be told that my work is crazy and different. That’s what I always seek, and I express that through my work. And actually, that has always been my biggest goal as a fashion designer: to be noticed as a different.

SOF: What have you learned about the fashion world that you were not taught in school?

AJ: That communication with people [is imperative]. And building contacts with [like-minded] people. But it can’t be taught, so I have learned this all by myself through this tough field. It was tough to study in Central Saint Martins with such competitive creators when I was a student. But I have been through so many things since I’ve graduated (Dealing with people, working with people, collaborating with people). I just have to experience everything that happens in fashion world. The real fashion world.

SOF: In an interview with Dazed Digital, you said you wanted to work with Lady Gaga. How did you go about bringing that idea to life?

AJ: Since my garments were worn by Lady Gaga, a lot of things have changed in my life as a fashion designer – of course. More people have curious about me, my work. So I am still keeping trying to create something cool, by designing for celebrities not just Lady Gaga. I don’t want to limit myself, now. There are so many creative people whom I want to collaborate with, and who want to collaborate with me. There are a lot of upcoming projects happening: collaborating with Buttafly – a new British singer – Junior Brat and more!

SOF: Based on a theme, which four songs would be at the top of your runway show playlist?

AJ: Oops, I always listen to hip hop and R&B, but I don’t have particular favourites in mind – it always changes. So I would say it all depends on what kind of theme I have. I will [either] select or literally make some unique tunes for the show.

Ara Jo’s Price tag: High End (from £100.00 as a little piece ~).
Where to by : Not Just a Label.

You can also contact Ara Jo here.

Musing: Freja Beha Erichsen

In Fashion Heat, Good Look, Icon, In the Know, model on August 10, 2010 at 9:39 pm

When British Vogue’s Sarah Harris asked supermodel Freja Beha Erichsen how she spent her first pay cheque, the Danish beauty jokingly claimed that she “ blew it all on strippers and cars.” Joke?

No matter. Erichsen is the girl/boy wonder stirring envy among guys, and collecting serious lust points from girls. Much like her predecessor Gia Carangi, this girl is hot, hot heat for putting the rock star back on the runway. There’s a debate, though – she’s thin. Probably too thin. But it’s not her fault, she’s just molded this way. And she’s handsomely pretty. The fashion world and beyond could easily build a Bieber fascination with her. She’s a “woman crush” – with the exception of her boyish sensibility. Who are we kidding, it’s because of it. She’s started a haircut craze, too. Unlike the androgynous Tilda Swinton who is sculpted with curves, Erichsen is as “toothpick” as they come. In a movie, she could be a he playing a she.  And she looks vulnerable. That bad boy/girl chicks aim to tame. (Hmmm, once again, Gia Carangi anyone?)

Erichsen has admitted to wanting a family someday. Probably true. But I doubt it will be conventional. And there’s no time to think about that anyway – she’s having too much fun at the moment. (Despite a drink,  smoke and club-free diet. Well, she’s having fun somehow I’m sure.)

So, OK, Freja. Let us not have any of those tragic lives in our lifetime, all right? You’re fun. You may be a bit lame in the flesh – I don’t know – but you’re a symbolism of a bourgeois rebellion that is keeping fashion interesting. We’re experiencing a grunge/punk resurgence, and that’s you. You weren’t just “plucked”, your trajectory is as strategic the marketing campaign for a Chanel fragrance. Your scent is unique. It’s divine. The top note is husky at first smell; but when you get to the base note – it’s a bed of heavenly petals.

Get My Look: Laced-up Goth

In designer, Fashion, Fashion Heat, Good Look, In the Know, Shopping on June 12, 2010 at 7:40 pm


Denis Gagnon Structured Leather Jacket available at Reborn

Paul & Joe Annelise Lace Blouse available at my-theresa


Forever 21 Lace Tank available at, of course Forever 21


Current/Elliott Black Leggings available at my-wardrobe


House of Harlow Lace Ankle Boots available at Saks Fifth Avenue


Valentino Laceland Tote available at Browns (Hold tight – it’s sold out!)

Global Musing: Toronto

In Fabric, Fashion, Fashion Heat, Global Musing, In the Know, style on June 7, 2010 at 4:34 pm

I want to say welcome, but that’s kinda lame, so I’ll get to the point.

The brilliant idea of trend spotting switched on a head bulb. I know – don’t ask. The idea of style stocking is so passé that it’s now a washed-out global phenom. Style Photogs are scoring book deals, landing front rows at revered fashion collections, and becoming the point-of-reference for a slew of pop-up Trend agencies.

So why, you ask, would this idea only occur to me now? Well, I scoped it in a certain magazine (that shall be nameless), and I felt it was done so colorfully, so originally but yet, so vaguely, that I had wanted to rip the idea and take it a step further. I want to grab trends from every crevice of the planet. And that, my friends, takes dedication. While I won’t be doing it everyday, I’ll defo be plugging it in once a week (to start). And I have a goal. I won’t share my goal (that’s why it’s a goal), but it’s a feasible one. So here we go.

Toronto guys, for the most part, have an uncategorizable style. One minute it’s eurotrash, the next it’s hipster punk. But lately, the T.O guy’s been rocking a mod-sportif ;  hi-tops – preferably Cr8tive Recs, or Supra – add futuristic funk to an otherwise semi-bland jeans-hoodie combo. Most up-town guys are big on G-Star, but they are, thanks to the cities thriving downtown hipster culture, starting to catch on to American Apparel. But you know, AA’s sweatshirts are being upstaged by the purposely ‘ragged’ staples found at Urban Outfitters or Gap. And that Parisian chic scarf, almost annihilated across the pond, is still going strong here. Distressed Diesel jeans are back with a vengeance, but come to think of it, they never really went anywhere, anyway.

Toronto Ladies are a special bunch. They’re prissy, pretty and completely untouchable. That’s right. They’re shopping like fashion editors. And they’ve ripped their outfits straight off the tear sheets of their favorite society magazines (and H&M) which means they’ve got the confidence to talk their way into the hottest happenings in the city. And not only will you have to buy them (and their crew) drinks and dinner at five-star spots, you’ll have to lavish them with – Marilyn Monroe said it best – Tiffany’s. The T.O girl’s upping Toronto’s ‘it’ style ante with super-short, or maxi-long. She’s got her minx on, she’s a fixture at Sephora and Holt Renfrew. However, vintage is a serious trend in Toronto, and she’s suddenly been empowered by the consignment store. Now, Chanel bags and Marc by Marc Jacobs dresses are right on par with her expenditure budget.