November 16, 2007

Style.com



Hm...Style.com says goodbye to W Magazine. The new W website looks amazing (I like the editor's blog especially and the big colorful spreads). I wonder if Vogue.com will launch too or if it'll just continue as Style.com...

November 14, 2007

On an unrelated note


I saw this on the New York Times website and said "YES! Definitely!" ...but only because I thought it said "Editorial Job Insecurities."

You can tell where my mind is these days! Looking for a fashion job in this climate is no fun.

Another kind of fakes


“If you actually put it on and wear it, it is different from cotton,” said Dennis Wilson, Lululemon’s founder, chief product designer and board chairman. “That’s my only test of it,” said Mr. Wilson, known as Chip.
There has been a great deal of discussion on blogs and in the mass media lately about copy right infringement when it comes to fashion. Obviously, we as designers and as consumers still care about authenticity and originality (and the bottom line) in terms of design features and other VISIBLE forms of quality and truth.

But how much do we care about performance and functionality as factors in quality? I was thinking about that today as I read this article in the New York Times today about how Lululemon clothes in their VitaSea line actually don't have any seaweed in them (instead of the 24% that's claimed on the government mandated tags). I didn't even know you can make clothes out of seaweed, but that wasn't the point really. I just think it's interesting that no one at the company tested the claims of the manufacturer, there is no one from the government who makes sure the tags don't lie and that companies can't just make whatever claims they want or believe to be true, and the consumer, when asked about it in the article, simply responds:
I couldn’t care less [that it's not made of seaweed] because it is so comfortable.
Isn't it funny? What is the point of buying something for the "feel-good messages" if they AREN'T EVEN TRUE? It's not like I really care if seaweed cotton blends wick moisture better than polyester cotton blends...I just like to get what I pay for...

Is that too much to ask?

November 6, 2007

Calling all New York design groupies


Loving fashion is about so much more than shopping at sample sales or knowing who celebrities wear to events...

I think the historical, social and personal aspects of fashion theory and the industry of fashion is fascinating as well. That's why you'll find me at at least one (if not more) of these Fashion Talks being hosted by the New York French institute. I think it should be a really great time, and a chance to see the designers behind those frocks we see on Style.com.
Art de Vivre:
Fashion Talks with Pamela Golbin
Discover the creative genius of designers from three legendary French fashion houses as they talk about their work and process.
Anyone going to join me?

October 31, 2007

A Sign of the Times??


So sad! Now you can pay to intern for free!! Madness.

What does everyone think of this? I mean, it's bad enough that interns (who are fabulous) can't get paid these days, and that you can't get a good magazine job without at least one good internship...and that most internships require school credit (which means you're metaphorically paying to learn at the internship)...but now...it's a prize to intern?? Even if the money goes to charity, this is a sketchy prize!

[Full disclose: I've done over 7 internships throughout my undergraduate and graduate degrees, just because of the nature of the fields I was interested in (fashion design and publishing). Also, I've supervised up to 5 interns at a time, and have hired at least a dozen over the years for various workplaces...and I love my interns (and love having them, if I'm going to be honest).]

October 21, 2007

Attention fashionistas


http://cgi.ebay.ca/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=150174510336

I'm selling this Moschino boot lamp on Ebay. I love it, but my husband won't let me put it up in our house. Maybe one of you guys might be interested.

Moschino introduced these really cool lamps in the shape of handbags, boots and lace-up corsets at the Milan furniture fair in April, and this was my favourite of all the shapes. You can read about them here:

http://fashioncrack.com/black/just-how-sexy-can-a-lamp-be-the-moschino-dress-lamp-answers/

September 13, 2007

Marc Jacobs and Punctuality


What do you think?

I thought that today's article from Women's Wear Daily was fascinating.
"I work my ass off," he said. "I don't take vacations, I don't have homes all over the world, I don't ride horses: I f---ing work for a living. Again, like this idea, you have a family? OK, well that's nice, I don't, and I work. So leave me alone and don't come to the show next time."
This was Marc's comment to WWD, but I am not sure what I feel on the issue. On the one hand, I agree with him about the logistical and production problems with European factories being closed for weeks and weeks in the summer time, and I have actually experienced first hand what it's like in his 72 Spring Street studio in the weeks leading up to a show (NOT pretty). Yet, isn't it HIS choice to do the men's, women's and marc by marc collections? And live in Paris for most of the year to work on Vuitton but keep his namesake lines in Manhattan?

Does anyone else care about this besides me? :)
And what did everyone think of the collection? I have to see the clothes in person I think to really form an educated opinion. Right now, my instinct is a small bit of shock and a large bit of disappointment (I wouldn't spend thousands on those pieces, irony and revolutionary or not). But we'll see how its influence ripples out (or not) across the other collections...

September 3, 2007

The Fashionista Diaries


This show on Soapnet is hilarious and very, very unrealistic. As someone who has been and will likely again in the future be an assistant at a magazine, these characters have responsibilities more like interns would...

But hey, it's still highly addictive.

And this comment from Bridget from Radar Online is hilarious:
"It's tough, because they're making us work, like, long hours, and we have to answer to people. Plus, we all worked so hard to get to the top of our fields. Having to do this stuff is like starting over."
First of all, she IS an assistant - what did she expect? Long hours are par for the course. And I really doubt that at the age of 24 that any of these contestants are at or close to the top of their field. People at the top of their fields don't quit their day jobs to go on a reality show about fashion-industry assistants.

Sigh.
Does anyone else out there watch the show?

August 27, 2007

Fashionista priorities


My dear friend Julie of Almost Girl sent me a link to this New York Times article last night when we were chatting online. Basically, the author discusses all of the fashion items that one could go without in order to save up for long-term goals such as an apartment in Queens or a "decent" retirement. The lead, in fact, reads:
"Saving isn’t as much fun as spending, true. But once you get into the habit, what you might blow on your closet could end up netting a much prettier penny down the line."

This feature is interesting and reminds me a lot of the service articles that appear in women's magazines that discuss, for example, how going without your daily Starbucks could actually lead to hundreds of dollars in savings per year. But there are some points that I thought of immediately that discounts this seemingly sage advice immediately:

1. In order to actually save any of the amounts suggested, one would have to MAKE that much in the first place! How many of us (or NY Times readers) are even raking in $6657 a month anyway?

2. These are luxury items, and it's silly to assume that everyone is buying a fur coat each month. The reason that most people feel justified in spending that much on a fashion garment in the first place is that it will (theoretically) last a lifetime because of the superior construction, etc.

3. What if the small, monthly purchases cumulatively bring you as much joy as that kitchen renovation? Would they be worth it then?

Anyway, just some food for thought. The whole saving money versus splurging on fashion items debate is sadly quite prominent in my life currently - because I work in an industry that cares what I wear, I sometimes justify the disproportionately (to my income) extravagant purchases that I make by saying that it's an investment in my career.

Am I being silly?
What do you do?

August 14, 2007

Prada sample sale...



3 appointments times left on Thursday, and all slots still open Monday, if you can get in...

x

pradasamplesale.com
NYC

July 16, 2007

Price isn't always the best indicator of quality


There has been some response to my post a few weeks ago about quality in the mass market fashion industry, which is exciting.

I should point out, though, that the sad thing is that the price tag of an item is hardly a reliable indicator these days of its quality. I've seen features in magazine such as Marie Claire and Glamour in the past few months about why fashion items cost as much as they do, and the differences between one designer's bag at target and in her eponymous line, for example. The problem is, some of the justifications just don't make sense to me. Paying $555 for someone to make me a great fitting wool cashmere jacket is one thing, but I'm not going to shell out for hand sandpapered jeans...but that's just me. What do you guys think?

Anyway, the other problem I have with these articles (as much as they help justify my occasional splurges to my husband...) is that they don't mention that a lot of the "quality" details exist in cheaper items as well! It's about knowing what to look for...

For example, ignoring my terrible photography and styling, the bag I bought above last week cost $25 (On sale for $50 from originally $100 but it was buy one get one free and so my friend and I each bought one) at H&M, but I've been getting some compliments on it and I think it's an exceptionally great value from the Swedish company. (Disclosure: I first saw it on a fashion designer friend and sourced it from her!) Why? Well, unlike a lot of the other bags at H&M that were just as cute, it was well-stitched (heavy thread, good match between thread and leather color, no puckering and good sewing tension overall), has a decent lining fabric and color, was made of real leather (most of their other $34.90 bags were pleather or fabric) and the design was simple and tasteful enough for me to wear it to work...even though I work at a fashion-obsessed place.

Do you even consider these details when you're shopping?

July 15, 2007

Book Review: Falling Out of Fashion


Falling Out of Fashion
by Karen Yampolsky

So, I'm sure as everyone's heard by now, Jane magazine is dead. Not even the website will go on. I have a former colleague and friend who worked there (though not close) and was saddened to hear of its abrupt demise. The August issue will be the last - I wonder what they'll send me now to complete my subscription!

Anyway, so at Barnes and Noble yesterday I hunkered down and read "Falling Out of Fashion" very quickly. Written by a former assistant of the infamous Jane Pratt, the book chronicles not very discreetly some version of the rise and fall of Jane (and Sassy, really). As a magazine addict and industry employee, I thought it was a good fluffy read, but definitely not Devil Wears Prada calibre. The things Yampolsky reveals (editor perks and swag, for one) are old news these days, and the story is too true to life to be captivating.

The story begins as "Jill" goes to prep school and ends with her firing from the helm of her eponymous magazine, and it was with irony that I read the last section which predicted the demise of the magazine without its founder. At the time, the predictions might have seemed wistful (the triumph of personality over commerce and advertising dollars!)...but now they've come true!

Still, not really a book worth reading.

July 4, 2007

Perfect for bridesmaids...



For some bizarre reason, the Marshalls at Atlantic Center has $80 lavender colored grosgrain Marc Jacobs mouse flats (like the ones above but different material and color, obviously). About 7 pairs in various sizes. Not mine, however.

June 30, 2007

Credits


In my fashion research, the old editorial director of Fairchild Publications once said in an interview that the only difference between a fashion photograph and an art photograph would be that the former includes credit (or shopping) information.

I've been avidly reading magazines since I was 10 and obsessed with borrowing issues of YM and Girl's Life from the public library every month. But until I started really going behind the scenes at fashion and beauty magazines myself, I was rather naive about how the genre operated. I always thought, for example, that when a magazine featured someone in their home that the home always looks the way it does (it's normally somewhat to completely propped), with all the amazing accessories and styling. Also, I assumed that the clothes people wore were their own - which is (in 99% of the time) not true!

But the biggest concession to the commercial nature of magazines in my opinion? Beauty credits! I remember in high school trying to "copy" the look of many a Seventeen cover girl...and it shocked me to find out that beauty credits are normally advertiser friendly rather than honest. Basically, the make-up artist does their magic with whatever products they have and like (or get for free as they might be sponsored by a make-up conglomerate). Then, the credit is given to whatever company or companies the magazine wants to keep happy...

What do you think about this? Has everyone but me always known about this practice and I'm just naive?

June 23, 2007

A Matter of Quality



If your clothes are poorly made, and you don't know...does it matter?

This was the big question that I was thinking about the other day, while browsing Forever 21. That store really scares me, and is really a wonderful example of why I went to graduate school to theorize about fashion rather than choosing to become a fashion designer with my Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design!

The thing is that Forever21 is forever basing its designs on that of others, but doing it quickly and cheaply. So whenever I go there, I see cute things that are incredibly affordable. However, I can't help but notice the poor quality of the fabrics, especially the jerseys that are so vibrant in color. Some of the trims have a terrible hand (touch) and I can't stand raw edges or serged edging. It just looks cheap to me, however cute the design may be.

During my last visit, for example, I saw a really cute woven top for $25 that I would have happily purchased even though it was made of polyester and wouldn't survive a few rounds in my washing machine...but then I noticed the zipper. At a moderately price store such as J.Crew or Banana Republic there would be a neat little invisible zipper. Instead, that Forever21 top has a cheap plastic zipper in a color that doesn't quite match the fabric (in fashion school they teach us that zippers should be slightly darker rather than lighter than the garment fabric). Why? I kept thinking: Why doesn't Forever21 spend the extra 25 cents in the factory to get a nice zipper sewn in? Doesn't that increase the value of the garment?

And then it dawned on me, they don't make the little investments in value because it doesn't pay off - most if not all of their shoppers either can't tell the difference in construction methods or wouldn't care.

Which is too bad, because even at that price point, a few of us do care.

June 17, 2007

New links



Jezebel
Like Jossip + Gawker + Fashionista all rolled into one! Fun!

...and

i'll never tell...except here
She goes to all the best parties and she's not even 20 yet! Got fired from Teen Vogue over this blog...but it's still juicy! Love the spunk, and she goes to the best parties.


My new favourite blogs...for better, and for worse.

June 16, 2007

China hiatus...


Have been up to my neck in gorgeous housewares...but I'm sure I will return soon...some fashion posts guaranteed tomorrow.

May 5, 2007

Hiatus


Work, school and a recent move keeps me busy. But now that I'm done school work I will try to post more.

April 26, 2007

Anti-piracy laws...


Today's WWD reports that there is a group of designers and editors currently trying to put anti-piracy laws before congress:
That is why fashion designer Nicole Miller and others came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to lobby lawmakers, many of whom sit on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, which have jurisdiction over intellectual property laws, on a bill they hope will change the law. "Design piracy denigrates the integrity of the style," said Miller. "This year, we have been copied more than we have in past years. With this legislation, people will be deterred from making everything too literal. It's the line-for-line copies that bother me."
What is the current situation?
The specter of fashion design piracy sends shivers down the backbone of the fashion industry, but defining "piracy," "knockoffs" and "original" designs under intellectual property laws has proven elusive. Trademark laws protect designer logos and patent law periodically applies to "innovative or ornamental" design elements. Prints and artwork are protected by intellectual property laws, but fashion designs have no protection under copyright laws.
While I agree that knock-offs in particular have gotten completely out of hand recently, especially with the rise of internet/wireless communications technologies and the ability of fast-fashion retailers to copy a design within weeks and have it in the store before the original has even hit the wholesale showroom...I think this is a murky issue. This is what I'm writing in my thesis paper about it:
When modern fashion was “born symbolically with [designer Charles] Worth in the mid-1800s,” issues of authenticity were irrelevant because everyone who could afford to wear the latest fashions had them made custom by local dressmakers (Reinach 47). Although ideas could be “borrowed,” each garment was necessarily unique in cut, fit, and materials. But when clothes started to be mass-produced, garments became models that could be “exactly reproduced at will” rather than unique articles of clothing (Vinken 20).
Of course, the construction, design and marketing of an authentic Louis Vuitton bag is much costlier and more desirable than that of its counterfeit. Aside from being illegal, counterfeit fashion items are socially stigmatized in our culture, and “a tag of authenticity is a powerful force in selling goods”. However, what about the fact that the presence of fakes make the real items even more socially desirable? And would there be any difference between an “authentic” Marc Jacobs elastic band and a “counterfeit” one? In fact, theorists such as Michel Pastoureau have argued that “the concepts of falsity and authenticity are cultural constructs.” And what does it mean to be a fake when “several of the most prestigious ‘made in Italy’ brands are in reality, entirely manufactured in China” and made in the same factories as the counterfeit but with different materials?

Finally, the biggest issue with anti-piracy laws in fashion is this - they assume that the high-end designers are the originals from which others copy. However, we've seen Balenciaga knock off Kaisik Wong and I personally know many great designers who quite literally "borrow" inspiration from vintage clothing or their own archives or wardrobes without penalty. Do we expect them to be original also? Or is it only when someone else is infringed upon that it matters?

How original is DVF's design that she can sue Forever 21? Not to say they're faultless....

Do you expect originality in design?

Photo source (Marc by Marc on the left and Forever 21 on the right)

April 17, 2007

Adventures in Fashion Editorial


http://www.glamour.com/fashionbeauty/blogs/suze

Love this blog from Glamour magazine. Today, Suzy writes:
In my day as an assistant, we worked from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. and later or even 24 hours in a row, without complaint. It was expected that we would run around NYC in search of whatever our editor needed and if we didn't find it, it was pretty much the end of our careers. Saying "no" was not an option and that was the best thing I could have ever learned from any job.
While this may sound dramatic, it's real. And a good lesson to anyone who might be wanting to work at a consumer magazine (trade ones and newspapers tend to be different from what I hear).

Kudos also to Julie for telling it like it is.

"Real" Vs. "Fake"


Authenticity is an issue with which I'm quite concerned and interested, as someone who used to work in design and still currently works in the industry at large. The rise of branding. Logomania. Counterfeits versus knock-offs.

The idea of ‘fashion’ itself, as opposed to dress or costume, has only emerged “within a particular kind of society, one where social mobility is possible” because historically fashion has developed “during the movement towards a capitalist society and the emergence of a bourgeois class” as a tool for social differentiation (Entwistle 44). Ultimately, then, fashion “suggests competitive emulation, a rank-order tournament in which the prize is social distinction” (Caves 182).

Thorstein Veblen’s chapter on the idea of “conspicuous consumption” in his 1899 book Theory of the Leisure Class addresses this theory of fashion beautifully, stating that the “[c]onspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability to the gentleman of leisure,” especially in an age when many live in cities and cannot easily express their wealth through more traditional means (56). Now that individuals are exposed “to the observation of many persons who have no other means of judging of [one’s] reputability than the display of goods (and perhaps of breeding) which [one] is able to make while…under their direct observation”, it is more important than ever to use one’s means to acquire and display conspicuously one’s “worth” (Veblen 64). Furthermore, the outward display of material goods is important since within “modern civilized communities the lines of demarcation between social classes have grown vague and transient” and dress is a way for individuals to strive towards “the next higher stratum” socially (Veblen 62).

Ultimately, in the present age, the “sign” as discussed by Baudrillard in For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign plays an important role, and fashion is but a part in the “society of the spectacle where the cult of appearances is all important” (Negrin 114). The use-value of an object is much less relevant than its exchange value.

Logos and branding are an important and yet problematic part of the contemporary
fashion system. The accessories shown here include both “real” and “fake” items representing a wide range of designer brands and displaying very recognizable logos. The objectives are: to show both the emptiness of and meaning imbued within the sign (logo) in contemporary capitalist culture, which so often fetishizes these branded fashion products; to explore the real problem of counterfeits within fashion; and to point out how the medium of fashion photography flattens the difference between the authentic and the other, because differences such as finishing touches and materials simply do not “read” in print.

Thoughts?

Photocredit: Me.

April 11, 2007

Off Topic: Pictures That Inspire Me Pt.1













Because sometimes, you just need a little inspiration. And it's refreshing to go outside of the fashion/consumer system and just appreciate nature. And design. And ideas.

In no particular order. Photos I like on my computer that I shot in the past few years.

Where do you find inspiration?

For me? Friends and lovers. Travel. Literature. Magazines. Food.

April 10, 2007

Ego and Rebirth



Fashion Week Daily has a great interview with Tom Ford, formerly of Gucci. Ford today showed his new Manhattan digs off to top fashion editors and journalists.

In the 1990s, I used to really like the sexy, minimalist Tom Ford for Gucci look. All black had never looked hotter. But now, I think for this era I have to wonder if it's a little overkill. Luxury is always in, but there's something over the top about this reincarnation. But I guess the clothes will speak for themselves, when they are revealed to the public (ie us!).

My favourite part:
Who’s your male muse?
“I think you’re looking at him. I think it’s me.”
But in a way, I agree with his design philosophy for his men's store and line:
Did you approach your upper-echelon price point with any reservations? [Made-to-measure suits start at $5,000; ready-to-wear suits at $3,200; shoes, at $1,100; shirts, at $350; ties, at $165; and socks, at $75.]
"I believe that the high end is the place to be, or the low end. I think those things in the middle are the things that don’t interest me. I wear Levi’s and T-shirts from the Gap, and then if I wear a jacket, I want to wear a beautiful jacket. I don’t really understand that middle level.”

Speaking of which, what’s your take on doing a bridge line? Will there ever be a Tom by Tom Ford line?
“Oh, I just don’t care about that at this moment in my life. I don’t care about that customer. I just don’t care. I care about authenticity. I’m interested in doing the best or I’m interested in doing something that could be broad but good design. And that’s very interesting too. I haven’t done that yet. High design at a price point everyone can afford is very interesting too, because it is the best: it’s the best in term of design that it can be and in term of industrial manufacturing. And then this is the best in terms of handmade and the highest level you can have. That’s fun.”
High and low are what I'm interested in personally as well. I have H&M, I have Prada (a little bit at least) and it's the middle market brands such as DKNY and so forth that I'm rarely purchasing these days. Between fast fashion and timeless/luxury fashion, all my sartorial and ego needs are set.

What do you think?

Photos: FWD

April 4, 2007

Taste is Personal?


Good taste, bad taste. The whole idea is so subjective depending on context and the target consumer, I'm starting to find out. For instance, the H&M t-shirt above was recently featured by New York magazine as a great, fun and cheap purchase. It was presented to the magazine's readers as something they could or should wear for Spring.

Interestingly, the very same shirt caught my eye months ago when it arrived in H&M stores in Toronto...at the beginning February. I bought it for a photoshoot about postmodernism [Julie: Don't ask! lol] and pastiche. But basically, it was for a really fun shot where we had ridiculous makeup, clothes and styling. We called it the UGLY-chic outfit, perfect for some ironic hipster fun...


Photographer credit: James K

So maybe it's all starting to make sense!

Or at least, this post proves that taste is fairly personal.

What do you guys think? Do you think anyone that's out of high school should be wearing such colours and motifs?

April 1, 2007

My new obsession...



As soon as I got home from the Comrags fashion show at Toronto Fashion Week, I emailed their store manager Judy (not the designer) to see whether they'd be producing the leather bag in the below picture for Fall. I'm on the email list for when it hits the stores! The picture doesn't do the design justice, but the bag is HUGE and a lovely, new shape. Love it!

Below...some snaps I took of their Toronto boutique.




Runway photo from Canada.com

Joe Fresh



Despite my personal issues with Joe Fresh, which is a *very* cheap fashion line sold at Loblaws grocery stores in Canada, I think it's conceptually brilliant and quite scary.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Joe Fresh, it's like Forever 21 meets Club Monaco. Insanely cheap prices made possible by overseas manufacturing in Asia, but enlightened by good design philosophies and a clean aesthetic (like Club Monaco or J.Crew, Joe Fresh is all about neutrals, basics with great colour, etc) that isn't motivated by trends like fast fashion stores like Zara and Forever 21. Like Target, the focus is on good, trendy design that is (by virtue of economies of scale rather than poor quality) affordable. $16 ballet flats in great colours? Amazing!

No wonder, since the designer/owner of the company is the same Joseph Mimram who founded Club Monaco so many years ago (another Canadian company!), before selling out to Ralph Lauren.

Photo caption: Joe's Spring line

March 26, 2007

Watching Yohji Yamamoto play pool!




Director Wim Wenders explores issues of authenticity and reproduction briefly in his 1989 film starring the designer Yohji Yamamoto, Notebook on Cities & Clothes.
With painting, everything was simple. The original was unique, and each copy was a copy. With photography and then film it began to get complicated. The original was a negative. Without a print, it did not exist. It was just a negative. The copy was the original. But now, with the electronic and soon the digital image, there is no more negative and no more positive. The very notion of “the original” is obsolete. Everything is copy. All distinction is arbitrary.
This film “was the result of a commission from the Centre George Pompidou for a film about fashion”, which is especially fitting as authenticity and reproduction have been important themes and problems within contemporary fashion design. As Baudrillard points out in his chapter on Models and Series in The System of Objects, the perception at least is that for “clothing styles the pace of change is very rapid, and the office workers of today wear dresses derived from last season’s haute couture models”.

Ps. It's worth watching ONLY if you really love Yohji and want to see him fit clothes on models, design a collection, and talk about his fashion philosophy. It gets a little bit long at times, since it's an "experimental" sort of documentary, but still worth the $6 I paid for the DVD on Ebay!

Toronto Fashion Week Review


Izzy Camilleri

Joeffer Caoc

Zoran Dobric

Pat McDonough


Izzy Camilleri

Rudsak

Comrags

David Dixon

Lucian Matis

My favourite show of the week: Either Izzy Camilleri or Comrags. Izzy's show was hot, slick and so tightly edited in terms of colours and fabrics and theme. Beautiful to see, but not sure how many pieces I could actually wear. Joyce and Judy of Comrags showed beautiful, well-made garments for the feminist-hippie-meets-working woman in me.

Most lovely dresses: Joeffer Caoc. Now if I can only scheme to get one of his beautiful bright satin samples for Fall...

Sweetest presentation: David Dixon's outdoor campfire with hot chocolate and choir singers - and the Canadiana HBC wool blankets I got to take home!