it’s that time of year again…

…The time of the year to revive your favourite pair of fall/winter boots, or for those with a little saved up this year, go out and buy a new pair!

As they did last year, Cougar teamed up with 50 bloggers to try out some of their new styles.  Last year, I reviewed a pair of red rain boots that I didn’t really love.  I never did update my post about those boots, but Cougar was nice enough to send me a different pair – Regal rain boots (which are still for sale this year!)

Cougar Rain Boots in Regal (stock photo)

I’ve been wearing them a LOT – rain boots are a HEAVEN SEND for city dwellers.  They were especially useful during those crazy spring slush/hail/rain storms in Montreal, but I’ve worn them around in Toronto as well.  The only downside to them were that they were incredibly heavyMy pace was considerably slower in those boots, and after about 5 minutes, my ankles and lower shins would hurt from having to support the weight of the heavy rubber soles.

So when Cougar contacted me again this year, I was skeptical – one pair of heavy boots is enough for me – but intrigued by their new styles.  Cougar prides themselves on creating boots that keep your feet dry and warm, but don’t compromise on style.

Portico Brown (stock photo)

This year I opted for the Portico boots in brown. [Random tidbit: Portico refers to “a structure consisting of a roof supported by columns at regular intervals, typically attached as a porch to a building.”]

They seemed like a good combo between the warmth I need during the fall and the protection I need in the winter.  They’re suitable in the rain, but not strictly rain boots.

When they arrived, I was pleasantly surprised! The construction of the boots was impressive (unlike the red boots from last year!) and I liked that despite having a similar rubber sole to the Regal rain boots, the Portico boots were much lighter weight and less of a burden on my wimpy ankles.

The outer material of the Portico model are suede for the upper body and “montana” leather (I have no clue that means) for the foot.  The stock image from the company site makes it seem like the leather foot is a much lighter shade than the suede, but in real life, that’s not the case.  They are comparable in shade – it’s simply the texture difference between suede and leather that reflects light differently, so the leather foot area may seem lighter.

1) Nearly indiscernably shade difference between the boot’s upper body and the boot’s foot. 2) Note the perfect alignment of the boot tongue – because it’s stitched in!

But the materials aren’t the only things that reassure me that these are quality made boots.  If you can see, the boots are laced up, which means that in slushy or snowy weather, moisture and precipitation can easily seep into the boot.  HOWEVER — the boot tongue is actually stitched into place in order to keep your feet dry!

However, my sister (who always complains about how her muscular legs can never squeeze into boots) did mention that because of the stitched in tongue, she wasn’t able to loosen the laces enough to allow for her leg + jeans fit comfortably into the boot.  [On the other hand, she did mention that she thought she “looked cute in them.” (her observations, not mine!)]

I have the opposite problem: boots are sometimes too loose around my calves, but the laces on the Portico model do help tighten the boots up.  [NOTE: The laces are more aesthetic than functional –  a zipper that runs from the ankle all the way to the top is the primary way to take the boots on/off.]

The only real problem I encountered with the boots are that the stiff suede material is not very forgiving when it becomes bent (i.e. at the ankle).

A pain in the (foot's) neck.

The creases created around the ankle by the simple act of walking cut into my feet, even through my socks, and I have a scab on each ankle from the abrasions.  I know that this is a common problem when breaking in new shoes, but I’ve never had this problem with my other leather boots – this was definitely a case of the stiff material not being pliable enough.

Another issue of note, is that these may keep your feet warm, but they have a tendency to overheat, almost to the point of discomfort.  I recommend carrying a pair of flats in your handbag if you are going to be in a heated building all day.

Verdict: I am definitely going to be reaching for these boots often this season.  Their neutral colour, functionality, comfort, and style make them a practical choice.  The Portico model retails for around $250 CAD and can be purchased at retailers across Canada.

why ‘bill cunningham new york’ moved me

There’s something about fashion that has always fascinated me, and yet, I never could put my finger on it.  There’s the glamour, celebrity, couture, craftmanship, and fantasy – all things that drew me to fashion.

Bill Cunningham knows what makes him excited about fashion: the clothes.

There’s a scene in the film where Bill is outside of a fashion show in Paris, waiting to get in.  He’s patiently holding out his press pass to the “guardians” of the show (surely, a producer of some sort), and he is not getting the time of day from her.  Suddenly, a figure emerges out of the frame, at once ushering in Bill and reprimanding this producer saying, “Please, he’s the most important person in the world.”

The most important person in the world doesn’t believe he’s all that important.  He lives an incredibly modest life and has no flair for the extravagant. “I like very simple, down-to-earth, very basic things,” he explains.  In New York, his only mode of transportation is his Schwinn, he repairs his ponchos with duct tape, and wears a blue street cleaner’s smock whenever he’s shooting.  He admonishes wasteful behaviour and refuses to be owned by anyone. “Money’s the cheapest thing. Liberty, freedom – that’s the most expensive.”

It’s this jarring juxtaposition between such a humble and modest man and the subject(s) that he photographs.  One may wonder why he is so in love with fashion when his ethics seem to go against everything fashion stands for.

There’s a beautiful moment in the film when Bill is accepting the title of an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters from the National Order of the Legion of Honour of France (which he seems quite skeptical of).  In the last moment of his speech, his voice breaks as he explains, “It’s as true today as it ever was: He who seeks beauty will find it.”

Bill clearly finds beauty in individuality, evidenced by some of his favourite subjects to photograph: Anna Piaggi, Patrick McDonald, Iris Apfel…  But what I find so incredibly endearing and lovely, and of course – beautiful about Bill is himself.

He talks about how hard it is to be “honest and straight in New York,” but that he’s always trying to be so.  He won’t even accept a glass of water at high-profile events, because he wants to maintain his integrity and the integrity of the Times.  For him, objectivity is too important to be schmoozing with the socialites who all want their photographs taken by him (he scoffs at the photographers flocking to capture Catherine Deneuve – she wasn’t even wearing anything interesting!) He loves the $4 coffee and breakfast sandwich combo (“The cheaper the better!” he exclaims) and refuses to publish anything that would put anybody in a negative light.

He’s enigmatic without trying – he’s just not like the rest of us, so he just seems hard to understand.  But the strange thing is that he’s so simple, and that’s why we don’t get him.

After revealing that he attends church every Sunday, the filmmakers ask him, “Is religion an important component of your life?” Bill looks down, clearly holding back tears. When he finally does look up, he says, “I think it’s a good guidance in your life. Yeah, it’s something I need and… Whatever it is, everyone… you do whatever you do the best you can to work things out.  I find it very important, for whatever reason, I don’t know!” My heart is breaking at this moment, because as such as simple man, he seems to have such a heavy heart. I want to know what kinds of regrets he has.  Suddenly he breaks into a laugh and says, “As a kid, I went to church and all I did was look at women’s hats!”  For a moment, there’s a sense of relief, but he drops his voice again. “Later, when you mature – for different reasons.”

Whatever these reasons may be, I’m in love with this man who cups his hands around his ears to hear better and fearlessly navigates New York’s streets without a helmet.  He’s the antithesis of the often contrived fashion world but he never judges it.  He’s incredibly giving yet doesn’t seek much acknowledgment.

The President of the French Federation of Couture, talking about Bill getting the honour of being an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters, puts it best, “Very deeply, I think, he doesn’t believe he deserves it.  That’s why he deserves it, even more.”

update + wtf (zombie boy)?

I’VE BEEN MIA AND FOR THAT I AM SORRY!

The real reason I haven’t been blogging since the new year is because when I moved into my new place, I decided not to get home Internet service because: a) I have a 1GB data plan on my smartphone that covers my immediate e-mail/social networking needs b) I knew that I was moving out in less than 12 months, and didn’t want to pay cancellation fees c) I have unlimited WIFI service on campus.

So, that just translated into me not always having access to WordPress when inspiration struck.  I know they have an iPhone app, but it has mediocre ratings, and I don’t like cluttering up my phone with mediocre apps.

Also, I’ve been incredibly busy with finishing up my thesis, so….that’s happening.  Let’s not get into it right now (read: STRESS!!)

But the real reason I’ve decided to pause my thesis-ing and update my blog is because I was browsing one of my favourite sites, SmartCanucks, and came across this entry.  I had never heard of Rick Genest, a.k.a. Zombie Boy, before, but it intrigued me because he’s from Montreal and I love seeing a unique, local homie receive recognition for just being himself.

But then, I looked at the entry title again and it bothered me so much. “Zombie Boy: Art or Just Plain Creepy?” (emphasis added)?!  Not only is it rude to suggest that someone’s body art is creepy, but to even ask if he is one or the other is just SO small-minded and essentializing.  It’s like asking “Homosexuals: Flamboyant Queens or Just Plain Godforsaken Humans?”  OK – that’s an extreme example. But what I’m trying to illustrate is that you can’t pinpoint an aspect of a human’s identity as just being ONE thing out of TWO choices, and we all know that homosexuality is not “either/or” of any of the stereotypes that abound about living a homosexual lifestyle – humans have a multitude of traits (whether it be regarding personality, physical, cultural, etc.) that cannot be reduced to extreme ends of a spectrum.

No doubt that Genest has taken on “Zombie Boy” as a large part of his identity, and to reductively suggest that his body art/identity is artistic or “just plain creepy” just seems so wrong to me, and it spawns such negative or flaccid responses.   Responses such as: “Icky!” or “He probably did it to get noticed.” or “What will he do when he has children?” or “He’s going to regret it when he’s older.” or “What does his mom think of this?”

WHAT THE FUCK?!  Does anybody see the problem of assumption in these responses, and the lack of self-awareness and self-indictment?

  1. First of all, “icky” is just an immature response, lacking any veritable clarity of thought to back it up and make a valid opinion.
  2. Don’t we ALL do things to get noticed? We put on makeup, get our hair styled, put on nice outfits, wear perfume, paint our nails, wash our cars, blog, change our phone ring tones, etc.  The list doesn’t end.  So who in the world has the right to accuse someone of doing something to get noticed, as if it’s “WRONG”?
  3. Why are we assuming that he doesn’t have children?  Also, why are we assuming that he plans on having children?  Why are we assuming that he is fertile and not sterile?  Why are we assuming that children are frightened by nature?  Fear (of difference) is taught, remember?
  4. It’s so rude to think that people who commit to getting tattooed are not cognizant of the fact that tattoos, for the most part (and especially at this extent and grandiose-ness), ARE PERMANENT.  Of COURSE it’s going to be there when we are lucky enough to grow old.  When people commit to a partner, do they know how their partner is going to look when they get old and wrinkly, and assume that they’re going to regret their commitment because they just don’t look “good” anymore (again, extreme example, but just trying to illustrate!)? On another level of analyzing that comment: do people’s love and passion for art and desire for self-expression really die off when they age?  Why even commit to full body art if it’s not a true passion?
  5. Finally, what does it matter to us what Genest’s mother thinks of his art? Again: does he know/have a relationship with his mother? Is his mother alive?  The user’s comment/question assumes (via implication) that his mother disapproves.  What kind of mother abandons their love for their child just because of an image decision?

So in response to the post, I submitted this comment:

The question that’s being asked by the blogger is all wrong.

I think it’s incredibly diminutive to consider one’s self-expression as “just plain creepy” (said in a fairly derogatory manner); even to ask it is questionable as it immediately attaches a label. It’s fair to consider a horror film that is intended to evoke fear and the heebie-jeebies as creepy, and perhaps Zombie Boy’s intention is to disarm and surprise people (his Facebook page does not have any detailed info or an “about” page, so I can’t say for sure), but to say he is one or the other is so essentializing.

I understand the desire to evoke discussion and debate. It’s an important way to spark public discourse. However, it shouldn’t be initiated in such a manner that is so black and white, especially when considering the matter of human expression.

Despite it being there for a couple of hours and many others’ comments (similar to the ones I sampled above) being approved after I had submitted mine, my comment is still “awaiting moderation.”

Not surprised.

UPDATE: My comment is no longer awaiting moderation.  It has been duly moderated and deemed unsuitable for the site – it has been deleted.

For more info on Rick Genest/Zombie Boy, check out his Facebook page.  Also, check him out in Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” video or keep an eye out for the recent Thierry Mugler ad campaign starring Genest.

elle approved

The December issue of Elle Canada features my Bedo dress as a favourite party dress for the holidays. The only thing is that they call it a “bronze” dress, when clearly, it’s a sequined dress wherein each sequin is black on one side and gold on the other. Also, they list it as $189, but I bought it for $169 CDN (+SPC discount).  Seriously – who is their fact checker?

Click to enlarge!

I won’t be wearing this dress anytime during the holidays, as it’s currently stashed in storage as I move apartments, but it’ll make a reappearance soon.  Holla.

my yellow fever’s flare-ing up

I don’t know how or why, but I got the December issue of FLARE magazine in the mail yesterday (I didn’t subscribe to it, obviously).

Not really in the mood to sit down and read the magazine, I just flipped through it to see what kind of editorials they had.  And then something caught my eye that made me ask myself, “Who is this gorgeous girl?”

It was precisely this photo that kind of took my breath away:

It’s not very often that you see an Asian model in mainstream magazines.  And I understand that the genetic propensity of Asians is that we are short, so I get that there are less working Asian models out there.  What makes me so impressed with this girl is that, usually, when an Asian model is featured in an editorial, she’s often exploited for her “harsh” facial features and “exotic” look (they often have bowl cuts or a very strong bang, etc.)

But this girl….wow.  She deserves this 8-page spread.

The entire editorial is her striking fierce poses in hot dresses and flying tresses.  I am just in love with her.  Her proportions are great and she isn’t dead in the face or look angry (a.k.a. trying to be fierce).

I really think she could rival some of the top models out there.

If anyone can tell me who she is, I’d love to know!  I want to see what else she’s done.

EDIT: Silly me.  In all the excitement of seeing and then immediately scanning the editorial pages, I neglected to look at the fine print, where it has all the info of everyone involved in the shoot (duh).  The model’s name is Shiya Zhao from Sutherland Models.  Check out her online portfolio here!

Here’s the rest of the editorial.  Click to enlarge!

i wanna know…

Well actually, Cougar Boots (not me) wants to know what you think about their products, especially after reading my post about their rainboots.

If you fill out THIS SURVEY a $2 donation to the Red Cross will be made!  Even if you didn’t have much of an opinion of the boots, at least fill out the survey and consider it your good deed of the morning (I say “morning” because 1 good deed/day is a little paltry, no?)

It will literally take you 60 seconds to fill it out.  The Red Cross could use your help, especially with the cholera outbreak in Haiti and the continuing struggles of hundreds of communities around the world.

Thanks everyone!

splish splash

If you follow me on Twitter, you would know that last week, I received a package filled with goodies from Cougar Boots, a Canadian shoe company. They’ve recently completely re-branded themselves into a cool, hip boot brand.  If you think you haven’t heard of them before, you really probably have.  Their old logo is instantly recognizable (and unfortunately, in my head, completely associated with all-too-functional-sans-fashionable winter footwear).

Old Cougar Boots logo

New Cougar Boots logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

The revamp of their brand included a serious upgrade to the style factor of their shoes.

Anyway, when I got the package I was SUPER excited!  All I had to do was wait until it finally rained and/or snowed in Montreal!  That took quite some time.

However, today, it finally rained, and I was ready to boot up.

The model of rainboots I received is called Tibet, and I chose the fire-engine red colour, because I think I have enough black boots.  Besides, who ever said that rainboots were for serious outfits?  Rainboots in general are a lot more fun than your average footwear.

My only concern was that I would look a little bit like a clown wearing these shoes.  Luckily, they aren’t super clown-ish because of the narrow width of the shoe, but the rounded toe does look deceptively clowny.

For example, this is what went down when I asked my friend what he honestly thought of my boots.

“They’re nice,” he replied.

I asked, “You don’t think they make me look like I have clown feet?”

*pause* “Well, now that you mention it…”

I got a small smattering of compliments throughout the day wearing these, but what stood out the most to me was a this comment: “They look good on you.”

I’m not saying that everything looks amazing on me, but what I’m trying to emphasize is that these boots are not for everyone.  The woven “sock” overlap gives it a little bit of an urban hipster look – a style that not everyone is keen to mimic.  Fortunately, this is a look that fits in perfectly amongst the milieu of young people in Montreal.  In short, I would wear these to class, but never to work.

Throw on a pair of leggings, and these are perfect for a rainy fall or spring day.  I would only suggest wearing these with leggings or skinny jeans.  The short length of the boot neck doesn’t allow for a clean tuck of a bootleg cut pant.

I had a lot of mixed feelings about the quality of the boots.

They are incredibly well made with respect to keeping one’s feet dry, warm and comfy throughout the day.  The company’s claim is that these boots are guaranteed waterproof under normal wear for up to 6 months.  In addition, they claim that these boots will keep you warm and comfy up to -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit).

The rubber is super sturdy yet pliable, so it doesn’t hurt when you bend your ankle, and the soles will take a long time to wear down.  Plus, they aren’t heavy (one thing that I HATE about cheap rain boots).  And although it hasn’t dipped down to 0 degrees yet here in Montreal, the boots kept me warm but not overheated, even though I was indoors most of the time (read: no sweaty feet – SCORE).

But when you look closely at the shoes, it becomes obvious that Cougar Boots kinda glazed over the details.

 

The left boot form has been cut entirely differently from the right.

In the above photo, you can see that the left boot has been cut to have a sharp point on the toe, whereas the right boot looks like it was cut by a right-handed person using a pair of left-hand scissors.  It doesn’t affect the waterproof/warmth performance of the boots, but it does look really sloppy and kinda like the boots fell off the back of a truck.  My sister just asked me whether these boots were made in China, just from this picture.

What you see when you roll up the woven "sock".

Underneath the woven “sock”, the boot neck has obviously been cut by hand.  Rather sloppily at that.  The black markings from the factory remain on the red rubber, and the neck wasn’t cut into a perfectly straight edge.  I should also add that the “sock” on my left boot already has an unraveling thread.

So I’m kind of at an impasse with these boots.  They make a big statement when I wear them, so I have to plan my outfits accordingly which is a little bit fussy for a pair of rubber rainboots.  But at the same time, they’re so comfortable.

Are they worth the $75 CDN?  Maybe.  If you’re ready to commit to hipster-style red rubber boots.

For more awesome styles (that I would have loved to try out) from Cougar and to find out where you can buy a pair, check out their fun hipster-friendly website!