Sunday, 28 September 2014

Akosua and Dale Make History

Last spring, a bride-to-be engaged (!) me for a special commission. It was right up my alley. Or more specifically, right up the park where I have spent so many summer Saturdays.

Akosua found me online, searching for a milliner to create custom fascinators for her four bridesmaids. We made an appointment to meet at my studio in April, and she brought along her fiancé, Dale, and bridesmaid Dara. We had a great time over tea, getting acquainted and sharing with me what they were looking for.

Akosua and Dale had a vision of Old/Jazz Age Toronto for their July wedding. Locale was also honoured through choosing Toronto artisans, each making their particular contribution toward bringing the couple's vision to life. Of course, the vintage theme cried out for fascinators, and when I learned that the wedding venue was old St. Lawrence Hall, right behind my old table location at St. Lawrence Market, it really felt like the universe knew what it was doing in bringing us together. A marriage made in millinery heaven!

Once I heard the colour scheme they had chosen, the affinity count ticked again, because I then had my own little piece of local history to offer to their wedding story. In the 1920s, the Jazz Age, and beyond, my father's family's business was a factory in Toronto that made exquisite lingerie, under the Toronto Petticoat label. The finest examples used lace made in Paris. I have a small remnant of this lace, uncut on the bolt. It's an irreplaceable treasure, and I don't use it lightly. Akosua and Dale's wedding was that rare occasion where colour and theme were perfectly sympatico, and I was happy to provide it. Mercifully, they totally "got it", which was extremely gratifying!

After Akosua and Dara had chosen the millinery elements, they went off to a vintage store to choose jewels to add bling to them. When those arrived, I went to work. Photos were submitted for approval. Weeks later, Akosua picked them up in a car, after I had probably not very well concealed my alarm at her desire to swing by for them on her bike. Nope, couldn't see that working...

She liked them! The nail-biting moment was over. Phew!

I was determined to set up my hat display at St. Lawrence Market on Akosua and Dale's wedding day. She had kindly promised to come by with her bridesmaids for a photo. That July day duly saw me in situ, selling, chatting, catching up with friends, watching the sky cloud over... in denial over the first raindrops... and finally packing it in. Sigh...

So a photo op was not to be. So what? I left with spirits undampened, knowing that a happy wedding was unfolding just yards away.

Fast forward another bunch of weeks, and Akosua's promised fascinator-featuring wedding photos arrive. And were they worth the wait! Jennifer Ballard Photography did a gorgeous job of capturing the day Dale and Akosua made personal history, she in her custom Valencienne gown, bridesmaids Katie, Dara, Annick and maid of honour, Jenn in their BHLDN dresses, and the jewel brooches on the fascinators from Cabaret Vintage.

Fascinators by Anne Livingston, Hats by Anne.

Ahem. Sniff! (I always cry at weddings.)

Feast your eyes:

And finally...

Don't you just love the onlooking-founding-father-in-the-portrait's expression? Matt, you're a game guy!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

What I Did On My Summer Staycation

Summer is unofficially over. Kids are back in school, the weather has the hiccups, the season's last days are slipping off the calendar like leaves off the trees. The light is doing that magical thing it does at this time of year, as the deep greens segue into chartreuse. It's all so poignant and bittersweet.

I love summer! Tepid summer, not too hot, so this one was perfect for me. I enjoyed it and myself. In fact I reveled in it. Having given myself permission to not spend every Saturday at St. Lawrence Market, I played a lot of hooky, with the indispensable Scott, with friends, and on my own. It felt so good.

Here's a selection of snaps from my adventures around town, starting with Edwards Gardens in August:

A bee hotel

A goldfinch by the stream

A green wall in a pretty little courtyard

Me in the gift shop. When wearing a moose hat, it is advisable to also wear an expression of great (if mock) dignity.)

And from Scott's and my annual visit to the Little India street festival on Gerrard Street East:

Decoratively cut veggies outside a restaurant

Boy hangers

Amazing art display

Sugar cane and more yummies

A music machine

And from my annual solo pilgrimage to the Cabbagetown Festival:

Street music care of the Anti-Queens

Carved fruit. (What is it with me and carved fruit and veggies?)

Lovely architectural details

Street café with its own yard sale. Yard sales throughout the neighbourhood during this festival.

Aside from the occasional day trip, we stayed close to home. So when anyone needed a little millinery something, I was still there to make it for them. And I learned that my years at St. Lawrence Market were still working for me, even in my absence.

Case in point:

T.D. was in need of a fascinator for a wedding she was attending in England. She had bought her spectacular gown, and wasn't sure where to look for a fascinator to go with it. She enquired at a fabric store on the other side of town from me, and amazingly, someone there mentioned a milliner who sold outside St. Lawrence Market on Saturdays. They wished they had some of my business cards, but thankfully a quick online search found me, and we made our appointment to meet in my home studio.

T.D. was so much fun to meet and to work with! She played dress-up with samples on the shelf, her energy and high spirits were like a tonic, and her kind words about my skills were exactly what an artisan loves to hear. The dress she had bought was just the coral-red that I love, and together we came up with the perfect thing to top her off in style and stature:

When I delivered it to her house, she was Skype-ing with a friend, so I got the pleasure of enjoying oohs and ahhhhs from both of them. When T.D. sent me the photo of herself at the wedding, it was my turn to make similar sounds:

Another happy client, another happy story to share. Thanks, T.D.!

And you can bet that I thanked the fabric store, too. And sent them business cards!