Recycled Leather Bags!!!

I have been collecting leather coats and belts and hardware for sooo long!! Finally with an ancient industrial Singer walking-foot machine, I have been able to make some. I really am so excited! I love working with leather.
Here are the humble beginnings and I think they are only going to get better!
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This gorgeous metallic Italian leather bag is off to Denmark with Cyndi…
Enjoy these sunny lovely days, beauties.
Back to work!
xx
A

The Road Forward – Costume Design

At the end of January this year, I was twice blessed – to do the costumes for THE ROAD FORWARD and to work with Marie again. Created and directed by Marie Clements of red diva projects co-produced with Michelle St. John,… THE ROAD FORWARD is a multi-media musical composed by Jennifer Kreisberg, and featuring an award-winning ensemble including Michelle St. John, Cheri Maracle, Jennifer Kreisberg, Wayne Lavallee, Shakti Hayes, Russell Wallace, Mwalim, Ostwelve, Doug Proulx and Maurice Nahanee.

Inspired by the groundbreaking movement of the Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood of British Columbia and dedicated to the countless First Nations women who have disappeared on BC’s Highway of Tears and the Downtown Eastside, this blues/rock musical integrates traditional and contemporary art forms, historical media archives and interactive live performance.”…

I am still reverberating with the impact of the performance and loved being a part of such an awesome group of artists and performers – everybody was so dedicated and gave their whole hearts and souls to this stunning project.
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© gnyp.com

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xo
Ayla

A walk on the wild side: Investigations in reconstructing vintage fur

Fur. Feral, instinctual, sensual: humanity’s first garments. Fur moved, in modern fashion, from status symbol to scourge.

Though it’s true that the fur industry, with its leg traps and cages, is insupportable and unthinkable in its cruelty.  From a modern stand point we no longer require animals for warmth and our very survival, given our geographical climate & available resources.  Our consciousness has grown around the rights of animals and the ethics of killing for beauty. However from a primal sensibility, one cannot deny the appeal of the texture and lustre of the fibres, the very physicality of fur to our senses.

There are still many fur garments in existence – discarded and/or kept in closets.  These are the monogrammed vintage opera wraps and knee-length coats that belonged to our mothers, grandmothers and aunties.

A few years ago, I was approached by a neighbour who offered me her mother’s fur coat, she asked if I could use the fur in some way…….. and as life oftentimes works, several other vintage coats and wraps were given to me through family friends in quick succession.  Their generosity also handed over the ethical dilemma of what to do with them now?

In receiving them in gratitude and a little angst, I thought of my 15 year old vegetarian self, who was critical of my fur clad grandmother arriving for Xmas dinner. That 15 year old argued for the rights of animals and railed with disgust against the inhumane treatment of fur animals by the generation who loved the luxurious status that fur represented.

More recently, I saw the vitality of the gorgeous fur and I felt determined to find a way to honour these creatures, to venerate the spirit of the animals while making respectful use out of the luxurious warmth their fur offered.  With that determination, I found my solution to sort through these dilemmas. To resurrect their wild nature, make something functional and wonderful out of what was cast off.

It is necessary within my creative process, to make the connection of creativity to source, and in turn, to have the things I make be imbued with meaningfulness.

In inviting the spirit of the animal, represented by its very skin and fur (that coat that belonged to our mothers, grandmothers and aunties) + shapeshift its form (turning the discarded coat into blanket or pillow to rest in/on) = the result is essentially resting in luxurious primal warmth and in the comfort of a family keepsake.  The fur coat transformed into something that has substance and resurrection.

There is something about your grandmother’s fur coat: perhaps you can’t bring yourself to wear it down the street, but I can transform it into a blanket that will be in your family for generations ~ honouring the spirit of the animals while making respectful use out of the warmth and comfort it offers.

Each of the fur throws have hand-stitched quilt back made from recycled silk linings, using high-end silk upholstery remnants. I can make accompanying fur embellished silk pillows. A custom fur throw takes me two days to lovingly assemble into a piece of timeless elegance that can be handed down through generations.

Send me your coat and I will pair it with fine silk with your choice of colour palette. Prices start at $125 for pillows.  Each made by hand and no two identical. They can be monogramed or inscribed.

With respect,

Ayla

Ivory Cashmere Wing Bolero for the Noisy Plume

I have a big crush.  On a very fine woman.  She has extraordinary talent, an exceptional life, is a writer, a photographer and an Art Jeweller of the finest kind. The Noisy Plume. And I have been blessed with the introduction to her life and work by the virtue of shared connection and so grateful for it.  This is woman who lives and breathes her life and art so full of authenticity & soulfulness with exceptional quality of being, and the she chooses to share it with us through her photographs, her blog and her jewels. Lucky us.

I could go on and on about this Jillian but I will let you take the journey to her world here and you can see for yourself.

What I will say, so very proudly, is that I made her a Wing Bolero from Recycled Ivory Cashmere and Silk and it fits her beautifully (if I may say so myself!)  AND she put a picture of her in the Bolero on her Blog – check it out.

Did I say I have a big crush?

xo

Ayla

 

Eco Fashion Cowgirl dreaming into Lisa Sorrell’s custom boots

Anybody who knows me, knows there is hardly a day when I am not wearing my cowboy boots.  They fixed my feet, taking all the pain away which seemed to come all too soon for a gal who hardly wore heels – much….

In the photo shoot for my Eco Fashion version of a woman’s Western shirt: Codi Cowgirl, my favourite pair of Boulet Boots (which I wear almost everyday) are worn by the model.  The Codi Cowgirl Shirt - which is made from reclaimed Vintage and contemporary Western shirts - is one of garments in my reconstructed collection.   This little number has box pleated puff sleeves and a fitted bodice, a perfect feminine version of Cowgirl regalia.  And it is named after my eldest daughter.

Though I love my Boulet Boots, authentic Cowboy boots made in Quebec since 1933, truth be told, I have been coveting the handmade Custom Cowboy Boots by Lisa Sorrell.

They are absolutely the most beautiful boots I have ever seen.  Completely hand made from start to finish, the craft(wo)manship, her designs, her attention to detail and the final result is so fine & so perfect I am in awe.  And I want a pair.  Badly.

So I am saving my pennies and it will take a while because this woman is well aware of her value and good on her!  A pair of her boots starts @ $3500.00.  And so they should.

As women can often undersell ourselves, particularly for our time intensive hand made work and art.  And with the 372 steps taken to make a cowboy boot, all by hand, it is well worth the price, because…

…whether it is a fine pair of custom made cowboy boots, or an entirely hand stitched garment – overseas factories with low cost labour, and machine made products give us as consumers an unrealistic expectation of the final cost of, well – anything.  And those of us who are building the same goods by hand, from scratch, and from the heart, simply cannot compete with Asia’s prices.

The unrealistic costs we have come to expect for goods has affected our local economies. As consumers we can often consider a handmade garment, or pair of boots or piece of jewellery made locally “too expensive”.  Even though the cost of the item reflects the labour, the fine quality materials and skillfulness the artist/designer/craftperson requires to live in North America.

But ode our customers – those who value our time, effort, original design, hand crafted element, personalized shopping experience and custom made options.  They know the quality and care that has gone into making something just for them and are willing to invest for their hearts desire or a needed purchase.

So YES for beautifully, time honoured skill and design. YES to slow, hand made, soulful fabrication, thoughtful design and willful artistic expression. I believe those of us who make it their life’s work to create things full of heart and soul are valuable and necessary to creating authentic beauty with a gentle footprint on the Earth.

What do you think?

Lisa, when my boot fund is full to the brim, I am coming to see you in Guthrie Oklahoma to get my feet fitted!  And maybe I could interest you in a Custom made reconstructed Cowgirl shirt, made to measure from a gal on the West Coast who thinks you’re great.

Ayla

Kudos to Kate for her White Angora wedding Bolero

In our local bookstore while waiting for my youngest daughter Uma, I found myself engulfed in the splendor and grandness of Kate and Will’s Royal Wedding.  On the magazine rack were several special editions of the event, and though I haven’t remotely been interested in the Royals or their shenanigans (much to my grandmother Mona’s chagrin), I read the special edition cover to cover.

The fashion and the attending guest list was fascinating – who would ever have thought that hats (somehow that word is an understatement of the heads festooned with such extravaganza) could be worn with such abandon for the wearer and viewer.

But what had me jumping up and yelping “YES” like a sport fan jumping for a goal, was the White Angora Bolero Kate wore with her “second” dress.

My yelping came from the delicious accuracy of which Kate chose to wear the White Angora Bolero coupled with the fact that I have been building my Eco Fashion version of White Angora and Cashmere boleros for several years called the Wing Bolero. They have been sold for both Green Weddings and traditional weddings and for any other occasion that needs a unique, versatile stunner of garment.

In 2007, I designed, by fluke and blunder and a little divine inspiration, the Wing Bolero. The design is made from reclaimed Cashmere or Angora sweaters which are reconstructed and transformed into these fabulous boleros.

Wing bolero with Abalone Collar by Hold Your Ground

Each time I build a Wing Bolero, as with any piece in my Eco.couture collection, a reclaimed garment, which has been chosen for the quality of the fabric (always natural fibres!) is placed on my dress form with the desired measurements, and there begins the process of reconstructing the garment.  It is ruthlessly cut up and rebuilt until my version of recycling reusing and re-beautifying emerges!

This process is a meditation of sorts, sometimes I arrive with a clear plan of the final design but most often the garment mocks my certainty and leads down a new direction and I surrender. The result is that no two garments are the same, even within each style.  I add treasures to each piece, unexpected details.  This is the beauty of one garment at a time: the ability to create a truly one of a kind piece, born of whimsy and delight.

 

Well Kate, in the spirit of fabulous fashion choices, I wish you had known about my White Angora Wing Boleros and requested one.  I would have loved to custom build you one from the finest reclaimed and reconstructed vintage Angora.  It would have been a coup for Green Fashion and a great endorsement of environmentally conscious adornment. Regardless my dear, kudos to a great styling choice  - I am glad we both thought of it.

Ayla