Dsquared² x First Nations Appropriation at Milan Fashion Week

Ugh, well that’s racist is pretty much how you would describe Dsquared²’s Autumn/Winter Ready-to-wear 2015 show.


Dsquared² is designed by twin brothers Dan and Dean Caten, who are kind of Canadian expat fashion design darlings. Born in Toronto, the two are now based in London, but showed Milan Fashion week this season.


According to the review of the show by Style.com, the inspiration for the Catens is as follows:

Always ready, willing, and eager to reveal their Canadian roots in the most unlikely way, the twins went back to the Yukon with this collection. Not the Yukon of muscle-y Mounties and moose, the campy Canuck fantasia of their fashion past, but a place where, said Dean, a suitcase of clothes and jewels from Old Europe had fallen out of a plane over the icy tundra and been taken up by an Inuit tribe, who had incorporated the finery into their own tribal duds. 

- from the review of the Dsquared² show by Tim Blanks on Style.com

Man, where to even begin….

First, Dean Caten’s description of the collection’s inspiration above explicitly refers to colonialism, what with clothes from “Old Europe” just happening to fall upon the unceded territories of Inuit peoples….let us remember that colonialism is purposeful, violent, and unequivocally destructive.

Second, you can see the panopoly of vaguely “ethnic” or “tribal” prints splashed lazily all across the clothing. Beaded accessories and feathers are thrown into the mix, because, let’s face it, no cultural appropriation of First Nations designs is complete without such token affects.


Another huge mistake was the makeup. You can see on the models that their cheeks and temples have been reddened, probably to suggest freezing temperatures (again, refer to the quote of the collection’s inspiration above), but given the clothing the makeup was paired with, it could very easily come off as redface.


One might say that at least one (barely) forgiving factor of this show is that the models booked for the show are overall more diverse than other Milan Fashion Week shows we have seen so far. However, its important to keep in mind that cultural appropriation can’t be excused if its worn by say, an Asian model, or a Black model.


Given that the Catens are Canadian, you think they would be more conscientious about their designs–then again, its a timely reminder that racism in Canada is alive and well, no matter how polite and inclusive our international reputation may be.


All pictures from Style.com, found here.

Excerpt – Fashion, Feminism, and Elle Canada

Media Room At "Chime For Change: The Sound Of Change Live" Concert

Above: Salma Hayek, Frida Giannini (formerly of Gucci) and Beyoncé, founders of Chime for Change

Surely there is no more potent clue of female empowerment than the magic presence of comfortable shoes, so appropriate for picketing or throwing at a male chauvinist’s head. And the flat-shoe styles have continued, furtively, from Prada’s clunky feminist-friendly footwear of fall/winter 2013 to the flat-as-a-pancake boots at Chanel this spring.

Off the runway , there are clues as well that the industry harbours feminist leaders. Take Miuccia Prada. Her Miu Miu “Women’s Tales” project began commissioning short films from female directors in 2011; the series now has eight movies made by women, including Miranda July and Zoe Cassavetes. Gucci, too, supports women filmmakers with two different prize awards. But its efforts go beyond the rarefied world of female cinema. Frida Giannini, formerly of Gucci, joined with Salma Hayek and Beyoncé to found Chime for Change, a humanitarian organization that has funded over 390 programs for women’s rights and social well-being.

- excerpt from “Fashion’s Liberation”  by Clara Young in Elle Canada March 2015


Letter from the Editor: March 2015

Dear Closet Feminists,

I am so ready for March. I’ve been enjoying 2015 so far, and as we start to see more signs of spring that inevitably accompany March in Vancouver, I’ll be patiently waiting to break out my beloved trench coat and spring purse.

Here’s what I’m excited about.

First, March 8th is International Women’s Day.

Second, what better way to celebrate Int’l Women’s Day here in Vancouver than to attend the 10th Annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival (#VIWIFF2015) that runs March 4-8th downtown? I’m proud to be a member of Women in Film & Television Vancouver, and I have volunteered my time this past couple years as a judge for this fantastic local event that celebrates and recognizes the achievements and projects of female filmmakers.


Above: Me at the Orpheum after enjoying a great performance by the VSO. 

I actually started celebrating IWD a week early—Saturday night (Feb 28) I went to see a performance by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and was blown way by two of the guest performers–Guilian Liu on pipa and Claire Huangci on piano–both total boss ladies who stole the show.

Other celebratory-spring news: I updated my windowsill garden, which will be transplanted outside in April. I am apparently the only person in this city who can’t seem to grow kale, but this year that is going to change. I started 16 kale plants, one of them is bound to be a winner!

Lastly, I finally joined Instagram just last week. You can follow my adventures here.

In solidarity & in style,

Emily Y.

What to Wear: 10th Annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival

By: Emily Y.
Did the lack of female nominees (other than lead and supporting actress, of course) at the Oscars get you down? Never fear–the 10th annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival is running March 4-8th 2015, supporting female filmmakers in all sorts of roles. 
Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 3.02.21 PM
Above: Melissa Bergland stars as Lexi Ivy in Relative Happiness. Image found here.


The past couple years I have had the pleasure of volunteering as a judge for the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, a local event which is put on by Women in Film and Television Vancouver. I’m really proud of this year’s lineup, and for those of you here in Vancouver, I personally invite you to attend this fantastic event.


The festival runs March 4-8th downtown at VIFF’s Vancity Theatre, and already the screenings for opening night film Margarita with a Straw, and the Highway of Tears documentary block have sold out! Given that the festival runs during March 8th, International Women’s Day, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate women’s achievements.


For a film to be eligible for our festival, a woman must fill three key creative roles (director, writer, producer, editor, cinematographer, music, etc).


Filmmaking for women in Canada has been particularly difficult this past year—in our festival committee, we noticed a distinct lack of feature-length narrative films compared to our 2014 festival. This means in that in an industry dominated by men, women had a harder time than ever getting their films made and on screen at festivals. As such, I really encourage you all to show your support for female filmmakers by spreading the word about the festival, and showing up to watch some really excellent films.


Personally, I would recommend a few films in particular.


Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 3.02.37 PM
Image above found here.


Relative Happiness showing on Friday, March 6th starting at 9:30 pm has my recommendation for a few reasons. It’s a feature-length dramedy from back East, and it’s actually funny—I watched it twice when I was judging just for fun and laughed out loud all the while. I love the film’s protagonist Lexi Ivy (played by Melissa Bergland), who is a fiery 30-something who runs a bed and breakfast, wears dresses even when she goes camping, and makes jams and preserves for local craft fairs in her spare time. I also love that the film has some body diversity—Lexi Ivy is a ‘plus’ size gal and totally steals the show. Bonus for Closet Feminists–you can read an interview with the costume designer for Relative Happiness, Sarah Dunsworth, here.


Lady Be Good: Instrumental Women in Jazz showing Friday, March 6th at 6:30 is a great, fun doc. Yes, the music is amazing, and the subject matter fascinating. Even if you don’t like jazz, I can guarantee you’ll get into the ‘swing’ of things. Thoroughly researched, the film covers musicians from the 1920s-1970s, and has tons of interviews with women who were in these bands back in the day. This film also stands out to me as it features the perspectives of many women of colour—a must-see, for sure. In the spirit of things, the festival will also have a jazz reception featuring performer Jillian Lebeck!


Lastly, I want to suggest A 5-Star, an Iranian film showing Saturday, March 7th at 9:30 pm. I didn’t get a chance to see this film while I was judging, but the other judges said its quite funny and unexpected—it’s about a mother and daughter working at a fancy hotel, and all hell breaks loose when a major guest’s watch gets stolen. They didn’t tell me much more than that, but I’m quite intrigued, and we don’t see many films from Iran coming through our festival usually.


Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 3.02.04 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-28 at 3.02.34 PM
Both images above found here.


Wondering what to wear to a film festival? I personally would take cues from the character of Lexi Ivy in Relative Happiness--her wardrobe was adorbs. I love how super-femme it is, and they totally discuss it throughout the movie, too–her friends make fun of her for wearing a dress and tights when they go camping.


inspired by Lexi Ivy of Relative Happiness

Milly purple dress, 1,075 CAD / Petit Bateau pea coat / Black tight, 21 CAD / Evening shoes, 56 CAD / Red purse, 75 CAD / Henri Bendel black bracelet, 145 CAD / Freshwater pearl earrings, 86 CAD / Deepa Gurnani hair accessory, 85 CAD


You can check out the whole schedule online here. 
You can purchase tickets online in advance here OR you can get them at the box office. All movies are shown at VIFF’s Vancity Theatre downtown.
Be sure to check out the festival Facebook group, and if you attend any screenings or events for the festival, tweet about it using #VIWIFF2015.

Princess Bubblegum x Fall 2015 Runways: Best Pink Outfits


As you might know by now, Princess Bubblegum of Adventure Time is a CF favourite. She’s not your average princess; she’s actually a complex character. She’s a leader, a scientist, queer, has pretty questionable ethics when it comes to genetics, and really does care about her people. She rules alone, and doesn’t apologize for it.


Unsurprisingly, she comes to mind often when we’re looking at fashion month runways–anything ridiculous, nerdy, and pink, reminds us of this ruling royal.


Below are some of PB-worthy looks from the New York and London  Fall 2015 runways–all by female designers of course (Princess Bubblegum seems to appreciate other boss ladies).


Above: Roksanda Fall 2015, image found here.


Above: Orla Kiely Fall 2015, image found here.


Above: Marissa Webb, Fall 2015. Image found here.


Above: Milly Fall 2015, image found here.


Above: Holly Fulton Fall 2015, image found here.


Above: Emilia Wickstead, Fall 2015. Image found here.


Above: Emilia Wickstead, Fall 2015. Image found here.


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