Category Archives: quebec city

Bad Dancer/Good Living

I’ve been in a rut. A style rut, a blog rut. I feel like everything I have to say has been said by someone else, better, more quickly. Daunted by all of the things that should be written about, that deserve to be written about, yet never finding the (quality) time to actually put pen to paper (but I’ve tried to articulate this dilemma before).

To top that off, my sartorial documentation skills have fallen to the wayside… it is hard to believe there was a time, not so long ago, where I could be bothered to take decent photographs of my outfit for one hundred days straight (!). I still having been able to put my finger on why it feels… almost boring to take photos of myself now.

But messages from long-time readers and friends have reminded me: I didn’t carve out this online space for anyone but myself, and that’s part of what makes it special, and why it keeps drawing new readers month after month. A space to share my ideas, whether they be half-baked or fully sussed out. A place to share photos of myself, my outfits, my ideas about our relationship to fashion. Every post doesn’t need to be me slamming my fist on a pulpit, perfectly articulating complicated debates and issues. Shaking off the feeling of never being quite up to snuff is something I try to do in my day-to-day life, but it’s been challenging in a different way when it comes to applying the same ethic to à l’allure garçonnière.

Accept this post as a long-winded apology for my absence, and take away this token of my own way of motivating myself. Lately I’ve been trying to kick myself in the butt (not literally, because that would be far too complicated) to at least share something in this space.

And who better to inspire than Yoko Ono?

I watched this video probably 10 times the first day it was released.

The same week, on a Friday night, my friend Annemarie and I decided we needed to kick our less than great feelings to the curb, get decked out to the nines, and go out dancing. Can you tell who inspired my outfit?

Julia dancing with Annemarie and Yoko

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Also, Annemarie wrote a great review of the bands we saw that night. Follow her blog A house down the road for wonderful music reviews.

Oh, and of course, I can’t leave you without a photo of the shoes I topped this outfit off with. What are short shorts without a pair of silver glittery tights and shoes to accompany it?

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Treat yourself to a living room dance party, would ya? The world needs all the levity it can get these days.

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Filed under music, personal, quebec city, Uncategorized, what i wore today

new look at à l’allure garçonnière

guess who needed a change around here? i was getting a bit bored with my year-old layout, so i decided to jazz it up a bit. the header features a portrait of me taken by one of my best friends, salima punjani. we met in québec city back in 2009, and even though our lives have taken us in different directions (including some ups and downs) since then, we have always made our friendship a priority. from her traveling all the way from ethiopia to be at my wedding, to sending each other encouraging emails or letters whenever we can, we’ve kept the fire alive even when separated by oceans and borders.

a photograph i took of my friend salima pujani

salima in montreal, october 2012

not only is she a fantastic friend, but over the past few years she has been carving out her own space as a photographer. i’ve been lucky enough to see her talent grow firsthand, to receive cards featuring her latest vibrant photographs, and hang prints on the walls of my home. when we last saw each other this october, she asked if i was interested in participating in her portraits of potential series, since i had raved to her about what a great idea it was. of course, i jumped at the chance!

fueled by a desire to “help people realise their potential” through portrait photography, salima launched this project this summer:

These portraits are meant to reflect that what we desire already exists within, we are what we want to be. When I came back to Canada, I noticed people were feeling very disempowered by the economic crisis, giving up their highest goals out of fear.

My hope is that people will use these portraits as motivating factors, as reminders and reflections of their potential.

i do think they successfully accomplish that. while salima was taking these portraits of me in my walk-in closet, i was typing away on my typewriter in between trying on some of my favourite garments. why was i choosing to put on my very professional 1940s suit jacket, instead of a playful neon 1960s dress? how do the ways i choose to present myself relate to my goals and aspirations? which books did i want in the frame, explicitly feminist ones, or more fashion-oriented ones? the whole process really got me thinking about what i have achieved so far, what specifics are standing in my way, and how to overcome those roadblocks.  it didn’t feel staged, or posed: it felt like processing a lot of my conflicting feelings with a good friend.

portrait of julia in her walk-in closet/bedroom, taken by salima punjani as part of her portraits of potential series

in the end, this black and white one was salima’s favourite. some of the books stacked underneath my remington rand typewriter include:

shortly after our shoot, salima shared this image with me since i couldn’t make it to her opening in montreal. a huge blown up version of her favourite portrait from our shoot, alongside eight others. kind of surreal, to say the least!

Portraits of Potential by Salima Punjani on display at the launch of E-180 this October at La Cenne in Montreal. Photo credit Louis Lavoie

Portraits of Potential by Salima Punjani on display at the launch of E-180 this October at La Cenne in Montreal. Photo credit Louis Lavoie

all of this to say, i feel incredibly lucky to not only have people who support me no matter how lofty or unrealistic my goals are, but who will challenge and encourage me along the way. as lonely as i sometimes get now that a lot of my quebec city friends have moved away, it’s great to have moments like these where i remember how valuable they are, even if they don’t live down the street from me anymore.

check out her website for more of her great photography!

what do you think of the new design? check out the new links, tell me if you think i’m missing anything! love your feedback, as always.

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Filed under politics, quebec city

halloween 2012: kiki de montparnasse in emak-bakia

film stills of man ray films
[heads up: there is an animated gif at the end of this post!]

i must admit, i was feeling a bit overworked and uninspired around halloween this year. i realized about a week before halloween i hadn’t really planned anything ahead of time, and was dogged by the fact that so many of my dream costumes reference ridiculously obscure early cinema or 1970s performance artists. this lead to me briefly debating choosing something super recognizeable as a costume instead… but after looking back at my costumes over the past six years, and remembering what it is i truly enjoy about this holiday (instead of focusing on what i hate about it) i settled on something.

in the end, i decided i wanted to have an excuse to cut my bangs (which no one even noticed!) and to once again not give a shit if anyone “got” my costume. i also spent a fair bit of october re-watching some of my favourite silent films. i don’t know what it is about this time of year that just feels perfect to watch the world in black and white.

it was after re-watching Emak-Bakia that it came to me. Emak-Bakia, (basque for Leave me alone) is a 1926 film directed by Man Ray. “Subtitled as a cinépoéme, it features many new and innovative filming techniques used by Man Ray, including Rayographs, double exposures, soft focus and ambiguous features.” one of its stars also happens to be one of my icons.

so a simple but still creepy costume idea popped into my head: it still fell into my category of dressing up as my dream women of the past, all while still being slightly off-kilter, a bit unnerving. without further ado, here is my transformation from julia to kiki de montparnasse in emak-bakia.

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makeup step 2
steph did my awesome eyelid makeup after i botched several attempts… pretty tough to do yourself

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ta-dam! the end result.

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black and white witchy women
steph dressed up as a black and white witch, which was incredibly impressive.

silent film stars and witches collide
silent film stars and witches collide!

we were a bit disappointed by some of the halloween parties we checked out, so we just decided to wander around the city a bit. it was a blustery fall night, so perfect for wandering near our favourite cemetary…

cimetière st. matthew

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the moon was almost full, the cemetary gates were locked, so off we headed home.

the original inspiration:

and the result:

julia dressed up as kiki de montparnasse in emak-bakia for halloween 2012

we were a bit underwhelmed by most of the costumes we saw out and about. aside from one particularly well-done “1980s grade school class picture” costume no one really stopped me in my tracks. a lot of people playfully chide me for choosing obscure costume ideas, but it is tough to find something equal parts creepy and crowd pleasing. i’d rather just go for something that tickles my fancy in the end.

also, if you’re new around here and haven’t seen my halloween costumes from the past, they are all up on flickr. check it out!

what did you dress up as? what were the best halloween costumes you saw this year? leave photos and links in the comments!

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Filed under halloween, quebec city, self-portraits

my favourite clothes are free clothes

may 1st julia

me in my neighbourhood on may 1st, 2012

it looks like i unceremoniously ended my commitment to share outfit photos with you guys on a regular basis here… partly because of the massive time commitment and work involved, but because i’ve been rethinking what it means to flood the internet with images of myself… but that’s topic for another post. right now, i feel pretty excited about my warddrobe. the changing of the seasons will do that to someone who lives in a climate of extremes! last week, a big part of my spring cleaning involved taking my summer dresses out of suitcases and putting my winter scarves, coats and woolly garments away. this ironically coincided with a heat wave! it feels like summer in may.

julia wearing her jean jacket

my new (free) jean jacket in my very pink and blue neighbourhood

i wasn’t the only one doing spring cleaning, though. coworkers of mine were clearing out the work closet and there were a few unclaimed stragglers. after a few days/emails, they were deemed officially up for grabs. most weren’t my style, but i tried some on anyway… and found the jean jacket i never knew i lusted for. it fits me like a glove and makes me feel super tough. i seriously own next to no denim (after having spent my teens basically living in jeans) so it’s a really nice change. great for spring evening bike rides!

julia wearing a green 1960s dress with a short beehive.

trying new things with my hair, as i’m way overdue for a trim

following the trend of free garments: i’ve had this dress for about two years, but have never worn it! when i volunteered at le vestiaire, a local thrift store, we were “paid” by basically having first dibs on the clothes we sold. for someone like myself who loves variety, it was ideal. i could take home a dress one day and if i didn’t absolutely love it, i could bring it back my next shift. my closet definitely expanded a bit too much during that time! i put this handmade vintage garment aside at some point, and must have lost sight of it in the shuffle. i don’t know why it took me so long to rock this dress because it’s definitely a new favourite. my necklace was a gift from my friend salima.

green dress and hair down

when i say “next to no demin” i literally mean you see all the denim i own in this post. that black denim pencil skirt was a gift from a friend, and this shirt is what i THOUGHT was denim… that is, until i read the latest issue of WORN, i realized it is in fact chambray. (i’ll be making a post about some of the best magazines i’ve read lately, and WORN is among them!)

blue dress and my little pony graffiti

posing with my favourite my little pony stencil

speaking of worn, this is one of my softest most worn-in dresses… so much so that i wear it quite rarely for fear it will soon end in tatters. i’ve shown it to you guys before, in april 2010! and that my little pony stencil at my feet? one of my favourite things about québec city is the abundant street art. these particular guys have been around for about a year now. i did a short radio piece on them last year, which you can listen to here.

last but not least, one little photo from april when i was visiting one of my best friends, morgan, in kelowna. it did my heart so much good to spend time with some of my favourite people when i had time off in april, and i’m so grateful to have such generous and loving people in my life.

i’m posting this on the train. i’m on my way to visit my sisters in ottawa, go to my younger sister’s bachelorette party and celebrate my older sister’s birthday! so expect a bid of radio silence. june holds many adventures for me, too!

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Filed under fashion, quebec city, self-portraits, what i wore today

in my city: naked ladies and student strikes

in mid-april, we had a mini heatwave in québec city and were luckily able to take full advantage of it. simon and i dusted off our bicycles and took a lovely ride around our city. one of our stops was at our favourite québec city art gallery, galerie morgan bridge. their latest expo was in conjunction with festival de la bande dessinée francophone, and featured sketches and drawings by artist jimmy beaulieu.

jimmy beaulieu’s art is right up my alley: his books tend to be filled with colourful pencil crayon sketches…. of lots of gorgeous representations of queer women. i’d browsed some of his books at some of my favourite bookstores, but never had the cash to take them home. this exhibition might be the turning point for me though – there’s something his style and his characters that really draws me in, aesthetically and politically. i was thinking out loud to simon as we admired the art on the walls that even though these were all drawings of naked (mostly lesbian) women, drawn by a straight guy, for some reason it didn’t feel exploitative or lewd. i must admit i don’t have anything to back me up on that other than just my gut feeling, but it’s true. perhaps it’s because, as i’ve been discussing with friends ad nauseum these days, we’re starving for representations of ourselves. perhaps it’s just nice for me to see drawings of people who look like me and my friends. perhaps that’s part of beaulieu’s intentions… perhaps not.

(i’m only posting his slightly less… nsfw sketches here, but check out his website and poke around)

as simon and i enjoyed the exhibition and admired the great fit of pink and black painted on the largest wall space, alex lemay, who runs the galerie morgan bridge, informed us it was a happy accident of sorts: the exhibition beforehand had called for pink walls, and instead of having to paint over it twice, they incorporated it into the expo.

i was tempted to purchase this piece for simon – he kind of has a thing for brunettes with glasses.

but it wasn’t just the framed pieces on the walls that tickled my fancy – it was the whole atmosphere of the space. with so many sexy images on the wall, the cozy cast-iron bed was a wonderful touch.

there was a subtle hint in the expo that beaulieu’s work – although pretty – is not without substance. take a closer look at the bed: a red square pillow placed there hints at political solidarity. you might have no idea what i mean: what the fuck does a red pillow mean, politically? if you haven’t already heard, that red square has become the symbol for support and solidarity with the student strikes in québec. for the past 12 weeks, student unions around the province have been striking in opposition to the provincial government’s proposed university tuition hike of 75% – which works out to 1,625$ – over the next five years. at different points over the last two months, over 300,000 students have been on strike, and hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets. but it’s not just students – as police brutality and arrests has increased, so has support for the movement. most wear a small piece of red fabric pinned to their clothes with a safety pin, and others have taken to spraypainting red squares on sidewalks and buildings.

être contre by jimmy beaulieu

the red pillow in beaulieu’s exhibit was not a mere example of tokenism – he’s been busy these days producing art around and in response to the student strikes since february. he’s among one of the many artists who have been speaking out in support of the students and has been highly critical of the incidents of police brutality – as shown in his piece “hâvre de paix” seen below.

havre de paix by jimmy beaulieu

havre de paix by jimmy beaulieu

as you may have noticed if you follow me on twitter, the student strikes – and debates around them – have really heating up here in recently. it’s kind of astounding how many protests (often 2-3 a day), debates, beatings and arrests have happened over the course of the past two months, and it’s only quite recently that the media outside of the province has been covering it.

+1625?

i must say i’m not the most informed on the events – i’ve been away and unplugged for most of april, taking advantage of not working as a journalist right now – but i’ve had the chance to read a handful of interesting articles on the questions being raised by this movement. check out the zine jimmy beaulieu and many other great québécois artists have contributed to here. and here are some of the best reads i’ve found about the strike. comment and add your own if you’ve seen any great ones!

recommended reading:

in french:

twitter hashtags about student strikes:

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Filed under personal, quebec city, self-portraits

femmepowerment: wall of femmes

wall of femmes strikes québec!

that? that look there on my face? that is the look of sheer, unadulterated joy. i’ll tell you why. in the span of two weeks, i came across amazing graffiti by wall of femmes not once, but twice. i was in montreal very briefly to meet up with my friend karina, and while we headed towards the gallery art mur we came across some awesome graffiti. was i ever excited! “i have to take a picture of this!” i exclaimed. what a projet! who would stencil rosa luxemberg’s face in montreal in 2012, i wondered. wonder no more, the web address said to me. in these modern times, street art meets the internet, and the lovely link was clearly stencilled alongside some gorgeous portraits of revolutionary babes.

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imagine my joy and surprise to stumble upon it in my very own city a whole two weeks later! so much joy. so what is wall of femmes, anyway?

Wall of Femmes is a loose collective of feminists living in Montreal. Our aims are many:

• To promote wider recognition and knowledge of women we admire and find inspirational

• To assert the people’s ownership of public space

• To counter the bombardment by mainstream media of negative, unhealthy, unattainable, sexist and/or objectified images of women in our public space

• To engage in the public discourse and contribute to the unique culture of our city in a meaningful way

consider your mission accomplished. as a queer femme who absolutely loves street art and graffiti, this can only be called a radical act of femmepowerement. it totally made my week to be wandering around my city and see familiar names of incredible women just fills my heart with more joy than i can express. the idea that a young person who lives in this city might go home and google the names of the women whose art, words, and work have changed my life (for the better) leaves me feeling hopeful and excited for all the radical learning potential happening here. even i, who consider myself well-versed in feminist herstory, have discovered some new incredible people grâce à ce projet magnifique. seriously, how did i go so long without hearing about lois long?! sans même parler du fait que, en tant que franglophone, j’adore le double sense de “femme.” for francophones, people might just read “wall of women.” but as a queer bilingual person, i totally see the use of the term as a wink to queer femmes who are often rendered invisible.

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stencils in québec city of frida kahlo, odetta, simone de beauvoir and lea roback

this also gives me an occasion to express my love of odetta’s music, because her name and face made me particularly happy. i feel like she’s often overshadowed by other bigger names from the era, but her voice! her story! is just fantastic. i am a huge fan of her music.

Dubbed the “Queen of American folk music” by Martin Luther King Jr in 1961, Odetta Holmes was one of the most influential recording artists of the 20th century and an important voice of the Civil Rights Movement. A powerhouse vocalist who toured well into her 70s, often performing from a wheelchair in later years, she released some 25 albums over her impressive career.

also, there’s a great album odetta covers available online. josephine’s cover of the gallows pole is my personal favourite.

last but not least, i leave you with some other examples of yours truly standing next to graffiti that makes me smile:

queer fags rule this hood

may 2009
in montreal, july 2011

rebelmexico city, july 2010

smile you cunt

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Filed under currently, personal, quebec city

a love letter to québec city: salon nouveau genre 6

it’s hard to believe, but it’s been three years since québec city became my home. since then, i think it’s fair to say we’ve had our ups and downs: bouts of unemployment, hard to find friends who end up leaving for greener pastures, not to mention finding a balance between french and english with a dash of culture shock. there have been moments when i’ve doubted whether we were right for each other…  but this past sunday was definitely one of those days where i was reminded why i feel in love with this city in the first place.

now i’ve been to nearly all of the salon nouveau genres over the past few years, but i have to say this one went above and beyond. olivier, the organizer, really hit his stride finding a great balance with the location, space, and variety of craftspeople showcasing their work.

many of my favourites were still there, like velvet typo, water loup, and tomates d’epingles. but what really blew me away were meeting many new creative people who live and work in the same city as i do! i like to think of myself as quite “branchée,” comme on dit en français, going to gallery openings, having worked in the arts community, and being pretty social. i sell alongside church clothes and many other folks at boutique lucia f. even so, it’s refreshing to find i am still constantly meeting and discovering new artists. here are just a handful of the people i met on sunday.

julie of why not coconut

julie is one of the people i’ve met during my visits to morgan bridge in downtown québec city. she sells a handful of postcards and things there, but i had only seen her lovely jewelry, namely necklaces, online as of yet. but at salon nouveau genre, she flaunted her creative wares by incorporating vintage with newer pieces. what really takes my breath away are her handmade display cases. i’ve made my own using an old letterpress drawer, but if i was in the market for one i would definitely head towards why not coconut.

across from julie’s stall was something that immediately caught my eye: bowties, photos of kitschy motels, and a jackalope. i was soon chatting up one of the creators who is based in bromont, and we talked about our affection for motels and casse-croutes across québec. my knowledge is pretty limited to the eastern townships and la beauce, but her book chronicling abitibi’s selection really drew me in.

as i headed for the door, i stumbled upon yet another great discovery: Studio METHOD(E).

Founded by Emily Lewis and Marie-Hélène Bélanger, two graduates of NSCAD University in Halifax, Studio METHOD(E) is a contemporary jewellery studio that specialises in the use and teaching of alternative techniques and materials. Pushing the boundaries of traditional jewellery, the founders explore many possible avenues using concepts and materials that fascinate them.

i was swooning for this pair of earrings in particular:

aren’t they a gorgeous modern take on turn of the century jewelry? there’s something about them that really harkens back to art nouveau to me, for some reason. i could link pair after pair that i would love to own, but it’s not simply the aesthetics i can get behind, but their creative approach. i just love their approach to jewelry making.

they invited me to stop by their studio in limoilou sometime, and i can’t wait to take them up on their offer when my wallet has fully recovered from this weekend’s events.

i know i have readers from many corners around the world, so to make this a wee bit less quebec centric i leave you with these thoughts. i’ve already expressed my distaste of shopping “events” like black friday. i personally am really not a fan of commercializing everything possible and making things into “sale” days. however, events like craft fairs, zine expos, and the like make it possible for craft lovers like myself to meet the people who make the things we wear, read, and enjoy. and every time i go to a good one like sng6, i leave completely reinvigorated and inspired… as opposed to when i leave a shopping mall, where i feel overwhelmed, frustrated and broke.

i can’t say i’m 100% sold on the idea of radical ideas being able to take root via capitalistic endeavors (since so many social justice issues stem from capitalism being the model of “every man for himself”) but i definitely think it’s a step in the right direction.

in short: if you celebrate the holidays and want to give thoughtful awesome gifts to your loved ones, check out your local craft fair. you never know, you might make some new friends and learn something new while you’re at it. how often does that happen in a mall?

LINKS:

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Filed under craft, quebec city