Thursday, August 25, 2011

The 18th Century Back in Fashion

Maison Christian Dior (f/w 2004-2005 on left and f/w 2007-2008 on right)
The extreme silhouettes, elaborate trimmings, and pouf hairstyles of the French Court dress in the 18th Century have served as a rich source of inspiration for haute couture and ready to wear fashion designers like Vivienne Westwood, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Azzedine Alaia, Alexander McQueen and others. In an exhibition called The 18th Century Back in Fashion at the Palace of Versailles, original garments from that period have been shown alongside the modern interpretations to demonstrate the influence of the 18th century on contemporary fashion.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Review: Various Positions

Ballet dancers are a class of athletes unto themselves. The discipline, sacrifice and passion required to have a career as a ballet dancer is almost beyond comprehension and perhaps only those that are driven to dance understand how difficult a life it is.

Various Positions is the story of a young girl named Georgia who is accepted into the Royal Toronto Ballet Academy and becomes obsessed with achieving perfection as a dancer. During the course of her studies, she struggles with a dysfunctional family situation and a growing awareness of her sexuality.

"I adjusted my leotard strap. Molly, in front of me, did too. Something about his nastiness was irresistible. It was like when someone teases you, and you're charmed against your will. We repeated the exercise. I channelled pure power into my muscles, could picture the energy, hot and white. I had never wanted to be so perfect before. When we finished, Roderick pushed himself off the piano and walked slowly across the studio floor. I could see only the side of his face, but I was desperate to read his expression. Was he pleased with our work this time?" (page 77)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Women of Armour

Women of Armour 3 (Work in Progress) by Ingrid Mida 2011
Sometimes inspiration comes when I least expect it. While doing research into Victorian equestrienne dress this past winter, I came across images of women playing hockey, mountaineering and playing tennis all while attired in cumbersome long skirts, sometimes even with crinolines. I admired the spirit of these courageous women who forged ahead with sport, finding pleasure in movement and play.  I began to contemplate the modern incarnation of such pioneers - young women who play hockey.

With full hockey equipment on, sometimes it is hard to tell that there is a girl or woman underneath and a  glimpse of a ponytail might be the only clue. After chatting with two young women who just happen to be talented hockey goalies, I was astonished by how much these girls love the game. Girls and women don't play hockey with dreams of a professional career. They play hockey for the sense of accomplishment they get from being on a team and for the adrenaline rush of the game. Their femininity is not in question here. They can be girls and hockey players!

I wanted to celebrate the spirit of the young women and girls who play hockey and am working on an art installation for my next show at Loop Gallery (May 2012). In the photo above, you can see an early work in progress from this series Women of Armour. (If you look closely, you can just barely see where the light catches the rows of sequins that I've begun to sew onto the pads, making it into an object of exquisite beauty and femininity.) The hockey padding has become the dress bodice and a mesh crinoline serves as the skirt, demonstrating how far we have come along the road to embracing our power as women.

In the exhibition, I also hope to include a series of photographs of young women hockey players, capturing the beauty of these powerful and gifted athletes. But first I need to find some! If you know any Toronto-based women hockey players who would allow me to photograph them or any women hockey players (from anywhere in the world) who would tell me more about their passion for the game, please forward this post to them along with my email

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book Review: If Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley

Curator, historian and author Lucy Worsley knows how to make history accessible, interesting and entertaining. In her latest book If Walls Could Talk, An Intimate History of the Home, she takes us on an intimate journey through the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. It sounds like it might be a dull topic for a book, when in fact "every single object in your home has its own important story to tell". Lucy's saucy writing style makes the most mundane historical fact seem fresh and original. Divided into four parts covering the four main rooms of the house, the chapter titles include such teasing titles as: A History of the Bed, Sex, The Whole World is a Toilet, A History of Clutter, The Wretched Washing Up, Speaking to the Servants.... Lucy knows how to turn a phrase and the book almost seems like an intimate conversation between friends. And although the book lacks footnotes, it has an extensive bibliography for history buffs that want to find out more.

Of course, one of my favourite chapters was on the history of knickers. Although I am well versed in this topic, Lucy is not shy in telling it like it was..... "A huge hooped skirt meant that drawers were impractical if you needed to use the toilet without completely undressing. So ladies went commando, and squatted over a chamber pot when required. This meant that toilets were everywhere and nowhere. The bedchamber, an ante-room, even the street: all were potential places to go." (page 43)

Engaging, delightful and fun are words to describe Lucy's book and they are also words that describe her as a person. My interview with Lucy for her last book  The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace continues to be one of my most popular posts and no doubt reflects the enormous popularity of her show for the BBC.

Title: If Walls Could Talk, An Intimate History of the Home
Author: Lucy Worsley
Publisher: Bloomsbury House 2011
Category: Non-fiction
Number of Pages: 331

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What I Love about Berlin

Me with my darling boy in Berlin
Berlin is my new favourite city! Rich in history and vibrating with creative energy, it is much like Paris, but without the attitude and so much less expensive. Here is my list of top 5 things I love about Berlin.

I. A vibrant arts scene
There are too many galleries to count... some of which are simply pop-ups. You can walk down a seemingly desolate street or enter a graffiti decorated courtyard and find something off the map. One of the most dynamic museums of contemporary art in the world is called The Hamburger Bahnhof. I was stunned by the simple perfection of Richard Long's Berlin Circle which is a circle of stone with a diameter of 12 meters. Five other floor works by the artist were shown in the historic hall of this former railway station building. As well, they have a permanent collection that is filled with works by big names like Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Rauschenberg and Anselm Kiefer.

Richard Long's Berlin Circle with admiring fans

II. A city rich in history but sensitive to its past
Berlin has been a political symbol of power for hundreds of years. It contains a vast wealth of historic and artistic treasures that are beautifully displayed in its many museums. But, it also is sensitive to its past - both in terms of the Holocaust and the Berlin Wall. Memorials have been presented in a beautiful and sensitive manner, reminding all of us of the gifts of freedom of personal choice and freedom of religion.

Sidewalk marker for the Berlin Wall
Photo by Ingrid Mida 2011

Holocaust Memorial
III. Breathtaking architecture that combines the old and the new 
Since the wall came down, the city has been renewed by stunning new buildings that are simply breathtaking in their sculptural innovation.

The Dome of the Reigstag
IV. Museums filled with incredible artistic and historic treasures
It was a race against the clock to see all that I wanted to see among the many museums in Berlin. I think we barely scratched the surface and often I wished I could have lingered longer.... I cannot think of any other city that has so many museums. Plus the exhibits are usually bilingual (German and English) and the displays are done to utter perfection. I saw things that I didn't even know still existed - like Napolean's hat in the German Historical Museum and the Ishtar Gates in the Pergamon Museum.

Altes Museum
Photo by Ingrid Mida 2011
Pergamon Museum Statue
Photo by Ingrid Mida 2011
Museum of Decorative Arts in the Kulturforum
Photo by Ingrid Mida 2011
V. A hip fashion scene
I wrote about a new fashion find Saena on a separate post the other day, but there are more hip Berlin labels that could have made their way into my closet if I had had more time to shop. I adored the Jil Sander-like looks of Firma, which for the summer was dominated by black, white and red. I bought a stunning frayed black silk blouse and a cherry red pencil skirt to bring home some of that uber-cool Berlin vibe.

Firma F/W Collection 2011 (Courtesy of Firma)
I could go on and on.... I feel like I left a part of my heart behind as my darling boy is staying on in Berlin until the end of the month.....

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Berlin Fashion Network

Fashion insiders in Berlin know that some of the most interesting shops are down alleyways and at the end of courtyards. And The Berlin Fashion Network Store is not something that you just stumble upon.... It is at the end of the eight interconnected courtyards of Die Hackesche Höfe. This beautiful Art Nouveau styled complex with an array of shops, cafes and galleries is adjacent to the Hackescher Markt in the centre of Berlin.

Die Hackesche Höfe. Photo by Ingrid Mida 2011

One of the courtyards in Die Hackesche Hofe

The Berlin Fashion Network Store is a two level store that features the work of both established and up and coming Berlin designers like German Garments, Burkhardt Möllman, Barre Noire and Prodotyp.

I fell in love with one of their featured labels called Saena, whose delicate and feminine clothing has a sophisticated sensibility. The designer, Saene Chun, worked at Céline, Sonia Rykiel and Chloé before moving to Berlin in 2009 and launching her own label.  Her motto is 'one woman_one dress'  in that "she wishes to give women the feeling of having that one favorite dress in their closets."

saena entrechat

saena temps leve

Feminine and yet powerful - that is my kind of look. To see more of the saena collections, visit her website here. I've only been home for a few days and I'm already looking forward to a return trip. Could Berlin Fashion Week be in my future?

Berlin Fashion Network Store
Die Hackeschen Hofe
Rosenthalestrasse 40/41
10178 Berlin
Phone: +48 176 64 14 22 85

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Window Shopping in Berlin

Ich bin ein Berliner.... This phrase took on another level of meaning as I toured Berlin last week. It felt like I was home.  Rich in history and packed with artistic and historical treasures, this city has a vibe that is young, modern and friendly. It was like being in Paris but without the attitude.

Prada Berlin
Prada Berlin (Close up)
One thing I love to do is window shop and the windows of Berlin's couture shops did not disappoint. Like Paris, the prices are posted discretely within the window, giving you immediate feedback as to whether or not you can afford to go inside.

Bottega Veneta Berlin
YSL Berlin
In Berlin, it was the cool, architectural vibe of the clothes that grabbed me. Sleek, streamlined silhouettes, it is the look that defines much of my closet....

Jil Sander Berlin
Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.