To My Dear Dad

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I think we still look pretty much the same, I have that Levis double-denim look back in my closet and days like this feel like yesterday. You taught me how to dress, how to make a statement, how to break the rules and argue my way through anything (as impossible as that still is against you), you taught me how to kick a soccer ball and rollerblade faster than you’ve ever seen, how to go in hard, how to draw, how to paint, how to light the BBQ, how to drive stick, drag race, ski in a whiteout, how to never ask for permission but beg for forgiveness, exclaim “it is just another place we can never come back to” laughing it off, be a gentle woman, look out for the little guy, include everyone, how to rock and roll and how to be a leader. It may not always be easy, but you continue to teach me. I love you Dad. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads who teach their daughters they can do everything and anything!

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Windchella

Oh Coachella…where do I begin? One of the windiest Coachellas to date truly was a whirlwind.

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imageThere is a reason why seasoned festival fanatics and free-spirited fashionistas consider this place the Holy Land. There is truly nothing like it. Coachella seemed like a far-off fantasy for this Canadian chickie, despite embodying the Coachella Boho-chic dress code in the every day, as climate impractical as that may have been at times. While on The Yacht week last summer in Croatia, a boat of Californian frat boys nicknamed me, “Chella,” since I refused to ascribe to the nautical stripe classic crew wear in favour of my layered pirate vibes making me more fit for a festival. Every day can’t be a music festival, but that doesn’t mean I can’t pretend!

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After hearing stories of tickets selling out in minutes, I figured my desert dreams would remain a far-off fantasy. Until one day on a whim, I entered a contest for one of my all-time favourite brands, Pacific & Driftwood. They totally embody the vintage rock-and-roll Coachella lifestyle, and are one of the most unique, and innovative brands I have ever seen. I have been following their Instagram since the beginning and they are the type of company I would love to work with. Now, I enter many contests on social media, and surprisingly I have been lucky enough to win a few for concert tickets in the past. Still when I found out my entry, which naturally came pouring out of me in a short 15 minutes by the television had won the Pacific and Driftwood competition for two tickets to Coachella I did a double-take. Sitting in my dad’s conservative law office, I had to excuse myself after yelping to go jump up and down outside. For the contest you had to relate the brand to Coachella. Here was my winning entry:

“Whether it is at a music festival, or with intricate, unique fashion (like your entire line) we are all just looking to spread our wings and fly away. Escape to a fantasy, live in a beautiful way, with beautiful things and beautiful sounds. Much of your line features cutouts of birds, or a pheonix, representative of this freedom that an incredible music festival like Coachella, or a gorgeous piece of art  (albeit a swimsuit) can make you feel. When you wear a piece from Pacific and Driftwood or go to Coachella that fire and confidence in your spirit is ignited. Your line exudes everything Coachella represents: art, music and free-spirited individualism. The Navajo style desert, hippie vibes run boldly through your designs and have become synonymous with Coachella fashion. Coachella seeks to bridge the gap between old and modern, retro and new, whether it is with old rock and roll bands playing alongside up-and-coming electronic DJs; holographic Tupac after new rap acts; 16-year-old instagram celebs dancing alongside Boho babely model moms in the audience. There is a respect for the old among an array of all that is cutting-edge and new. Your rock & roll swimsuits featuting vintage prints of Van Halen and Led Zepellin graphics are classic, but have modern cuts. This is also the new and cutting-edge respecting the beauty of the old, of a simpler, perhaps freer time. Paul McCartney headlined last year and one of your very first suits was a Beatles one-piece. As Van Halen would say: @pacific_and_driftwood and @coachella are the “best of both worlds” and “a little bit of heaven right here on earth.”

Still in disbelief, it began to sink in and I immediately started to plan. Priorities – I immediately began going through all my e-commerce wish-lists and started clicking “add to bag.” Then I had to decide who to bring… this was one of the hardest parts. My initial thought, was my little brother, who is as big of a festival fiend as me, but unfortunately he would be doing final papers for his Masters at that time, next I considered my many girlfriends, but how could I pick just one? It would be the whole squad or nothing. So, trusting my gut and the strong feelings I already had for my new boyfriend I told him pretty much immediately. I could not have made a better choice. We both are such avid Guns & Roses fans that we had dressed up as Slash on many a Halloween, and the fact they were headlining this year made the win all the more sweet (child of mine).

Next I began actually planning. It is no secret that, at a festival where the fashions of its patrons are chronicled just as closely as the music and followed by the entire world, this was going to require some skilled packing. Pacific & Driftwood sent me these two incredible pieces that I wore on the first day were total hits!

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Grateful to have survived the sandstorm

 

The Ziggy one-piece and jumpsuit pay homage to the recent late David Bowie and seemed very appropriate for the first day when Coachella was honouring another fashion trailblazer, Prince.Snapchat-8058268982139637975

Our very first day at Coachella, Eric and I experienced some of the windiest weather the Polo fields have ever seen apparently. We initially seriously considered making the trip a cross-country road trip in my Jeep and camping there to have the full experience. When car camping passes proved impossible to come by, we bought a travel package and decided to fly and stay at the Marriott Desert Springs. This choice ended up being a lifesaver.

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Our hotel was beautiful, and after the long very dusty walks each day we could not be more grateful for a shower and a bed. Not to mention the security of having all of our fashionable valuables locked away. The shuttles were very efficient, despite getting hopelessly lost on the vast grounds the first night, while in full hippie mode after the most hilarious game of glow in the dark dodgeball that we stumbled upon in the campground, we still somehow made it back to our hotel shuttle every night. Despite regularly being an avid after partier who enjoys the night ending when the sun rises, even I was more than happy to call it a night when the shuttle buses stopped. You walk such long distances over the course of the day, that you really have to maximize your time efficiently by picking and choosing which sets to go to and using downtime to recharge those dancing boots. That being said, the first day we went ham! We shared a bottle of duty-free overproof vodka with everyone on our shuttle bus and made friends very quickly. We invited a fellow Canadian couple to be our Newfie compadres as we set off to explore the campground and meet up with my Yacht week friends from San Francisco at their campsite. A Canada vs. The USA flip cup tournament with jungle juice ensued and things got very wavey in the desert. Next we met up with a group I met through the Coachella forum, who couldn’t be more welcoming. Throughout the entire festival, we consistently met caring, kind, hospitable people who were eager to pass the blunt and dance with us. I felt like I was in Neverland where positivity, joy and gratitude radiated through everyone, even in this massive group of people on this great expanse of desert in the middle of nowhere. That being said the desert is not for the faint of heart. Reading the Coachella forums before our adventure I took some of the many pieces of advice into consideration when planning for desert weather, but mostly fashion trumped function and I assumed many of these suggestions aired on the side of being overly prudent. I am a hearty Canadian viking woman after all. Day 1, when I experienced my first desert storm, I had some sense knocked into me. When our local friends started calling Coachella 2016, “Windchella,” we knew this wasn’t your average techno-fueled Darude sandstorm. This was Prince, laying down his heaviest guitar riff in the skies to shake things up a bit! A$AP Rocky had to stop in the middle of his set because parts of the stage and screens were falling down. The crowds seemed to only dance harder when this happened as the sun set and by the time we saw JackÜ, I felt like I had entered some sort of surreal pandemonium with my scarf tied across my face with all the other bandits. After Ellie Goulding surprised us with an incredibly beautiful Prince tribute, we decided to wander the campground and catch our breath. It looked akin to a war zone. Tents had blown up and gone through car windows, every rig was down. The scene looked skeletal compared to its original state of vibrant gypsy refuge in the heat of the day. People very calmly reassembled their ravaged campsites and continued partying, while we were grateful to be heading home to a fresh bed that night. The drama made the scene all the more magical.

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We learned quickly how to adapt our wardrobes for the weather, and since we plan to go back every year with more friends in tow, here are some tips I can pass along to any of my fellow festival dreamers:

1) Prepare for costume changes. You need three outfits over the course of the day. Or three different looks to layer upon. This may seem extreme, but the weather drastically changes over the course of the day. I am a woman who ascribes to the philosophy of always carrying a bikini in my purse in the summer, because well you never know what type of wet and wild adventure the day will bring. At Coachella, you may start in your bikini at one of the pool parties, then end up heading off to the festival in some sort of swimsuit + shorts or cover-up combo for the heat of the day when the sun is blazing and temperatures are around 35°C. You need another outfit for the early evening, maybe it is a cute Guns & Roses crop top and leather shorts or a matching set by For Love and Lemons. Finally, it will start to get really cold around 8 p.m. this is when you should bust out the bell bottoms and a jacket or sweater. Even then you may still be shaking since your sweat from dancing earlier in the day will have cooled you. So get good at changing in public, rompers are a challenge, especially if you plan to use the facilities. And that big crossbody fringe purse to fit everything is essential.

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3) Accessories are essential!!! I knew I would have to bring many, many accessories. The Boho look requires a lot of layering and on any given day my jewelry corner looks nothing short of organized chaos. I brought bags of scarves, bags of necklaces, rings, bangles, belts because as Rachel Zoe would say, “more is more.” I now understand why she once carried seven suitcases through the airport for a weekend. Not only does that layered Boho gypsy vibe make your dance moves all the more enjoyable, it completes your outfit. Scarves tied as headbands are not only for Axl Rose, and you will be grateful to have them as your hair gets filled with dust and sweat. Pro tip: tie an extra scarf or bandana to your purse, this will be a lifesaver when the wind starts to blow and a desert storm hits.

4) Beauty and the Bohemian: this is also a challenge. Your makeup is probably going to be melted off your face pretty quickly, so as cute as that face jewel trend is, don’t expect it to last too long. Get your selfies in early. Setting spray is your friend. Since wearing much makeup is more of a burden than it is worth it is key to prepare before and be sure to give your face some TLC at the end of the night. Dust is going to get everywhere and I mean everywhere. By the end of the night your eyes will be red from it, make sure if you are blind like me you take your contact lenses out (this will be one of the best feelings ever, akin to clipping your weave out) and have lots of clean extra pairs. You will probably need to shower every night and so treating yourself to a moisturizing face mask will do wonders. On that note, take really good care of your skin and immune system before you leave so your skin can easily repair once you get to the desert. Get a spray tan before you leave and bring more with you to apply each morning to your whole body before doing the same with sunscreen. Just do not pack that in your carry-on luggage. I learned that lesson the hard way on a trip to Miami when I pleaded with an unsimpathetic TSA officer that my expensive St. Tropez tan was in fact a mousse, so not technically a liquid. Faking a dark tan and going for a higher level SPF is a good choice because you are super exposed on the fields and a sunburn will hurt your energy levels and comfort. Don’t forget lip balm with SPF, chapped lips are not ideal for kissing your beau during Calvin Harris’ set. Finally, treat yourself to eyelash extensions. Applying fake eyelashes will cut into your poolside pregame and the glue will just melt in the heat anyways. So extensions are the way to go. The splurge is worth it for the long weekend and with long lashes and golden skin you can basically get away with not wearing any other makeup.

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5) Drink tons of water! Vodka water works too. The weekend is really a marathon, so you need to stay hydrated. Lying on the ground and taking dreamy eyed selfies is totally acceptable and often necessary to regroup before the next set.

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Eric and I had so many perfect moments on the trip. Making it to the front of the stage for Guns & Roses, while Axl, despite being confined to a robotic chair with his broken leg, showed us he still really has insane vocal chops and ditched his Diva attitude to play a marathon 3+ hour set. Sweating our faces off dancing to Bauer, while he brought out one of my favourite female rappers, the very fierce Leikeli47. Riding on Eric’s shoulders during Ice Cubes quintessential California Love party where he brought out guests that could have been headliners in my mind, Dr Dre (who killed some classic N.W.A. fire starters), Kendrick Lamar (who blew me away with his stage presence at Way Home) spit some sparks yet again, The Game (another one of my favourite rappers), and Little E to make us all feel we were actually in Compton at a tailgate party. Spinning in the field dancing to Rancid made me feel like I was back in the 90s at the birthplace of SKA. Run the Jewels was gold. Major Lazor brought the house down, even though I’ve seen them perform even more intimately so many times. And Calvin Harris was the perfect touchy, feely finale where he abandoned his radio hits for his classic nostalgia triggering magical house music and more heavy hitting bangers with beauties like Big Sean by his side.  Obviously, no matter what set we were at, there was as Zeppelin would say, “A Whole Lotta Love.” For video clips of the madness see my instagram account @l_gibby.

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I cannot really describe how amazing this weekend was without sounding cliché, but I think I felt a sense of calm and pure joy with feeling like you are exactly where you should be at that moment. Like you would not change your circumstance, or where you are in the world for anything at that time. Every day, I felt like I made the most of every second. I lived by one of my favourite quotes:

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Long Overdue

Why is it that the things we know we should do, and even things we love to do, we procrastinate? Then we feel guilty later for not doing the things that we know will help achieve our goals.

This is a classic example of what famous psychiatrist, Bergler, would call the wish to suffer. We feel repressed, and so we look for distractions that are instant gratifications, rather than doing the things that we know will help achieve our real goals. It is a constant battle between I.D. and Super Ego, as Freud so famously taught Bergler. It is our unconscious wish to suffer that puts us in these patterns of procrastination, that lead to our feelings of regret. In our globalized world where time and space are increasingly sped up, but where our consumerist culture creates cravings for instant gratification, we get caught up doing everything but, that which we know we should. Our media consumption is also sped up, with rampant smartphone use causing people to become addicted to consuming the highlight reels of fictional personas we all create through social media sites. We become consumed with comparing our lives to the false, carefully constructed framings and profiles. We are constantly made to feel inadequate by comparison, even if deep down our Super Ego knows it is not real, our ID is addicted to being attracted to these contrived images. Yet, we are expected to document all the highlights.  When we fall off on posting, we feel guilty thinking, “if I do not post about it, the event loses some of its worth. What was the point of the makeup, hair and outfit selection process if no one even gets to see it?” This way of thinking is dangerous, because if we buy into this notion we fail to live in the moment and actually enjoy what we are doing at the time. We are less present. It also feeds into this culture of competition and one-upmanship. I never felt bad about posting after the fact until recently. Living in the moment, always took precedence over how hot and current my profile looked. But in a world where social media is increasingly important to one’s personal brand, especially in the fashion industry, I constantly find myself feeling guilty for having too much to post about, and too little time. I suppose this is why brands have entire social media departments now. I increasingly find myself wondering, if it happened, but I did not post about it, was it even worth happening?

Apps like Snapchat have allowed for instant social media interaction. But for apps like Instagram, where your photos must be carefully curated, filtered and edited I often wonder how we are expected to post anything other than #latergrams. I am a busy person, between bookings, castings, submissions, shoot planning, painting, social obligations, working out and volunteering, I find myself constantly seeking time slots where I can multitask to keep up with social media on all the different platforms to which I belong. Here are some recent snapchats that I wanted to post, but still have not gotten around to:

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All this to say, I too fall prey to such toxic cycles of scrolling with envy of these fantasy lives to distract from what I know I should be doing to achieve my goals and create my own fantasy life. I often say yes to everyone except myself. Always helping people with their artistic projects, their visions, act as a doll, a canvas for a makeup artist, a labourer at every and any event, a chauffeur…anything to distract myself from the fact that I am not where I want to be in my life.

Like in any road to recovery or change, recognizing the problem is the first step. Finally, I am beginning to say no to people and put my own goals first. I feel like I am getting back to the woman I was in high school, the nerdy, jock, artsy chick who did not care if no one liked her, because she was achieving her own goals. I am finally starting to feel like me again.

I plan to do more of my art and post more. In the meantime, forgive me for some of these long overdue posts. Here are some “behind-the-scenes” photos from the first shoot I officially styled. This shoot occurred three weeks ago and would definitely tie into the life-changing experience I had at Coachella, something I have meant to post about for months and will be the topic of my next blog. It’s all just a ride, make sure you don’t miss it while you are trying to record it.

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I will update this post with edited photographer photos, once the magazine submission process is over. But I am pretty proud of my styling using samples of for love and lemons sets I scored at an amazing sample sale, Mendocino and Free People pieces and my own accessories I have acquired over the years. Stay tuned.

Mothers of Artists

Shout out to mothers like mine here, who put up with artistic children, who by nature often mess up and are even more neurotic than everyone else. They learn how to forgive their children for their many mistakes (like me here trying to paint a fashion illustration of my mom while hungover, so the watercolour was a little more imprecise than usual). She was the first one to encourage me towards art, even when I got bullied for making ugly pictures in Junior Kindergarten, when I drew a picture of her and I, which she proudly posted on our fridge. She taught me to “ignore the haters,” and passed on her mother’s mantra, “never give up” and work hard to prove them wrong. She taught me to forge ahead steadfast and strong and attack every day like it is a challenge to see how much you can get done, all while looking graceful. She will always be my first muse.

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Happy Birthday to My Beautiful Sister

I’ve always said that if I ever had a sister, I would probably kill her. That’s just my competitive nature speaking but BBBs (beyond basic bitches) watch out! Even with my little brother the sports battles were constant and he is happy to be alive, after I pushed him in the water before he could swim. With this level of sibling rivalry at play, I counted my blessings no other girl would ever vie for my parents attention. That being said, as I have matured I’ve gained more blessings in the form of a little brunette sister from Hong Kong, who knows the difference between tassels and fringe. And no, my parents did not go all Brangelina and hop on the adoption trend, but rather I have been lucky enough to have one of my best friends come to live with my family and I any time she visits Canada from HK (which in my opinion is not often enough). She is truly part of the family.

Some sisters try to tear each other down, but Zahra does the opposite. She inspires me to be better, be more, follow my interests and gives me the confidence to do so. I mean when someone this cool–that effortless type of cool you can’t even begin to emulate actually thinks you are worth hanging with it’s quite the ego boost. She is the best stylist you could ever ask for, with killer photography skills and one of the best writers I have ever read. She is always on the cutting edge of what is insanely, blow-your-mind awesome in terms of music and responsible for introducing me to most of my favourite artists and tracks. She is itty bitty, bit also a full on badass and the best compadre to have by your side on a night out. She has saved my life and been there for some of my most scrupulous adventures, but even when we are having the worst luck it is always the best time with her. She moves in fast, powerfully creative circles, but she remains one of the most kind, sweet, considerate and humble people I know. She is a woman on the verge. Unstoppable. Her presence is quickly becoming known in the online magazine world as an authority on the new and now.  Hypebeast and Soy have lost her to CNN, but I know it won’t be long before she is running her own show. She has an incredible eye for bringing people and their talents together. This is her art.

And so today on her birthday, I could not before proud of my little sis who inspires us all to think big.

Her personal blog can be found here.

Photos collectively shot by Zahra Jamshed, Lauren McCormick and yours truly.

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A Lesson On Gratitude

Gratitude is the key to life. As I sit here at the eye doctor, after finding out my eyes have gotten even worse and feeling sort of sorry for myself in my nerd glasses and thinking of the cost of my contact lenses that I will have to replace. I see two blind children walking through the halls, giddy with happiness as their helper takes them around the facility and they exclaim, “this was so much fun!” I immediately get chills and tears well up in my eyes (and it ain’t just from the eyedrops). No matter where you are, how sad you feel and how unlucky life seems at times, there are always people with way less who make the decision to be happy by being grateful for what they do have. This moment was a blessing and a reality check.

P.S. I’m often embarrassed to wear my glasses out since I was definitely deemed a “Nerd” in high school, but I have been embracing my nerdiness lately and wanting to get back to the real me from grade school. Do you think I should keep these old frames or go for something bigger. (Let me know in the comments section).

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Set for Summer

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My favourite trio of socially conscious and animal-loving entrepreneurs are doing big things! Like real big. And people are taking notice. Their latest endeavour is the dive straight into clothing.  As much as I would be totally okay spending the rest of my life naked, wearing only hair accessories, the Canadian climate and the authorities simply won’t allow it.  In order to be fully festival ready, head to toe, Ezzy Lynn has added a clothing line.

Their line is inspired by the wise sensibility of Australian brands, like Sabo Skirt, who in my humble opinion are always way ahead of us on the hot, flirty clothing front (I mean what do you expect with a population that tanned and sexy). The line is composed of “sets,” which are basically just matching separates (crop top & shorts/crop top and skirt), as well as a line of basic crop tops that literally go with EVERYTHING. The colours range from bright to neutral and the prints evoke psychedelic EDM vibes. Each set is also inspired by an endangered animal, for example: the rhino, the amur leopard, the grey wolf, giant panda, flamingo, kermode bear, black jaguar and seahorse crop top.  What I love about the sets is the gorgeous fabrics. All are light, breathable and perfect for a sunny festival. In addition, the sets are brilliant because they provide so many options: wearing the two pieces together is a striking look, but separately the pieces are very versatile and can be worn so many ways on their own. Oh and did I mention, possibly my favourite feature: no undergarments necessary (there’s the nudist in me again) #freethenipple.

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I was lucky enough to get to model in their photo shoot for the sets and on top of that my favourite photographer shot the collection, Lee Solo.  I have done many photo shoots, and despite the somewhat chilly grey weather, this was hands down the best, most fun shoot I have ever done. Not only did the Ezzy Lynn girls have mimosas ready early in the morning, but they were just the most lovely collaborative team, whose synergy was so incredible to witness first hand. Creativity flowed freely and we all had an absolute blast! Girl power is still alive and well post Spice Girls!

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This weekend Ezzy Lynn will be selling these gorgeous pieces along with their hair accessories at Digital Dreams! It was last year, at DD that I first met these phenomenal feline femmes and I can’t wait to help them out this year. Keep your eyes peeled for the most beautiful and stylish babes at the festival and help save an animal or two by rocking one of their hot summer sets, while you watch the music sets.

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