April 17, 2015

Happy Friday! I guess I’ve decided to switch things up and start posting Miscellany on Friday’s from now on. I couldn’t think of a better share for this gorgeous sunny day than this perf new video from QT which I am all about.

Hey QT! Yeah? You’re welcome!



peace out

rad ladies : michelle lesniak

April 16, 2015

Michelle Lesniak - 09

Fashion designer and Portland native Michelle Lesniak is what I consider a hometown hero: leaving her presumably stable job in the wine business a few years back to pursue her dream of fashion design, she even endured a grueling season of Project Runway where she ultimately earned herself a well-deserved win after being relegated to playing the role of underdog due to her assignment to a team that lost more often than not. Since then Michelle has opened her own studio here in Portland, has shown her work across the country, and even braved another Project Runway stint in the last season of Project Runway All Stars. Though I thought her All Stars loss was totally whack, it sounds like there was more going on than met the viewers eye.

Still, it seems nothing can slow Michelle as she is busy touring the country with her latest collection, Falling Upwards. An ode to hot air balloons (her father used to race them!), the collection is comprised of airy & beautifully hued pieces – including swimwear – in silk chiffon, pleated silk, nylon ripstop, and wool knits. Having debuted at February’s Fade to Light showcase, Michelle is hitting the road for Austin’s Fashion Week as I type. Thankfully she was able to carve some time from her hectic schedule for a Rad Lady interview first! Read on for what Michelle misses most about ‘old’ Portland, how she approaches her design process, and – duh – where she goes for a great burger -

VGS: I was excited to learn that you’re a fellow Portland native! Which quadrant are you from and what do you miss most about ‘old’ Portland?

M: Yes, I was born and raised in SE Portland. I miss Macheezmo Mouse, smelling beer being brewed next to Powell’s, Ramblin’ Rod on TV, and Roger’s Dry Goods, a little store over in Sellwood where I would go when I got my allowance and buy all kinds of fun beads and buttons and other random things.


VGS: I first became aware of your work at Content 2013. Your Decay dress caught my eye immediately and then you pointed out that the print was of rats, which made me love it even more! What inspired you to design your own textiles?

M: I went to school for printmaking which I feel naturally lends itself to textile design.


VGS: You are committed to local production and ethical business practices, is that the byproduct of being a Portland kid or did that come from any personal experiences you’ve had in the industry?

M: It’s kind of a weird question for me because if you’re a good person, you want to have good business practices.  I want to keep it local because I’m proud to be from Portland and love living here.


VGS: I love how creative you are with themes of your collections. What is your process for creating the stories behind each theme?

M: The stories of my collections come from emotion. I take some time to reflect internally and focus on how I’m feeling. I take those feelings, the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, and make a mood board, using words and finding pictures that speak to what I’m feeling. From there I start designing.


VGS: Have you ever felt trapped by a theme or found the need to re-work it?

M: I’ve never felt trapped by a theme but I have had moments of feeling design block, or I’ll make something numerous times and I’ll keep reworking it throughout the process, but I’ve never been trapped. Having a theme actually keeps me from feeling trapped, keeps me on target.


VGS:  What are your general thoughts on Portland’s emerging fashion industry?

M: Portland is incredibly creative.  People are wanting designs from local designers. The thing that holds us back the most is manufacturing and material sourcing.


VGS: There is buzz about Portland working its way up to being on par with New York or LA – do you think that will ever happen? If so, what do you think it will take?

M: I think it will happen. I think it’ll take really innovative people, innovative design, and a green approach. Portland has it, it just hasn’t happened yet. People are talking about it. At one point in time we had manufacturing here, like Janzten, but that’s kind of gone away. It takes time but I think it will happen.


VGS: What can we expect next from you?

M: A lot more day dreaming, a lot more great stories to tell, a lot more emotive fashion and hopefully more retail presence.


VGS: What’s your favorite spot to grab a burger? 

M: Smokehouse Tavern or, if I’m on the fly, Little Big Burger. If you stop by Smokehouse Tavern, make sure to check out the aprons.  They’re mine!

Michelle Lesniak - 11Michelle Lesniak - 07Michelle Lesniak - 08Michelle Lesniak - 05Michelle Lesniak - 03Michelle Lesniak - 06Michelle Lesniak - 10

You can shop Michelle’s designs here and follow her @michelleiswell on Instagram to keep up on new collections and future shows.

indie designers : nottene

April 15, 2015

How’s this for weird? I hate card games – if you really want to ruin my day just make me sit down to a card game - buuuuut I love decks of cards. I think it’s partially that I’m not a competitive person and partially that I just haven’t found the right card game for me. Hearts comes close but dang, why does it have to go on so long! Solitaire, Go Fish – those are more my speed but obviously not the right fit for groups of people, or you know, grown up adults. Back to the point (I do have one), while I may not enjoy playing cards, I love sorting through them and how they feel in my hand and most of all, the art work. I have Totoro playing cards, MC Escher playing cards, Gustv Klimt playing cards - and soon, I will have Nottene playing cards.

Nottene is the brain child of Philadelphia based illustrator Kimberly Hall. Hailing from Massachusetts and having studied textiles at Central St. Martins in London, Kimberly has worked across the US, UK and Europe in publishing, fashion & art. How’s that for a resume? I connected with Kimberly via Instagram earlier this year when she kindly sent me some beautiful stickers featuring her work. Little did I know, the illustratations on those stickers were part of a much larger project. Turns out, Kimberly was creating an illustration a week for a full year, which works out to 52 weeks. 52 also happens to be exactly how many cards constitute a full deck. You see where I’m going here.

Having finished her 52 illustrations, Kimberly is now running a Kickstarter campaign to fund production of her deck. Inspired by the stories and meanings behind each card, she has lovingly illustrated everything from ‘mundane’ objects like clothes hangers for the four of hearts (four being a number traditionally representing service) to a fun-loving lamb to represent the creative and silly King of Clubs -




With just over two weeks left to get this project fully funded for production, a pledge can result in many lovely rewards including the card deck itself, un-cut card sheets, art prints, and a set of notecards all featuring Nottene’s beautiful artwork. Click here to pledge and follow @nottene on Instagram to keep up on how funding is going and all of Nottene’s other projects!


around portland : wildfang x ak vintage

April 14, 2015

Ak_Vintage_x_WildfangPhoto courtesy of Wildfang

The second installment in their Meet the Maker series, local purveyors of Tomboy chic Wildfang are hosting an event at their HQ (aka The Fort) for Portland jeweler Anna Korte of AK Vintage next Saturday, April 18. Stop by Wildfang between 1pm – 4pm for first dibs on AK Vintage’s latest collection ‘Source’ and enjoy 20% off all current season AK Vintage pieces. Coolest of all, you can take advantage of Anna providing customizations to some of her most popular necklace styles while you shop. 

Wildfang is located at 1230 SE Grand Avenue in Portland, Ore. RSVP here and follow @wildfang on Instagram to keep up on new items like their recently released spring line – it’s pretty killer.



look book : west end select shop

April 13, 2015

Is it weird that I’m smitten with a shop I haven’t made it into yet? West End Select Shop is in an area of town I love but rarely find myself in. I’m going to have to make the trip soon though because owner Andi Bakos is stocking her super cool boutique with all kinds of fancy new spring duds and fun bits and bobs from Japan (think face mask sheets and compacts that look like mini laptops). Just peep this ridiculously beautiful look book Andi and team put together to highlight some of those new gems -

West_End_Select_Shop_Portland_lookbook1West_End_Select_Shop_Portland_lookbook2West_End_Select_Shop_Portland_lookbook3West_End_Select_Shop_Portland_lookbook4West_End_Select_Shop_Portland_lookbook6West_End_Select_Shop_Portland_lookbook7West_End_Select_Shop_Portland_lookbook8West_End_Select_Shop_Portland_lookbook9West_End_Select_Shop_Portland_lookbook10West_End_Select_Shop_Portland_lookbook11Photos by Masahiro Shimazaki

I mean, it actually is time for my quarterly trip to nearby Powell’s (The World’s Largest Bookstore if you don’t know). A little visit to WESS before bingeing on books and also nearby Sizzle Pie is definitely in my future.

Those of you not in Portland can still shop West End Select Shop online here and follow @westendselectshop on Instagram to keep up on sales new shop arrivals – you might even see my dear friend Shola modeling some of those aforementioned face masks.


peace out

rad ladies : ainsley fox

April 9, 2015



Those who came of age in the 90′s might remember Hard Candy nail polish – offering then hard to find pastel shades, the nation was obsessed, as was I. Fast forward to the present and local gal Ainsley Fox has picked up the proverbial torch, having introduced her line of 5-free, vegan polishes, Palate Polish, just last year. Arguably cooler than Hard Candy was even in it’s heyday, Palate offers a consciously made product at an affordable price.

Themed around Ainsley’s love of food, Palate’s, well, palette is comprised of a wide selection of both bright & neutral colors and perfect glitters - including their recent collab with beloved local donut cafe, Pip’s Original, resulting in the beautiful rose gold Pip’s Honey & Sea Salt . Having already gained a dedicated following here in Portland, I expect Palate will be coming to a shop near those of you residing elsewhere soon. In the meantime, I connected with Ainsley to see what inspired her to get into the nail polish game, what we can expect from Palate in the future, and of course, where the renowned foodie goes for a burger -


VGS: Where are you from and why did you decide to call Portland home?

A: I’m from Salt Lake City originally. I moved to Portland after a 4 year stint in San Diego. I missed having actual seasons and outdoorsy adventures literally at my doorstep – and of course, the food was a big draw!


VGS: What inspired you to start Palate? What inspired your food theme?

A: After years of accumulating nail polish and researching how to make my own, I decided to combine that love with my love of food in a fun and innovative way. Like an artists palette, I wanted my line of colors to be food inspired thus the play on words in ‘Palate’ – every polish color is named after a food.


VGS: Who is your favorite nail artist right now?

A: Sarah Kane out of Austin is great and locally, I love Asa Bree. Definitely check them both out, their work speaks for itself.


VGS:  If you could only wear one color of polish for the rest of your life, which would it be?

A: Dark Purple - I think I must own 20 subtly different dark purple polishes.


VGS: What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own business?

A: Surround yourself with motivating people. Seriously, I would’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the support and ingenuity of my family and friends – and even strangers!


VGS: What are your general thoughts regarding Portland’s Maker scene?

A: I love the community-driven attitude here in Portland, this was the perfect place for me to start a business. Portland was my place of inspiration to design food related nail polish because I work two jobs in the food industry which has been very helpful in starting a small business like this.


VGS: What can we expect from Palate in the future?

A: Palate is always introducing limited edition colors to go along with the seasons, new trends, and collabs with other local businesses. Follow us on Instagram @palatepolish to get all the up to date happenings!


VGS: Where is your favorite spot in town to grab a burger?

A: Any veggie burger with a fried egg on it gets my vote! But the Jackfruit Burger from White Owl is my go-to: an uncanny pulled pork look-a-like sandwich dressed with apple-cabbage slaw and slathered in delicious Coava coffee BBQ sauce … so tasty.




Shop Palate’s full selection here and follow @palatepolish on Instagram for giveaways, flash sales, and news on new colors.


dj big booty judy goes to outer space

April 7, 2015

March is out and April is in - which means it’s time for a new mix from DJ Big Booty Judy! BBJ has journeyed into the depths of outer space to bring you this cosmically inspired round-up of tunes from the likes of T-Rex, Karen O and the Kids, and even Fred Astaire. Says Judy: ‘Remind yourself your feet are on the ground and you’re always floating through space, you little cosmic dancer.’

Tune in, turn it up, and chill out …



With wedding season approaching fast and summer parties on the horizon, be sure to book DJ Big Booty Judy now for your upcoming event!

look book : altar houseline

April 6, 2015

Located on SE Hawthorne Boulevard, Altar stocks handmade goods from the Northwest with a focus on clothing, jewelry, and apothecary. Formerly known as Mag-Big, owners Cassie Ridgway and Amy Fox (also of Iron Oxide Designs) re-modeled and re-branded the shop just a few short months ago, successfully tightening curation to impart an edgier vibe.

Cassie and her team also oversee Altar’s houseline – from initial design to production, all items are made in-house. I was pretty excited by (then Mag-Big’s) spring offerings last year and this year they’re really knocking it out of the park with easy silhouettes in sheers, silks, and beautiful prints. I was so inspired by the current line, I approached Cassie about shooting a look book for the blog.

Initially, my story was all about Altar’s new fisherman pant – the lovely ikat print and unique cut caught my attention right away, but it was the $65 price tag that sealed the deal since readers often request that I post affordable clothing that is ethically made. Visiting the shop however, I knew I needed to make this about more than just pants. To reiterate, Altar’s houseline is so generously priced – especially for handmade items – with most items priced under $100. Altar also offers free alterations and custom sizing, making their garments one of the best deals in town.

After enlisting my go-to muse, Jessica Breedlove Latham, I managed to put together my first ever look book. I hope you love it as much as I do -


altar lookbookaltar lookbook2altar lookbook3altar lookbook4altar lookbook8altar lookbook6altar-lookbook7altar lookbook5altar lookbook9 FINAL



Huge thanks to Cassie Ridgway, Jessica Breedlove Latham and Zoe Cope!!

Shop these items and more in person at Altar. Inquire here for out of area custom orders.

For more photos from this shoot, check out the VGS Tumblr.

clothes reporter : rain, rain, go away

April 2, 2015

Since noticing a dramatic uptick in recent views for an old post I did on rain boots a few years back, I’ve decided to post an update of items – not just boots – guaranteed to keep you warm and dry this spring.

First up are jackets. If I’ve learned anything from spring, it’s that layering is a best practice and a water-resistant top layer is your best line of defense. Hoods are a must as well, especially here in Portland where an umbrella immediately marks you as an outsider (or you know, someone who just really wants to stay dry – more on this in a sec). After years of choosing coats and jackets with crazy color schemes and busy prints, and countless episodes of walking around the city feeling crazy self-conscious as my jacket and outfit fought with each other to the death, I’ve decided that anymore neutral is generally the way to go. Made for wet weather and topped off with a hood, my picks are from local line Bridge & Burn and ethically-minded Everlane -

Everlane Aonrak | Bridge & Burn Warbler Jacket | Bridge & Burn x One of a Kind Macleay Jacket


Back to umbrellas, I’m going to go ahead and throw one into the mix for the hell of it. As a Portland native, this whole ‘Real Portlanders don’t use umbrellas!’ nonsense is silly to me. I used them throughout my teens and twenties and only gave up in favor of hoods a few years ago after I kept forgetting them and realized one day, ‘Oh wait, my coat has a hood!’. If you wanna use one, I won’t judge – at least, not so long as you don’t crowd me off the sidewalk with it. In fact, this bubble styled umbrella is perfect since it’s takes up less space and arguably provides more coverage from rain -

americanapparel_bubbleumbrella American Apparel Bubble Umbrella


Ok, it’s rain boot time. Fondly recalling the first pair I purchased as an adult just a few years ago, I might argue that rain boots are one of the best inventions modern society has come up with. Prior to that purchase, I wore ballet flats sans socks year round. It was a pretty common occurrence for me to misjudge the depth of a puddle, or just not even notice it, resulting in cold, wet feet for the rest of the day. Which is not even the worst of it when you realize that it can take hours or even days for your shoes to dry out. I’ve definitely had to retire a few pairs that did not hold up to being submerged in a murky puddle and really, who can blame them? I’ve chosen a variety of boots, and though my own beloved Boden boots are nearly identical to the Joules Printed Wellies below (minus the pink and printed with images of Parliment and Beefeaters), I would like to stress again the benefits of a neutral color scheme -

Tretorn Elsa Rain Boot | Joules Evedon Rain Boot | Ilse Jacobsen Rub 01 rain Boot

Joules Printed Wellie Rain Boot | Chinese Laundry Reckless Rain Boot | Ilse Jacobsen Rub 02 Rain Boot


Finally, in the vein of umbrellas and hoods, sometimes a hat is just the ticket for keeping your head dry. Convinced I was not a “hat person” I finally found one that suited me last year and it’s been a wonderful addition to my outerwear wardrobe. Here are my faves -

Woolrich Water Repellant Outback Hat | Yellow 108 Harvest Hat | Yellow 108 Canyon Hat


I hope this has been helpful – stay dry out there and remember, summer is coming!

miscellany : you’re welcome edition

April 1, 2015


Oh K-Dramas, it’s been too long. After a sitting through a few unfortunate series (Cunning Single Lady & Cheongdam-dong Alice, which I never actually finished) I decided to revisit the holy grail – Boys Over Flowers. Based on a Japanese manga of the same name and considered the end all be all of K-Dramas, Boys Over Flowers was my introduction to the weird, wonderful, and wacky genre. Not for the faint of heart, BOF runs for 26 episodes, each clocking in at 65 minutes.

I still fondly recall the summer I spent obsessively hunched over my ipod touch, ‘borrowing’ wifi from the Starbucks by my work just to squeeze in as much watching time as I could on my lunch break and all the nights I stayed up way past my bedtime, giving myself permission for ‘just one more episode’. How could I not be obsessed with story highlights including Jan Di’s comically over-the-top performances, extreme bullying by dudes who call themselves ‘Four Flowers’, forced makeovers, fantasy shopping sprees, kindnappings, roofied drink plots, psychotic mothers ruining peoples lives, arranged marriages, and of course, always weepy Kim Hyun Joon …


I sat down last night and started right up at the beginning and oh man, it’s still as amazing as I remember. While watching the first episode again, I had a few thoughts…

Our heroine Jan Di is so goonish and exaggerated, I’m not sure who is supposed to identify with her. Sure she mostly does what’s right in the face of immense Korean pressure to look the other way while rich people do as they please but ugh. How unfair too that the dudes look amazing with their Raquel Welch do’s while poor Jan Di gets stuck with an infantile Prince Valiant bowl-bob. I mean, just look at this getup they style her in for a beach vacation. Someone hated her …


Back to the first episode – where are all the teachers?? Students regularly gather in groups of 30-50 to watch the latest outcast get humiliated and beaten and no authority ever shows up to stop it. This school is for the richest 1% of the richest 1% and there’s no security? Now that I think about it, I’m not sure a teacher is ever really shown. It’s ok, Jan Di manages to see what really matters after she’s peppered with eggs and has flour dumped on her as she wonders ‘How many pancakes is this?’.

Back in the Flower Cave, “Ringo” (I don’t remember his actual name since he’s such a throwaway character but there’s always a Ringo!) solidifies his bizarre and out of place membership in the Four Flowers by randomly yelling English slang such as ‘Cool bro, yo!’ at top volume and punctuating with high fives. Then again, this is the leader of F4 …


Oh Jun Pyo! Good ol’ Curly Head. He’s actually impossible not to fall in love with. Oh no, the music! It was about halfway into the series the first time I watched that it occurred to me I was starting to really dig the beyond terrible soundtrack of, like, five songs played NON-F’ING-STOP. No really, turns out they’re super good.

Ok, well that’s all I got from Episode 1. If you really love genius tv – and especially love binge watching – you can follow along with me since Boys Over Flowers is on Netflix. You’re welcome!

peace out

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