sister style : maya

August 27, 2015

Portlander by way of Brooklyn, Maya Harper was just begging for a style feature. Not literally of course – I did the asking – but the good natured and leggy beauty’s strong ties to the local fashion scene are strong, including past and current positions at local apparel companies and modeling gigs for the likes of Bridge + Burn and talented local photographer Marge Jacobsen. As if that weren’t enough, she’s currently hard at work on a blog and hair care line devoted to curly haired people everywhere.

I stopped by Maya’s homey North Portland abode on what started as a rare cool day, though the respite didn’t last long as the clouds broke up soon after my arrival. We got down to it, and I snapped pics while we chatted – like, a lot – about local fashion stuff, Maya’s soon to launch blog, and PDX VS. NYC (we agreed that the air is nicer here but that it’s also nice to have dining options at 2am). I have to admit, spending the afternoon with Maya felt just like reconnecting with an old school friend and I hope we cross paths again soon.


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VGS: What is your first fashion related memory?

M: When I was about 7 years old I would take the sheets from the linen closet and drape them all over myself as if they were gowns. It was hilarious since sometimes the sheets were from when I was a baby and they would have cutesy prints like little animals or hearts and stars. I would walk around the house as if I were royalty and wait for my parents to comment on how amazing I looked. You would have thought I had on the latest Marchesa gown the way I was strutting. I never really liked wearing dresses as a kid but would rock the hell out of a striped queen sized sheet. This was my regular weekend afternoon routine.

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VGS: Who are your hair style idols?

M: Teyonah Parris from Mad Men, Solange, and Alexis and Isis of St Beauty Band to name a few. I love the styles they do with their natural curly hair. It looks so effortless and edgy. It’s really inspiring to see chicks rocking their natural tresses. Oh, I can’t forget TK and Cipriana Quann! They’re twin sisters that just own it. They’re are so damn cool and they have so much hair. Everyone should check them out.

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VGS: Which one item can you never have too many of?

M: Hmmm. For me, gold or brass rings, especially those really simple delicate ones. Midi ones too. They help me transition into those bigger statement pieces and they just look great with every outfit. Sometimes I’ll wear 2, sometimes 7. I usually get mine from Betsy & Iya.

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VGS: Which designers / brands / shops should readers be checking out?

M: Midnight Collective is my favorite apothecary line in Portland. They have amazing essential water sprays that I love to spray in my hair in the morning before I start my day. And they’re soaps are smell AMAZING!

My favorite shop right now is Pistils on N. Mississippi. Every time I need a good pick me up I go in there and purchase a beautiful plant. The staff is so knowledgeable and kind. They also sell a lot of amazing home and bath and body products – Herbivore Botanicals makes my favorite face mask EVER!

Lately I’ve been wearing a lot of black and white and Pantainanas based in Bali has the coolest black and white graphic tees. I’m all about the oversized tee. It’s great all year round.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m smitten by Maya’s sophisticatedly relaxed style.

Follow Maya on Instagram @curlportlnd for hair inspo and news on her forthcoming blog and hair care line.


Maya (25 of 27)

beauty beat : tnt color lab

August 24, 2015


Last winter I read about a pop-up going down at West End Select Shop for newcomer TNT Color Lab and was infinitely bummed that I was going to be out of town at the same time. Wait, what is TNT Color Lab? Oh, just a highly curated collection of cosmetics and skincare items imported from South Korea. Friends and longtime readers know just how gaga I am over Korean soap operas (K-dramas if you’re nasty) and if they’ve taught me anything, it’s that Koreans take their skin SERIOUSLY. Famous for a daily ten-step beauty regimen, Korean women have majorly beautiful skin – at least, all the actresses do.

Intrigued, I got in touch with TNT founder Tina Bue last spring for more info. Since TNT’s launch was a ways off yet, Tina graciously let me preview her amazing goodies, even providing some fun sheet masks to try out, and we came up with an idea to share it all here on the blog, tutorial style. One of my biggest blog projects to date, Tina and I coordinated a big shoot that went down last June (and was so much fun!) and I worked hard on making tutorial gif’s for some of TNT’s star products.

First up are those sort of creepy but way cool sheet masks. Intimidating at first, they’re actually totes easy to use and the result is super hydrated, dewy skin for the win. Don’t take my word for it though, let BFF’s and face mask experts Emily and Shola show you the ropes –


Pre-step: Introduce yourself to your mask, you’re about to become very intimate.

Masks2Step one: Remove mask from wrapper and unfold fully.


Step two: Line up eye, nose, and mouth openings with your own features and apply mask to face, gently patting the edges for maximum adherence. Let mask sit on face for 10-20 minutes or as directed by package.


Step three: Remove mask by gently pulling downwards from the forehead. Allow excess serum to absorb into your skin or remove with a gentle toner, perhaps one with with hazel and rose petals. Your choice.


Step four: Dispose of your mask responsibly.

(Tip: I’ve had masks on occasion that still have lots of serum left after removal. In those cases you can re-fold the mask with the used side in and place it back in the package using a chip clip or whatevs to keep air out and re-use the other side within a week or so. I don’t know if this is TNT approved, but you’re welcome.)

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TNT Color Lab is now online (check out their end of summer mix!) and accepting orders for their curated beauty collections, most of which include – you guessed it – sheets masks! Click here and treat yo’self.

TNT Color Lab is also @tntcolorlab on Instagram, I suggest following along for lots of general awesomeness and upcoming shop updates.

Huge thanks to Chloe Thompson for the hair + make-up and Crazy Wind for wardrobe!

 Stay tuned for another fun tutorial next month!

sister style : alison

August 20, 2015

Alison (22 of 25)

After I spied an Instapic of Alison Wu in the feed of local designer Laurs Kemp, I was fully convinced of her Sister Style status by her deft pairing of a Laurs banana print tank with a pair of citrus print swim shorts and kitschy pineapple bottle complete with wacky straw for good effect. That was all I saw in the tightly cropped pic but it was enough and I knew Alison belonged here. One of us, one of us …

Seriously though, not only does Alison have a fashionable job as copywriter for local sustainable clothing line Nau, but she’s got an undeniable eye for styling her collection of minimal vintage and indie designer pieces with serious sartorial skill. No detail is left out, from her modern bob to her spot-on yellow pedi – which even in it’s slightly chipped state seemed deliberately un-perfect so as to balance everything.

Stopping by her enviably white and bright new North Portland home, I was delighted to meet her sweet pup, Tilly, and lovely cat, Rue. After a house tour and some major fawning over Tilly, Alison and I got down to the hard work portion of this job. Except it really isn’t hard work when you’ve got an awesome model like Alison –

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VGS: What is your first fashion related memory?

A: Dancing around the living room to Fleetwood Mac dressed in a black turtleneck and black leggings, channelling Stevie Nicks. Age 7.

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VGS: How does working for a sustainable clothing company impact your personal style?

A: Well besides getting a very generous clothing allowance every year, working for Nau has made me selective in the brands I support and the fabrics I choose to wear. I also appreciate attention to detail in construction way more than I used to.

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VGS: Which one item can you never have too many of?

A: Shoes. Even when I’m traveling I always pack at least 4 pairs. The right shoes make the look.

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VGS: Which designers / brands / shops should readers be checking out?

A: I am really into Kaarem right now. Simple, elegant with just the right amount of curiosity. Locally, Laurs Kemp is killing it right now. I want everything in her collection. Also, Elizabeth Suzann and Black Crane have been on steady rotation in my closet for the past year or so. My favorite stores in Portland are Backtalk and Palace. Katie (Freedle of Backtalk) has done an amazing job of curating a collection of new and vintage pieces that work so well together. The new location on the westside is exquisite.

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For more of Alison’s sparkling-like-a-gold-chain style, follow her @alison__wu on Instagram.


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sister style : lizzie

August 13, 2015

Lizzie (20 of 22)

When my pal Autumn recently suggested Primecut founder and designer Lizzie Falkenstein as a Sister Style subject, I was surprised I hadn’t thought of her first. Lizzie’s cool, laid back disposition and superb eye for detail go beyond the edgy-luxury of her handbags, culminating in a style that is minimal & polished and is reflected in both her wardrobe and perfectly decorated North Portland home.

Stopping by at the start of another hot day here in Portland, I met Lizzie and her incredibly cute and energetic German Shepard pup, Zero. Given the whole energetic thing, I wasn’t able to catch much more than a few blurs of Zero’s fur zooming in and out of frame, but trust me, she’s cute! After scouting good backdrop spots and admiring Lizzie’s boyfriend’s sweet BMW 2002, we got down to business –

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VGS: What is your first fashion related memory?

L: Hmmm, I think I accidentally fell into the world of fashion late in life. I first became seriously aware of my appearance when I started practicing architecture. As a designer I felt it was important that what I wore represented my design aesthetic. Since transitioning into handbag design I have become immersed in the world of independent designers.

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VGS: What three things do you always carry in your bag?

L: I like to carry as little as possible. I normally just carry a clutch with my money, phone and keys. Not very exciting for a bag lady, huh?

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VGS: Which one item can you never have too many of?

L: I may be slightly biased but I don’t think you can ever have too many bags. Part of the reason why I love working with cowhide is that each bag is completely unique. I’ll throw on a simple black dress and let the bag make the outfit.

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VGS: Which designers / brands / shops should readers be checking out?

L: Designers + Brands: Dusen Dusen for awesome prints, Ilana Kohn, Miranda Bennett, and Elizabeth Suzann for timeless pieces. Shops: I love the new Backtalk location in Portland. It’s twice as big as their east side space and has a great selection of locally designed items.

Lizzie (21 of 22)Necklace by Cradle Jewelry

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Many thanks to Lizzie for having me over and being a joy to photograph!

For more of Lizzie’s chill polished style, follow @primecutbags on Instagram.

around portland : VGS turns 4!

August 10, 2015


Oh hai, guys! In case you missed it, I threw a big party last Friday to celebrate the journey of VGS and how far it’s come these past four years since I claimed the Votre Grande Soeur domain and went live with my thoughts on fashion. What started as a personal fashion journal that I kept to myself for the first year and a half has become something that I now proudly share with the world, and it’s been a crazy trip.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have the support that I do – so many lovely friends and fans came out to help me whoop it up and I couldn’t have asked for a better party. From Jillian at Seven Sisters who hosted my fete, to my bestie Jessica who helped me get everything ready, to DJ Big Booty Judy who kept the records spinning, to Eastside Distilling who provided the booze, to Nikki of Beach Bones Jewelry who provided one of my dreamiest giveaway prizes, to Tina of TNT Color Lab and artist Carlyn Wutkee for helping add some dazzle to the goodie bags, to Caroline of The Full Moon Gathering who provided my rad VGS balloons … I can’t ever thank you gals enough!! To everyone, just thank you. I can’t say it enough! A million times, thank you.

I’m seriously at a loss for words with all the gratitude welling within me, so I’ll just leave you with some pictures from the evening –

VGS4thBDAY-2VGS4thBDAY-47VGS4thBDAY-24VGS4thBDAY-26VGS4thBDAY-23VGS4thBDAY-25VGS4thBDAY-27VGS4thBDAY-33VGS4thBDAY-28VGS4thBDAY-37VGS4thBDAY-44VGS4thBDAY-43VGS4thBDAY-46VGS4thBDAY-48VGS4thBDAY-49Fitting Beach Bones ring winner, Melanie – aka my new sister wife

VGS4thBDAY-50VGS4thBDAY-55VGS4thBDAY-56VGS4thBDAY-57VGS4thBDAY-58VGS4thBDAY-59VGS4thBDAY-62VGS4thBDAY-66Thanks to Josh Latham for the evening’s pics!




dj big booty judy does parties

August 4, 2015

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What what! It’s time for a new mix from Portland’s own spinderella, DJ Big Booty Judy. Since summer is really just one big party in and of itself, BBJ put together some smokin’ tunes guaranteed to get the good times rolling.

Says Judy: What comes before Part-B? Part-A. A quick mix to accompany your tail feather shake, with or without company. Party time, excellent.


Part-A from DJBigBootyJudy on 8tracks Radio.


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Are you free this Friday? Of course you are, so come see DJ Big Booty Judy spin her patented tincture of oldies & goodies, soul & hip hop, rarities & pop live and in person at the VGS 4th Birthday Blogversarry Fête! Yes, you’re invited! The first 50 guests will receive a goodie bag, a few of which will have rad giveaway items including a $25 gift certificate from our host, Seven Sisters, a lovely pearl pyramid ring from Beach Bones Jewelry, hand-painted lighters from artist Carlyn Wutkee, spirits from Eastside Distillery, and skin care from TNT Colorlab! See you there, Portland.


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Oh, and just in case you need more persuasion, Haunt will also be celebrating their birthday with a big sale next door! Come get your summer party on and do a little shopping too!

look book : stay home club

August 3, 2015

Apparel, accessory, and home wares line, Stay Home Club, drolly cites itself as ‘a lifestyle brand for people with no life’. As a fan of the brand for a few years now, I see it more as goods for people who prefer more of a quiet lifestyle; introverts, homebodies, and wallflowers alike. Imagined and brought to life by Olivia Mew, items are designed and produced in Stay Home Club’s Montreal studio. Like all the best brands, Stay Home Club has remained on my radar as the designs just get better and better –

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I dunno, that Teenage Feelings patch sums it all up for me.

Shop Stay Home Club here and follow @stayhomeclub on Instagram for more homebody style inspo.

#wcw : kello goeller’s habitat at duplex gallery

July 29, 2015

Kello (5 of 5)


Continuing my new #womancrushwednesday series, I’m beyond excited to turn you on to the work of native New Yorker and current Portlander, Kello Goeller. Currently showing her crazy ambitious (and crazy awesome) installation, Habitat, at Duplex Gallery in Old Town, I stopped in last week for a special Q+A viewing hosted by Duplex and The Full Moon Gathering gals and had my mind blown. To quote Duplex owner and curator, Jessica Breedlove Latham: ‘Habitat is a complex multitude of parts: map, mandala, video, self-portrait via journey, installation, and experience.’ She’s not exaggerating.

The year-long endeavor culminates into an experience that is immersive, enchanting, and hypnotic as you piece together Kello’s world while seated on pads of moss from the very forest you’re watching her navigate. On one wall is a map of the entire mandala which is loosely based on traditional Tibetan structure and started out as hand-drawn lines which were mirrored together to create the finished map. Looking closely, you can see tiny Kello’s moving throughout. Sectioned into lands of varying emotions and experiences, two more walls show enlarged details, bringing each land to vivid life as Kello explores, smiles, dances, rages, and everything in between.

Having Kello on hand to answer all the questions that came to mind as we viewed her magical mandala was pretty special. At one point, as I watched little Kello shimmy and dance on the projection screen, I wondered if she’d had music along to help guide her rhythm. After someone else commented on the soundtrack (which was created just for Habitat by Biddy Thomas), I voiced my question and learned that she had rough demos of the current soundtrack and as well as other tunes with the same BPM to listen to while filming scenes with movement.


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I feel like a bit of a jerk sharing this so late since tomorrow is the last day to view Habitat before it’s de-install, but if you’re able I highly suggest popping into Duplex ASAP to check it out for yourself! No matter which style of art you gravitate towards, Habitat is the sort of work that busts through boundaries and enthralls all who take the time to take it in.


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To see where Habitat goes next and keep up on Kello’s projects follow @kelloworld on Instagram. You should also follow @duplexgallery on Instagram to stay up-to-date on other rad upcoming shows. Since you’re already at it, be sure to follow @fullmoonworkshop too – they helped arrange this special viewing event and host amazing workshop retreats.

look book : morph knitwear’s infinite abyss

July 27, 2015

One of Portland’s most unique and intriguing apparel lines, simultaneously heavy and diaphanous Morph Knitwear, has released a new collection for 2015 titled Infinite Abyss. Morph designer Angela Thornton has cited death as one of the brand’s main inspirations, but the addition of white to the new collection hints at a newfound lightness – then again, in certain cultures white is seen as a color of death and mourning. Still, since past collections have been exclusively rendered in black and gray, I see the new addition as adding a freshness and sense of alacrity.

I especially love the editorial Angela put together for the collection. Featuring VGS Sister Style alumna and one to watch, Kayleigh Nelson, the garments – which range from dresses to tunics to vests to leggings, all hand knit in natural fibers – are highlighted in graceful repose against a stark beach dune backdrop, allowing the garments to shine in all their textural glory –


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One of my fave current trends for summer is an open weave knit (I wear mine with a black bra for ultimate contrast). Morph’s linen and cotton tops and tunics are definitely wearable even now in the prime of summer, and will serve as luxurious and cozy layering pieces come fall.


Shop Morph here and follow @morphknitwear on Instagram.

indie designers + giveaway! : oru

July 23, 2015



Last week I introduced sweet new jewelry line, Bizu; one half of former line Matchbox Studio, one-time partners Megan McKean and Agnieszka Zoltowski shifted their focus mid- re-brand, deciding it made the most sense for them both to split the lines into independent ventures. This week it’s my pleasure to introduce the other half of that re-brand, Oru.

Oru is Agnieszka’s line and she’s using it to explore new ways to use the Japanese Delica beads both lines are known for. Casting them in bronze and sterling silver, Oru’s new designs incorporate bangle, ring, and earring designs that can handle the sort of wear and stress that the glass versions can’t. Plus, the new designs achieve the difficult feat of looking a bit badass in a wholly ladylike way. Jewelry that can blend lines in that manner is always a win-win if you ask me. I visited Agnieszka’s studio and asked her about the recent changes, what Oru means, and about her process. Read on for her answers and a fun giveaway!




VGS: Tell me a little about yourself, what is your background and how did you get into jewelry design + production? 

A: I learned a lot about craftsmanship and art from my parents, both of whom worked in the arts and eventually opened their own business restoring art and antiques. They fostered a love of making, and supported my bead addiction since the 4th grade, which is when I started learning how to make jewelry (reading all the books that my parents would give me!). I took a bead weaving class a few years after that, and it opened up a whole new world – I started weaving beads around anything I could find, totally in love with the meticulous process and the texture it created.

Oddly, I never thought that making jewelry was something I could support myself with, so I studied liberal arts in college, thinking maybe I would be a teacher. But jewelry called me back the year after I graduated, and I decided to take some actual metalsmithing classes. At the same time, I magically found an amazing job as a designer at a fine jewelry company in Seattle, where I studied and worked for two years. With those experiences under my belt, I moved to Portland to attend Oregon College of Art and Craft to study metals and design. After completing my studies at OCAC, I started my first jewelry company called Appleseed Design in 2009.

VGS: What does Oru mean and how does that translate to the line?

A: I started looking at Japanese words as names for the line because the beads themselves come from Japan, and it felt important to connect back to this source. I settled on Oru, meaning to weave, which is significant because the beads are woven together, but also because two different materials and two very different techniques are woven together to create this line. I feel that it also gives me the freedom to play with weaving new techniques into the line, and to always be pushing my edge. For example in the new Tela collection, the woven beads are molded, cast, and fabricated into rings and bangles. In the final piece, there is no *actual* weaving, yet the texture, the woven imprint, is very much the focus of the piece. The word ‘to weave’ also invites the idea of interconnectedness, and I love that.

VGS: After working with Megan as Matchbox Studio for so long, now that you’ve re-branded and split the two new lines between each other, how is your creative process different than before? 

A: When we designed for Matchbox, it was a super fun collaborative process. We would usually sketch independently, and then come together to brainstorm and combine or curate the ideas we brought to the table. Megan then used her awesome Illustrator skills to mock up the styles, and I would use those images to help me prototype, troubleshoot, and eventually fabricate the pieces in metal, and weave the beaded samples.

It’s always a process to figure out the details of what structure is going to work, how many beads can fit into a space, etc., and in terms of how I’m working on Oru, not much has changed. I’m back to using a more traditional process of creating new pieces by measuring and drawing them out directly on the metal and then fabricating them. And I’m still getting feedback and reflection from friends and other rad designers so it still feels like a collaborative process.

VGS: What is your biggest current inspiration for Oru?

A: My biggest inspiration is the materials themselves, because the work is so process-driven. But if I have to narrow it down, seeing the bright colors of graffiti or the muted industrial tones in my neighborhood influences color, while architectural details or even folk art can influence a form.

VGS: Your color palette is so fresh and modern, how did you decide on it? Will it change seasonally? 

A: Thanks! Yes, it was really fun choosing the colors and narrowing them down – though it was certainly a labor of love. I think it took about two weeks of sewing different patterns and colors to really get down to it. I received some great advice from Jessica of Son of a Sailor – she said that each color way should appeal to a different type of style, whether that’s minimalist, playful, earthy, etc. and I really took that to heart! That original palette really feels like a celebration of Oru as a brand, and I have a feeling it will be resurfacing in other areas. 😉

After all that work, I have to say that yes, they will change seasonally. The new collection has two of the same colors from the last, but is matched with two new muted tones. Right now, it feels like the palette will shift back forth between either more saturated or more muted tones, but we’ll see what happens!

VGS: What can we expect from Oru going forward?

More surprises. 😉 I would love to continue developing new concepts and techniques in glass and metal, and weave them into the line. The new Tela collection is a great example of that. I love that the name of the line means ‘to weave’ and offers a lot of space to play with new ideas, while still remaining true to the essence of Oru.

Oru-6Oru-4Oru-7Product photos courtesy of Oru | All other photos by VGSblog



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To further celebrate Oru’s launch, Agnieszka and I have teamed up on a GIVEAWAY!

One lucky reader will win their choice of an Oru ring or bangle set from the new Tela collection!

To enter, visit Oru’s web shop and leave a comment below letting us know which Oru design is your favorite. Head to the VGS Instagram @votregrandesoeur for a bonus entry opportunity.

A winner will be drawn and notified on Wednesday, 7/29. Best of luck!!

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