indie designers : reif haus aw16

July 28, 2016

Friends and longtime readers may already know that my journey to discovering both locally and ethically made fashion all started with Portland-based apparel line Reif Haus. (In fact, Reif Haus designer Lindsey Reif was my very first Rad Lady as seen here (sorry, Lindsey!) and thankfully, as my photography skills improved, here too.)

With beginnings as a line of reworked garments sold in NE Alberta boutique Frock, Reif Haus has has stood the test of time, coming into it’s own as a bonafide apparel line that now includes lounge and swim wear. Once available only in Portland, Reif Haus can now be found in fashion capitals like LA, New York, Tokyo and online at uber indie boutique Garmentory. With that in mind, I’m delighted to share the latest from Reif Haus with you today —

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Lindsey cites the Japanese art of wabi-sabi as well as the imperfections and beauty of nature as her inspiration for this collection of versatile separates. Focused on layering, texture, and a neutral palette of navy, black, sienna and white, materials such as denim and waxed canvas have been used to impart both comfort and practicality which are both key as the mercury begins to dip. I love it all.


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Reif Haus AW16 is in select stores now and will be available via the Reif Haus web shop starting in mid August. Follow @reifhaus on Instagram to keep up on their latest news, sales, events, and more.

look book + giveaway! : lumafina jewelry

July 26, 2016

Getting her start in jewelry design + production in 2008, Lumfina designer Hilary Alexander lives what she calls a handmade life. Based in SE Portland, Hilary continues to create stunning jewelry made in her home studio using brass, sterling silver, linen cord, and semi-precious stones including herkimer diamonds, lapis lazuli, moonstone, and turquoise to name a few. Her designs suit a range of styles but all have an element of primitive design that makes for jewelry that is as timeless as it is edgy. I’m especially feeling her most recent line which has just been released for AW16 …

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To celebrate Lumafina’s newest collection, Hilary and I have teamed up to offer one lucky reader a pair of Linu Suma studs in their choice of size and stone! (Pictured above: large with labradorite)

To enter, simply visit the Lumafina web shop and leave a comment below letting us know which design is your favorite. For a bonus entry opportunity head to the VGS Instagram @votregrandesoeur and look for the giveaway post for details.

A winner will be randomly chosen and notified on Sunday, 7/31. Best of luck!!

sister style : caroline

July 23, 2016

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Do you know Caroline Lai? If not, you’re missing out. A mover and a shaker in Portland’s fashion scene, Caroline splits her time as a stylist, blogger (and sometimes model) for local fashion industry networking group P:Fine, fashion writer and photographer for Willamette Week, and as a coordinator in Nike’s photo studio. In person she’s bright, bubbly, and full of enthusiasm. Portland is lucky to have someone like her spreading the good word about independent fashion and design.

After meeting Caroline for tea last spring to discuss the current fashion and blogging scene, we became fast friends and I couldn’t wait to add her to the Sister Style annals. Her style is preppy with a side of edge and she mixes classic black with distressed denim with pops of color like a pro, never feeling cookie-cutter. After meeting up with her at her home in St. Johns, we decided to shoot in Cathedral Park which is literally right outside her front door. I loved contrasting her style with both the abundant flora and the more industrial spots in and around the park …

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Thank you for being such a lovely model, Caroline!

Follow Caroline on Instagram @carorinerai for fun behind the scenes glimpses of her fashion adventures.

indie designers : hello happy plants

July 9, 2016

Plants, am I right? I always knew I had a green thumb (I’m a taurus after all), it just took me years and years to find it. The secret to shedding my black thumb turned out to be – wait for it! – paying attention to them. Crazy! My issue, you see, was that after a while I just stopped seeing my plants. Even when they dried up to nothing, I let them sit there for months before they would suddenly come into focus one day. Ooops.

Well no more. The year before last I resolved to take good care of my plants babies and each one I keep alive and healthy for six months or more means I get to reward myself with some new babies. I had a little misstep with a tropical variety recently – I didn’t know it was tropical so I let it go two weeks without a drop of water and by the time I replanted and watered it, it was too late. I’m not really counting that one against myself because I was looking at it every day, and honestly, it looked fine. Lesson learned: look up your plant baby’s species and care tips right away!

Another trick I’ve utilized is fun planters, like this vintage dude here. Just try and ignore that awesomeness. Air plants though. Try as I might, they either shrivel up and die from too little water or else they rot and fall apart from too much water. I’ve gone through at least ten of them in the last year and it didn’t matter if I ignored them or soaked them, they all flew the coop to plant heaven. Since then I’ve gotten myself a mister and boy, did that thing make feel like I leveled up in my plant care abilities. (Million dollar idea: a game like Pokemon, but with plants. Right?? I’d be playing it day and night!) I’m getting ready to take another stab at tillandsias and am hoping that a little spritz every day or two might be the secret. But also, what about these amaze-balls planters?? No way I’m forgetting about my babies when they live in these awesome handmade concrete vessels from Hello Happy Plants


I keep my air plants in my kitchen so many of these designs would fit right in, though why not put them all over, everywhere? Made from gypsum concrete, Hello Happy Plants founder Kelsey creates each mold herself, hand pours the concrete and hand paints each. Personally, I love the pop-art-meets-outsider-art aesthetic and bright colors, plus each order includes an air plant (some even come with multiple plants).

Check out Hello Happy Plants here and follow @hellohappyplants on Instagram.




Oh and btw, if you’re interested I’m posting some informal plant talks on the VGS Tumblr.

east meets west : buried diamond + rogue minx

July 7, 2016

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Last year I thought it would be super fun to produce my own photo shoot and though I’d done somewhat similar shoots before, this one was taking things up a notch with borrowed wardrobe, an actual location, and two models. Looking to have some fun and the opportunity for a learning experience, I got both. In fact, that learning experience was so steep I’m just now at a point where I feel the photos are ready to share. Lessons learned? 1. Do work with awesome designers you admire 2. Don’t use photos from your big shoot to test out a new photo editing program that you’ve never used before 3. Don’t be so married to one set result that you sit on your photos for a year. Check, check, and check. Sure, the vision I had in my head was worlds apart from what I ended up with but they’re still cool pics and in the end, that’s the point.

Back to the shoot, I envisioned bored girls in an arcade: anime inspired styling, bright colors, a tinge of goth-ness, garish lights, junk food imagery and the like. I decided on a local arcade as my backdrop and enlisted my friends Hillary Boles and Shola Lawson to be my girls and was psyched to be borrowing clothing from New York based designer Martha Moore Porter of Buried Diamond and Portland based designer Anne Marie Cooper of Rogue Minx. Hence, east meets west – coasts, anyway. I loved the bright colors and cartoony prints of Buried Diamond and couldn’t wait to contrast them with the dark and edgy designs of Rogue Minx in an homage to my own teenage dressing habits circa 1996; a staunch #summergoth (though that wasn’t even a thing then and we certainly didn’t have hashtags!), it was then that I broke up my black habit in truly devoted attempts at emulating Bjork’s wackily colorful ensembles of the time.

So yeah, that but 2015 …

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Huge thanks to Rogue Minx and Buried Diamond for lending clothing and being so patient. Huge thanks too to my lovely models Hillary and Shola and to Ground Kontrol for letting us shoot our fashiony stuff around their games.

beauty beat : age of earth collective

July 5, 2016

Portland-based Age of Earth Collective may appear to be a relative newcomer to Portland’s fragrance + apothecary scene but that’s due to a recent re-branding. Formerly known as Bohemian Beauty Co., founder and maker Roxanne Capparelli knows a thing or two about mixing dreamy scents. While Bohemian Beauty Co. focused more on skincare, Age of Earth Collective has shifted the focus to scent.

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Intrigued by the switch, I reached out to Roxanne to learn more. After inviting me to check out her studio, I fell in love with Age of Earth and it’s process. Letting the tarot guide her each day, Roxanne hand pours each batch of product. To me that speaks volumes about her skill and attention to detail, both of which shine through in her perfumes, incense cones, and room sprays. I spent what felt like forever taking deep whiff after whiff of everything, finally deciding on a few products to test out. In the end I made some excellent choices, though truthfully anything I might have picked would have been an excellent choice.

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Piquing my curosity most were the incense cones. Admittedly, I’ve never been much of an “incense person”. While the idea of incense greatly appeals to the Taurus in me, my experience in incense shopping has always been disappointing at best. No matter what a label might say, you know ‘Angel Dreams’ or ‘Apple’, I’d find myself quickly overpowered by the same musky smell that I associate with drum circles. No thanks. Resigned to believing incense was only for those with an affinity for nag champa and patchouli, I was beyond delighted when I lit a cone of Age of Earth’s Thoreau for the above photo. It’s notes of pine, vetiver and rosewood create a divine aroma that’s uplifting and not at all overpowering. It was the first time I burned incense and didn’t have to open a window and leave the room after a few minutes. In fact, I wanted to light another as soon as it burned down. Not to say the smell had disappeared, I just loved it that much and didn’t want it to fade away, well, ever.

Then I burned Ignatius. So smitten with Thoreau I was, I neglected to try it’s mate until many weeks later. Before sitting down to watch ‘The Witch’ recently I was drawing the blinds and lighting candles when it occurred to me that Ignatius’ notes of frankincense, holy basil and vetiver would really set the tone. It did. Reminiscent of church incense, without being too literal, it mirrored the forest scenery and religious hysteria perfectly. Ok, maybe not the hysteria part (ok, not at all) but you know what I mean. It now enjoys the same amount of burn time as Thoreau.

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After the initial incense burning, I tried out Ritual. A unisex perfume, I chose Ritual for it’s palo santo, rosewood, sage and vetiver notes. Again, I’ve never been much of a “perfume person” for the same reason of bad experiences with overpowering and downright cloying scents. Thankfully, that’s something niche perfumers have been working on fixing and Age of Earth Collective is definitely up there with the best of them. There may not be as many notes involved here as in other brands but I love that simplicity and feel that Roxanne’s holistic approach makes some serious magic happen in these bottles. I prefer a woodsy scent and this one fit the bill with warmth and depth.

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Last to try (but not least) was Aurora, one of Age of Earth’s room + linen sprays. In my mind, there’s nothing fancier or more luxurious than a really good quality room + linen spray. Curating your environment with scent just screams ‘YOU’VE MADE IT’, am I right? I am. I know that because spritzing the bathroom before I get ready for bed each night has turned my most put-off chore into a lovely experience. My other favorite new ritual is to smudge my bedroom with white sage and follow with two spritz’s of Aurora. Golden rose, white tea, ginger and saffron – with Roxanne’s treatment they combine to make heaven in a bottle.




Age of Earth Collective is offering a limited time discount code to VGS readers. Use code VOTREGRANDE at checkout for 20% off all items.

Follow Age of Earth on Instagram and Like them on Facebook for news about upcoming pop-ups, sales, re-stocks, new items and more.

sister style : freya

June 30, 2016

Freya (18 of 50)

Freya Flavell made her way to Portland all the way from Melbourne earlier this year. Motivated by love to make such a long distance move, her Ruth Radelet meets Jane Birkin features and impressive mix n’ match style convinced me right away to add her the Sister Style ranks. Her closet boasts treasures from her grandmother’s closet, collected vintage items, and indie Australian labels which come together on her beautifully thanks to her eye for mixing patterns, texture, and color.

By day Freya slings toys and cupcakes but in her free time she illustrates quirkily beautiful women dressed in what I have to imagine are Freya’s dream outfits, her drawings removing the limitations of sartorial reality. I met up with her a few months ago and was immediately cheered by her charming orange Victorian home and sweet demeanor. We talked travel and the Melbourne design scene over tea, and then we took some pictures –

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VGS: What is your first fashion related memory?

F: I used to have an amazing 50s style salmon pink tiered dress with silver sparkly ric-rac trim. My first fashion memory is wearing this dress around our Seattle home at about age 6. When we moved to Australia it came with me and stayed in our dress up box for years, but sadly I grew out of it. Before I moved to Portland at the start of this year I gave it to a best friend’s daughter. It felt good to pass on the silver ric-rac legacy – she loved it a lot!

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VGS: What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed between Australian fashion and American fashion?

I think Australia is always reevaluating its creative and cultural identity and trying to find its individual voice. In my opinion, labels like Romance Was Born, Desert Designs and Jenny Kee capture the true essence of Australian boldness, multiculturalism, its unique flora and fauna & Australiana pop culture (see the Romance Was Born Snugglepot & Cuddlepie collection referencing a classic Australian children’s book). I personally don’t know many US labels that explore American culture in such a literal way.

In my observation of Melbourne and Portland street style I would say the trends are relatively similar, lots of navy linen minimalism and plenty of tattoos, but while the Portland jewelry scene seems to have a lot of dainty, geometric brass, in Melbourne accessories tend to be more bold and colorful!

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

F: There comes a time when you definitely do have too much of one thing, but I do always like to have an exciting array of vintage summer dresses and plenty of pairs of underwear and socks.

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

F: You should be checking out my favorite emerging and established Australian labels of course! Hunter The Label, FME Apparel, Oats The Label, Abbey Rich, Per-tim, Sister Studios, Monkhouse, Kloke, Rouda, Vege Threads, P.A.M., Soot, House Of Cards, Vanishing Elephant, Verner, Caves Collect, Kuwaii, Witu, Campbell Charlotte, Mirador, Romance Was Born, Alannah Hill & Alpha 60 are faves.

For jewellery, Petri & SpecksZaric Jewellery (Slovenian but popular in Melbourne), OnoGlitter Dream Accessories, POMSBianca MavrickTilly JewelleryHolly Leonardson, Al-Ma Jewellery & The Misandrist Superstore.

I would also recommend checking out Folk Collective, a new Melbourne street style modeling agency that is always coming out with collaborations and showing off the freshest Melb faces.

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I hope to photograph Freya again this summer, her gamine charm and lovely artwork are so inspiring!

Follow Freya on Instagram and Tumblr and check out her drawings on Etsy.

look book + giveaway! : beach bones jewelry

June 27, 2016

Hi, friends!! It’s been so long but I’m delighted to officially take VGS out of hiatus status today. To kick things off, I’m excited to share a dazzlingly lovely look book from Portland’s own Beach Bones Jewelry. As if that weren’t enough, I have teamed up with Beach Bones designer Nikki Peterson to giveaway a titular Geo Necklace from her new Geo Collection!

More on that in a sec – first things first, let’s take a peek at that look book …


Photos: Shola Lawson

Dancers: Samantha Campbell and Katie Scherman

Styling: Nicolette Peterson and Shola Lawson

Location: NW Dance Project and Ice Cream Party


I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a major set of heart eyes going on over here. To create this magic, Nikki teamed up with my good friend and sometimes collab partner, Shola Lawson, who shot the photos on 35mm film. Drawing inspiration from real women, Nikki says: The look book concept stems from the fact that I have been dying to do something that celebrates this fabulous trend of new feminism by showing real, talented women in their element. Part of me wants to continue with the theme and ask every lady I have a girl crush on to model jewelry for me, but I might be getting carried away, haha. Personally, I think it’s an excellent idea.

With it’s name stemming from the fact that both geometry and geology are star players, the Beach Bones Geo Collection is a versatile and sophisticated natural progression for the brand. Using beautiful quartz crystal points and milky green chrysoprase (among other gems) and a clever reimagining of the hoop earring in multiple sizes and styles, each piece is handmade by Nikki in either sterling silver or bronze. Even if you don’t believe in the power of gem stones to affect your mood for the better, these beautiful designs are sure to become favorites and daily go-to pieces.





Right, back to the giveaway! In celebration of Beach Bones new Geo Collection, Nikki and I have teamed up to offer one lucky reader a Beach Bones Geo Necklace!

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

A winner will be randomly chosen and notified on Sunday, 7/3. Best of luck!!



April 20, 2016

To Be ...

What a year! The tip of the iceberg have been my suffering from the death flu for nearly the entire month of March followed immediately by the decline and death of my grandmother. It’s only today that I feel I’m gaining some equilibrium and am comfortable moving forward with planning new blog content.

Instead of adding to my stress and trying to crank out content right away, I’ve decided to take a break from updates to work on new content that I’m proud of and don’t feel rushed to produce. I also thought a short hiatus would be a great time to work on the minor blog re-vamp I’ve been planning for a while.

In the meantime, I’ll be updating the VGS Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr with fun content so be sure to follow along if you don’t already. The blog will be back up and running in mid-June, see you then!!


peace out

miscellany : totem

April 6, 2016

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Inspired by blogger and Radical Self Love guru, Gala Darling, last year I created what I refer to as my Totem. As part of her Radical Self Love teachings, Gala suggests creating a ‘bible’ which is essentially a notebook full of things that inspire and encourage you. It sounds like an amazing project, at least, it does for me fifteen years ago but I knew I’d never get around to following through on something like that – who has the time? That’s where Pinterest came in for me: as any Pinterest user knows, you’ll come across pins that really speak to you but you don’t really have any boards that they make sense to pin to. Remembering Gala’s suggestion to start a ‘bible’, I created a board for all the motivational quotes that resonated, pictures of adorable animals that made me smile, gifs of glitter storms, etc. etc. etc.

I admit, the term ‘bible’ felt off to me so I decided to use ‘Totem’ as my descriptor – another tool Gala recommends in her Radical Self Love practice. The way Gala describes a totem is a personal object that speaks to you on a deep level and instills a sense of security and/or power on which to draw during challenging times. Not feeling that sort of affinity with any one possession in particular, I found that as I built my board with the same sentiment in mind it was becoming a virtual totem for me. Whenever I’m feeling down, overwhelmed, or uninspired I find myself scrolling through my board, remembering helpful sayings, cheering up at photos of capybaras in a lemon bath & drawings of Pikachu eating Pocky, and feeling strength from pictures of gorgeous emerald clusters. In fact, it’s been so helpful for me that I decided to share my previously secret board in hopes that it might inspire you to create your own totem board. It’s been such a useful tool for me I can’t help but want to share.

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It’s pretty simple: after you organically come across something that truly speaks to you, start a board and continue to pin items that ring true. Mainly, I pin things I come across on Pinterest but sometimes a post from Instagram or Tumblr grabs me and I pin from there. The trick is to carefully curate this board so that it achieves it’s purpose of cheering and encouraging you. Real talk: watching gif’s of Pikachu making goofy faces is enough to put a damper on even my worst moods while as a Taurus, I feel a strong resonance with emeralds and bulls so I love to pin them all when I come across them. As for motivational quotes, I am pretty picky when it comes to those as most feel a bit cheesy to me, but when I come across one that really hits home, I’ll be sure to add it to my board because chances are I’ll need to see it over and over again to reinforce the message.

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Whatever you choose to pin, make sure to review your board at least once a week but preferably when you’ve had a rough day and need encouragement. Anything that sticks out oddly or loses it’s power to fill you with joy should be deleted. My Totem is always a work in process and I love to scroll all the way to the bottom to see how my life has changed over the last year, which is reflected in which quotes I’ve chosen to pin and any patterns in picture types. Right now I’m posting tons of kawaii type stuff but just a few months ago I was obsessing over Einstruzende Neubauten vocalist Blixa Bargeld, an old crush from my late teens. Who knows what I’ll move on to next but whatever it is, it will be something I truly love or want to attract to me (like Pikachu!).

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You can check out my Totem board here. While you’re at it, you can check out all of my pins here.

I’d love to see your Totems too, leave a link to your board in the comments below!

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