Eco-chic... on a budget!
Monday, Mar. 9, 2009 | 05:19 PM AT
Image courtesy Luc Bourgeois
If you think dressing "eco" means Birkenstocks and tie-dye, you need to see what a whole whack of VERY cool Montreal designers are doing. By the way, I mean no disrespect to the Birkenstock brigade-- I love you, peace out, etc. But let's face it, not all of us could or would want to pull off the whole hippie look. So how to dress eco in a climate of tight spending?
Simple: Head over to La Gaillarde. It's a non-profit institution that's committed to helping folks discover the potential of used clothing. They've been doing eco long before it became chic. The name comes from the French for "strong woman; a woman who stands by her convictions". Back in the day (this was in '99), La Gaillarde was a place to help female convicts reintegrate into society. Over the years, its focus has shifted to helping folks in the fashion biz be green. Oh, and that includes you.
We're giving away a free workshop at La Gaillarde where you'll learn how to recycle your wardrobe! Read on!
What does La Gaillarde do?
Basically, it helps you see used clothing in a whole new light.
The folks at La Gaillarde provide three basic services:
Friperie: They have a friperie or thrift store that sells used clothing as is (i.e. no modifications). They have a fabulous vintage section that feature clothes from the '50s all the way to the '80s. Fabulous used furs (which is the only humane and moral way to wear fur, in my humble opinion), evening gowns, flirty little boleros and satin chemises.... all for between $10 and $50 (although I did see some pieces for $6-$8!).
By the way, there's two levels of thrift store at La Gaillarde-- the vintage, classy stuff upstairs and the cheaper, more everyday stuff in the basement. All the stuff in the basement is $5 or less. Clio Forsyth-Morrissette tells me that stylish Montrealers often buy those clothes to use as raw materials in higher fashion projects. The basement is also where you'll find tons of materials (lace, cotton, satin, etc) that's been donated by designers and clothing mills. This is also up for grabs at (literally) bargain basement prices.
Image courtesy Aube
Support for designers: Designers like Aube (who makes agendas from recycled silk and paper) and Supayana (who is featured in my video transforming the sleeves from a pair of mens' shirts into a sexy little summer miniskirt). Basically if you're a Montreal clothing or accessory designer working with recycled materials, La Gaillarde is your best friend. They'll help you source raw materials, put together a line, design a business card and organize a fashion show! If you have vision and the ability to put together funky outfits, you need to call these people!
This is Yana herself (from Supayana)
And this is my new favourite look! Yana cut the sleeves off a man's shirt, used the bottom curvy bits to make cap sleeves, added a hint of elastic for an empire waist and used the sleeves for that funky-ass cowl. This woman is my hero! You'll be amazed at what she can do with a pair of scissors, a sewing machine and 10 minutes!
Classes for folks with vision but no skills
Designers like Yana give workshops at La Gaillarde to help folks like you and me recycle our wardrobes. No prior experience necessary. In fact, since you're such a loyal follower of Be Green, you get to win a free workshop (for details, keep reading). Depending on the workshop you take, you'll learn everything from the most basic skills (sewing a button on a shirt) to crafting funky stuff like Yana makes. Tips on cutting, seaming and choosing fabrics. And all at very reasonable prices AND ON THE WEEKEND! Sorry, I need to take a moment... I'm so used to these fun classes being outside my reach because of scheduling that I feel an insane urge tp dance about. Okay, I'm done. Moving on...
For the class schedule (written in French), click here.
So here's the part where you can win yourself a spot in these classes:
All you have to do is write or call in with a project idea using recycled clothing. I'll give you an example: I plan to make a dog coat out of a thrifted, felted sweater (got the idea and pattern in HeartFelt by Teresa Searle). So what's your plan? Leave me a comment or call our Talkback Line (514) 597-5626.
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