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Shopping Vancouver

Chloë Angus: A Life in Design

Chloë Angus’s winding path from small-town girl to fashion designer

By SHERI RADFORD

Chloë Angus, hard at  work in her gorgeous  new studio and showroom  on East 6th Avenue. (Photo: KK Law)

Chloë Angus, hard at work in her gorgeous new studio and showroom on East 6th Avenue. (Photo: KK Law)

The best way to fuel creativity is to grow up without a television, a phone or even electricity. At least, that’s how it worked for Chloë Angus. What the local fashion designer did have as a child was a small Singer sewing machine—and encouragement from her mother. “There were five kids in my family,” Angus says. “I think my mom was just happy to keep us busy doing different things.” Angus sewed clothes for herself and her dolls, along with “anything I could talk my brothers into wearing on Halloween.”

The family ran an organic seafood farm on the Sunshine Coast, 13.5 km (8.5 mi) by boat from the nearest small town, Egmont. When Angus was 12, she got a summer job working in Egmont’s one consignment store, but she made more money selling t-shirts she’d designed than from her wage. “I would catch live fish and paint them with some fabric paint, and I would press them into the shirt. And I signed on it that it was from Egmont, BC.”

After graduating high school, the bright lights of the big city drew Angus to Vancouver. “I spent most of my childhood scheming how I was going to get out of the small town and into the city. It’s funny, because now I spend most of my adult life scheming how I’m going to get back,” she says. After travelling around and exploring the world a bit, she—almost on a whim—started up a landscaping company and built it into a successful business. “Landscaping is about colour and balance and fitting into somebody else’s ideas with your own aesthetic. And a lot of hard work.”

As her 30th birthday loomed ever closer on the horizon, Angus did some soul searching and decided it was time to revisit her first love, fashion. She signed up for a one-year program at the prestigious Helen Lefeaux School of Fashion Design. Angus credits her farming background with giving her the work ethic (not to mention the stamina) to juggle a demanding school program, a thriving landscaping business, and a new marriage.

As a newly minted fashion graduate, Angus caught the attention of a buyer for The Bay, Canada’s most venerated retail institution. She designed several collections for The Bay’s Canadian by Design department. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sketch for a spring design. (Photo: KK Law)

Sketch for a spring design. (Photo: KK Law)

Over the past 11 years, Angus has gone from toiling away on her designs in her basement, to a small office downtown, to a larger studio on Dunbar Street, to her current 280-sq-m (3,000-sq-ft) studio on 6th Avenue. She designs everything from t-shirts to fancy wedding dresses (just two or three each summer, for a few lucky brides), and an extraordinary amount of time and care go into each one: “We spend weeks on fitting a simple t-shirt—a t-shirt that looks as good on an extra-small as it does on a triple-extra-large.” Best known are her Spirit Wraps, the result of a creative collaboration with local First Nations artists such as Clarence Mills (Haida) and Corrine Hunt (Tlingit). Angus is also the fashion sponsor for the Leo Awards (BC’s version of the Academy Awards) here in Vancouver, and she loves dressing the trophy models and some of the actresses: “It gives me the opportunity to be over-the-top creative in any way that I want to be.” When actresses sometimes hesitate at the fancier gowns, “I always tell them it never hurts to be the best dressed lady at the party.” Recently, Angus had her first chance to design all of the costumes for a movie, a shot-in-Vancouver short comedy called I Wanna Date U.

Even as Chloë Angus Design grows and evolves, one thing that will never change is Angus’s commitment to staying in Vancouver. She finds design inspiration in the city’s natural beauty, and she loves the climate here compared to the rest of the country: “It might be raining really hard out today, but it’s not snowing,” she says. “I am a true Vancouverite. I own a nice collection of gumboots. I like umbrellas. I have a really fabulous raincoat coming out for fall 2015. I don’t like parkas. I think the rest of Canada is pretty much uninhabitable most of the year.”

The other place Angus finds inspiration? Beautiful fabrics. “Often I see a piece of fabric and it just talks to me. It says, ‘Make me into this.’ And I know right away what I will do with it.”

With any luck, Angus will continue finding inspiration for many decades to come.

Find Spirit Wraps at The Gallery Store and the Museum of Anthropology at UBC. To see an array of Angus’s creations, visit Chloë Angus Design.

A Must for Travellers

By SHERI RADFORD

The ultra-handy Moshi IonBank 10k

The ultra-handy Moshi IonBank 10k

If you rely on your electronics—whether for an important phone call or for entertaining a cranky kid—there’s nothing worse than watching the battery indicator drop to zero. Frequent travellers know to bring Moshi’s IonBank 10K on every trip. This handy device can charge a smartphone multiple times and give a tablet enough juice for an extra seven or eight hours. It can even charge two devices at a time. And it’s easy-peasy to recharge this mobile battery: simply plug it into any USB wall or car charger. Crisis averted. Available at Mac Station or www.moshi.com.

Romantic Vancouver

With its backdrop of misty mountains and stunning shorelines, this city was made for sweethearts

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Enjoying the sunset at English Bay (Photo: KK Law)

Enjoying the sunset at English Bay. (Photo: KK Law)

9 Things to do for Sweethearts

1 Show off your triple Lutz while gliding around the outdoor rinks at Robson Square and Grouse Mountain.

2 Whip up a delectable meal in a couples cooking class at The Dirty Apron Cooking School.

3 Soak up a spectacular sunset at English Bay.

4 Tour Stanley Park and the seawall on a tandem bike from Spokes Bicycle Rentals.

5 Snuggle up on a sleigh ride through Grouse Mountain’s winter wonderland. Afterwards, warm up next to the fireplace with a steaming mug of hot cocoa.

6 Escape to Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, an enchanting oasis in the heart of Chinatown.

7 Snowshoe through Cypress Mountain’s snow-covered terrain, then warm up with cheese and chocolate fondue in historic Hollyburn Lodge.

8 Admire art, preferably hand in hand, at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

9 Share a canvas and hand-crafted cocktail at Raw Canvas while creating a masterpiece in the “painting pit.”

(more…)

Best Books on Vancouver

By SHERI RADFORD

Read one (or all) of these new books and you’ll be sounding like a Vancouverite in no time

The Pacific Northwest Garden Tour

The Pacific Northwest Garden Tour

The Pacific Northwest Garden Tour by Donald Olson ($31.95): Discover the 60 best green spaces to visit in BC, Washington and Oregon, including Stanley Park and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. (more…)

High Tech Tools: NuFACE

By SHERI RADFORD

NuFACE Trinity Facial Trainer

NuFACE Trinity Facial Trainer

Anyone seeking the fountain of youth, take note: you can look years younger without plastic surgery by using the NuFACE Trinity Facial Trainer. This device stimulates muscles by delivering a low-level electrical current. To get started, first pamper yourself with a NuFACE facial at Sense: A Rosewood Spa, then continue the treatments at home to reduce wrinkles and achieve firmer, smoother skin.

Winter Warm-Up: NHL Heated Throws

By SHERI RADFORD

Stay warm while rocking your team colours

Stay warm while rocking your team colours

Has Jack Frost worn out his welcome? Conquer the cold and support your favourite hockey team at the same time with a heated throw from Sunbeam. With three heat settings and a three-hour auto shut-off, this soft fleece blanket cuts through the chill quickly and keeps you toasty warm while showing your love for the Vancouver Canucks (pictured), Montreal Canadiens or 11 other NHL teams. Available at Home Outfitters.

Vintage Typeface Pendants

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Old linotype repurposed for beautiful pendants

Old linotype repurposed into beautiful pendants

Christi York’s vintage pendants aren’t just pretty—they also hold a little piece of Vancouver’s past. The modern-looking brass columns are actually old linotype, salvaged from Canada’s first Chinese print shop, 106-year-old Ho Sun Hing Printers. Translating the tiny printing-machine moulds proved challenging, but discovering cool symbols such as “fierce like an ancient king” and “a charming woman” seems worth the trouble. Find them at BuenoStyle.

Vancouver Light: Photography by David Nunuk

By SHERI RADFORD

Vancouver Light: Visions of a City

Vancouver Light: Visions of a City

Photographer David Nunuk can find beauty in the unlikeliest of places, such as junkyards, log booms, freight trains and industrial streets. But he also does wonders with familiar scenery, capturing the timeless beauty of Stanley Park, Science World, the Lions Gate Bridge and the Sea to Sky Highway. His latest book, Vancouver Light: Visions of a City (Harbour Publishing; $49.95), proves yet again why Vancouver is known as the supermodel of world cities. At local bookstores.

Bare Essentials: Back & Butt Buffer

By SHERI RADFORD

Buff your behind at Bare Essentials Skin Bar

Buff your behind at Bare Essentials Skin Bar

Why not pamper a part of the body you can’t easily reach yourself? At Bare Essentials Skin Bar, the Back and Butt Buffer “facial” proved so popular in the summertime that it’s now on the menu year-round, deeply exfoliating backsides and leaving skin feeling soft and smooth, thanks to microdermabrasion. This pain-free, laser-free treatment is especially effective on ingrown hairs, cellulite and stretch marks. Let the pampering begin.

Fight Aging at Project Skin MD

By SHERI RADFORD

Try one of the medical facials at Project Skin MD

Try one of the medical facials at Project Skin MD

Everyone knows an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but fewer folks know that medical facials help keep the signs of aging at bay. At Project Skin MD, each medical facial begins with a skin assessment—analyzing fine lines, enlarged pores, acne breakouts, dull complexions. A deep cleansing follows, then exfoliation, then the best part: a calming masque and a soothing massage. Patients leave feeling relaxed and refreshed, with glowing skin. Just what the doctor ordered.

Closing Time by Daniel Francis

By LAURA DENNIS

Learn about Canada's (short lived) temperance movement

Learn about Canada’s (short lived) temperance movement

Gangsters and smugglers and bootleggers, oh my! These scoundrels and scofflaws appear in Closing Time: Prohibition, Rum-Runners and Border Wars by Daniel Francis (Douglas & McIntyre; $39.95), a richly illustrated account of Canada’s temperance movement a century ago. Francis, a Vancouver native, uses photographs, newspaper clippings and his own research to tell a tale of the legislation that saw Canada booze-free for 21 months. The book explores the antics of lawbreakers such as Rocco Perri, the “Canadian Al Capone,” and Hiram Walker, founder of Canadian Club Whisky. Cheers! At local bookstores.

Top Titles for Travellers

By SHERI RADFORD

Before your next flight, be sure to stop by a bookstore and pick up one – or all three – of these fascinating reads.

Best Ever Travel Tips

Keep this handbook at the ready when abroad

Lonely Planet’s Best Ever Travel Tips ($11.99): Small in size but hugely informative, this handy book is crammed full of advice from travel writers and industry experts to keep you safe and stress-free while on the road. (more…)