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Couture | Fashion & Philanthropy

It’s important to give back to the community and Ecole Holt Couture is fortunate to do this while sharing the art of couture and the work of our students in support of InspireProjectYYC.

This is the first year the event will benefit new-kid-on-the-block INSPIRE Project YYC. Started in 2012, by a group of Calgarian creatives, passionate about social justice, the Project funds organizations seeking to affect change in difficult areas. Their first recipient? Dare to Care, whose mission is to address the pervasive and crippling issue of bullying.

Step by Step  will focus on explaining what couture really is, how it is achieved, and why it matters and more importantly how it can change your outlook towards your fashion style!

Join us on November 13th, 2016 at Festival Hall in Calgary’s Inglewood community, hub of live music venues and is known as the one-stop shop for art fans, culture buffs, foodies, fashionistas, scrappy hippies, and hipsters.

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Tuesday March 31st, 2015 – Back to class

We’ve just left two weeks of Spring break behind us. Well, it wasn’t so much a break as quiet work-time to catch up for most of us here, and part one of the final Certificate exam is being written today. The programs are pretty intense, and if you do get behind even for one or two days, the work piles up incredibly quickly. Students all work very long hours for the duration of the programs, and as an administrator as well as instructor, my job doesn’t end at the close of class either. It usually runs late into the evenings and into weekends replying to emails and keeping up with necessary paperwork. It didn’t get any easier when Ecole Holt Couture became a designated Private Vocational Training institution licensed by the Alberta government of Advanced Innovation and Education department.

We often get questions about EHC’s programs and the equivalency of its certificate awards to other degrees. So here it goes.

Both Ecole Holt Couture programs are recognized by the Advanced Innovation and Advanced Education government department of Alberta, Canada.

EHC’s Dressmaking Certificate program is designed for self directed employment as well as the prerequisite program to enter the EHC Couturier/Tailoring Diploma program. The Diploma program is designed for self directed employment or free lance work, as well as entry level positions for apprenticeships. As such, there is no equivalent to our Certificate and Diploma programs. The entire curriculum is unique and original, written by the Founder, based on her education and 60 plus years of professional experience in the trade of couture and tailoring in Europe and Canada.

The reason that Ecole Holt Couture was established and its sole existence is to preserve and pass on traditional practical skills with its related professional technical knowledge not currently being taught in fashion or design institutions. As we’ve ventured to more modern approaches, focusing on off-shore manufacturing and marketing, the nature of educational programs have evolved to meet the demands of the fashion industry.

What is being left out is formalized training in couture and tailoring. Expert mentoring, the transference of knowledge and sharing of experience, not least of which is teaching the fundamental skills for a couture and tailoring career alternative – not typically included in the ‘industry’ statistics today.

So where are the statistics for couturiers and tailors to be found then, if not in the fashion industry? In our research, we have found them to be placed squarely in the arts and culture sector as craftsmen and artisans. see Cultural Human Resources Council

At EHC we do not teach quick and easy step by step do-at-home projects, that follow trendy designs adapting ready made patterns for sewing enthusiasts nor do we teach how to manipulate CAD programs. This training is meant for the serious career-minded individual to gain the expertise to take an original design idea and craft it into a fully formed product, by your own hands. What then is the exact degree equivalent, remains a good question. Cheers! J

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in College degrees

 

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Ecole Holt Couture 2014 Presents – Youtube video trailer

Watch Video

Watch Video

At EHC we are very fortunate to have talented students with varied skills. ‘You’re Invited’ was created by one such student, Amy Zia, as a light-hearted look at what we do as couturiers! But, don’t be fooled, what we do is highly professional whether for special occasions or to create a functional and personal business wardrobe.

This fashion event is created to help raise awareness and funds for Making Changes Association, who provides hundreds and hundreds of women with functional and appropriate work wardrobes each year. Their clients are all making the effort to re-enter the workforce, and perhaps have few resources to do so.

Making Changes programs include guidance on writing resumes, and networking to gain employment, to those who perhaps may never have had to provide these qualifications before.

The wardrobes that are provided are all donated, recycled, reused, and up-cycled from high quality garments that are either brand new or gently used, giving the garments a new life as well.

So although, EHC teaches the skills to create brand new custom couture made garments, we support, believe in what and how Making Changes not only uses perfectly good clothing as their main program resource, but

More importantly, we support and share their values in how they treat women and teens struggling to improve their life situations, by treating them like family. Almost all of the day to day operations are handled by wonderful volunteers who have time and expertise to share.

You are invited, to attend this event! Just click on ‘buy tickets‘, and join us in supporting this wonderful organization.
Ecole Holt Couture School will also have a booth at the event if you would like to know more about us, and become part of this wonderful highly skilled, hand-made and crafted market!

If you can’t start the video, please copy and paste the URL into your preferred browser! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phgn-NzI-Ls
Enjoy and see you at the event on Sunday November 16th! – cheers J.

To get ahead you need to get started.

To get ahead you need to get started.

 

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Creativity everywhere! within everyone!

Creativity everywhere! within everyone!

Over the next few days, EHC will be doing its post mortum of Dress Code – this year’s title for our annual Fashion Event Fundraiser for Making Changes Association Calgary, which also raises awareness of the School and features work of the current students and where they are at in terms of progress and the curriculum.

Looking back over the day, it was a whirl of excitement, joy, expectation and successes. The space was packed. Latino flavoured music of ‘Los Morenos’ engaged guests, all the seats were taken – through the tremendous support of our partners and sponsors, all of which does not happen without the +or- 60 volunteers giving time and lending talents to the event.

The VIP Event one hour before the runway show, was a new feature this year at which the VIP ticket holders had the rare opportunity to go behind the scenes get up close with all the couture garments and the students, see how we prepare for a runway show, have some quiet time with the sponsors, have a good look at all the great prize baskets to be won, drink champagne and enjoy chocolate covered strawberries, shake hands with and meet the 2013 Calgary Stampede Queen and Princesses Calgary’s Royalty and Ambassadors to the world, and listen to our guest speaker Sarah Vann (Singer. Therapist. Writer. Music Therapist. Performer) talk about Creativity – perfect fit with EHC and really, what you (can) do everyday.

Sarah delivered a moving talk about how creativity lives within us and how it lives with her daily not only through her music but through hundreds of children. It was worth sharing with you….click on the pic below and go directly to Sarah’s own blog accompanied by her music, or read below….

Sarah Vann – Creativity in Our Daily Lives

The first time I met Jutta was at a volunteer appreciation dinner at the Lougheed House Historic Site 2 years ago. Before leaving for that particular night, a girlfriend of mine had introduced me to the concept that she had begun to adopt, where she would head out to an social event where she knew she’d be meeting a lot of people and intentionally avoid the question “what do you do?”. This is a safe question. It’s something many of us ask someone we’ve never met before as a fallback to asking anything more intimate. It’s a non-threatening subject and the answer either carries the conversation forward or leaves it writhing in the dust.

I decided that night that I would employ this technique. It would force me to ask questions of people that would surprise and, hopefully, engage us beyond our definition as workers in the world.

Jutta sat down beside me a red dress – which you always notice, no matter the woman, no matter the cut-sometimes because of the woman, sometimes because of the cut- “What a beautiful dress” I commented. “Where did you buy it?” “I made it”, she said. “What do you do?” I asked.

So. I failed. At an experiment. And gained great success with an important personal and professional relationship. She told me about EHC which she ran with her mother and sister. She told me where it was and how it worked, that they were in their first years of the school and hoping to grow it into a crucial and important part of Calgary fashion.

Meeting Jutta coincided with my reading of “The War of Art”, a wildly inspiring book written by Stephen Pressfield that talked about a force that exists within us called Resistance, how we can combat it and what lies beyond that point for us. To quote:

The Unlived Life
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.
Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever resolved on a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever felt a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace or to preserve the environment? Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.

Maybe there are some of you can relate or even see yourselves in some of the analogies and comparisons. Maybe not. If not, congratulations. You are doing 1000 things right.

Whatever creativity we can put in our lives makes us better because of its ability to open us to inspiration and our defuse our judgment and cynicism.

My calling as a music therapist at the Children’s Hospital here in Calgary requires me to write music on the spot, 4 days a week for every age, demographic, nationality and personality you can imagine. The skills I have developed in my lifetime allow me to walk into a room and read each person to figure out what the mood at that moment is, whether the child has any interest in anything I might be holding in my arms (guitar/ukelele/rainstick), if the English language is useless in this environment, whether mom/dad/grandma/grandpa could use a break from the prison cell that a hospital room can become.

We might play instruments without any direction. We might look up YouTube videos on the iPad. We might sing endless versions of twinkle twinkle or you are my sunshine or down by the bay or baby beluga. I might hold a round of chimes over an infant’s head for 15 minutes while they incessantly bat at it with their hands. There are an infinite number of musical possibilities available in those moments, only limited by my tools and imagination.

I have spent time with a child whose creative cup got filled by recording an Eagles song from the original recording through the microphone on my computer. So the same song put through a microphone.

I met a child whose favorite sound was that of an air raid siren in 100 different forms.

I have a client currently who constantly educates me on the prevalence of anime in the eastern world.

I have a colleague whose favorite sound is that of a drumstick screaming along the top of a ride cymbal.

I have recordings of my nephew making up songs about airplanes and pies in the skies.

I have a photographer friend who believes that your image becomes public property as soon as you hit the sidewalk. (This was news to me.)

This past week alone, I spent some time with a 3 year old who has been on isolation in his room for over a month. We played instruments and sang a few songs, played a few finger games. His play area has recently expanded into their bathroom, where the shower is wheelchair accessible, (so no tub). His mom (young, stoic, unfailingly patient) had taken a bed sheet and hooked it around the shower head, tied one corner to the handrail on the wall and brought in the medical waste receptacle to tuck another corner behind. She had created a credible and perfect fort.

After he gestured me in (I became very conscious of the heels I had chosen to wear that day) and crawled in behind me(and reclined onto the couch cushions laid on the floor), we sat and I chatted. “this is your fort?” “yep” “it’s pretty great” “yeah” “Did your mom build it?” “yeah”. His arms were flopped out open on either side of him and he stared up at the rooftop of the sheet. Completely relaxed in his own private refuge.

When relaying this story to a friend of mine, she said “isn’t it incredible, the creativity of the human spirit?” I asked her what she meant. “that that mother would find the willpower and ability in an unbelievably dire situation to look at a shower space and say ‘that would make a perfect fort’”.

My work requires me to be creative, to reach further, to find ways to distract my patients from the wretchedness that being in a hospital encompasses. I have learned and found my strength and patience and poise and peace in the mothers and the fathers of my patients.

I am in a place 4 days a week that puts on the rack my creative capacity, my belief in the human spirit and the fabric of my soul. And I know how important it is that I carry on doing this. Not even for the families I work with, but for my own sense of self and doing what it is that I was placed on this earth to do.

Placing yourself in a creative place can feel scary and uncomfortable. It’s risky. We say things to ourselves that we would never let another say to us. The demons come out to play. The ones who say “what’s the point? Who will love it besides you? There’s nothing to pursue there” “why?”

And none of it’s true. You are the only one who decides what role creativity will play in your life.

I have listened to young women talk about how playing music has saved them from a bottomless pit of self-hatred that only an eating disorder can create. I have met a father who, after losing his son to cancer (and having no prior music experience), couldn’t stop writing songs.

I meet artists that create on sketchpads, iPads, in craft lounges and garages. I have met entrepreneurs who spend hours in front of their sewing machines in their desire to create what pristine image exists in their head. I have been witness to live art, bad art, musical wretchedness and inspired musicianship. I have tasted failed baking experiments (some my own) and been to quilting exhibits in foreign countries. I have seen more bad tattoos than you could shake a stick at. I have also seen some that render me speechless.

Nothing makes me happier than when I find out someone is creating. That someone is trying. That someone is taking a risk.

How I create in my work has leaked endlessly into my daily life. Everyone here has fallen down some version of an internet wormhole. You find yourself at 3:00 in the morning drooling over a Victorian trumeau mirror that someone created using an ikea full length and 8 different kinds of mouldings from home depot.

Recently I saw a project that I liked through a link on apartment therapy of a pallet that had been ripped apart and nailed back together as a sign that read “Believe there is good in the world”. The letters had been painted in different colors so that “Be the good” stood out just slightly.

I found a project where someone had taken a beat up coffee table, lain a piece of lace over it and spray painted over it, leaving a beautiful pattern.

Technology has offered us an infinite number of ways to be creative and it seems there is a higher demand for that ability than ever before. In 2 years the number of instagram users grew a 1000x over from 100,000 to 100,000,000.

People are constantly blogging and vlogging about their creative lives. Pinterest gained 30 million users in a year. You can find the DIY instructions online for everything from building a perfect Lego replica of the Starship Enterprise to the construction of lady Gaga’s meat dress. 50,000 blogs are started every day.

Obviously there is a hunger out there not only to create but also to share the creative experience. To show our accomplishments, however small, to a community that we have sought out.

There are 2 reasons that I love making music with children.

Firstly, they are fearless. And that makes ME fearless. They have not yet had someone communicate to them “that is not good enough. You shouldn’t do that.”

Secondly, music carries only the element of fun. There is no pressure to learn or be bettered by this experience. There’s no concept of skill or ability or what you should or shouldn’t try. There is only music. There is only creativity.

If only such simplicity could be put back inside of us. If only we had the unburdened and shiny outlook that only children seem to possess.

I’m willing to bet that we do.

And it’s not a matter of time or space or availability or inspiration. It’s just a matter of will.

©Sarah Vann 2012

http://sarahvann.com/fr_blog.cfm?feature=2788753&postid=3031987
 

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Calgary Spring War-drab

Caught on video Banff National ParkThis Photo captured by video in Banff National Park on March 28, 2012 even Lynx is looking for Spring…

An interesting time of year Spring, when one starts to experience symptoms of cabin fever and the longing to just get outside in the sunshine and warming fresh air. Here in Calgary Spring really doesn’t exist as most people know it. The clocks change to daylight savings time – we can’t imagine why this tradition still persists, the calendar proclaims the vernal equinox, and yet we don’t experience flowers bursting out of the ground, greening of the grass or buds on trees. In fact at Easter, we could still be dealing with grey frozen mounds of dirty snow, cold winds and threats of freak snow storms.

Our winter weather is prolonged until well into late April or May when one day it seems everything suddenly changes and wakes up as if late for work, hurriedly gets dressed into bright greens, and manages to catch up to Summertime knocking at the door offering everyone a lift to mid-summer activities. The roads may still be heaped with dry pickle from the winter until July when the City trucks turn up in swathing teams to sweep it all away.

Wardrobe planning sort of skips spring season here, and marches straight from Winter to Summer in the respect that light coloured trench coats and pastel trousers don’t seem to work well facing cutting icy wind gusts and possibly new snow, dusty rain with some intense sunshine – all within the same day. Everyone is loath to put away down filled jackets too soon, but has no problem wearing short pants with it – just in case.

Our spring wardrobes really are reincarnations of Fall season wardrobes that work perfectly well until we shed the cashmere sweaters and change into summertime cotton dresses, linen suits, and trade in winter boots for rainbow striped sandals.  We envy those who can sport white and bright colours with open toes shoes in April as displayed on the runways.

One great thing about Calgary summers, when they finally arrive, is that they rarely like to give up until the end of September and sometimes tease us with gorgeous hot sunny days into October when finally relenting to Fall weather. Calgary wardrobes are really most effective consisting of interchangeable pieces for Winter, Summer and Fall. Plan ahead and save the spring wear for your next vacation to Paris….dream on J…

Very Chic for Autumn or Indian Summer

Photos thanks to http://www.thesartorialist.com/  OK so he can get away with white jeans and no socks…lol

 

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1001 ways to wear jeans

Went to an exhibit opening last night which was professionally presented and obviously much effort was put in to make it an enjoyable experience. The executive director’s opening remarks, the background history by local eminent historian, and words from the curator and artist himself were so inspirational. Wine and hors d’oeuvres were served throughout the evening – the exhibit was a cultural gem portraying the talent and culture of our City.

Are you picturing this event in your mind? Beautiful venue very well organized; everyone in attendance dressed their best – well one thing is for sure the venue was beautiful and the event superb, but I was appalled yet again by how the general public arrives at this kind of event dressed as if they just dropped by from an outdoor summer folk festival instead – OK they did brush their teeth and comb their hair.

Jeans, jeans and more jeans with T-shirts, fleece vests, trainers and hiking boots. A few people were well dressed for the event – hosts, the artist and some of the guests. In fact, so few made an effort that I was compelled to compliment those who did dress for the occasion – they were genuinely flattered by the way. The only upside to this situation is that no-one is turned away today because of not complying with a dress code.

However, it remains that standards of dressing have fallen so low over the past 20 years that probably only a few individuals are left which really understand the value and impact of their own dress code.

This is not an act of rebellion, statement of protest or entitlement; it isn’t an ‘artsy’ ‘highbrow’ ethereal thing either. Neither is this a ‘statement of individuality’ this mode of dress – because almost everyone is doing it, but the impact to the onlooker says that “I really don’t care about myself”, “I can’t be bothered”, or “I could care less”. The fact is that most people have replaced every decent skirt and pair of trousers with ubiquitous jeans that were only meant for hard labour and casual weekends. Casual Friday’s are being banned in many organizations thank goodness.

What is even worse is this emerging ‘fashion trend’ of wearing pajama bottoms outside your bedroom right out in public to go shopping – just lovely! Equally unattractive is wearing leggings instead of trousers (reserved for ballet dancers on stage) – we really don’t want your well rounded cheeks in our face thanks, or worse yet is wearing high-heals with athletic sweat pants – be prepared – someone might just offer you money for your services!

Sadly, a lot of people will simply buy into anything, a suggestion by a prominent fashion magazine, a photo of a celebrity off duty, blogs by sartorial commentators and voila – there you have it – brain-washed! If you really want to be individualistic bone up on dress codes, put a little effort into it and surprise everyone, you may even receive a compliment!

My apology to those who were expecting slightly more inspirational information – but this truly needed to be shared! Pass it on….

 

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