Nokomis: A Dreamy Little Corner of Edmonton

Walking into Nokomis is always a bit like stepping into a storybook for grown-ups – if you’re the kind of grown-up who lives for tea parties, fairy tales, quiet corners, and playing dress-up.

Tucked into the century-old Griffith Block in Edmonton’s Old Strathcona, the store is full of artfully arranged rows and stacks of dresses, skirts, blouses, pants, shoes, jewelry, scarves, belts, bags and oh so many things in between. (Nokomis carries WORN, too!)

The last time I visited, on a windy weekday afternoon, co-owner Jessica Kennedy greeted me warmly and encouraged me to roam around and take pictures. The soundtrack to the movie Amélie was playing on the stereo, and with a creaky wood floor underfoot and surrounded by well-crafted, Canadian-made clothing, I was convinced I had entered my own personal, dress-filled dream world. I wondered what they would say if I decided just to never, ever leave.

When I go to Nokomis, it is always with a mission. Its seductive powers are such that, without a definite goal in mind, I am at risk of leaving having purchased the whole entire store – which would be happy for my closet but sad for my wallet. The deal I have worked out with myself is this: If I need something especially wonderful – to wear to a wedding, a party, a fancy dinner – Nokomis will be one of my first stops.

Of course, sometimes I break my own rules. (Often enough that, really, they’re not actually rules so much as nice ideas.) But every decision that ends in me carrying out one of their hand-sewn, raven-printed bags is never a decision I regret.

Nokomis is the Ojibwa word for grandmother – and as a tribute to its name, the west wall of the store is covered in photos of customers’ grandmothers, each in a simple wooden frame. If you come bring in a picture of your grandmother for the wall, you get ten percent off your purchase – and if you bring in pictures of both of your grandmothers, you get twenty.

Not only is Nokomis the name of the store itself, but it is also the name of the clothing line designed by Elizabeth Hudson (who runs the studio while Jessica runs the store). Their website defines the Nokomis line as, “pretty frocks for girls who read books.” Some of my favourite dresses have been from here – when I wear them, I always feel elegant, feminine and ready for a tea party.

Recently, on the Nokomis blog, Jessica and Elizabeth have announced that they are closing production on the house line, and that Fall 2009 will be its final season. The store will remain open, and will still carry all of its other usual, independent Canadian clothing lines – readers of the WORN blog might recognize complexgeometries, Supayana, and Norwegian Wood, among others – but after this fall, their house line will cease to be. The announcement saddened me, because I’ve become a big fan of the Nokomis label and all its lovely dresses. But, then, this is definitely an occasion special enough to warrant another mission of the seek-and-dress-up variety.

- Hailey Siracky

The Cutting Edge

A few weeks ago I decided (after many weeks of internal debate) to cut my ratty, peroxide-damaged hair short. Like really short.

Here’s what it looked like to begin with.

I already look like a little kid and I enjoy dressing like one, so having long uncombed hair with crooked bangs wasn’t really helping me project the maturity or togetherness that I occasionally require for things like job interviews and buying wine without getting carded (every time!). Standing around one day at work, I thought back to all the summers I had spent with thick wavy locks gathering sweat on the back of my shoulders and finally turned to my friend Tiffany who was rearranging the hangers on a rack of dresses and said, “Hey! Do you wanna cut all my hair off?”

Tiffany usually cuts my hair at her Montreal apartment. She’s a professionally trained hairstylist but became disenchanted with the salon world and went independent a few years back. “Sure! I could use some more photos for my portfolio. What do you say to doing a few different cuts along the way if I do it for free?”

Woah. Getting to try out a bunch of different hairstyles with no commitment and the whole thing would be free of charge

“My friend Liz does makeup for movies, and I’m sure she’d want some new portfolio pictures too. We could get Marilis to take the photos!” Tiffany continued. I dove straight into the bottomless sea of google image search to hunt for short haircuts and style inspirations. A week later we were sitting in Tiffany’s living room surrounded by garbage bags of clothes, chugging coffees to shake off all of our hangovers. I set up my laptop in the corner and broadcasted Day One of the Haircut/Makeover Photoshoot.

It took us five hours to cut, do makeup, style, and photograph three different outfits. We collaborated on all the looks, drawing on our professional experience and then stuff like America’s Next Top Model and icons like Twiggy, Edie Sedgwick, Agyness Deyn, and even Lady Gaga. By Day Two, we were in the swing of things and did seven different looks in about four hours. Both days felt way more like play than any kind of work and the only money exchanged was when we paid the delivery guy for Chinese food. My favourite photos are from the later looks, after I warmed up to taking photos.

I’d love to do it all again knowing what I know now and working with this awesome team, but I’ll have to wait a few years until my hair grows out again… Let us know what you think!


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Notre Victoire.

Victoire Boutique, located on Ottawa’s Dalhousie street, is one of those places where it’s easy to spend an entire afternoon. As an Ottawa native myself, I used to visit the place at least twice a week when I was in high school, trying on garments made by some of my favourite independent Canadian labels like complexgeometries and Preloved. Victoire also happens to be the place where I bought my first issue of Worn (and, subsequently, where I bought my second, third and fourth issues of Worn).

Flashing forward a couple of years, I’m now living in Toronto (and working for WORN). While I love the shopping I have access to in my new city, I can’t help but get homesick for Ottawa stores now and then. As nice as it would be in theory, I’m not able to take a Greyhound bus home every time I feel like shopping. Imagine how stoked I was then when Victoire launched VictoireBoutique.com, an online version of their store. True, shopping the website isn’t nearly as fun as visiting the store itself, but for those of us not residing in the country’s capital it’s a pretty nice alternative. For those of you who do live in Ottawa, keep an eye open for Victoire’s 3 year anniversary party on July 11.

-Anna Fitz