WORN Fashion Journal Presents: Dressed as in a Painting Launch

Join us at Type Books for an evening of fashion book fun

In Dressed as in a Painting: Women and British Aestheticism in an Age of Reform, author Kimberly Wahl provides a lucid exploration of the interrelations between fashion, art, and aestheticism during the latter half of the nineteenth century.

On Friday, October 11, join Kimberly Wahl, WORN Fashion Journal, and Type Books for refreshments and conversation as we celebrate the release of Dressed as in a Painting. Wahl’s book is the first to focus exclusively on aesthetic dress and its various expressions in the visual cultures of Victorian Britain and will be a necessary addition for fashion libraries, fashion historians, and fashion lovers everywhere.


WORN Fashion Journal Presents: Dressed As in A Painting Launch at Type Books

Friday, October 11, 2013

7 p.m. – 9 p.m.


Type Books

883 Queen Street West

Toronto, ON

M6J 1G3

WORN Loves Jeanne: A Conversation with Jeanne Beker

Join Us For a Q&A With Our Cover Star at Type Books

Torontonian. Actress. Mime. Journalist. Television personality. Clothing designer. Fashion lover. Jeanne Beker has worn many hats in her life—both figuratively and literally.

On Thursday, August 29, 2013, join WORN Fashion Journal at Type Books for an up close and personal conversation with Jeanne Beker. WORN Editor-in-Pants, Serah-Marie McMahon, will sit down with our Issue 16 cover star to discuss fashion as art, as personal expression, and as a way of life.


WORN Loves Jeanne: A Conversation with Jeanne Beker at Type Books

Thursday, August 29, 2013

7 p.m. – 9 p.m.


Type Books

883 Queen Street West

Toronto, Ontario

M6J 1G3

The Medium is Her Message

Crushing on artist Marlena Kaesler

Part whimsical, part theatrical, and a little bit rock-and-roll, Marlena Kaesler’s wearable art transforms its wearer into a flapper from the ‘20s. Or rather, something reminiscent of a flapper. A flapper, but, like, in a velvet owl mask. Besides birds, she works her embroidery into skulls, moustaches, and jellyfish, all of them a little punk rock. With her beginnings in the music industry and time spent as a performance artist, it’s no surprise that all her work has ample dramatic flair.

WORN spoke to the artist about the fruit costume that started it all, changing perceptions about traditional craft, and the human body as a canvas.

Tell me a little bit about your involvement in the Toronto music scene.
At 14, I learned guitar, and started going to my first indie rock shows. When I was 17, I got my first job as a promotions and publicity intern for Sonic Unyon Records in Hamilton, Ontario. The guys there would encourage my creativity by getting me to set up window displays for new record releases. A couple years later I moved to Toronto and picked up the bass. I met Jonny Dovercourt, the creator of the Wavelength series, and joined the band Republic of Safety. It was an amazing experience, and I had the opportunity to play shows like the Hillside Festival. I also added vocals and bass for a few shows with The Hidden Cameras. Now, I’m involved with a venue called the Music Gallery, which showcases emerging local composers, contemporary jazz, classical, and modern indie rock.

What were some of the outfits you wore as a musician?
I sang in the band at Toronto’s Fake Prom last summer, and I created an incredibly intricate dress with hand-glued sequins—it took me well over 30 hours to make. I literally sat there at band practice, and in between songs would individually glue the sequins to my hand drawing of ocean waves and jellyfish. The dress ended up in NOW Magazine.

Another proud outfit moment was when Republic of Safety opened for my post-punk heroes, Mission of Burma. I wore an off-the-shoulder turquoise silk dress that I made and cut holes in the back of. Roger Miller, the lead singer of Mission of Burma, came up to me after the show and said, “Me and Bob (Weston) were talking about your dress while you were playing. Did you make that? You couldn’t find that in a shop.” He started telling me about his process for bleaching stripes on his jeans, and we ended up talking about bleaching processes for about half an hour. It was pretty neat.

What attracted you to embroidery?
I think seeing my Oma’s love for unique design shaped my style and love for embroidery. When I make most things, I think of her, and the confidence she has to indulge in her own distinct and eclectic look.

Where it really all started, though, was when I was working at a horrible travel agency. I wore a banana costume to a work party, and after that the entire office called me “banana girl.” I wanted to take ownership of this embarrassing moment, and I came to the conclusion that the only way to do that would be to make a new, embroidered banana dress to wear at a formal office function. It was then that I invested in a $300 embroidery machine.

In your recent interview with the contemporary embroidery and needlecraft blog mr. x stitch, you say, “I think seeing something shocking in the form of embroidered black velvet would have much more impact than seeing said image on a canvas.” What is it about an embroidered image that makes it have more impact?
I’ve heard from a lot of artists working in traditional mediums like knitting, crochet, and embroidery who feel that their hard work and vision are trivialized by those who don’t see traditional handiwork as a viable form of contemporary art. I think we should use this misperception to our advantage. If someone views embroidery as a “silly craft,” then a work of embroidered art that depicts gun violence or political repression in a graphic way could be shocking to them, because it shatters perceptions around how embroidery should be used. It also makes for a memorable graphic statement in an unconventional medium. The more artists take risks with embroidery and other traditional mediums perceived as being “quaint,” the more it will inspire fellow artists to work toward changing the perception of traditional mediums on a bigger scale.

What are the steps to creating your finished designs?
It starts off with an idea and a sketch. The sketch is then scanned and put into Photoshop where I make the sketch more primitive, meaning I convert it to black and white and clean up the lines. Then I digitize the design by going into an embroidery program and inputting the needlepoints. The best way I can describe this is that it is like pointillism, because I mark the design with lots of tiny dots. To ensure that the image translates well in thread, I test-stitch my design on water-soluble rice paper, going back and forth from computer to machine sometimes over 50 times; it’s like being a choreographer to the machine needle. If I’ve done a good job, all the thread will remain intact and the image will come through after the rice paper dissolves. My process still hasn’t been fully perfected yet, but my failures are always important lessons, and eventually I find successes.

Tell me about your performance art at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
I worked with Jon McCurley and Amy Lam, two performance artists who’ve just completed a residency there. Their work was called Life of a Craphead Retrospective, and they presented everything they will ever make—past, present, and future—over a period of 50 years. I re-enacted a famous Skittles commercial with them. Jon and Amy were the directors, and the actress who was in the original commercial worked with us. I played the part of the makeup artist/hairdresser on set. It was absolutely hilarious.

How do you see your skills in designing wearable embroidery transferring to women’s clothing?
I think it’s in my approach: I see the dresses that I make more as art pieces than garments. Instead of sketching the initial design for a dress, like I would for a piece of embroidery, I start by draping the fabric on a woman’s body—it’s like sculpting. I think I end up with a more thoughtful and personal design this way. My lack of formal training leads me to make tons of mistakes. But when I do fail at something, I always come up with a creative fix, which usually improves the dress design.

I want the clothing I make to inspire others to view fashion as more of an art form than just the creation of disposable garments. How can you feel unique or special wearing something that a million other people own? Buying underpriced, overproduced copies diminishes clothing’s value, the way I see it. I don’t buy anything that I can make. That way, all my clothes fit well, and I feel I value my body more.

The ‘20s seems to be an inspirational decade for you. Why do you gravitate toward that time period?
It’s in demand right now, and I love the aesthetic. It’s just such a beautiful time period, in which people relished fantastic fashion.

You’re also an accomplished makeup artist. What is it about the human body that makes it such a strong object for both your embroidery and your makeup art?
People are simply fascinating to look at—I like honouring that. When I’m working with the human face or body I know I will always feel challenged, because the canvas will always be different. My work gains personality when someone is wearing it. Each person who wears a garment I’ve made transforms it, and I find that fascinating. If the medium is the message, then wearable art takes on a million different messages based on the person, and the message is forever changing.

interview // Karen Fraser
images // courtesy of Marlena Kaesler

Will You Be Our Prom Date?

WORN is taking you to a Secondhand Prom

On Saturday, June 8, WORN Fashion Journal will host Secondhand Prom, a celebration of all the proms we wish we had. We don’t care what our teachers say—it’s the end of a long, hard year, and we’re so ready to celebrate summer.

Wear whatever you want—prom attire preferred, but not required. Got a floor-length ballgown? Bring it! Never leave the house without your Converse? Wear ‘em! Accessorize with the WORN corsages and boutonnieres available at the event.

Sneak a Steam Whistle beer (or two) while the teachers aren’t looking. And don’t bother bringing a flask, the punch will already be spiked.

Cut loose with the musical stylings of This Broken Mixtape. Once you’ve worked up an appetite with your choreographed dance routines (I see you, Freddie Prinze Jr.), treat yourself to a slice of handcrafted cake by local baking genius Corey Moranis.

Pull a Pretty in Pink by making your own outfit, or coordinate with the Romy to your Michelle. Spicolis, feel free to show off your brand new Vans. We want to see what a Secondhand Prom looks like to all Wornettes!

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Church of the Holy Trinity

10 Trinity Square (at Yonge and Dundas)

$4 beers

$5 spiked punch

Get your mom to drop you off at: 9:30 p.m.

Better run home, your curfew is: 2:00 a.m.



Type Books, 883 Queen Street West

Ticket includes admission and a sugary sweet copy of WORN Issue 16

The event is fully wheelchair accessible, with an exterior wheelchair access ramp on the south side of the building, and a wheelchair-accessible washroom immediately beside the accessible entrance inside (on the south side of the room). When you arrive, please come to the main entrance on the west side of the building, and one of our Wornettes will be happy to assist you.



She Does The City

Corey Moranis

Steam Whistle

OSC Cross

Ontario Arts Council

photography // Laura Tuttle
video // Daniel Reis
title design // Maegan Fidelino