PHABRIK Magazine


Art, Music + Travel

Max and Me

By Drake Garnitz

that Sunday on a corner in la Bastille Max roller-skating leader of the pack leading us leading me across the bridge across the Seine but pas sufi for Max and me it is not enough so we continue to Sacre-Coeur and there is no film needed no flash required to capture our journey this camera is internal every second a portrait imprinted as we move through light through dark sans wheels into the night the day the week our dance spilling onto the balcony spinning atop the roof twirling high above the boulevard together we dance nearly naked in body so naked in spirit we continue over then under le Pont-Neuf across le Pont-des Arts up, up, up among the very lights of la Tour Eiffel we continue to continue the dance our dance the beat our beat and this picture of Max and me framed internally can be carried from here to there to any of my imprinted anywheres.     - Photograph by Fani Kanawati

Deolinda Bernardo

By Danielle S. Fuechtmann

At the age of fourteen, Deolinda Bernardo decided she wanted to dedicate her career to keeping the Portuguese tradition of fado music alive. Deolinda began singing at a very early age, cultivating a love and passion for music. Although she spent the first years of her musical career singing contemporary styles such as pop and rock, her difficult childhood made the emotion and power of fado an appealing creative outlet. Fado’s origins trace back to before the nineteenth century, spreading out from Lisbon to other regions in Portugal, gradually developing distinct regional styles. A bit like North American blues music, fado requires precise and delicate technique to tell very passionate and emotional stories. The music requires active listening, leading it to be compared to opera; fado songs often require some knowledge of the tradition and subject matter carries emotional significance. In Lisbon, fado music has developed a modern flavour, with influences from Africa and Brazil, the style in this region has developed a unique urban feel. The northern areas of Portugal take on a Celtic sound, while the middle regions of Portugal absorb inspiration from their southern neighbor, Spain. In the southern-central countryside of Alentejo, the music has North African influences. These influences reflect Portugal’s interesting pattern of trade and political relationships with the countries surrounding it. The most distinct of the regional styles comes from Coimbra, and is occasionally referred to as student fado. This style is recognizable for it’s exclusively male voices, and was made popular by the large student population in the city. Deolinda developed a love for music and singing at a very early in her life, and it was a constant in her difficult childhood. At 3 years old, separated from her mother, she began listening to the radio at her grandmother’s home where she was living. As she grew older she began singing, primarily in rock, jazz, and pop styles while working in a factory. Around this time she began to delve into the fado tradition, finding herself able to connect to the emotional stories the songs shared. When she was about fourteen, she recognized that her passion was something she truly wanted to share, and despite the difficult path pursing music would entail, she decided to follow it. As a young single mother, the life of a musician was not easy. She spent much of her twenties singing in hotel piano bars. These nights were difficult and often thankless, but she learned many things about performing and developed as an artist. Fado is a very technical music form with significant regional variances, and Deolinda took care to learn about all of them, becoming proficient in many of the styles and learning an extensive repertoire of classic songs. She performs with great enthusiasm and joy, educating her listeners about the traditions and songs as she is singing. Luckily, youth are beginning to develop an interest in fado again, with artists like Mariza, who performs a pop-fado fusion, performing to large audiences and generating new interest into the traditional style. As a result this traditional music is experiencing a resurgence. Currently, she performs weekly in Obidos, a castle in central Portugal. The castle is unique, as it is one of few that people still live in. The perfect location for Deolinda to share her traditional music, Obidos has a vibrant culture, hosting markets and medieval fairs requiring period dress. She performs at Troca-Tontas each Monday night, a small intimate venue serving traditional food. Despite singing with no microphone, her voice fills the room with ease. Deolinda loves performing and watching the eyes of her audience and soaking in their energy, and this shows through her endearing nature and charisma. She will also be performing and leading a seminar on the first Monday of each month at PHABRIK in Serra del Rei, which will be open to all ages. For the last 15 years, Deolinda has travelled and performed with her partner and best friend, Jose Piras, a fellow musician. Sharing a core musical philosophy has made it natural for them to work together. An excellent musician in his own right, he frequently accompanies her singing, covers male parts, and writes his own music. Together, they share an intense performing schedule, frequently performing more than once a day, as well as travelling, within Portugal and internationally.

PULSE: Acoustic Discourse on Harmony and Chaos

By Chantele Theroux

You knew the beating rhythm of a heart before you could breathe. We are flesh and bone, born to resonate and can feel sound. Your heart lives as the metronome for the rhythm inside you, and has evolved to synchronize with other living systems, and our earth as a whole. The intuitive creation of this abstract communication forms a flowing balance, creating a quiet, colossal symphony veiled by inexpressible colour and sound. The seemingly imperceptible mystery and intrigue of this connection can be felt and the vibrational interplay heard inside you, through music. By random and intelligent design, music is a collective manifestation that echoes the wonder of all life. Through this resonance and within the audible space of stillness, rhythmic solidarity is born through sound. We are made in and of music. It can be interpreted into sound by one being, and perceived as math by another. Likewise, music can be created mathematically, and relayed acoustically to others. It transcends and combines the disciplines of mathematics, astral and quantum physics to become a truly universal language. It expresses the wondrous relationships between the celestial bodies and our earth, the other planets, the sun, and solar systems. The shifting proportions, balances, distances, and vibrations can be measured both scientifically, and felt with the heart. The perspective that music is a living, breathing organism is acutely felt in the band PULSE, the master project of Martin Johann Kloppers. An accomplished Canadian cellist/composer/artist, he merges his lifetime of musicianship and artistic visionary exploration with a perplexing array of creative skills, including TIG-welding. He began this musical journey at age five, making his own wooden instruments and by age seven, he began pursuing private cello studies. By fifteen he was composing his own music. Martin was also a founding member and the electric cellist of the enigmatic ARIA award-winning group, ‘Feeding like Butterflies’. He earned his technical chops with a Bachelor of Music (cello performance) and is a self-taught drummer/percussionist. As a result, the visually stunning instrumentation and eclectically beautiful music is rich in depth and interest. PULSE combines musical influences from all over the world, film score, alternative, pop, and dance genres, all blended by the masterful instrumentation, timeless mood, and precise orchestral layering. The result evokes scenery, images, and stories only limited by the imagination of the listener. It’s best described as a soundtrack, encompassing nearly every genre, making it a truly universal experience. It alludes to the inexplicable beauty of the universe, its creatures, and the great abstract of unexplored wonder and brilliance. It is the imaginative vision of PULSE that makes it a truly timeless innovation; combining the future and past, and the mystical beauty of accidental order. The ‘Cellotaur’ & Global Drums Martin has handcrafted PULSE’s exquisite showcase instruments, which embody complete originality in artistic endeavour, beginning with the ‘Cellotaur’. The inspiration for its distinctive shape is based on a symphony of scientific, archaeological, and fantasy-based thinking, asking the question, ‘If cellos were living musical creatures, and we discovered their remains on a distant planet, what would those remains look like?’ It is a world-class sculpture, painting, and living musical instrument, and unlike traditional cellos, is not dependent on the body for sound-resonance, but truly electric. Its final shape is visually-striking; a delicate balance of feminine lines with a deliciously dark, macabre undertone. Its very existence changes our perception and notion of possibility in music, and the universe. In a similar fashion, the Global Drums symbolize the celestial bodies; planets, moons and suns, glowing orbs that all communicate through vibration in PULSE. They range in size, the largest being four feet in diameter and their unique lightweight TIG-welded design allows for overhead suspension, rotation, and movement. With built-in backlighting, the drums come alive with booming color and energy. They attune the vibrational connection of life, different times, and distant places. Many of the musical compositions and pieces performed in PULSE have over a hundred recorded cello or instrumental ‘layers’, expressing the complex link between the physical world, the imagined, and the infinite composition of music and science. Martin’s piece ‘Kududance’ is one example, and it emulates the creatures of Africa, his birthplace. Through this immense symphony of sound, PULSE blends a cacophony of electronics, signals, and waves and integrates musical inspiration from even the smallest creatures on our planet. Add to that the haunting and expressive vocals of Kirtan artist Sparrow Grace, and PULSE’s ‘world-electric’ genre is alive with the energy of our earth. PULSE is a masterful expression of the harmony and chaos of human experience becoming alive and present, and a communication with the universe.Every village has a drum. Every person has a voice. Every body has a PULSE. PULSE is beating at:

It’s Not My First Rodeo, Oh Wait, Yes It Is

By Stacey Mullings

There are a multitude of reasons why music is important in our lives. It’s an expression of our triumphs and struggles; be they personal, social or political. Something to cry to, laugh to, head bang or cut a rug to. When a piece of music resonates powerfully with the listener, it can be incredibly comforting; almost as though the songwriter took the words right out of his or her mouth. For me, that is one of the main things that separate “the greats” from the mediocre artists. That ability to reassure the listener that they are not alone in their joy or strife. I believe that it is this innate talent that has given Blue Rodeo such longevity and a fan base that spans generations. When Blue Rodeo’s debut album Outskirts was released in 1987 I was just a kid of 7 years old. My eldest sister however, well into her teens, had become an avid fan of the band and I had been exposed to their music initially through her. (Thanks sis!) After years of connecting with each album they released, and singing along each time a Blue Rodeo song came on the radio, one thing that eluded me was why I had never made the effort to see one of their live shows. It was not due to lack of opportunity, as they’ve performed in Edmonton on numerous occasions. I’m a concert-goer so it hasn’t been due to an apathy towards live performances. I have always heard good things about Blue Rodeo’s live shows but for one excuse or another I had never made it to one. When Blue Rodeo announced that their 25th Anniversary Tour would include 2 nights in Edmonton at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, I committed myself to finally go and see what I’ve been missing all these years. Blue Rodeo has a rich sound that really benefits from an establishment with good acoustics like “The Jube.” This being their anniversary tour, I knew the show would include many of my beloved favourites, and I was not disappointed. Popular hits like ‘Try’, ‘Hasn’t Hit Me Yet’, and ‘Lost Together’ found their way into the evening’s set. One thing that struck me was how well they performed. Not that I expected a butchered performance or anything, but to sound as good live (if not better) than on a produced recording is a true feat. Every high note hit, and each key in time, I was impressed. While many of their songs are melodic and harmonious, they aren’t without complexity, and it was just refreshing to see them show how skilfully they can play. Each band member had solos throughout the night, however the most notable were those of keyboardist Michael Boguski. This guy stole the show. You just felt it. Every key, pure soul. There was one instant when Greg Keelor wasn’t 100% thrilled with how a song was going and stopped mid-song stating “These people paid good money to be here. We can do better than that!” and started the song again from the beginning. Blue Rodeo has always had that likeable band personality; Simple everyday guys who care about what they do, want their fans to have a good time and leave feeling inspired in one way or another. This is one of the other things that appeals to people and something that you don’t get to see by simply listening to an album. You really get a feel for band dynamics and personality by watching members interact onstage. Watching Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor was like watching two brothers who have seen it all and done it all together. There is an undeniable depth and chemistry to their relationship. I had previously mentioned that Blue Rodeo’s fan base spanned generations, and the audience that filled The Jubilee Auditorium definitely supported that notion. Teens, golden aged, and everyone in between, could be seen tapping their feet or singing along in the crowd. I think that is what happens when an artist’s range is so wide. Blue Rodeo is categorized as a country rock band, but their sound transcends the confines of just one or two musical genres. There are elements of blues, pop and soul scattered throughout their songs and performances. During the Edmonton show I attended, there was a moment during the song ‘After The Rain’ when I was quite certain Aretha Franklin had possessed Jim Cuddy onstage. It was amazing. The band even performed the old gospel song ‘Somebody Touched Me’. The rendition was so good it rivalled many of the artists that recorded the song back in the 60s. It is my guess that this ability to successfully cross musical genres and reach people in a wide range of demographics comes from a bona fide and deep love of all types of music, and a historical understanding of how each type came into being and why they were necessary; really relating to people of all backgrounds and with a different story. From the southern lady in the church choir, to the small town boy trying to find his way, Blue Rodeo has found away to understand, feel and give voice to so many. In fact, right before performing ‘Fools Like You’, the band took a moment to bring awareness to the Idle No More movement, once again showing the band’s unwavering dedication and support of those who are politically or socially disadvantaged. I left the January 9th concert feeling motivated, entertained, impressed and with the realization that before seeing Blue Rodeo live, I had no idea how powerful and important their place is in the Canadian music scene.

Releases, Reviews and Reverie

By Stacey Mullings

Shout Out Out Out Out Spanish Moss and Total Loss Normals Welcome Records After much anticipation on my part, and likely on the part of many Shout Out Out Out Out fans, the electro band’s third album, ‘Spanish Moss and Total Loss’ was released in July of this year, and as expected, it did not disappoint. When considering a band like Shout Out Out Out Out, expectations can be placed quite high. Time after time, they present a body of work that evidences just how passionate they are about their craft, and shows a level of expertise and artistry that’s pretty flooring. The highly skilled and complex instrumentation found in Spanish Moss and Total Loss is so fluid and cohesive that it produces melodic and accessible pieces which is undoubtedly a science in itself. A myriad of instruments including two drummers, four bassists, analog synths, Rhodes piano, baritone guitar and saxophone work in unison to construct an album that is pensive, relatable, thought provoking, and just really cool. The mood is one of profound reflection. Lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Nik Kozub stated “As on our previous two albums, I sing through an old analog vocoder, and lyrically I try to tackle my own demons, dreaming of a life where I can just stay on vacation forever, not having to deal with being broke all the time or be reminded of personal failures.” Despite the heavy lyrical content, listening to the album from start to finish does not feel like a depressing or taxing experience at all, more of a journey through truly inspired sound. Having seen Shout Out Out Out Out’s live performance on numerous occasions in different cities, I can say with conviction that they bring a certain explosive energy that ignites and already amped audience regardless of where they play. I think we can expect to see more great things from this band. Poolside Pacific Standard Time Day & Night Recordings Filip Nikolic and Jeffrey Paradise, also known as Poolside, introduced their brand of contemporary groove soul pop with the release of their debut album, ‘Pacific Standard Time’. The LA-based duo’s relaxed, feel-good sound was an instant party favourite over the summer. Pacific Standard Time sets the scene for a chilled out beach party over looking a California sunset and makes it virtually impossible to sit still while listening. Poolside’s rendition of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon is a whole new take on the folksy classic, placing it under a downtempo beat. Both Nikolic and Paradise had already earned the respect of music aficionados prior to teaming up together to create Poolside. They have worked with some notable artists in both the electro and indie rock genres. With Nikolic, playing with Ima Robot and touring with Junior Senior, and Paradise fronting The Calculators (members later went on to form The Rapture), they brought a strong fan base along with them when they decided to form Poolside. Being DJs of discriminating taste, Nikolic and Paradise put out a solid, 16-track album with the kind of music they would like to hear at a beach party or LA nightclub. As the last of the few dog days of summer come to a close, Pacific Standard Time is definitely one to pick up at the record store, drop the needle and kick back. Thesecond track, ‘Next To You’ is a personal favourite. If Poolside makes a video for this one, they must cast Pam Grier!)

Lou Salomé

By Tracey Ellis

Lou Salomé is a music artist from France, and as you would expect from the birthplace of haute-couture, she exudes class, sophistication, and charm along with her musical talent. Sitting in her Parisian apartment near Bastille, she is a figure of chicness in her skinny jeans, silk blouse and trendy shoe boots, enhanced by simple silver jewellery and the hint of a dirty laugh; the effortlessly stylish image all Parisians seem to possess. A Diane Kruger lookalike (but with a trendy, curly, bob) and a sultry voice like Shakira, Lou is a sexy siren full of soul, French style. And with performing in clubs all around Paris and the south of France, she is busy too. Having just released her second album in France - My Art Belongs to Dad - Lou is now ready to conquer the world; well, the English-speaking world at least. Inspired and influenced by the likes of Serge Gainsbourg, The Mitsouko, Bashung, Sting, and the great singers of jazz, her bilingual album is an eclectic mix of soul, jazz, pop and funk. The album has all the contours of hope and celebrations of life, along with a mixture of the fragility and forces of nature. It is also a heartfelt dedication to her father who died of cancer. “Singing has always been a spirit inside me; an intense passion. I connect intimately with the music and sing to express myself and my emotions”, says Lou. “Inspiration for this album came to me like an earthquake after my father died, it flowed quickly and naturally.” Lou began singing as a child, letting her voice echo down the stairs of her parents home in the south of France. A hidden ambition for many years, it was only a few years ago she decided to take it more seriously, writing and co-composing her first album in 2008 ‘Tic Tac Mania’. At this time the identity of Lou Salomé was not born yet, but the first steps of her musical journey had begun. “The singing was deep-rooted since my early childhood, so deep that I did nothing to indulge it for all those years. Then one day it became clear, and I understood that I had to engage with my passion and dare to share these things that have always resonated within me.” A relative newcomer in the music industry, Lou started her career at age 34, a bit late perhaps in the age of youth claiming fame younger and younger. What she does bring to the musical table is grace and soul, as well as experience in many different genres of music, allowing her to realise that she does not want to be locked in to just one classifiable genre. With the confidence to pursue her dream and the talent to back it up, her music is beginning to cross oceans and transcend borders with the help of her music collaborator and childhood friend - Carine Bonnefoy - a renowned pianist and jazz composer in France. With their eyes set on Canadian Folk Festivals, concert halls, and clubs, Lou is excited by touring a bilingual country such as Canada. “I want to hear English-speaking people singing my songs in French, and French people singing my songs in English, crossing borders to embrace each other in universality.” Onstage Lou does not disappoint, to the ears, or to the eyes. Extremely watchable, her style is uniquely hers; feminine, bohemian, and sexy combined with nostalgic flair. “I’m influenced by the 20’s”, says Lou. “I love the materials that make you so elegant and feminine, the pearls, the feathers, the (false) fur and the women’s liberalization that occurs during this period. Coco Chanel was a precursor of this trend and I love her work for that.” One of the first women to wear trousers, cut her hair and reject the corset was Coco Chanel. Probably the most influential woman in fashion of the 20th century, Chanel did much to further the emancipation and freedom of women’s fashion. And if you think the name ‘Lou Salome’ sounds familiar, you are right. The singer chose her stage name based on the Russian-born Lou Andreas-Salome, one of the first women psychoanalysts who dared to write about female sexuality. Lou has based her image on the free-spirited nature of this woman, and her vintage Chanel flair echoes this theme onstage, through her image and her music. What does she like to wear when performing? “I love to wear heels, false fur, peacock feathers, and a pearl garland on my head. I love to wear also cuffs on my wrists and lace...I love to mix the styles of the 20’s with a contemporary style. I love sophisticated materials as well as fur or feather that illustrates the animal part we have all in us.” Signature items? “I always wear a pearl headband and peacock feathers, I used them for the album cover. When I was a child, I was fascinated by the beauty of this bird. I found it bizarre, mysterious and marvellous in the same time, different. I love the feather, it looks like an eye, maybe the third eye, who knows?!! It is for me the eye of the child I was, all what made me from my childhood until today, all the life experiences and the memories.” As she prepares for a string of concerts in the south of France, Lou is nervous, as always. When I ask her how she deals with her nerves, she gives me a quote from Oscar Wilde: “Shoot for the moon, if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”. As Lou has proved, it’s never to late to shoot for the moon, and there is no doubt that wherever she goes, she has star quality. Look out for Lou Salome performing across Canada next year. In the meantime check out her album on her website, Spotify or Amazon.

Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City

By Tracey Ellis

A New Generation of Women’s Travel Guides You will not find a ‘must-see or do’ list of the top tourist attractions in Heather-Stimmler Hall’s naughty travel guides, but you may find an exclusive boutique hotel or a swanky bar etched with some glamorous history in which to have a cool cocktail in. The American-born author helps women travel independently to the sexiest cities on the planet - Paris and New York - with style, grace, and sex appeal. Heather shows you the slicker side of city life; daring lingerie shops, luxurious hotels, sensuous spas, and romantic restaurants are just a small part of the seductive path she leads you on. Although described as ‘naughty’ travel guides, these books are more about discovering your sensuous and adventurous side rather than misbehaving. But when in Paris it is not just all about tempting lingerie and cabarets. There is advice for what to wear from ‘Petite Brigitte’ (an insider Parisienne view), who describes the fashion as an ‘mélange of artless elegance’ which should encompass silk scarves, tailored white shirts, and flattering white jeans in a dark rinse. There are also recommendations for erotic photographers, body art salons, clubs where you can be a dancing diva, and sexy shoe shopping. More than just your regular tourist guide, these suggestive handbooks provide insight to your inner ‘femme fatale’; perhaps provoking you to explore other areas of the city you may not have previously considered or even knew about. The most famous vintage dealer in Paris, Didier Ludot’s shop overlooking the gardens of Palais Royal, will let you discover 1960’s Givenchy dresses and Hermes bags in pristine condition, and when you’re hungry the decadent Laduree ‘salon de the’ serves up the most exquisite pastries in a sumptuous atmosphere. Or get a custom corset made at Cadolle on rue St-Honore. Herminie Cadolle was the inventor of the bra who freed women from the constraints of the corset, then reintroduced it to the fashion world after World War 1. These are just a few of the hidden gems to be discovered in Naughty Paris. More and more women are traveling alone for business and for pleasure, and they have individual, feminine requirements. According to Wanderlust, even married women are traveling more often alone or with girlfriends. Of course the main concern is safety, but there are still many fun adventures to be had. This is where Heather’s recommendations reflect the strong, independent women of today, as it is foremost a lady’s guide, for girls who are ‘no longer girls but who still want to have fun’. On their own terms, of course. Written with a sophisticated flair, there is nothing seedy or vulgar about the recommendations in this guide. The author has done her research and is refreshingly informative with punchy and clear descriptions of what to expect if you do decide to cross that adventurous line; her writing is as seductive as the content. For the woman who is curious but a bit shy, this book will potentially open up new exciting doors of adventure, or provide them with a perfectly indulgent itinerary to follow. Heather provides the best solo-female-friendly places to go where you can feel wildly independent without being harassed. She also suggests the necessary ‘girly weekend’ places to rendezvous with your gal pals, or the best places for intimate dining a deux with your partner. Beautifully designed and photographed, it was named the Best Travel Guidebook of the year in the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards, but be aware; there is a racy side to this book if you so choose to read, and it is fascinating. You can take what you want from this guide and leave the rest. Perhaps just reading about it is enough…but as the saying goes; “what happens in Paris, stays in Paris”. Heather Stimmler-Hall is a travel journalist and creator of the blog Secrets of Paris ( She has also recently released Naughty New York with the help of eight local experts and journalists. All of the major online booksellers carry the Naughty Paris Guide, including Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, Borders, and Powell’s, as well as the Kindle edition on Amazon.

Cycling In Style

By Tracey Ellis

Chic city cycling - does it exist? Tracey Ellis takes a test drive down the elite runway of one of the world’s busiest and most fashionable cities to see the latest cycling trends. Cycling doesn’t have to be all about skin-tight spandex and sore behinds. It can be a journey meandering from A to B, the quickest route to work, or a relaxing ride to de-stress. Cycling is also better for the environment, good exercise, and quite often a quicker mode of transportation than the clogged commute that exists in most cities. And with more and more women taking to city streets on two wheels, the fashions stakes have diversified with ladies emerging in the shape of sexy, modish forms astride metal stallions of all shapes and sizes. It’s all stemming from where most things fashionable and feminine do - the stylish city of Paris.Riding a bike is not new to most people, but riding it around the gridlocked streets that consume Paris has its challenges. With motorbikes weaving and pedestrians wandering aimlessly, the Parisian roads can be a dangerous obstacle course for cyclists, almost requiring a full suit of armour for protection. But in true French ‘laissez-faire’ style, almost anything goes for cycling attire; combining fashion with an air of sensibility is the key. The introduction of the hugely successful ‘Velib’ in July 2007 - the largest ‘self-service’ public cycling system in the world - has made city cycling easily accessible to everyone, and many women have embraced this healthy lifestyle with handbag and heels in tow. The installation of 1,451 velib stations offering more than 20,000 bicycles has prompted a huge increase in women using the bike for commuting to work, short trips, or when taxis are unavailable. As of May 2008, women riders make up nearly half of the cyclist population in Paris. So, Parisian women are using the bike more, but are they maintaining their renowned ‘chicness’ while cycling? Apparently so (pics) And surely tight, short skirts and high heels are out of the question? Apparently not (pic) It seems some Parisians are not willing to sacrifice style for practicality, and if they turn a few heads in their journey, even better. Cycling fashion has moved on considerably since bicycles were first invented in 1878 - a time when full skirts and ‘woollen suits’ were the outfits women were expected to wear, along with waist-pinching corsets. Cumbersome, heavy, and hot, women’s cycling dress was anything but sensible, but they were determined to master this new two-wheeled contraption while maintaining their decorum. Surprisingly, the cycling trend has prompted trends in fashion over the years. Bloomers were created by skirts being buckled around the ankles for safety, a smart and eventually stylish solution because by the 1890’s bloomers were worn increasingly in public in Paris, not just on bikes. These soon became quite fashionable in the form of ‘Turkish trouser’ style outfits. Then in 1895 came the bloomers costume with high laced boots (pic). Deemed to be safer than a skirt, this outfit also retained a woman’s femininity rather than having to ‘dress like a man’. And let’s not forget the men: cycling in their business suits they look just as smart as the women, cruising along Rue de Rivoli with their briefcases in baskets. Back in the 1890’s, a ‘Norfolk suit’ was the dress of choice, an iconic outfit made of sturdy tweed paired with box pleats over the chest and back and matching baggy-kneed trousers. These ‘knickerbockers’ - worn with knee-length stockings and low shoes - were the sportswear fashion that men wore shooting and golfing as well as cycling. Men of today may have dropped the knickerbockers but remain ever-classy in their Dior or Chanel suits cycling to work. Undoubtedly, today’s cycling fashion has become less bulky and more liberated. Unless one is training for the Tour de France, being fashionable at all times is central to the Parisian spirit. Here’s how they do it:The ‘must-have’ accessory on a bike is sunglasses. Not only do they look cool, but they keep out bugs, harsh wind and dust. As for shoes, flats or wedges are best, but heels are possible too if you can master your balance at the red lights. Parisian women get it right by wearing kitten heels or pretty ballet flats instead of stilettos, remaining stylish but sensible. Scarves are in every Parisian’s wardrobe all year round. They cut the chill on windier days and rarely fail to look stylish.Dresses and skirts may free the legs, but keep in mind they can ride as high as five inches when cycling. Whether a slim-fitting Dior suit or flowing fifties skirt, the Parisians wear them often as it is effortlessly sexy and completely feminine .Tight, skinny jeans teamed with gladiator sandals have been a popular look this past summer, the stretchy variety for ease of movement while pedalling. With fall approaching, classic trench coats of all lengths and colours are appearing, flowing out like mini wing extensions as they ride by.The biggest fashion faux pas on bikes? Riding with low-rise trousers so your underwear is showing (this is like an open invitation to Parisian men). And backpacks; instead you see designer handbags, briefcases, or shopping bags resting in baskets or bags on a long strap across the body. The other reason Parisians are the most fashionable cyclists? They have little interest in wearing helmets. Free-flowing hair overrides safety, but at least the cycling speed is slower in the city. The future of bike fashion looks modern, versatile and creative: the unisexy Dhoti lounge pants from Down Town Betty and Outlier’s daily riding pants for women are two examples of progression created by past trends. And with Bike Fashion Shows popping up in New York and Vancouver presenting ‘fashion-forward’ chic urban clothing designed with the bicyclist in mind, it could help promote a cycling lifestyle to suit everyone. Sportswear is ultimately considered an American invention, while the home of ‘designer sportswear’ resides most definitely in Paris with designers such as Gabrielle Chanel creating haute couture designs, (though they are not as flexible as American sportswear). But when it comes to basic cycling that has a purpose, the Parisians are masters at combining chicness with practicality, especially when using their bike as a way to get to and from work while maintaining a business wardrobe.The French prove that fashion for the active person doesn’t have to be about cycling shorts and t-shirts. It’s more about fashion for the active business person which, for them, doesn’t have to lose style, just as long as you can pedal.

©2013 PHABRIK Magazine