Monday, 28 January 2013

"That's the spirit of the Wunderkammer"

Store owner Nathan Dubo says that the literal translation of a Wunderkammer is "a room of wonder". The German term ("Of course it's German, it's a mouth-full," says Dubo) was coined during the Renaissance. It started off as a room of curiosities that people would collect before there were universities or museums. It caught on once it was seen that the nobleman in the village had an oddity room, everybody wanted one.

"People would go out and find interesting things that they would bring back from their travels and would try and figure out ways to display it that would make sense."

The entryway to Wunderkammer, jewellery cases share the space with antiques, vintage curiosities and taxidermy.

When entering the Dalhousie Street jewellery and gift shop, that is exactly how you feel. It's almost overwhelming, all the details. Despite the size of the place, ("Before we opened, we knew it was too small.") you could literally get lost for hours just looking at all the oddities and beautiful pieces.

Some of the longer necklaces are displayed on antlers hanging from the wall.

"We seem to be so close to nature here in Ottawa," says Dubo. Drawing inspiration from Grimms fairy tales, steampunk, Alice in Wonderland and nature makes Wunderkammer one of the most unique spaces in the city.

Wunderkammer opened a over a year ago and has received an overwhelming amount of support in  a city that seems to be starving for the creative and unusual charm that Wunderkammer offers.

Dubo and his wife Tamara Steinborn have been creating jewellery for 13 years. Originally from Winnipeg, they have lived in Toronto and Montreal in the past before deciding to set up shop in Ottawa.

Originally starting out as a wholesale jewellery company, Dubo and Steinborn wanted to settle in a place that was different than a studio, a place that could serve as a conversation starter. And thus, Wunderkammer was born. They still wholesale some of their pieces and just last weekend went to a trade-show in Toronto to promote their designs.

Each corner in the small space has its own theme and fits together perfectly. 

Featuring jewellery from a vast array of designers from England to Turkey and closer to home, Wunderkammer highlights four brands that Dubo and Steinborn built themselves.

Long necklaces displayed on a brach right near the front of the store.

The original brand they created, Früg, is now exclusively sold at Wunderkammer. Dubo would hand-carve pieces out of wax and then cast them in sterling silver. Steinborn also has her own namesake line carried at the store that features beautiful stones cast in silver.

My personal favourite of the four collections would have to be La Pistole, this collection is more vintage inspired. Claws, skulls and talons are featured in brassy metals, this collection is not for the person who likes to play it safe says Dubo.

La Russe is another collection the Wunderkammer carries and that Dubo and Steinborn also wholesale, Dubo describes it as a little pared down, sleek and simple with a lot of geometric accents. "It's for someone who doesn't want to get into wearing a giant bird talon necklace," says Dubo.

I remember going to Wunderkammer early last year, a few months after they had opened, my boyfriend had parked the car on Dalhousie, as we were headed over to one of my other favourite local boutiques Charles looked in the window and said, "Hey Jen, it looks like they have weird stuff on long necklaces in there! Isn't that kind of your thing?"

Boy, does he know me or what? After visiting Wunderkammer last week, I couldn't help but come home with my very own La Pistole talon bracelet.

Of course I couldn't resist!!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Monday Monday!

So Monday I'm going to be starting a new little blog project for one of my classes this semester. Since I love fashion, and I love my city, I thought I'd start featuring and highlighting some of my favourite local fashioney things. (I don't think 'fashioney' is a word, but don't let that harm my journalistic integrity!)

Starting on Monday, each week Im going to feature something new (or old!) that is helping make our city a more fashionable place to be.

For now here's a sneak peek at one of the perks I picked up while "researching" my post for Monday.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Like shooting fish in a barrel

There's a really funny headline from The Onion that I read once where it talks about intelligent women being fooled by mascara companies. And that even though intelligent women should know that all mascara is the same, we always seem to loose our shiz over the newest, non-clumping, extendo-lash, doll-face, waterproof mascara that comes out.

This is how I feel every day of my life. And every day, despite knowing that cosmetics probably come from a Simpsons-esque factory where all the goop comes from the same vats, I am always craving, the newest and "best" products.

Duff, Duff Lite and Duff Dry; this is probably what the Proctor and Gamble factory looks like.
My most recent embarrassing experience comes at the hands of Philosophy, at first I thought they were just a bubble bath manufacturer, (don't even get me started on those) but a while ago I got a Philosophy sample package with my Beauty Insider points at Sephora. (If you aren't signed up for that yet, you probably should! It's free and even if you don't shop there often, you get a really nice gift on your birthday!)

I digress. I got this sample package that included a teensy sampling of their facial moisturizer, Hope in a Jar. When I started using it, despite feeling the same feelings as I felt while using my old and regular Clinique face cream, I was convinced that God Himself delivered this Hope in a Jar to my face and that if I didn't continue using it forever, I would be doomed to have bad skin.

I obsessed over buying this stuff, and once my sample began to run low, I marched into Sephora with the express interest of buying this goop. (Those of you familiar with Philosophy products will probably have an idea where this story is going.)

I was completely FLABBERGASTED to discover that not only is Hope in a Jar the most precious gem of face cream that I have ever had the pleasure to experience, but it almost costs as much as a precious gem would too.

SEVENTY-EIGHT...78...7....8....$78. For 120mL of product. Too much for my budget and too much for me to even think of spending on face goop. So I hopelessly went home, (har, har, see what I did there?) sans face cream and decided I would just have to make due with what I have.

I wish I could say that was the end of my story, but it's not.

As soon as my sample was completely empty -- I had squeezed the last squeeze of moisturizer on to my face -- I went back to Sephora, resolute.

I compromised and bought the smaller amount for a lesser amount of money. It was probably a better deal to buy the bigger one for $78, but I couldn't bear to tell myself that as an intelligent girl, I spent 80 bucks on face goop.

Friday, 18 January 2013


I'll start off by telling you that I have the winter blues. Yes, the blues. The lack of sunshine and inspiration has been really taking a toll on me. I'm feeling less inspired than I have been in a really long time.

At the same time I feel like this should be a time when I feel the MOST inspired. I have more free time than I did before Christmas and things are looking up. I'm back in school and looking forward to a great internship in the Spring.

That being said, I'm still down in the dumps.

On the bright side, the spring collections are slowly starting to roll into stores and I have already started curating my ideal spring wardrobe!

You guys don't need me to tell you that cobalt blue is going to be huge this season, wear it in a way that's structured and modern, I want to say the cobalts that we're going to see are going to look very futuristic.

The cobalt will also go great with another huge trend: stripes. I wore this striped shirt to school today, at the same time my Dad sent me a link to a "spring trend" article he saw and the biggest one was black and white stripes. It feels good to do something right!

Another thing I'm obsessed with lately is waxed denim. I feel like the leather legging trend is becoming a bit overplayed, and waxed denim is a great replacement for a dressy yet understated pant.

Another thing I'm started to embrace is the statement necklace. I don't feel it every day, but this crystal stunner from Club Monaco is a great way to get into the trend.

What are some of your top picks for Spring? I've only just begun getting pumped for that snow to melt!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Balmain in 2013

If I had an extra several thousand dollars, I would want to wear Balmain Spring 2013 exclusively. Just sayin'.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Pinterest Fails

I'll be the first one to admit that I love Pinterest. I love pinning home decor, tattoos, fashion and art, but one thing I think may be getting a tad out of hand is the absolute DIY nature of Pinterest. In my opinion, a good DIY is something that not only costs less than the store bought thing but also works better or looks better.  Lately, I've been finding on Pinterest some absolutely RIDICULOUS "DIY" things, that either serve absolutely no purpose, or are just plain stupid. After half an hour on the "DIY and Crafts" section of Pinterest, I compiled the following list of some of the worst DIY ideas...(in my opinion)

DIY....glitter....tipped....goose/seagull feathers? I don't think the avian flu you will no doubt catch from the looks of these feathers will be worth bragging, "yeah, see these feathers...I dipped them in glitter myself."

"I'm just gonna cut off the spines of these books and glue them to a box so I can put stuff in it and put it on my shelf so that it looks like I have books on the shelf but really, it's actually old yoga DVD's that I don't use anymore." This Pinterest DIY is literally the dumbest thing I've ever seen.

(I stand corrected...) Spray paint coffee beans gold for decoration! Yeah, I'll get right on that, right after I finish polishing the salt granules in my salt shaker and making glitter out of my spice rack...

The caption on this photo said "Cut up your credit card to make a cute name necklace!" I don't know about you guys but I don't think there's anything particularly cute about a necklace in RBC Blue that says, "Baguss, Jennifer L".

Have you seen any ridiculously stupid/hard DIYs on Pinterest lately??

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

B-Day Probs

As much as I love fashion and getting dressed up, the idea of dressing for specific occasions completely terrifies me. It's my birthday on Friday and Saturday I'm going out with some friends and I have literally NO IDEA what to wear. I have so many clothes that are appropriate for things like, "work" and "going out during the day"; the "nightclub" section of my closet is seriously lacking. Not to mention the fact that unlike many girls, the idea of dressing to go to the club doesn't really appeal to me. I am NOT the type of girl to throw on a dress and a tiara and demand drinks be bought for me because 24 years ago I was being birthed. No, I much prefer a more low-key look. I think I'm feeling maybe some waxed jeans with a cool t-shirt and some statement jewelry. Thoughts?

Sequined leggings could be interesting too!