Class of 2013: Flavia

Attending college is an incredible opportunity to embark on an educational endeavour. It can’t be emphasized enough how important it is to embrace these years for the priceless learning opportunity which they offer. From an academic standpoint, four years at McGill University has taught me vast amounts about human physiology and has truly allowed me to gain an appreciation for how intricate and intertwined every aspect of our physical being is. The human body is unarguably beautiful and perhaps the most awe-inducing aspect is the way in which its complex components work together to create the invaluable gift of life. In this way, studying physiology contributed to my scientific understanding of the human body, while cultivating an admiration for the body that spans far past the mere molecular level.

Although attaining knowledge is one of the pillars upon which a college education stands, the term “learning” should never be taken so narrowly as to only describe the academic learning that occurs within classrooms. I personally learned more from simply living in Montreal than I could’ve ever learned from any textbook or lecture hall. Perhaps one of Montreal’s greatest assets is its multicultural mosaic, which allows you to meet people from every corner of the globe. Interacting daily with such a wide diversity of people teaches you one of the greatest lessons that can be taught to any human being — the lesson of tolerance and acceptance. While some people approach those who look or act differently with a sense of uneasiness or judgement, Montreal encourages an attitude of acceptance and a genuine curiosity toward learning about the many differences that make each of us unique. Consequently, this city challenged my notion of normality, while instilling within me a profound admiration for the beauty that lies within the unique and the unconventional.

My love for the unconventional, particularly pertaining to fashion, merges seamlessly into my experience with CollegeFashionista. Although my interest in clothing and style was always present, CollegeFashionista provided me with an amazing opportunity to capture my point of view within photographs, while eloquently expressing my sartorial passion through words. While runway shows are the realm of the rich and regal, street style is influenced by the sartorial rebels and style provocateurs — the true Fashionistas who practice innovation over imitation. My three semesters as a Style Guru completely transformed my perspective on fashion and opened my eyes to the overflowing amounts of creativity and raw inspiration that can be found within street style.

This coming fall I hope to start a Master’s program, with my ultimate aspiration being to one day go to medical school and become a doctor. However, despite that, I’ll always carry within me a sartorial passion and an eye for the incredible beauty of the world, whether it be the beauty found in full-body tattoos, graffiti-clad buildings or an unexpected smile from a stranger. After all as the poet Khalil Gibran once said, “We live only to discover beauty, all else is a form of waiting.”


While the term “concrete jungle” is used to describe the fast-paced lifestyle of living in the downtown core of the world’s largest cities, even the streets of New York cannot fully capture the ferocity that’s required to live in the real jungles of the animal kingdom. Likely this is because humans rely on higher levels of brain activity to make them rational and reasonable, while animals rely almost completely on their natural instincts. Animal instincts are the most essential forms of behavior that an animal must perform in order to meet its basic needs — driven entirely by an unwavering desire to survive. Whereas humans created civilizations focused on cooperation, animals tend to embrace more selfish tendencies, looking out for themselves above all others.

This way of life may seem barbaric against the cognitive capacity of the human mind; however that doesn’t mean that humans are free of these same animalistic instincts. Despite our place at the top of the animal kingdom, these instincts still lie at the core of each and every human being — ready to pounce if given the right opportunity. Although animalistic behavior has a negative connotation due to a presumed lack of self-control, a bit of this fierceness can serve well even within the slightly tamer walls of the concrete jungle. The sartorial world seems to agree, as animals are appearing everywhere in the wardrobes of the Fashionistas in the street style realm.

Animal print is certainly no novel trend on the runways, however this spring it’s the bold intensity of animal faces and not just their fur patterns, which seem to be the fashionable focal point. The shirt worn by this week’s Fashionista showcases one of the most dangerous, beautiful and well-recognized predators in the animal kingdom — the tiger. Few animals exude such an air of raw fearlessness, making the tiger the perfect animal for the Fashionistas who are as fearless in life as they are in fashion. A graphic tiger T-shirt is the perfect option for the warmer spring and summer months, however a sweater will be an ideal acquisition for this coming fall. Another animal commonly seen transitioning from the safari to the streets is the zebra. Although less vicious than the tiger, the zebra possesses an air of grace and an elegant coat of black and white — making a zebra T-shirt the best match for Fashionistas who love monochromatic color palettes. Last but not least is an animal renowned for surviving the harshest environmental conditions and associated with the warrior-like qualities of strength and leadership. A description like that is fitting for none other than the big, bad wolf, whose image looks just as good on a cropped T-shirt as it does on a draped-back T-shirt.

This season, let your animal instincts take over and channel the ferocious fearlessness that’s needed for survival in the animal kingdom into your everyday ensembles. After all, even in the concrete jungle, it’s better to be the predator than it is to be the prey.

STYLE ADVICE OF THE WEEK: The Grudge Against Grunge

Time is a concept that is universally recognized. Although intangible — something that cannot be truly seen or felt — it plays such a pivotal role in our everyday lives. While we often use time as a scaffold upon which we make goals and build future plans, an equally important function of time is to provide us with points of reference in our past. For this reason, time has particular significance in the world of fashion where designers have a tendency to combine original ideas with referential influences. With millennia of human history, sartorial references can come from a vast variety of time periods, ranging from the mysterious ancient world to the not so distant past. One decade which has recently experienced a referential revival is the beloved 1990s, predominantly through the comeback of the grunge trend.

Grunge emerged as a subgenre of rock music in the late 1980s, yet only gained mainstream popularity in the beginning of the 1990s. Musical genres, like many other cultural phenomena, have far-spanning influences on countless social and political factors — from the laws that are passed to the clothes that are worn. Therefore not surprisingly, the beginnings of grunge music lead to the creation of a very controversial grunge-inspired fashion. The grunge trend, characterized by flannel shirts, acid wash denim, bulky boots and oversized layers, served as a shock to the prim and proper world of fashion. Grunge was like nothing that the fashion world had ever seen before — whereas fashion conventionally fixated on exploring the extraordinary, grunge seemed like the embodiment of the ordinary and the downtrodden. Yet the sartorial backlash was clearly not enough to stop the popularity of the trend in the past and most definitely not enough to prevent the current resurgence, as is showcased by this week’s Fashionista.

Combining flannel, denim, a plain white tee and tousled tresses, this Fashionista has all the ingredients to create a modern take on the casually cool grunge trend. The key to the grunge look is to layer — although less feasible in the midday heat, it’s a convenient option to keep warm in the slightly chillier summer nights. The essential component of any grunge look is of course plaid, traditionally worn as flannel shirts and more recently worn in floor-sweeping maxi skirts. Although a white T-shirt is a closet staple for a variety of trends, you can never go wrong with the addition of a graphic T-shirt for that extra dose of cheekiness. Interestingly, she also opted for a snapback hat and sneaker wedges for a slightly contrasting yet equally cool addition to her ensemble. For a grungy yet feminine take on footwear, I also adore these floral Dr. Martens.

Trends, like people, sometimes deserve a second chance. Although grunge fashion was less than well received in its sartorial debut, the departure of modern street style toward a more rebellious edge has created a new niche for this older trend. Perhaps now the fashion world is finally ready to let go of its grudge against grunge.


When one thinks of luxurious clothing, often the first things that come to mind are the ball gowns of beloved fairy tale princesses or the couture creations of our wildest sartorial dreams. With ribbons made of the finest silk, exquisite lace embroidery and threads made of the purest gold, these gowns ostentatiously ooze opulence and extravagantly exude elegance. Due to the prevalence of monarchies and kingdoms as the main system for political organization throughout civilization, the idea of luxury has irreversibly intertwined with the wealthy — the wealthiest of course being royalty.

Amazingly, across centuries, the traditional garb of royalty that’s so closely associated with the realm of luxury has barely changed. In fact, the whole concept of fashion itself was previously considered a luxury, acting as a divider between the upper and lower classes. However, with time the sartorial influence of the royals began to decline due to a shift at the start of the twentieth century — when fashion designers like Coco Chanel gained increasing prominence as style icons and tastemakers. To this day, while our childhood selves may have gawked at the gowns of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, our adult selves seldom look to real-life princesses for sartorial inspiration. Along with this shift of influence also came a consequent shift in the perception of what it means to look luxurious. Although lace and silk may be classically luxurious fabrics, the world of fashion has allowed a few unexpected fabrics to join in the ranks of luxury, as is showcased by this week’s Fashionista.

Leather and denim have been historically associated with rough and rebellious characters like cowboys, bikers and punk rockers, however both of these fabrics have experienced a re-emergence in an equally cool yet infinitely more chic context. Leather in particular is one fabric which has become synonymous for quality and luxury, particularly when accompanied by skillful tailoring and avant-garde designs. However, the same concept can be applied to denim — while blue denim in the form of jeans may be a casual go-to, a collared shirt tailored from the same fabric can look very elegant, while still retaining a hint of its playful, rebellious charm. This Fashionista shows the bold impact that can be made when incorporating both of these fabrics into one ensemble, creating a look that is incredibly edgy, yet still exudes an air of modern luxury. To attain a similar look, pair a leather jacket with a contrasting chambray shirt. Realizing what an incredible duo denim and leather make, many designers have opted to create pieces that incorporate both fabrics, such as these leather panel jeans from rag & bone and this enviable biker jacket splurge from Acne.

The concept of luxury will likely continue to evolve as time goes on, be it changes in fabrics, silhouettes or fashion icons. Until then, forget the diamonds, tiaras and glass slippers — this season, living in luxury is as simple as wearing a combination of denim and leather that will surely leave you feeling like sartorial royalty.


Imagine a woman so exquisite that her beauty is still recognized millennia later — someone so stunning that she became the icon of an ancient civilization. Undoubtedly a beauty so remarkable would be best fit for a queen, and that she was. Nefertiti was a queen who ruled alongside one of ancient Egypt’s most controversial pharaohs, King Akhenaten. Aside from her staggering beauty, she’s also renowned for her strength and the incredible influence that she had on her subjects. However even more intriguing is her mysterious role after her husband’s death, when she presumably disguised herself as a pharaoh until her step-son Tutankhamen could take the throne. By simply changing her attire from feminine to masculine, Nefertiti became one of the most powerful women in Ancient Egypt, if not in ancient history.

Like Nefertiti, it wasn’t uncommon for women in the past to disguise themselves as men in order to have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. However, menswear-inspired clothing transitioned from a political statement of inequality to a sartorially significant entity when notable designers like Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent harnessed the strong fashion statement that this style conveys, pioneering once controversial pieces like the trouser and the female tuxedo. Although the phenomenon of menswear-inspired clothing is far from novel, it seems to have gained increasing popularity with the recent resurgence of the androgyny trend on the runways. This week’s Fashionista shows that when done properly, the menswear-inspired trend can look nothing short of daring.

When going for menswear-inspired trends, many Fashionistas tend to opt for more tailored pieces — yet this Fashionista caught my eye due to her bold decision to opt for laidback pieces that are unapologetically inspired by the more boyish style donned by the coolest Fashionistos. Although her accessories add a subtle hint of femininity, the rest of her ensemble exudes a cheeky rebellion that stands contrary to everything conventionally feminine. This Fashionista achieved her look by combining classically casual pieces, yet the chic vibe of her outfit comes from the way the fit, fabric and color palette of these pieces complement each other. To start, her boyfriend jeans look intentionally loose without being too baggy, while the cuff at the bottom adds a tailored touch. Instead of opting for a form-fitting black tank, she picked a black muscle tank and created the perfect fit by making a side knot with the extra fabric. Her studded leather sneakers are also to die for, giving a cool, modern edge to a normally understated shoe option. Lastly, her maroon snapback hat added the perfect pop of color, acting as the metaphorical cherry on top of an effortlessly chic ensemble.

This season, become inspired by the courageous women in history who broke the bounds of femininity by dressing like the opposite gender. Whether wearing a blazer,\ or dressed down in denim, harness your sense of sartorial adventure and you’ll see for yourself the bold style combinations that can be born when girl meets boy.

STYLE ADVICE OF THE WEEK: The Skeletons In Your Closet

Along with spring come a slew of associations — be it beautiful blooming flower, or knowledge that final exams are just around the corner.  Not surprisingly, spring’s spanning impact can also be seen through its influence on all things sartorial. The conventional path taken by most Fashionistas during this season consists of a cute, but somewhat cliché incorporation of floral patterns and prints. In an ever-evolving world of fashion that offers an abundance of novel style options, the term “conventional” is often just a polite synonym used to describe something that’s boring. The association between spring and flowers is blatantly obvious, as flowers are the literal representation of the perceived metaphorical rebirth that comes along with spring. But because fashion is an art form and personal style is a means of expression, why not harness your sense of adventure and do something a bit more controversial or unexpected? Instead of incorporating a symbol of life and rebirth, why not incorporate a symbol that represents the opposite phenomenon?

From Halloween to Hamlet, skulls have been endowed with an air of eeriness due to their universal association with the afterlife. However as with all forms of art, perception is the key. While many people interpret skulls as being morbid, I see skulls as a strong physiological symbol of human equality. While we may vary in the clothes we wear, the color of our skin and countless other factors, stripping away all those differences leaves us with simply a skeleton. Although skeletons show some variances in size, they represent a physical factor that unifies and equalizes all of us as human beings. In a world that strives to create divergence, it’s humbling and beautiful to remind ourselves that below the exterior we aren’t that different after all.

This week’s Fashionista was a springtime vision of edge and elegance, showing the strong impact that comes with the sartorial incorporation of skulls. The maximally contrasted hue of her blouse allows for the skull print to vividly stand out, while her use of dark denim and brown-toned accessories creates a simple, chic canvas that avoids overwhelming an already bold top. Note how she buttoned her blouse all the way up, thereby balancing the cool print with a pinch of collegiate formality. The key to incorporating this trend is to make the skull piece the focal point of the outfit, while contrasting it with feminine fabrics and silhouettes. For Fashionistas who don’t mind a bit of a splurge, Alexander McQueen scarves have become an absolute style staple. I’m also enamoured with Jeffrey Campbell’s skull-studded loafers, which perfectly combine edge, practicality and formality. There are also a multitude of accessories, such as clutches and bracelets, which can be used to create a more subtle skull touch.

Let this spring be your inspiration for a style rebirth, but in a less conventional way. Perhaps you’ll fall in love with the skull trend as much as I have. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with having a few skeletons in your closet.

STYLE ADVICE OF THE WEEK: Friends With (Sartorial) Benefits

A successful American entrepreneur once stated that we are the average of the five people who we spend the most time with. It takes little more than some self-reflection to realize what profound truth that statement holds. In early childhood, the people who most shape our behaviour are usually our closest family members — conversely, as we grow older we strive to be increasingly independent. Nowhere is this route to independence more evident than during the college years, which mark a drastic shift to a sphere of influence dominated by our five closest friends, rather than our families. Whether studying, eating or enjoying a night out, it’s rare that someone will be caught without one these friends by their side.

That then bates the question: how deep does the influence of these five people really run? Although impromptu philosophical conversations in the middle of the night may lead you to life-altering outlooks, the first changes that our friends influence tend to be a bit smaller in scale. Certain habits are particularly easy to pick up on — including simple actions like lip-biting, or certain phrases and expressions used during speech. What’s remarkable is that these small habitual changes often develop unnoticed — and by the time we do notice them, breaking the habit isn’t easy. Small mannerism aside, our closest friends have the potential to impact several other aspects of our persona, including our everyday sartorial choices. This week’s Fashionistas are proof that sometimes your best style inspiration can be your best friend.

With matching color palettes of black and brown hues, these Fashionistas immediately caught my eye at one of Montreal’s busiest intersections. Their ensembles show enough similarity to look cohesive and give an immediate impression of a close friendship, yet they still manage to style themselves in a way that reflects their individuality. They look as if they’re inspired by each other’s style, without sacrificing their own sartorial perspectives in the process. Since spring hasn’t yet sprung in this city, both Fashionistas opted for black winter coats accordingly. Although the two are equally chic, the shorter puffer jacket is the perfect transition piece into the slightly warmer weather conditions that spring will hopefully soon bring. Aside from their complementary color palettes, these Fashionistas both decided to channel animal-inspired trends. One did so by showcasing the majestic fur collar of her coat, while the other chose instead to wear a fierce leopard print scarf. Even their shoes showed semblance, as they both opted for wedge heel booties. Like many other Fashionsitas, I’m enamored with the idea of finishing off an outfit with a Louis Vuitton handbag. However I also wholeheartedly appreciate the perfect final touch provided by a beautifully done manicure. Overall, très magnifique!

In neuroscience it’s said that neurons which fire together, wire together — well in fashion, friends who style together, stay together. If you’re ever feeling stuck for inspiration, there may be five perfect sources closer than you think. After all, what’s a good friend without a few sartorial benefits?

STYLE ADVICE OF THE WEEK: Little Beige Riding Hood

Throughout their lifetime, true Fashionistas progressively expand their sources of inspiration and in turn allow their personal styles to evolve as well. During their college years Fashionistas often boast renowned magazines like Vogue and Nylon as their sartorial bibles, devouring every delightful detail from cover to cover. Although eccentric editorial spreads may seem like the perfect source to pull ideas from, magazines were not always the most obvious of style muses. For the Fashionistas who were chic from childhood, the main source of inspiration likely lay within the pages of fairy tales. These beloved stories, with their timeless quality, allow readers to embark on a journey to the magical land of “once upon a time.”

Before we knew anything about couture, many of us would daydream of the opulent gowns and accessories that we would wear if we too were princesses — from the crowns on our heads to our delicate glass slippers. Although princesses are an integral part of many fairy tales, they are definitely not the only fictional Fashionistas who are worth referencing in our wardrobes. When it comes to fictional style inspirations, there’s one fairy tale protagonist in particular who comes to mind, the lovely Little Red Riding Hood. Who better to have as a muse than the girl who’s as well known for her adorable outfit choice as she is for her face off with a big bad wolf? This week’s Fashionista proves that you’re never too old to draw inspiration from the bedtime stories of your childhood, as she channels her own twist on this fairy tale classic.

I always like to emphasize that the key to style is inspiration, not imitation. By opting for a hooded wool coat in a neutral tone this Fashionista showed a subtle innocence reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood, while completely avoiding a costumey look. The cloak-like hood plays a dual role, as it adds a cutesy playfulness when worn down, yet it contributes an element of mystery and allure when worn upon the head. The coat is light enough that it can be worn as a seasonal transition piece and the hood makes it practical enough that it protects from the sporadic spring showers that Montreal is known for. Since the hood is the focal point of the coat, the more oversized and exaggerated it is, the better. To get this Fashionista’s look, ASOS offers a very similar beige alternative, as well as a maroon piece that gives a more grown-up take on the classic red hue. If you want a coat with a more draped, cloak-like appearance, this high-low option by Diane von Furstenberg is ideal. For the Fashionistas who are enamoured with the edgier side of fashion, opt for this ultra-cool piece from Mackage, which comes complete with leather embellishments and a removable hood.

Whether you’re delivering baked goods to your grandma, outsmarting a wolf in the forest or just taking a stroll through campus, the hooded wool coat is a must-have this season.


One of the well-recognized phenomena in nature is the metamorphosis of the small, stubby caterpillar into the majestic butterfly. When caterpillars hatch from their eggs they spend most of their time eating, growing and continually shedding their outer shell — hardly the most exciting lifestyle by anybody’s standards. Once they get to a certain size, the caterpillars wrap themselves up in a cocoon, which becomes their home for the next several months. Although the cocoon looks unimpressive from the outside, what’s happening on the inside is absolutely remarkable — and when the time is right, out from the cocoon flutters the loveliest of butterflies.

At first glance the story of the butterfly may seem to have little significance to our human lives and even less significance to our sartorial choices. However with a little contemplation it’s easy to see that perhaps we’re not that different from the butterfly after all. In Montreal the majority of the winter months are spent either eating your heart out to distract yourself from the abysmal weather or wrapping yourself in a cocoon of wool and down to protect yourself from the glacial outdoor conditions. But as the snow melts and the weather gets warmer, you can see people slowly shedding the layers of their seemingly impenetrable winter cocoons. Herein lies the sartorial question — which layers should be shed first?

To answer that question, follow the lead of this week’s Fashionista. Instead of shedding an entire layer, this Fashionista decided to take things a bit more slowly by rocking a jacket that’s missing only the sleeves — a trend seen on the spring runways of Proenza Schouler and Alexander Wang. Opting for a sleeveless denim jacket from rag & bone added just the right amount of grungy coolness to an otherwise all-black ensemble embellished with a stunning Arty ring by Saint Laurent. Also note the proportions of the jacket, which has a slightly oversize fit and an upper silhouette that extends just past the shoulders. The loose fit and broad shoulders of the jacket channel a masculine strength that contrasts the flowing fabrics in the rest of this Fashionista’s outfit. For a similar look, opt for this oversized denim option from Washborn. If you love studs as much as I do, this destroyed denim vest from Forever 21 is a very cool and affordable option as well. My favourite fabric, regardless of reason or season, is leather — hence I adore this biker-inspired jacket from Topshop. Sleeveless jackets and oversize vests are the perfect transition piece into spring because they allow you to add that extra layer of warmth, yet are still a far cry from the suffocating sweaters and knits that tend to dominate winter wardrobes. Consequently, they’re an absolute style staple for the season.

As the winter ends and spring comes closer, take some inspiration from the caterpillar and the butterfly. Slowly unravel the layers of your winter wardrobe and let your spring style shine through. To start, it’s as simple as shedding your sleeves.

STYLE ADVICE OF THE WEEK: A Fabric Fit For Royalty

To say that the workings of the human mind are intricate and complex would be an understatement in the very least. However simplistic our current understanding of the human brain may be, one widely accepted concept is that our brain learns by making associations. We make associations between everything from people and objects, to sights, sound and smell. This intrinsic ability of the mind plays a particularly relevant role in the world of fashion, where fabrics are used to create garments which are able to tell stories, despite being inanimate.

Although sometimes underappreciated, fabrics have a very powerful ability to convey messages and make statements. This is in part due to the steadfast associations that have been established over the centuries between various fabrics and their traditional uses. Take for instance the delicate femininity linked to lace or the rugged role related to denim. Another textile that has strong contextual connotations is velvet. Due to its traditional use as the fabric of nobles, velvet has maintained its strong association within our minds as a synonym for regal opulence. Even the English idioms “soft as velvet” or “velvety smooth” pay homage to this fabric’s lavish texture. Although originally made for the monarchs, the ongoing allure of velvet is evident, as seen on the fall 2012-2013 runways of Gucci, Jason Wu and Bottega Veneta alike. Just as velvet’s strong association with nobility can work in its favour, it can also work to its disadvantage by potentially making a garment look too costumey. However, that was no issue for this week’s Fashionista who looked nothing if not modern in timeless black velvet.

This Fashionista’s savvy styling proves that the importance of color choices and silhouettes can never be stressed enough from the sartorial perspective. Simple silhouettes and monochromatic color palettes are a tried and true way of allowing the textural quality of a fabric to stand out. The silhouette of this Fashionista’s dress played a dual role. Firstly, it was simple and understated enough that it displayed the rich softness of the velvet. Secondly, the dropped waist and loose chiffon sleeves created a relaxed elegance that helped to counterbalance the uptight formality with which velvet is normally associated. Normally one velvet piece per ensemble is more than enough, however because her outfit consisted of a single hue the black velvet ankle boots worked harmoniously with the dress. ASOS offers a baroque-inspired velvet bodycon dress, while Topshop offers an edgy, loose-fitting velvet panel alternative. However, velvet has versatility beyond just dresses — opt instead for a velvet maxi skirt, a velvet-accented blouse or even a pair of velvet pants. Whatever velvet item you choose, take this Fashionsita’s lead and keep accessories to a minimum so that the lush fabric remains the centerpiece of your ensemble.

This season challenge yourself by incorporating a traditional fabric in a modern, edgy way. What better option to start off with than velvet? After all, it is the fabric fit for royalty.