I'm happy to be back with another installment of our Girl About Town series. With these blog posts I like to focus on cool women in Hamilton doing cool things…and looking cool while doing them! This month's gal is a special one to me. I first met Jen Anisef at the shop when she was searching for a dress to wear to last winter's "Moonlight Desires Prom Party" at the Spice Factory. There was something about her that I instantly liked but it wasn't until the following week, when we spotted each other at the Prom party that I truly fell for this lady! I remember being in awe of her dance moves and thinking how cool and confident she was. Fast forward to now and I consider her not only a great friend, but also and inspiration, collaborater and motivator.
As Cultural Projects Specialist in the Tourism & Culture Division for the City of Hamilton, Jen is a coordinator to some of our City's biggest and best events. She's currently working away on the Hamilton Arts Awards and has lent her professional touch to countless other events in this city. We got our first chance to work closely together on this year's Winterfest. You may remember the fashion show I produced in partnership with Jen, and she was also the coordinator for the entire festival! Working on that project together is what really opened up my eyes to her talents and I couldn't have imagined a better person to work with. She's got such a unique and collaborative work style that is so inclusive and she is so great at bringing people from all over together to build a successful community event. I really admire her for how hard she works and how dedicated she is to supporting local design and talent. I could go on for hours about how inspirational she's been to me in the short time we've known each other, but I can't fail to mention her awesome style.
One thing I've always noticed about Jen is her fearless sense of fashion. She wears what she wants and can pull anything off because she has the confidence and grace to make anything look amazing. The way she mixes and matches her eclectic wardrobe is always great to see and she reminds me that fashion is about being true to yourself and dressing in what makes you feel good. Her closet is filled with pieces that all have stories; whether it's something made by a friend or designer she admires or a totally unique vintage piece, or an article from a distant land. Colours and patterns are what she does best and I can't help but ask her questions about everything she's wearing anytime I see her. We chatted style, what and who inspires her and this fine city of Hamilton.
Occupation: Cultural Projects Specialist in Tourism & Culture Division, City of Hamilton
Years Living in Hamilton: 4 years
Describe your style: Conversations between colour, texture, pattern & form.
What sort of stuff inspires you? Discussions with friends and strangers, vintage and contemporary textiles, people who break the matching rules well, travelling to new cities and exploring Ontario, collaborating with smart people on new projects.
Who is your fashion icon? No one person (my style is too fickle for that!), but I often think of my friend Serene Daoud from Montreal who is extremely experimental with her style. I remember thrift shopping with her and her pulling out things that made no sense on the hanger but totally worked when she put it on. Lots of found textiles from other cultures, plants turned in to temporary brooches, etc. She’s not at all concerned with trends and her eyes are wide open to everyday beauty in a way that’s pretty inspiring. Also, I can’t wait to see the AGH film fest film “Iris” about Iris Apfel, the 93-year-old style hero. I often daydream about getting old and really kicking out the jams with accessories, headscarves, caftans, etc.
What’s your favourite part about working for Tourism & Culture Hamilton? This really is my ideal job – I’ve been active in cultural programming and community organizing for years, and this is the first time I’ve been able to do that for a paycheque! There’s lots I love about it, but I’d say my favourite part is creating opportunities within the arts and culture community for creative workers to share their work and get paid for it. It’s almost a cliché now to talk about Hamilton’s “vibrant/thriving/insert your adjective here” arts community, but it’s pretty cool to be working in Culture in the City at this exploding cultural moment. I feel lucky to have a voice in this conversation, and strive to make it a respectful one that honours the major contributions that creative workers are making to Hamilton.
Who’s one creative in Hamilton that you admire? Aw jeez…Just one? I don’t think I can do it! I’m going to cheat and say the ladies of the Beehive Craft Collective [Roisin Fagan, Courtney Lakin, Thea Haines, Hollie Poscai, Meg Makins, Kate Hunter, Liz Simpson] (of which I am a member). There are so many things I admire about this group of textile artists, entrepreneurs, shop proprietors, garment sewers, engineers, natural dyers canners & picklers, quilters, moms, babes, etc. but I would say that their deep DIY spirit is what inspires me most. Plus they are all pretty snappy dressers!
Where are your favourite places to hang out in Hamilton? I’ve recently discovered the “park bed” – where you bring a blanket and pillows to the park and hang out under a tree for hours on a hot day. So park bed in Victoria Park will be my Hamilton Hot Spot this summer! Vertically, I really enjoy the Brain for cocktails, Needlework for working on sewing projects, walking or biking the Waterfront Trail, and hitting up Aberfoyle for beautiful junk on the weekends.
Favourite piece you’ve found at Girl on the Wing and why: Definitely the embroidered denim shirt I’m wearing in the shoot aka my Spirit Shirt. It reminds me of a traditional quilt pattern and is a bit psychedelic, which is totally my jam. Thanks for bringing it into my life!
Thrifted high waisted wool skirt with burgundy suede church sale belt.
Knit leggings acquired at a Berlin flea market, with Target (RIP) tennis ball yellow socks.
Samantha Pleet x Wolverine lace up boots with stacked wood heel – investment boots, zero regrets!
1950s burgundy cashmere cardigan with brass buttons from Courage My Love.
Block printed made-in-India quilted jacket gifted to me by a dear friend who gets me.
Gold earrings by Oregon-based maker Tiro Tiro.
Yellow enamel studs by White Feather Designs from White Elephant.
Embroidered denim shirt from Girl on the Wing.