Friday, June 30, 2006


The origin of Adidas shoes dates back to Germany in the 1920's, with a small company called Gebruder Dassler Schuhfabrik.

Originally a slipper manufacturer, the companies' first sport shoes were designed for tennis in 1925 by Adolf (Adi) Dassler. The success of these shoes with athletes led Adolf and his brother Rudolph (Rudi) to develop specific shoes for specific sports. Among their technical innovations were the first arch supports, as well as marketing innovations: celebrity athlete endorsement.

The Dassler brothers had a bitter falling out in 1948, dissolving the original company. Rudi moved to the other side of town and developped Puma shoes. Adi developped the Adidas name that we know today, combining his nickname with the first syllable of his last name. The three stripe trademark was invented by Adi, and patented after the split with Rudi. These stripes were instantly recognizable when the Olympics began being broadcasted in the early days of television.

Adidas began being sold in North America in 1968, and the Adidas Gazelle was one of the first styles to be featured. Adidas dominated the market in the 1970's with athletic clothing, as well as shoes. It was at this time that the company collaborated with ski instructor and fashionista Carlo Gruber, to design a colorful ski and après-ski collection. Adidas has recently re-issued this line, with great success.

Adidas fell out of favor in the 1980's when companies such as Nike and Reebok appeared. The company hit financial rock bottom and was on the brink of disappearing by the late 80's. Then, in the 1990's, 70's fashions made a huge comeback and Madonna appeared in a pair of Gazelles in one of her music videos. The rest is sneaker history...

I must admit I am an Adidas boy, myself. I always have a pair of Gazelles in my wardrobe. I once bought a pair of Puma's and never again! I was disappointed with the quality of the shoes, while Gazelles can last me for years...

adidas logo:
vintage carlo gruber photo:
adidas gazelles:

The U.S. Pavilion

The United States built an imposing pavilion that became one of the architectual symbols of Expo 67. The structure was a 20 storey, 250-foot geodesic dome designed by R. Buckminster Fuller.

The pavilion was originally covered by an acrylic "skin", which deflected sunlight by day, and glowed when lit up at night. The Minirail passed through the pavilion, a concept that the designers of Expo would have liked to further exploit but unfortunately didn't, given the short period of time in which Expo 67 was actually built.

The content of the pavilion sparked controversy. The theme "Creative America" was meant to delight visitors, encompassing mostly the Arts and displays "from the nation's attic": Elvis Presley's guitar, Raggedy Ann dolls, cowboy spurs and guns, Indian odds and ends, etc.

There was also a very popular space exhibit, showing the United States' achievements in space exploration.

The pavilion was generally well received by visitors, except for actual Americans. American President Lyndon B. Johnson was alleged to have said "the homosexuals have had carte blanche!", upon his (brief) visit to the pavilion. It was clear Americans did not see themselves as just "cowboys and indians" and Hollywood pinups...

The U.S. dome still stands today, minus it's acrylic skin, housing the Biosphere, an environmental museum.

To see the Biosphere today click here.

photos: (1 & 5)
(4 & 6) library and archives Canada
(all others)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mrs. Emma Peel

Nothing was cooler in the late 1960's than British spies. And no British spy was cooler than Mrs. Emma Peel of the fab 60's TV show The Avengers.

Emma Peel was portrayed by Diana Rigg, a young theatre actress who auditioned for the show at the time, without any expectations. She was quickly chosen as the new partner for John Steed, the show's lead character.

Mrs. Emma Peel (née Knight), widow of test pilot Peter Peel and heiress of her father's publishing empire, appeared in three Avengers seasons, from 1964 to 1967. The 1967 season was, without a doubt, the best one (What can I say? 1967 was a great year...). It was the first season shot in color, and the chemistry between Mrs. Peel and John Steed was at an all-time high.

Mrs. Peel's wardrobe was fabulous! She personified the sleek, mod look of the period, bringing miniskirts, leather boots and kinky stretch catsuits to the masses.

Emma Peel, definitely not the "damsel-in-distress" type, saved her partner (as well as Britain, and the whole world, for that matter) as often as he saved her. She has become a cult-status icon, and I love her...

photos: (top)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Expo Lounge

The name "Expo Lounge" is inspired by a real place.

When I moved into my boyfriend's apartment 3 years ago, the deal was that I could redecorate what had previously been the roomate's bedroom. Being right next to the living room, we removed the door and decided to make a second living room, or "lounge".

An avid collector of Expo 67 paraphenilia, I wanted to showcase this collection. Over the course of almost 10 years, I have amassed photographs, books, ashtrays, plates, newspapers, slides, postcards... the list goes on and on...

Naturally, I owned way too much stuff to display all at once, but my favorite items found their spot in the Expo Lounge. The rest was tucked safely away in boxes.

I am a window dresser, and at one point we were selling off old mannequins at work (and, it just so happened, these were my favorite series of mannequins). I jumped on the opportunity to own what I call "life-sized Barbies". I own three in total, with two in my lounge. Dressed up in full 60's regalia, these girls create a striking focal point in the room.

People that have seen the Expo Lounge are fascinated. I have created a total environment that expresses my passion for Expo 67.

photos: Janicke Morissette (
Jean-François Brière (

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Quebec and Ontario Pavilions

For the most part, Expo 67 was a showcase of national and/or regional achievements. The pavilions' proprietors were allowed to decide what image they wanted to project, and, like competing businesses, each wanted to put their best foot forward.

Some pavilions wanted to change the visitor's peceptions of their cultures. Such is the case for two neighboring pavilions: the provinces of Quebec and Ontario.

The most remarkable element about the Quebec pavilion's architecture was the mirrored glass exterior. By day, this slightly slanted facade reflected the sky and the surrounding pavilions. At night, upon illumination, these walls became transparent, transforming the pavilion into an enormous glass showcase.

The pavilion's interior focused mainly on industry, technology and education, contrasting the traditional image of Quebec. Very little evidence of religion or folklore was displayed, and the pavilion's fine arts exhibition was limited.

In contrast to Quebec's sophisticated participation at Expo 67, Ontario's presentation was much more free-spirited.

The pavilion's exterior had a fluid style of architecture, it's fibreglass roof formed various pyramid shapes that seemed to float over large granite blocks.

Focussing on the province's past, present and future, the Ontario pavilion portrayed itself as youthful and dynamic, with hip exhibits aimed at teenagers.

A 570-seat theatre presented the film "A Place to Stand". This groundbreaking film featured multiple images simultaneously synchronized to music.

"A Place to Stand" was a huge success, and one of Expo's most popular films. It won "Best Live Action/Short Subject" at the 1968 Academy Awards.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Plaza Saint Hubert

Here in Montreal, there is a shopping district known as Plaza Saint Hubert.

Located on Saint Hubert street between Jean-Talon and Bellechasse, the Plaza has a bit of a trashy image nowadays, known mostly for it's thrifty bridal boutiques and bargain clothing stores. (In the Plaza's defense, improvements have been made in the last 10 years to revitalize it's image).

The Plaza has not always been the destination of the bargain hunter. Founded in 1954, the merchant's association was created to protect small businesses on Saint Hubert street from surrounding competitors. The Plaza's popularity shot up in the early 60's with the game show Dix sur Dix, which frequently broadcasted from the Plaza, giving away fabulous prizes such as cars, fur coats, and... houses!

In the 1960's, local celebrities promoted and associated themeselves to the then-posh Plaza Saint Hubert. These celebrities included people I never heard of (Jean Duceppe, Suzanne Lapointe, Jean Grimaldi) as well as one I do know: Michèle Richard!

Michèle promoted a boutique called Brigitte. Young and innocent, she apparently wasn't aware at the time she could ask for free clothing by being the boutique's spokesperson. It's a sore spot of her's, to this day...!

In seeing the way Michèle Richard uses her notoriety, nowadays, to deal free stuff, we realize how times have changed...

black and white photos, circa (from top) 1961, 1963, 1966:
color photo, circa 1965:

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Sound of Expo 67

Long before I had my iPod, I used to create theme compilation CDs. I loved hunting out the perfect collection of songs for each theme. And, with a graphic designer boyfriend, these CDs always had fabulous covers.

Inspired by an 18-minute souvenir record from Expo 67, I decided to do my own Expo CD. "Sounds of Expo 67" was a narrated tour of Expo, sold in a ready to mail package. The final recording was a bit obscure and bizarre, but I'm coming to the realization that I like bizarre 60's obscurity!

With this recording, I cut the narration into 10-15 second "sound bites", using sound editing software. I mixed these sound bites with cheesy 60's lounge music, and the Michèle Richard version of the Expo theme song, and, voilà!... "The Sound of Expo 67" was born!

To hear the original 1967 recording, click here.

images: (top)
(bottom) author's own

Lady Miss Kier

There are a select few people that I would consider to be my "heroes". Lady Miss Kier is one of them.

Lady Kier was lead singer, co-songwriter and co-producer of the now-defunct musical group Deee-Lite.

Her look, in 1990, was totally new. She designed many of her own costumes, which consisted of groovy, zip-up Pucci-print catsuits and colorful, mod mini-dresses.

Her signature was her auburn hair (often a wig) worn in a 60's beehive or flip, and her John Fluevog platform shoes...

Her look was so influential, at the time, that stores such as Le Château were copying and selling Pucci-print bodysuits and minidresses.

Deee-Lite shot to stardom in 1990 with the release of the album "World Clique" and the smash hit "Groove is in the Heart". Teenagers always have a particular song that annoys their parents, and mine was "Groove is in the Heart". I had the 12" single on vinyl, and I must have worn it out. I played that song, constantly, it was my teenage mantra.

I clearly remember the first time I saw the video for "Groove is in the Heart". I was 13 in 1990, and constantly watching the music channels, like most 13 year-olds. I was stunned and amazed by Deee-Lite and, specifically, Lady Kier.

A whole world of 60's influenced grooviness that was opening up to me. That moment changed my life, profoundly.

According to her website (, Lady Miss Kier will be performing at the Montreal Gay Pride festival, "Divers Cité" on August 6th. Can't wait!

photos: (1)

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Indians of Canada Pavilion

The term "Indians of Canada" isn't exactly politically correct by today's standards. (Come to think of it, I'm not sure "Man and His World" would fly, either... But, hey, that's what gives Expo it's nostalgic charm!)

The architecture of the Indians of Canada pavilion incorporated traditional symbols of Aboriginal culture: the dominant element being a large 100-foot steel and wood teepee-like structure. The exterior wooden walls were painted with colorful murals and a 65-foot totem pole (which still stands today) graced the entrance of the pavilion.

The pavilion was a controversial one. The tone was accusatory, against the White Man, who "stole our native land, our culture, our soul." The exhibits included photographs, drawings and other works of art, depicting the difficulties faced by the Aboriginal people.

Modern school systems were criticized for not being adapted to the needs of Aboriginal children. The exhibit stated that Aboriginal people already knew God before the arrival of Christian missionaries. The pavilion reminded visitors that the first European settlers would have never survived the brutal winters without the support of the Aboriginal people. The final part of the exhibit placed the visitor around a symbolic campfire to ponder the future.

Many visitors to Expo 67 were shocked at the contents of this thought provoking pavilion. The Canadian Government at the time was commended for having supported it.

It goes to show that not everything at Expo 67 was rosy and happy!


Sunday, June 4, 2006


When I was a kid, I used to love Play-Doh.

I loved the colors, the smell, the salty taste (hey, it was non-toxic...). I loved using little cookie cutters and rolling pins to create things. My favorite toys were always the ones that got kids to use their imaginations (like LEGOs).

Play-Doh is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year. Invented in 1956, Play-Doh was a concoction that came about by accident. The inventors, Noah and Joseph McVicker, were trying to develop a wallpaper cleaner! The original Play-Doh came in one colour: off-white. It was only a year later that it became available in the bright colors we all remember.

Play-Doh has a very distinctive smell and texture. Like Kentucky Fried Chicken, the exact recipe is kept top secret...

For a limited time, Demeter Fragrance Library (a fragrance line I love) has issued a Play-Doh perfume to celebrate it's 50th anniversary! Needless to say, I want some!

Check it out by clicking here.

perfume photo:
play doh photo:

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Western Provinces Pavilion

As well as national and private pavilions, Expo 67 had a few provincial and regional pavilions.

Such is the case for the Western Provinces pavilion which regrouped Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. The pavilion was strategically situated on Île Notre Dame near the Canadian Pavilion, neighboring the pavilions of Quebec, Ontario, and the Atlantic Provinces.

The architecture of the Western Provinces pavilion was meant to symbolize the landscape of the flat, prairie provinces leading up to the tree-topped rocky mountains. The finishing materials used for the pavilion, such as the cedar shingles on the roof, all came from these regions.

The pavilion's interior stimulated the visitor's sense of sound, sight and smell while focusing on industrial achievements: forestry, mining, fishing, agriculture, petroleum, electricity, etc. The exhibits presented were designed to envelop visitors, creating virtual environments: a simulated 3000 foot descent in a mineshaft elevator, a simulated forest atmosphere with chain saw and water creek sounds, etc.

Historical elements were discussed, too, including the Hudson's Bay Company, and the role it played in the development of Canada's Western