Made in Vancouver Awards: Meet Our Fashion Judge

Our Fashion judge, Michelle Rizzardo, runs a Gastown shop that's a hub for creativity and community, so it's no surprise that many of her favourite spots in the city celebrate the same.

Our Fashion judge, Michelle Rizzardo, runs a Gastown shop that’s a hub for creativity and community, so it’s no surprise that many of her favourite spots in the city celebrate the same.

After more than a decade in the fashion industry in a variety of positions, Michelle Rizzardo launched her now well-known shop, One of a Few in 2005. Filled with curated brands from around the world, the store offers clients unique and highly sought after designers who are focused on slow fashion. In 2011, she introduced her in-house label, also with the moniker One of a Few, which sits beside other talented local designers.With just a few days left until the final deadline for entering our Made in Vancouver Awards, Michelle Rizzardo shared some of her favourite spots in this fine city.  (Photo: Daniel Burke)

Your go-to cocktail

My husband is a master of spicy mezcal cocktails, and he makes an amazing jalapeño mezcal Paloma. I also enjoy a dirty martini or a My Private Tokyo from Kissa Tanto.

Favourite run at Whistler

Hahaha, well as a mom of three I have been having a serious relationship with the kiddy hill recently, so I would have to say that my favourite run in Whistler is the one from the cold pool to the steam room at the Scandinave Spa.

Perfect Vancouver spot

Kits Beach (Photo: Ariana Gillrie)Well I am a proud Vancouverite. I honestly feel this city is incredibly gorgeous. On a sunny day, being able to see the snow-capped mountains while sitting at Kitsilano Beach is pretty amazing. The Endowment Lands can have you wandering and amazed at the colours of moss, the smell of trees and the endless forest. Gastown is one of my favourites because of its buildings, stories of ghosts and how it has played a big part of Vancouver’s history. Watching the sunset from Stanley Park offers the most incredible skies while being able to see the gulf islands……..I mean it truly doesn’t get better than this.

Best place for a drink on a Tuesday night

If I’m not at a friend’s house or having someone over for a drink we love to hit The Charlatan on the Drive. It’s close to our house and they have 50-cent wings that go very well with a cold beer.

Vancouverite you most want to meet

Everyone!! People who know me know I love to talk and meet people. I am in a business where I meet new people on a daily basis and learning about their unique experiences and lives is extremely fascinating. It’s one of my favourite parts of my job. I find connecting with people very enriching.

Best neighbourhood in the city

This answer has changed numerous times in my life. Prior to kids, I would have said Gastown for the historical buildings, diverse nature and incredibly talented and community minded individuals who lived and worked there. The buildings alone are some of the oldest in the city and the cobblestone streets are pretty special as well. Now that I have kids I am constantly changing my idea of the best neighbourhood. I live in East Vancouver and I am surrounded by a supportive community that feels like family, however, my energy is now taking me back to my childhood roots of the North Shore. It’s close enough to the bustle of an evolving downtown core with the accessibility of the woods at your fingertips. It’s a tough choice, no matter how you look at it, every pocket of Vancouver has its charms.

A hidden gem more Vancouverites should know about

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese GardenCaffe La Tana is a cute little cafe on Commercial Drive. It has a great breakfast. Once inside you feel like you’re in a cafe in Paris or Italy. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Chinatown is another hidden gem. Nestled in Chinatown and somewhat hidden from the hustle and bustle of downtown, the gardens are a great place to walk around and relax. People should also know about Golden Feet, where you can get a relaxing foot massage. And most recently I discovered a historical building downtown called The Permanent. Our friends got married there and even though I have worked down the block for over 15 years, I had no idea this incredible space existed. It once was an old bank and apparently one of the doors in the basement leads to tunnels to Gastown… I can only imagine the stories those tunnels could tell.

What’s a perfect treat-yourself day?

Having no agenda and just going for it. Putting electronics down and walking around the city with my head up enjoying all the beauty this city has to offer. Ironically I feel as though those kind of moments are far and few between these days. Walking the seawall, grabbing some flowers from the Wildbunch, having a coffee at Spade or The Birds and the Beets, visiting with friends and family and just slowing down in general. A special treat is also grabbing fish and chips from Go Fish in Granville Island.

Perfect hangover food

Well, hangovers when you get older and with three young kids are harder to handle, so thankfully I don’t need to remedy these very often. If I do, I take Pure Marine Plasma and either a handful of hashbrowns from McDonalds or, if I’m super prepared, I’d have leftovers in the fridge from Downlow Chicken Shack.

Perfect big night out on the town

Kissa Tanto (Photo: Luis Valdizon)A date night with my husband. Going out for dinner at one of our favourite restaurants—Kissa Tanto, Pepino’s Or Como Taperia are among them. We are both really social and enjoy meeting up with other friends and family. Recently on a spur of the moment we went to Yuk Yuk’s and had a great laugh, so finishing off a big night out with a comedy show sounds pretty good to me.

What do you think makes Vancouver’s fashion design scene stand out?

Vancouver over the last decade has become more of an international destination. With people coming from all over the world choosing to live here it has created a diverse and culturally rich environment. In turn, people living here have become very proud of the city they live in deepening their passion for community, ethics and slow fashion. I often compare buying slow fashion to that of eating organic food. This city loves organic food and that comes at a price. Organic and ethically produced clothing also comes at a price. This city has a big community that supports businesses that take pride in what they are selling and are buying from designers who hand make and work in small batches. As more people support and buy clothing that is “organic” it enables and encourages people in the industry to produce in that way and it helps to make things more affordable. We have a ton of local jewellery designers, clothing designers and stores that work on this ethos and we have been very lucky that people here in Vancouver do their best to support us.

How has the fashion design scene shifted over time here?

Social media has helped push Vancouver onto the map of style, fashion, art and design. I remember when I started to travel to New York buying for my store and people would ask if I was from Vancouver, Washington. I was shocked that people were not aware of what was going on in Vancouver. I learned quickly that people thought of Vancouver as an outdoor focused, very casual city, where fashion didn’t really exist. I felt completely different as I was surrounded by so much talent and drive. Although we love the outdoors, we have an innovative group of people in a multitude of areas that are in the forefront of design. I strongly believe that social media gave the world a glimpse of what we were all about and as a result we have become well known in so many fields of design. Whether it be well curated clothing stores, restaurant design, architecture, furniture design, clothing or art. We have incredible talent and we are now known for it. When I say Vancouver now, no one questions British Columbia or Washington.

Are you a local maker with something stylish (and Vancouver-made!) to share? Enter our Made in Vancouver Awards by February 15!