On April 30, Toronto Fashion Incubator held its annual TFI New Labels fundraising gala at The Carlu in Toronto. Chaired by Suzanne Rogers and emceed by a David Dixon-clad Dina Pugliese, the evening’s main event was the design competition runway show presented by Target and the crowning of this year’s New Labels winner.
Suzanne Rogers and Dina Pugliese
The show was the culmination of a six-month long competition that saw the field of contestants narrowed down to a very talented final four that included Christopher Paunil by Chalo Barrueta and Christopher Paunil, Paria Shirvani, Sarah Stevenson and SEVENTHIRTYONE by Maiko Suzuki and Defne Husrevoglu. With the support of beauty partner P&G Beauty & Grooming, the finalists presented four very distinct and well received collections in front of a discerning crowd of industry insiders that included designer Arthur Mendonça, model Stacey McKenzie, The Room’s Nicholas Mellamphy, and sponsor Mantella Corporation’s Sylvia Mantella.
Gabrielle Miller and Stacey McKenzie
If their audience didn’t already have them shaking in their fashionable boots, then the New Labels judges surely did. This year’s distinguished panel was made up of FLARE Editor-in-Chief Miranda Purves, TNT Boutiques’ Arie Assaraf, Target Divisional Merchandise Manager Elisha Ballantyne, Target Senior Vice President, Merchandising John Morioka, TFI President David Dixon and gala chair Suzanne Rogers.
Winner Sarah Stevenson with the esteemed judging panel after her win
After a short but tough deliberation, the judges named Sarah Stevenson, who presented a cohesive line-up of looks featuring gorgeous prints and laser-cut detailing, the 2013 TFI New Labels winner. In addition to bragging rights, the Toronto native’s prize haul included a $25,000 cash award donated by Suzanne Rogers, a full-page feature in FLARE Magazine, and the opportunity to design a collection to be sold exclusively in Target locations across Canada in 2014. Congratulations Sarah!
Check out the gallery below for 40 images from the 2013 TFI New Labels gala, featuring Canadian fashion both on and off the runway.
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“Nice jacket”: two words that literally made my week, uttered by Viktor Horsting (or was it Rolf Snoeren? It was all such a giddy blur.) to me. The jacket in question? A mustard yellow blazer with contrast black piping designed by Viktor & Rolf themselves. The Amsterdam-based duo was in town earlier this week for a very well-attended meet-and-greet with Toronto’s fashion set at The Room at The Bay.
With HBC President Bonnie Brooks and VP / Buying Director of The Room Nicholas Mellamphy as hosts and DJ Mia Moretti spinning her magic, partygoers that included the inimitable Jeanne Beker, FASHION Magazine’s EIC Bernadette Morra and socialites Stacey Kimel and Suzanne Rogers spent the evening chatting with the charming Dutch guests-of-honour, sipping on champagne and admiring the V&R wares.
Dr. Lisa Airan and PR maven Suzanne Cohon stole the sartorial show with brightly-coloured frocks, the former in an orange Carven dress with cutouts and the latter in a fuchsia Roksanda Ilincic number (last seen on Ginnifer Goodwin!). The usually cool as a cucumber blogger Anita Clarke chose a peplum Roland Mouret to meet her fashion idols, while the effortlessly chic stylist Amy Patel paired her Margiela x H&M bodysuit with denim overalls for the occasion. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention blogger Jay Strut, who showed up in a heavily embellished Balmain jacket that made our jaws drop.
Check out the gallery below for some of our favourite looks from the night.
Image Credit: George Pimentel
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I have a serious Smythe addiction. If you’ve followed this blog for even a minute, you’ll already know that I have a healthy collection of the Canadian brand’s equestrian jackets and shawl collar blazers in a range of colours and fabrics, and it keeps on growing. Just how many do I have? That’s the very question Smythe co-designers Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe asked me when I dropped by their studio for a chat recently, and it got me counting. I stopped when I went into the double digits. My official response? “Never enough”.
As Smythe’s #1 fan, I too had burning questions, and Christie and Andrea kindly answered all of them. Read on to find out how they met, their worst fashion pas, and all about that time everyone’s favourite Duchess famously donned a certain chic navy blazer of theirs.
The Backseat Stylers: What’s your earliest fashion memory?
Andrea Lenczner: My mom had a few items that were very glamourous to me, but she didn’t wear them probably because they were mighty uncomfortable. It baffled me that you wouldn’t wear those things every day: they were sexy, super fashionable. My mom was a stay-at-home, but I was like, “why wouldn’t you want to look like that every day?” On my birthday, she would wear what I liked her to wear and come and get me at school in some fancy outfit.
Christie Smythe: My brother Tommy and I used to play dress-up all the time. It helps to have a gay brother who wants to dress up. My mom had things that were to us really fantastical, like a Mongolian coat, which was crazy and Elton John-looking. It was my mom as well who set the bar for my interest in fashion.
Andrea: When I was in junior high, my mom took me to a store in Yorkville called Sublime to buy an outfit for a semi-formal. That was when Dean and Dan [Caten] were designing for Ports  but I think they secretly had designed their own line on the side and were selling it through Sublime. They were ripping open boxes and making me try stuff on. There I was, these 2 fashion wonders, and they were like, “Oh, you have wonderful clavicles.” I’m sure I had buck teeth and braces and frizzy hair, but I was their model for half an hour in the store. That was my first true fashion experience. It was really cool.
How did you two meet?
Christie: We became friends in high school, in math class. Instead of paying attention, we were always talking about what we were going to wear to the semi-formal, what dress we were going to have designed, doing little drawings of them. Then we started borrowing clothes from each other. [Fashion] was a part of our friendship from the very beginning.
How did you get into the fashion industry?
Christie: After I completed my degree at Parsons, I did several internships. First I worked in shoes for Donald Pliner. I did internships with Prada and W. My biggest stint was at Gap in the design office for about 3-4 years.
Andrea: And I just muscled my way into the Holt Renfrew buying office with no experience…and a scrapbook.
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On November 16, the Design Exchange held the inaugural DX INTERSECTION, a fundraising party in support of the Toronto design museum’s youth education and design preservation initiatives. Hundreds of attendees were treated to everything from a silent auction featuring one-of-a-kind, customized IKEA items to a Food Dudes food truck serving breakfast (genius!), and much, much more. Every corner of the museum offered something new to see, do, eat. A contender for art party of the year? Most definitely.
Toronto’s fashion set, including blogger Anita Clarke, fashion director Liz Cabral (in that Margiela x H&M trompe l’oeil bra top!) and accessories designer Jenny Bird, showed up in full force to support the DX and have a little design fun. They had the opportunity to meet author and artist Douglas Coupland, winner of the DX’s very first Gamechanger award, DIY their very own fascinators at the FLARE x Milk Glass Co. booth (how fun is that?!), and stuff their faces at the late night food market (oh wait, that was me).
I sadly didn’t get a chance to check out all that the evening had to offer (in hindsight, maybe I should have spent less time munching on those to-die-for risotto balls), but I’ve certainly learned my lesson. Next year, I’m going to be the first in the door and the last one out. DX INTERSECTION just officially became one of my favourite fundraising parties of the year, and I don’t want to miss a second of the next one.
Kevin O’Neill and Liz Cabral
Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong of Greta Constantine
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On November 14, over 600 guests attended Frocktail Party 2012 in Toronto in support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Many of the city’s most fashionable flocked to the Arcadian Loft for an evening of silent auctions featuring designer dresses and accessories generously donated by celebrities like socialite Suzanne Rogers and supermodel Monika Schnarre, talented Canadian designers including Greta Constantine, ela, and Jeremy Laing, and retailers like eLUXE and The Bay.
This 4th annual event achieved a record-breaking auction this year, raising $30,000 for a total of over $55,000 for the evening. As a shopaholic who quite enjoys the thrill of a good silent auction, I quite happily contributed to that total. At the end of the night, I returned home the victor of two battles, having successfully snagged a pair of Greta Constantine x ALDO Shoes ankle booties from the Fall 2011 runway for me and a one-year men’s spa membership to John Allan’s for the Mister. All in the name of charity, of course.
I did, however, leave an absolutely to-die-for tree-print jersey dress by Alexander McQueen behind, which I’m still in mourning over. Other incredible pieces up for auction included a Proenza Schouler clutch donated by INTERMIX, a Smythe jacket courtesy of eLUXE, and runway frocks by Marchesa, Oscar de la Renta and Mary Katrantzou, straight from the closet of Suzanne Rogers. She herself donned a lovely violet-hued number for the occasion, as did a stunning Ainsley Kerr, who wore a beautiful fringed gown. Socialite Jenna Naumovich also showed her support for the JDRF’s cause, arriving in a gorgeous Peter Pilotto runway dress.
With incredible frocks on Frocktail Party’s guests and enticing pieces up for auction, it’s a miracle I didn’t come out of the silent auction shenanigans with more damage to the pocketbook than I did. Come next year, though, I’ll be more than ready for the bidding wars for the latest from Ms. Rogers’ unbelievable wardrobe.
That McQueen tree-print dress (right) I really, really wanted to win
My spoils of war
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INTERMIX is one of my favourite shopping destinations. Whether taking a stroll through Yorkville in Toronto, window-shopping in Soho in NYC or browsing online, I never pass on the opportunity to intermix (definition: to shop until one drops at an INTERMIX boutique).
Such was the case as well on my recent road trip to Somerset Collection in Troy, Michigan. When Nelia Belkova (of Style Blog), Kimberly Lyn (of The Souls of My Shoes) and I drew up our shopping plans, a visit to INTERMIX Somerset was high on the priority list.
And for excellent reason. We arrived at the store to find a whole gaggle of cheerful, friendly staff waiting to welcome us, with champagne and Godiva chocolate-covered strawberries at the ready. Assistant Manager Irene Yeldo and her lovely staff had also pulled aside their top picks of the new fall arrivals for our perusal, helpfully suggesting pieces that would fit our respective styles. In short, they spoiled us (thank you!). We weren’t complaining, but our pocketbooks were on high alert.
With gift cards generously donated to the cause (i.e. my fall wardrobe) by Somerset and INTERMIX burning a hole in my pocket, I scoured the expertly-curated offerings for pieces to bring back with me to Toronto. There were plenty of worthy candidates: a gold tone lacy cuff by YSL, an indigo Proenza Schouler PS1 (a bag that’s been on my wish list since I first laid eyes on one), and a pair of strappy B Brian Atwood snakeskin booties.
In the end, I decided that the one item I just couldn’t live without was a pair of exclusive rag & bone/JEAN for INTERMIX white skinny jeans with black tuxedo stripes. In fact, they fit me so well that Nelia pointed out, in an impressed tone of voice, that I didn’t even need to get them hemmed. To which I replied, “That’s because they’re supposed to be capris!” Hashtag shorty problems.
Capris or not, kudos to INTERMIX for filling a hole in my closet I never even knew existed. And please be sure to keep a YSL Arty ring (yes, I need a second one) and one of those Equipment blouses with the snakeskin print trim aside for me. With fall just around the corner, I’ll be back for them very soon!
Me with the lovely INTERMIX Somerset team
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I was asked recently, over Twitter, to sum up 2011 in one word. I replied, “Life-changing. Does that count as one word?” It did, but let’s face it, one word or even 140 characters, just isn’t enough to describe the 365 days over which life, as we at The Backseat Stylers knew it, changed forever. So we thought we’d do better than that. A picture, as the saying goes, is worth a 1,000 words; here are 10 that represent some of the most incredible moments of our 2011.
In March, The Backseat Stylers got an invite from Paris to attend the Roger Vivier Fall/Winter 2011 presentation and meet Creative Director Bruno Frisoni and muse Inès de la Fressange. We couldn’t make it and were, of course, heartbroken. But it’s the invite that counts, and for that we were delighted.
Later that month, we signed on with Global TV to contribute to their website’s Toronto Fashion Week coverage. Not only did this largely make up for not being able to attend Paris Fashion Week, but it also really got the ball rolling here at The Backseat Stylers.
Here’s proof: a photo of me with the one and only Anna Dello Russo, Editor-at-Large for Vogue Nippon, at The Room at the Bay’s ‘When Tommy Met Anna’ shindig in April. Ask me a year ago if I thought I’d ever have the opportunity to chat with Ms. Dello Russo and I would’ve laughed at (and with) you. And yet there we are, looking all chummy.
The starstruck moments didn’t end there, thanks once again to The Room. This time, it was the boys from Proenza Schouler. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I left that particular party with more than a little crush on Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough. Talented and charming – could you blame me, really?
Unbelievably, the celebrity encounters continued. In August, on the very last day of the McQueen exhibit, T and I flew out to New York and lined up for almost 5 hours outside The Met to see Savage Beauty. At the end of our visit was an unexpected surprise even we couldn’t have dreamed up: an autograph session with Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue. She even mistook me for someone who works in fashion – the stuff of dreams, I tell you!
Speaking of dreams coming true, mere days before our encounter with Ms. Wintour, the most epic email we’ve received since we signed up for our Hotmail accounts way back when landed in our inbox. It was from Sarah Casselman, Senior Fashion News Editor at FASHION Magazine, and she wanted to write a feature on us. I wish I had a video of our reactions to this news, but suffice to say we were over the moon. And still are, really. Outfitted in VAWK in our very own one-page feature in FASHION‘s November 2011 issue? I have no words, even now.
And then? More press. This time in Flare Magazine‘s ‘Wear Canada’ round-up of 22 bloggers from across the country, sporting their most prized Canadian designs. My Smythe tartan equestrian jacket and Pink Tartan trompe l’oeil blouse pairing resulted in one of my favourite ensembles of the year. It was an honour to be included the feature.
Where, pray tell, do you go from there? To Breakfast at Tiffany, apparently. On one sunny October morning, I found myself doing precisely that: chatting about handbags with Tiffany Leather designers Richard Lambertson and John Truex over lobster scrambled eggs and coffee at Tiffany & Co.’s Toronto flagship.
Continuing on with the theme of invites I never thought would land in my lap, a few days after my date at Tiffany, I found myself in yet another rather unexpected locale: model Jessica Stam‘s hotel room. I’d been invited by IMG to live tweet the inaugural Mercedes-Benz Start Up finale during Toronto Fashion Week on their behalf. Of course, my very first task as official tweeter was to cover guest judge Stam’s preparations for the show. Tough gig, right?
Finally, just when I thought the year was winding down and all its surprises already revealed, one last one arrived in the form of a tweet: a photo of a gorgeous statement necklace by TOODLEBUNNY that was inspired by yours truly. Dubbed the ‘Lady S’ by designer Trudy Winans, the necklace came home with me when we eventually met at the One of Kind Christmas Show & Sale in November, and is now one of the most beloved pieces in my jewelry box.
From an invite to a Paris Fashion Week presentation to kick off the year to a necklace named after to me to close it out, and all the fashion shows, charity galas and industry events that happened in between, 2011 turned out to be The Backseat Stylers’ most epic to date. Heartfelt thanks go out to all the readers, designers, retailers, PR companies and plain ol’ supporters who helped make our last year everything that it was!
It’s going to be tough to top all of this in 2012, but that’s a challenge we can’t wait to take on. We look forward to another incredible year, and hope you’ll come along with us for the ride!
Me with Richard Lambertson and John Truex
There have been moments recently where I’ve felt the need to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming (see, for example, this and this), and such was definitely the case when an invitation arrived for a Breakfast at Tiffany. Say what? Quite literally, I was being summoned to the Tiffany & Co. Toronto flagship for lobster scrambled eggs and OJ with the designers of the Tiffany Leather Collection, Richard Lambertson and John Truex. Rather surreal, wouldn’t you say?
So one morning earlier this week, I arrived at the doorstep of Tiffany’s Yorkville boutique bright and early for my big Audrey Hepburn-inspired moment. And it didn’t disappoint. I, along with the usual media crowd, was greeted by the charming duo of Lambertson and Truex, and a carefully curated selection from Tiffany’s Fall 2011 leather accessories collection.
In addition to the expected, but no less lovely, selection of evening clutches, there was also plenty of options for those on the hunt for a new day bag. From suede totes and Italian leather satchels for the women, to sleek calf leather briefcases and smart-looking leather messenger bags for the men, Tiffany, a luxury chain that’s traditionally known for its jewelry, is making a serious play for a piece of the handbag market it seems.
For a recovering bagaholic like myself, the impressive range of both classic and trendy pieces for women – all lined in Tiffany blue leather, of course – is tempting to say the least. The standouts of the Fall collection were the Savoy, a black satin fold-over framed clutch, and the Easton messenger bag in navy Italian leather, both priced at US$995. Check out the full Fall 2011 Tiffany Leather Collection here. A Tiffany bag or two might just make it on your holiday wish list.
On me: Erdem blouse / VAWK skirt / Chanel bag / Valentino shoes
Evan Rachel Wood channelled old Hollywood glamour on the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards red carpet last night. Pairing a sparkling Elie Saab Fall 2011 couture gown with Fred Leighton jewelry, a Judith Leiber bag and Salvatore Ferragamo shoes, the actress brought movie star style to the small screen awards show.
From the sleek hair to the chic train, Wood’s look was red carpet perfection, managing even to outdo model Jac’s runway look (pictured below). Though she didn’t take an Emmy home for her Mildred Pierce performance, the actress won best dressed, in our books. And that’s a fantastic consolation prize, if we may say so ourselves.
Elie Saab, by the way, also dressed Kate Winslet and Emily Blunt for the Emmys, making him the evening’s unofficial red carpet winner. Who were your sartorial favourites from last night’s show?
Images via Just Jared, crushedheart, Style.com
On Feb 3, 2011, Mr. Backseat Styler and I got all decked out in our 1960′s best for a night out on the town courtesy of the LCBO. Held at the Carlu in Toronto, everyone from Suzanne Rogers and Ainsley Kerr to Toronto’s twitterati and fashion blogging crowd showed up to take a swig or two of a Cosmopolitan in honour of the LCBO’s Classic Cocktails and the evening’s guest of honour, Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant.
In between martinis, I had the opportunity to chat with the lovely Bryant, who was all glam in a gorgeous red St. John number.
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