The sight of just about anything wrapped in Tiffany blue is always exciting, so when an invitation to a private soirée for me and my best blogging buds arrived, you can be sure it elicited a chorus of squeals. Nelia of Style Blog, Kimberly of The Souls of My Shoes, T and me were summoned recently to the Tiffany & Co. flagship on Bloor Street in Toronto for the boutique’s first ever private viewing session.
Dressed in our finest LBDs – the perfect backdrops to diamonds, diamonds and more Tiffany diamonds – we arrived at the store for our big date with the lovely Andrea Hopson, Vice President, Canada at Tiffany & Co. The next few hours were a blur of jewelry, cake and champagne, all the ingredients for a lovely evening spent behind the heavily-secured doors of a closed Tiffany boutique that was open exclusively just for us. Our very own sparkling playground for the night!
We took full advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, adorning ourselves with stunning piece after stunning piece. Diamond this, 24-karat gold that…it was the stuff of dreams. We paraded around in Elsa Peretti Diamonds by the Yard, tried on Jean Schlumberger‘s insanely gorgeous bracelets, and pretty much died over a $22,000 gold Elsa Peretti bone cuff that none of us could bear to part with.
We even held an impromptu photo session in the leather goods section – Andrea included! – complete with oversized Tiffany sunglasses, chic Tiffany handbags and, of course, our usual duck faces. It was, undoubtedly, one of the most surreal experiences of my blogging career to date. Thank you, Tiffany & Co., for hosting us. It’s been a week now, and I’m still pinching myself!
T, Kimberly Lyn, Andrea Hopson, Nelia Belkova and me
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“It’s like Narnia out there!” said Paul Hardy, “But it’s good weather for lots of winter coats.” Spoken like a true Canadian fashion designer, but he was right. With the scenic and snowy Prince’s Island Park in Calgary as our backdrop, fashion media types from across the country had gathered at the River Café, one of the finest restaurants in the city, to kick off the 10th anniversary celebrations for Mr. Hardy last month.
Prince’s Island Park, Calgary
The designer had teamed up with Tourism Calgary and Travel Alberta to fly in editors and bloggers from Toronto, including Anita Clarke of I Want – I Got, Nelia Belkova of Style Blog, Lisa Ng of The Hip & Urban Girl’s Guide, and yours truly, to experience the very best Calgary has to offer, both sartorially and gastronomically.
Enjoying our first Calgary snowfall
Having checked in at Hotel Arts the night before and filled our stomachs with a delicious meal of bison and hot apple cider, among other delights, at brunch, we were off to do some sightseeing before the evening’s grand fashion show and after-party extravaganza.
Bison striploin at the River Cafe in Prince’s Island Park
“Sightseeing” for a gaggle of fashion bloggers is synonymous with “shopping”, and so we found ourselves visiting the local Holt Renfrew and The Bay department stores, wiling away the afternoon on the most frivolous of pastimes. Calgary, it turns out, has much to offer a fashion blogger with a few dollars burning a hole in her pocket.
Shopping at Holt Renfrew Calgary
Later that day, the weekend’s main festivities began, including a cocktail hour hosted by former Dragon’s Den star W. Brett Wilson (who, by the way, had Real Housewives of Vancouver‘s Mary Zilba on his arm), Paul Hardy’s Spring/Summer 2013 fashion show and, of course, an after-party attended by the who’s who of the Calgary social set.
Christopher Turner, Nelia Belkova, Stefania Yarhi, Lisa Ng, Anita Clarke and me
The runway presentation, what we were really all there for, featured an incredible line-up that ranged from fierce leather looks to jaw-droppingly gorgeous gowns, with live musical accompaniment courtesy of The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and singers Paul Brandt and Greg Sczebel.
Amongst the scrumptious food and drink, lively music, wonderful company, and snowstorm to boot, it was the fashion that stood out the most – and that’s really saying something. I went into my very first trip to Calgary knowing embarrassingly little about Paul Hardy and his work, but I left his fair city a fan. That ruffled leather top and leather pencil skirt combo? Made for me. And well worth the cross-country flight to see up close and personal.
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Photo booth fun with Nelia Belkova and Richard Fabregui
Over-the-knee stiletto boots or patent leather brogues? Python-print skinny jeans or metallic brocade skirt? My wardrobe presents me with rather critical sartorial choices on a daily basis, and, frankly, I relish in every single one I’m called to make. As a legitimate fashion addict, I enjoy debating such things as the merits of purchasing an oxblood leather doctor bag for everyday vs. a skull-clasp minaudière for evenings out, and making the decision that’s right for me and my closet, i.e. both! An equally important choice is which credit card I use to make those fabulous handbag purchases, a decision that just got a whole lot more exciting.
Chatting with chef Mark McEwan
Meet my next must-have acquisition: the new Choice or ChoicePlus Card from American Express. At the launch event on November 5, I was treated to an evening of choose-your-own-adventure fun, wherein my choices led to a night of cocktails with chef Mark McEwan at his restaurant Fabbrica, stylish caricatures and caviar manicures by The Ten Spot at Browns Shoes, and some good old fashioned shopping and photo booth shenanigans at Roots. It was a creative and clever way to remind me and the other attendees just how much fun it is to decide your own fate, sartorial or otherwise.
The likeness is uncanny
The freshly-introduced Choice and ChoicePlus Cards present me with the same power of choice that I have over my closet rotation. Where do I earn rewards? How do I redeem my points? I decide. These new offerings from American Express are designed to fit your lifestyle and unique shopping habits. You have the freedom to earn points everywhere you use your Card and the power to choose five places from over 100 retailers where you want to earn double points. As you collect your points, you have the power to choose how you’d like to use them. In other words, you can shop and earn points wherever you like and reward yourself with the things you love.
Earn double points on the purchase of a new fall/winter wardrobe at my favourite stores, and then redeem for a sunny getaway from the cold with TripFlex rewards? Sounds perfect to me! I’ve been tasked by American Express with test-driving either the Choice or ChoicePlus Card over the coming months, and I can’t wait to take it out for a spin on my upcoming holiday fashion shopping expedition. Stay tuned for my next report! In the meantime, read all about the Choice and ChoicePlus Cards here and check out this cute introductory video here.
Sponsored by American Express Canada
Yours truly with presenters Glen Baxter and Hans Koechling and host Rob Lowe
On November 19, the 2012 edition of the P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards were held at The Carlu in Toronto. Hosted by the extremely handsome actor and Brat Pack member Rob Lowe, the Awards brought together the biggest names in the Canadian beauty, grooming and fashion industries to honour the year’s best print and online content in 19 categories.
Stacey McKenzie and Jully Black
Assisting Lowe (who was kissed on by all the ladies who graced the stage and was a good sport about it) in presenting the Tiffany & Co. crystal trophies were familiar faces like the iconic Jeanne Beker, Greta Constantine-clad singer Jully Black, supermodel Stacey McKenzie and boxer Mary Spencer.
And the winners are…
1. Best Art Direction: Tanya Watt, FLARE
2. Best New Face: Jenna Earle, Next Models
3. Best Beauty Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper – Trend/Profile (English): Adriana Ermter; FLARE, Back by Popular Demand
4. Best Beauty Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper – Trend/Profile (French): Sophie St-Laurent; Châtelaine, BB La crème a tout faire
5. Best Beauty Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper – Scientific/Technical (English): Michelle Villett; FLARE, Best Beauty Innovations of 2011
6. Best Beauty Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper – Scientific/Technical (French): Micheline Lortie; Châtelaine, La nature en pot
7. Best Beauty Editor of a Magazine: Lesa Hannah; FASHION Magazine
8. Best Male Grooming Feature: Greg Hudson; Sharp Magazine, The Sharp Guide to Grooming: Stepping it Up
9. Hair Stylist of the Year: Justin German
10. Best Fashion Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper (English): Sarah Nicole Prickett; FASHION Magazine, Bro Code
11. Best Fashion Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper (French): Elsa Vecchi; Dress to Kill, Spécial Design: Rad Hourani
12. Best Fashion Editor of a Magazine: George Antonopoulos, FASHION Magazine
13. Best Male Fashion Feature: Yang Goh; Sharp Magazine, Style Manual
14. Best Beauty or Fashion Blog (English): Sharon Ng Hayes; The Backseat Stylers
15. Best Beauty or Fashion Blog (French): Anik Lacasse-Richard; Montreal in Style
16. Best Beauty or Fashion Website: Randi Bergman, FashionMagazine.com
17. Photographer of the Year: Malina Corpadean
18. Make-up Artist of the Year: Nicolas Blanchet
19. Best Magazine Cover: Dress to Kill, Stéphane Le Duc, Winter 2011
With Kimberly Lyn in Arthur Mendonça (left) and Nelia Belkova in Lanvin x H&M (right)
You may have noticed a familiar name in there for winner of the Best Beauty or Fashion Blog (English) category: The Backseat Stylers. WOOHOO! What an incredible honour it was for us to be named finalists alongside our blogger friends Nelia Belkova of Style Blog and Lolitta Dandoy of Fashion Is Everywhere, but to win?
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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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Diesel officially launched its third boutique in Canada last week, and yours truly was right in the mix of the celebrations. Or, rather, my doppelgänger was! I had been invited to participate in a blogger style-off pitting me against Jay Strut, Nelia Belkova and Julio Reyes-Cocka, and I’d dressed my little mannequin friend exactly as I’d dress, well, myself.
Having the entire spring/summer 2013 preview collection at my disposal, I started with a metallic black leather collar, added a white button-down and black pleated skirt with cool zipper detailing at the waist, and then finished the look off with a pair of metallic silver ankle booties, plus a double-wrap leather bracelet for good measure. Shera, as I’ve affectionately named her (after a flubbed PR email that addressed me as “Shera” – not my name!) looked pretty damn fierce, if I may say so myself.
She’s got tough competition though, between Nelia’s sequins and pleats, Jay’s denim vest outfit, and Julio’s leather and lace pairing. Give me – and Shera! – some support if you dig our black, white and silver ensemble by tweeting at @DieselCanada and letting them know that @backseatstylers‘ look is where it’s at. The contest closes on Black Friday, November 23 at 9:30 p.m., so vote before then and you’ll be entered to win a $1,000 Diesel shopping spree. Thanks in advance for the love and good luck with the giveaway!
Julio Reyes-Cocka, Nelia Belkova and me
Shoppers voting for Shera, obviously (yup, that’s the story I’m going with)
Image Credits: George Pimentel
Soho House’s Markus Anderson and FLARE Magazine’s Liz Cabral
On November 8, 2012, The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Yorkville boutique George C hosted the 2nd Annual Lunch with Margaret & George at the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto. Surrounded, quite literally, by lovely ladies who lunch decked out in their noon-hour finest, the charity function was one of the swankiest and most fashionable meals I’ve had the good fortune of enjoying in some time.
The highlight of the event came when, just before dessert, guests were treated to a presentation of Derek Lam‘s Spring 2013 runway collection. Though the New York-based designer himself was unfortunately unable to attend as planned (Mother Nature had other, snow-filled plans for him), his pieces, inspired by Barkley L. Hendricks paintings from the 1970s, thankfully made it to the luncheon for our viewing pleasure. And pleased we were, with the very covet-worthy line-up of ready-to-wear, handbags and shoes that we got to see up close and personal.
Canadian fashion industry heavyweights like FLARE Magazine‘s new editor-in-chief Miranda Purves, her counterpart at FASHION Magazine Bernadette Morra, Holt Renfrew’s Lisa Tant and FLARE fashion director Liz Cabral lent their support to the very worthy cause and stylish event. By the time the last morsel of food was consumed, over $150,000 had been raised in support of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. A very productive working lunch indeed.
FLARE Magazine’s Miranda Purves (centre) with George C owners Lisa and George Corbo
Models line up in preparation for the Derek Lam Spring 2013 presentation
Holt Renfrew’s Lisa Tant
FASHION Magazine’s Bernadette Morra
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I met Tavi Gevinson, founder and editor-in-chief of Rookie, an online magazine for teenage girls, and it was literally the best thing ever.
Tavi and Toronto-based Rookie contributors Petra Collins, a photographer, and Anna Fitzpatrick and Hannah Johnson, both writers, were at the Rookie Yearbook One reading and signing at Indigo Books in Toronto this past Saturday, and were met by dozens of eccentrically dressed and D.I.Y.-capable girls. Rookie Yearbook One is a printed publication that not only includes articles, interviews, photo editorials, and illustrations from the online magazine Rookie, but also has a page of important stickers (of a slice of pizza, a planet, bows, etc.), a gemstone-and-lips-and-breakfast-food-printed paper crown, and a flexidisc (had to google that…ugh, I’m so uncool) with songs by Supercute! and the Dum Dum Girls.
Rookie is blessed with a wonderfully diverse selection of contributors – including delightful famous people like Karen Elson, Paul Rudd, and Zooey Deschanel – who address issues that are both specific to many teenage girls but also relevant to those outside that category. I myself am no longer an adolescent – thank god – but often end up spending hours at a time on Rookie, reading one article after another about universal issues like bullying, body image, and tips on how to cure a crappy mood. There’s also a lot of light and fun stuff like fashion editorials, D.I.Y. guides, and makeup tutorials, but what makes Rookie so special is that it is intensely personal, and every story feels like something only a good friend who trusts you would tell you.
At the reading and signing on Saturday, Tavi shared her brilliant “How to Bitchface” tutorial, which is important information for everyone to know. The variation I use most frequently is the simple but effective Repulsed Bitchface, but Tavi goes over more advanced ones as well. Anna Fitzpatrick read an abridged version of “On the Outside Looking Out,” a highly relatable narrative about the difficulties she experienced trying to fit in and be ‘cool’ in high school.
Afterward, I got to meet Hannah, Anna, Petra, and Tavi, who all wrote sweet messages in my book like “You’re awesome!” They were so cool that I almost wish I could be a teenager again, if only to be able to consult the Rookie Yearbook One during my fashion crises, decorate my binder with some pizza stickers, and put on that gemstone-and-lips-and-breakfast-food-printed paper crown when I’m feeling ordinary.
On October 18, the Canadian Opera Company held Operanation 9: Sweet Revenge, the 2012 edition of its annual fundraiser in support of the COC’s Ensemble Studio, its training program for young opera professionals. Operanation 8 was a fabulous fusion of music and fashion, and this year’s event was no less so. Toronto’s social set flocked to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts for an evening featuring performances by none other than Canadian songbird Nelly Furtado and the 2012 Juno winner for Group of the Year the Arkells.
Vibrant prints weren’t on the dress code, but it sure looked as though it was: Knot PR’s Amy Burstyn-Fritz donned a beautiful Erdem gown, FASHION Magazine‘s Paige Dzenis chose an eye-catching abstract-print frock for the occasion, and Monica Mei sported a gorgeous floral-print and sheer number of her own design. Black and white was a favourite among the chic guests as well, with Rac Boutique’s Faith Orfus balancing an uncharacteristically girly lace dress with Balenciaga boots, jewelry designer Jenny Bird stepping out in a frilly lace top and suspendered pants, and actress Gabrielle Miller looking downright stunning in a design by Lucian Matis.
Operanation 9 was both a feast for the eyes and the ears. How will the COC top it next year? I can’t wait to find out.
Knot PR’s Amy Burstyn-Fritz and Rac Boutique’s Faith Orfus
AIME designer Monica Mei
Jewelry designer Jenny Bird and guest
FASHION Magazine’s Paige Dzenis
Actress Gabrielle Miller
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