“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, and 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.
Continue reading →
After months of speculation and prayers to the shopping gods, Nordstrom has (finally!) officially announced the opening of the company’s first four locations in Canada. The Seattle-based retailer held a press conference in Toronto today to outline its plans to partner with Cadillac Fairview on its first stores north of the border at Sherway Gardens in Toronto, Pacific Centre in Vancouver, Chinook Centre in Calgary, and Rideau Centre in Ottawa.
The Sherway Gardens location will be a newly-constructed store, while the others are former Sears sites that will be vacated this fall and renovated by Nordstrom. The new locations are tentatively scheduled to open as follows:
- Chinook Centre, Calgary: two levels, approximately 140,000 square feet in Fall of 2014
- Rideau Centre, Ottawa: two levels, approximately 157,000 square feet in Spring of 2015
- Pacific Centre, Vancouver: three levels, approximately 230,000 square feet in Spring of 2015
- Sherway Gardens, Toronto: two levels, approximately 138,000 square feet in Fall of 2016
Not soon enough by my measure, but we’ve waited this long already, so what’s another few years? For our patience, we may just be rewarded with a few more stores: Nordstrom also announced that it will continue working on further expansion opportunities for both Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack (yes!) in Canada in the future.
Excited? You have good reason to be. Nordstrom was recently named the top American luxury retailer in a consumer survey, no doubt as a result of its legendary customer service. Between accepting a customer’s return of car tires that Nordstrom obviously doesn’t sell and driving to the airport to deliver packages accidentally left behind by a visiting shopper, popular tales of the department store chain’s exemplary customer service are both unbelievable and entirely true. In addition to its famously accommodating return policy, Nordstrom also price matches its competitors and throws very generous sales.
“It’s exciting to finally have this opportunity to better serve our Canadian customers closer to home and we can’t wait to open our doors,” said Erik Nordstrom, president of stores for Nordstrom, Inc. in a press release. We can’t wait until you open your doors either, Nordstrom. And now with target dates officially announced, we can mark our calendars and start counting down the days!
Image via Retail Week
How’s that for foreshadowing? Just yesterday in our post about Jason Wu’s new contemporary line, Miss Wu, we lamented the lack of Nordstrom locations north of the border. Mere hours later, The Globe and Mail reported that Nordstrom is finalizing plans to open its first department stores in Canada in the next few years – not one, not two or even three, but four of them! This, my dear fellow Nordstrom fans, is a shopaholic’s dream come true.
According to “industry sources”, Nordstrom will be launching at Sherway Gardens in Toronto, Pacific Centre in Vancouver, Chinook Centre in Calgary and Rideau Centre in Ottawa, three of which are former Sears sites. The Seattle-based retailer is said to be awaiting approval of the expansion from its board of directors. The news has yet to be confirmed by either Nordstrom or Cadillac Fairview, but I’m already celebrating.
Rumour has it that Nordstrom is, not surprisingly, also keen to set up shop in both Toronto Eaton Centre and Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto. However, with Sears uninterested in letting go of its TEC store and Yorkdale’s owners Oxford Properties reportedly insisting on a package deal with a Square One Shopping Centre location, this may not happen in the near term.
Nevertheless, the department store that recently topped a consumer survey of American luxury retailers – beating out Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and even Bergdorf Goodman, I might add – is coming to a Canadian city (hopefully) near you.
With it, Nordstrom brings a stellar designer list that at its U.S. locations includes everything from Gucci to Alexander Wang to Kensie; their incredibly generous Half-Yearly Sales and legendary Anniversary Sale featuring products exclusive to Nordstrom; a price matching policy I’ve had the pleasure of taking advantage of in the past (on a pair of Christian Louboutins, no less); and an unparalleled return policy with no time limit (seriously!). Essentially, Nordstrom is customer service at its finest, which will be a breath of fresh air in Canada’s luxury market. The Bay and Holt Renfrew, who will be directly affected by Nordstrom’s arrival, should take note.
I’ve been patiently waiting for years for a U.S. luxury department store chain to come north of the border, but suddenly Nordstrom can’t come soon enough. How excited are you, Canada? Because yours truly is on a high right now that’s usually only reserved for new shoe acquisitions.
UPDATE (Sept. 13, 2012):
The news has finally been confirmed! Read all the details of the new Nordstrom store openings in Canada here.
Image via Retail Week
A mere 7 locations across Canada to meet our Stella for Gap needs. I’m feeling rather spoiled here in Toronto with 4 of them!