Canadian Fashion House Party

This past weekend brought the inaugural Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards (CAFA) to life at the Fairmont Royal York. The official raison d’être, “CAFA was created to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievement and emerging talent in Canadian fashion design.” 

But this was not just another awards show. This was the first time the fashion industry gathered to honour the best in our country. I repeat, the first time. As a member of the official nominating committee, I am proud to have been a part of the process.  Unlike the music, literary, stage and screen industries, Canada’s fashion world – until now – didn’t have an event to crown its own for their outstanding talents.  Only time will tell if receiving a CAFA has a positive impact on one’s career. Until it does, we’re just shouting in a bubble. And since it’s our first bubble, I vote we get dressed up and have a party. And party we did! 

But wait!  What every black tie gala in Canada needs is a snowstorm, right?  I love that Canadians are such a hearty bunch. By the outfits you would never know we all left our boots at coat check. 

Coco Rocha, Lisa Tant and me

Arriving at the gala, I was soon accosted by four young fashion design students who were volunteering for the event. “We love your dress,” they exclaimed in unison. “It’s a Jay Godfrey,” I responded. “Do you know him?” Blank stares. “Consider this your first lesson, ladies, look him up.” 

Welcome to the underground world of Canadian fashion!

I love Jay Godfrey‘s designs. His sizing is consistently perfect, I don’t even require a fitting.  In fact, I rented the dress from Rent frock Repeat for that very reason. (Although locals can schedule in person fittings.) I wanted something new without plunking down a few hundred for a dress I would likely wear once.

The CAFAs did a fine job of getting some big names out for the first annual event — Dean and Dan from DSquared2, Coco Rocha, Joe Mimran and Jeanne Beker, who took home the 2014 Vanguard Award. Ten awards were given out for excellence in fashion, styling and image maker categories: 

Womenswear Designer of the Year Award – Jeremy Laing

Menswear Designer of the Year Award – Travis Taddeo

Emerging Talent Award – Sarah Stevenson

Outstanding Achievement Award – DSquared2

Accessory Designer of the Year Award – Want Les Essentials de la Vie

Canadian Style Award – Joe Mimran

Image Maker Award – Chris Nicholls

International Canadian Designer of the Year Award – DSquared2

Stylist of the Year Award – George Antonopoulos

Model of the Year Award – Coco Rocha

Truthfully, only Sarah Stevenson stands to benefit from her award, with a $10,000 prize, a spring/summer ’15 lookbook and mentorship from Joe Mimran, this year’s Honorary Chair.  I’ve had my eye on her since her humble design beginnings a few years back.  As a Canadian she’s still humble, but with the right direction this young talent could follow in the footsteps of fellow Canadian, Erdem Moralioglu or Mary Katrantzou.
 
Sarah Stevenson Fall Winter 2013

Pack Rat’s Guide to Traveling

Last month I attended the TFI Press and Buyers Brunch at World MasterCard Fashion Week. It’s a showcase of up and coming designers, and as such, a chance to discover a new brand. I always come away with one particular name that sticks. This season it was Ebby Rane.
Ebby Rane is a travel company aiming to revamp the suitcase for the jet-setting, luxury – and likely female – consumer. Its first product, the Quartermaster, is a carry-on fit for a weekend excursion. Ebby Rane (a nod to the creators’ grandfathers) takes design inspiration from the bespoke trunks that accompanied voyages in the Victorian era. 
 
The Quartermaster by Ebby Rane
 
It comes in three colour combinations. Beyond its beautiful exterior, the Quartermaster’s magic lies in the patented packing system that includes ten carryall inserts plus a leather clutch. It distills packing for a weekend down to a science – though its hefty price tag (roughly $1,000.00) leads me to believe I haven’t quite achieved the jet-setting status they’re going after. 
 
For the fashionably inclined, packing for a weekend trip can be challenging, at best. Whether its business or personal travel, there are shoes and accessories to consider not to mention the airlines restrictions on liquids and weight. I’m no expert in this arena (you’ll find me at the baggage carousel), so I called of some of most jet-setting friends for their hottest tips on packing light. 
Suzanne Cohon of ASC Public Relations, Inc. hits the road for business and personal travel frequently.  “I always pack white tank tops (as they go under everything), a blazer, large scarfs and a great pair of jeans. These essential pieces give me lots of options and flexibility to dress for any occasion.”
 
Yes, but what about shoes, I counter?  Suzanne’s tip: “I try to travel with minimal options – one pair of flats, one pair of heels and one pair of trainers in case I have a moment to go for a run/ long walk. And always wear your largest shoes when you travel. It saves room in your bag.”  
Bustle Clothing’s Shawn Hewson admits, “I’m the worst packer.”  As a designer, he’s solved part of that dilemma. “One item I always like to travel with is a knit blazer. It’s super handy when you’re travelling, since it folds up easily and fits in something the size of a toiletries bag if you need it to. 

 

Bustle’s French Terry Knit Blazer
 
“Since it’s a knit,” he continues, “it looks good even after it’s been folded, and it’s comfortable for moving through airports, lounges and planes.  And it’s always good to wear a blazer in the airport – helps to reduce your chances of being “randomly selected” for additional screening.”  Sage advice.
Holt Renfrew’s Lisa Tant takes a methodical approach to packing. “I make a packing list based upon where I’m going and the main purpose of my trip – personal or business. I’ve learned the hard way to not just throw things in a case the night before. I ended up in Paris for two weeks once with a suitcase full of boring black clothes.” Quel domage!
 
“I make sure that every piece can be worn more than one way and that I have my roster of wear-everywhere basics – jeans, black leggings, cashmere cardigans, a raincoat and motorcycle boots. I believe in layers and I always pack comfortable shoes including boots, cool sneakers (my new Nike Air Knits will be perfect) and flats. A couple of oversized patterned scarves are essential as is a roomy, but small, cross-body handbag.”
 
Nike’s Air Knit sneakers keep Lisa Tant comfy when traveling
“I make sure that every piece can be worn more than one way and that I have my roster of wear-everywhere basics – jeans, black leggings, cashmere cardigans, a raincoat and motorcycle boots. I believe in layers and I always pack comfortable shoes including boots, cool sneakers (my new Nike Air Knits will be perfect) and flats. A couple of oversized patterned scarves are essential as is a roomy but small cross-body handbag.”
 
When travel requires a mix of business and pleasure, packing smart is absolutement a requirement. Designer Monica Mei packs pieces that can do double duty. “Women love the Aime Olivia pant that can take them from the boardroom to drinks by just adding a smokey eye, statement necklace and sky-high heels.” In fact, Monica was so inspired by her recent travels she designed an entire collection for chic jet-setters. I’ll dish more on the Aime by Monica Mei Seasonless 2014 collection next month.
 
So now we know what to pack. My next question is, how to fit it all in? Stay tuned for A Pack Rat’s Guide to Traveling Light – Part II coming soon.

ABSOLUT MODE Canadian style

Doesn’t it seem like every brand is into fashion these days? In fairness ABSOLUT® VODKA has been collaborating with the fashion set since the 1990’s. (Remember the bottles designed by Tom Ford, Versace, Stella McCartney or Gaultier, anyone?)
The 2011 ABSOLUT® MODE EDITION is another redesign of the iconic bottle, reflecting the world of fashion through twelve facets, orflat faces on geometric shapes” to you. The glass facets are designed to catch reflections of light, and the bottle is wrapped in a midnight blue silk cloth band with text embroidery. 
The limited-edition bottle launched last week in Canada with a gala fashion event at Malaparte in the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Fashion Television’s Jeanne Beker curated the one-night only, museum-style exhibit. Guests sipped ABSOLUT cocktails while perusing personal items of clothing and accessories from Canadian style icons including Beker, Suzanne Rogers, Stacey Kimel, Krystyne Griffin, Heather Gotlieb, Mary Symons, FASHION magazine’s Bernadette Morra, FLARE magazine’s Lisa Tant and Don Cherry. 
Each garment was accompanied by a personal story from the owner, sharing memories of its origin or an experience wearing the item. One of the more poignant notes came from Stacey Kimel who actually wore her Alexander McQueen outfit to his funeral. After the service Sarah Burton approached her, sharing her own memories of finishing the coat late at night with Lee (McQueen).
Jeanne Beker’s Andy Warhol soup can evening bag by Phillip Treacy, a gift from the designer
Flare magazine editor Lisa Tant’s custom gown by Lida Baday
Stacey Kimel’s Alexander McQueen outfit, with card from Lee McQueen’s memorial service
Suzanne Rogers’ dress by Mary Katrantzou, Fall 2011