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.

An All Night Fashiony Art Thing

Heidi Ackerman pushes the envelope with dazzling knits. Photo by George Pimentel.

Toronto musician Lights wins the Best New Artist Juno wearing Maybe by Sarah Catalfo


Torontonians would be smart to get some extra shut eye tomorrow night. Saturday, October 3rd is Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, officially billed as a “free all-night contemporary art thing.” With 130 art projects spread over three geographical zones in the city, there is plenty to see. But if you’re looking for the fun and fashionable, there is only one place to be.

The Art of Fashion takes over the Fermenting Cellar in the historic Distillery District from 7pm – 3am Saturday for a design competition and trunk show. Ten designer finalists – a group whose work is definitely more art-based than ready-to-wear – have been chosen to exemplify and interpret the Art of Fashion’s theme Iconic Power. Guests to the show will have an opportunity to weigh in with their vote for Best Exhibit and Most Promising Designer. Votes will be tallied with those of AOF’s guest judges (including designers Brian Bailey, Shawn Hewson and David Dixon) for two winners.

The finalists are an amazing bunch. Anyone remember seeing Lights capture the 2009 Juno Award for Best New Artist? I do. And I clearly remember wondering who made her dress. That would be Art of Fashion finalist Sarah Catalfo, who has been crafting one-of-a-kind pieces for friends since 2004 under her label Maybe.

Fellow finalist Heidi Ackerman was a stand out last March in the Ryerson alumni fashion show at LG Fashion Week. The timid need not apply here, Ackerman’s wild knits are meant to dazzle with their couture-like construction. And people are taking note. FASHION magazine recently featured a few of her fall pieces in their September 2009 issue.

There is way more talent to discover at the Art of Fashion, plus a trunk show featuring Canadian designed clothing and accessories. Bring your wallet. Bring a Red Bull. But most of all bring an open mind. This is art, after all!

Note: The Art of Fashion exhibit runs from 7pm – 3am. The trunk show runs 7pm – midnight.

Television’s Most Stylish Drama



The holidays are definitely over which means you can now waste your weeknights in front of new television shows, instead of has-beens and reruns.  We’re just two weeks away from a new season of Project Runway Canada.  The show begins its sophomore season on Tuesday, January 27th (Global, 10pm) with Iman as our queen hostess along with Brian Bailey as mentor and Rita Silvan and Shawn Hewson as judges.  


Many loyal fans of the original Project Runway believed Canada’s version was better, but those people live here and we’d expect them to say that.  It was a great first season to be sure.  Now here’s hoping Iman has loosened up in her delivery and pray they don’t edit out the judges personality. 

Canadian cover girl Coco Rocha and designer Wayne Clark will appear as guest judges.  At some point actress Elisha Cuthbert will also appear as a judge.  I’m not familiar with Elisha’s style (to say nothing about her work) and after a brief Google search I know why.  With her penchant for wearing very little, if any clothing at all, we can only presume Elisha appears in the “invisible clothes” episode.  

Stay tuned…

P.S. Join the F-list Wednesday, January 28th, with Shernett Swaby (from PRC season one) for the Designer Spotlight Series!  Meet Shernett and talk fashion and PRC2 over cocktails!  Details on the F-list!