Don’t Call it a Comeback

screen-shot-2017-05-26-at-8-59-53-am
Toronto dominates worldwide lists of “best cities to live” when it comes to quality of life. But living in Canada’s largest city can have its drawbacks. Real estate prices have become astronomical, the traffic is unreal and, for many, it can be tough to succeed as a small fish in a massive pond. Enter Hamilton.

Canada’s Brooklyn

Hamilton has been tracking Brooklyn’s success in leveraging its gritty character and history to attract talent and investment from Manhattan over the last 20 years. Now the “Hammer” is banking on its own small town charm and progressive community building to lure young couples, creative and tech professionals and others looking for a slower, simpler way of life.

Hogtown, meet Steeltown

The Hamilton Consulate hits Toronto next week as a two-day pop-up event to showcase Canada’s “biggest urban comeback story.” (Yes we know, you’ve been there for years.) Through a collection of industry talks, luncheons, shows and parties, Torontonians can get a closer look at Hamilton real estate, fashion, food, music, art, tech, film and culture.

May 31 – June 1
The Burroughes, 639 Queen Street West

All of the events are free, too. RSVP here.

On the fashion front, organizers have teamed up with the Ontario Fashion Exchange to showcase the work of local designers with Hamilton’s Got Next fashion show and sale on June 1st. Doors open at 4:30pm for cocktails. The fashion show will begin at 5:15pm. Stick around afterwards for the Super Crawl featuring Hamilton music, art and food.

Fashion highlights include:

  • DeMontigny, whose native heritage (Cree/Metis) drives the inspiration for elegant, bespoke designs made in luscious leather and suede.
  • Coppley menswear appears with Charles & Hunt to offer custom works with distinctive British style and meticulous Canadian workmanship.
  • Rachael Warner, a 17-year old design wunderkind with six collections under her belt already.
  • Blackbird Studios designers Kerry Wade and Lynn Bebee create many of their own prints for their womenswear line.

 

An Entrepreneur with Serious Flavour

Janet Zuccarini

Janet Zuccarini

Globetrotter, wonder woman, entrepreneur, foodie – any one of these could describe Janet Zuccarini. The brains behind some of Toronto’s most successful restaurants, she is all of these and then some. I consider Zuccarini a trailblazer. Call it a slow burn. Her Trattoria Nervosa celebrates its 20th anniversary next month, but over the past four years Zuccarini has made an indelible mark on Toronto’s restaurant scene by opening Gusto 101 off King West and Pai in the entertainment district. She’s also launched a restaurant group, Gusto 54, and has plans for two more Toronto dish spots – Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen and an east side Gusto 101 location. Now she has set her sights on L.A. with Felix, a “coming-soon” collaboration with executive chef Evan Funke.

Nervosa has been a constant of mine since landing in Toronto 14 years ago, where I’ve enjoyed countless meals and one memorable Drake sighting. I first met Janet at a fashion week luncheon held at the old Four Seasons, and not long after, I got to know her over glasses of Veuve at a Teatro Verde event. (I know, I know, such is the life sometimes.) As an entrepreneur I was captivated by her quiet drive and enthusiasm. It’s unusual to see a successful restaurateur who’s neither a chef nor a celebrity – although she’s orbiting close to becoming the latter. Moreover, it’s frankly unheard of for a woman to be such a dominant force in such a male-dominated industry. Zuccarini has no partners, no backers and owns her restaurant real estate. This lady could drop the mic any moment now.

An inspiration? A role model? Feminine force of nature? Yes, yes. All of these and still more. I have a feeling Janet Zuccarini is just getting warm.

There aren’t many other women growing a restaurant empire — how does that feel?

I’m proud of the fact that I am a woman doing this in a very male-dominated industry. I never worked in any other restaurant other than my own, so I have always written my own rules. I think that has allowed me to think outside of the box.

You’re very driven — how do you find balance between work and personal life?

I like to say that I paid my dues in the early days when I worked 16 hour days, six days a week, working every position in the restaurant. Once I had some money in the bank, it was time to work smart which meant building a team around me. That allowed me to truly run it, as opposed to being inside of it working as a technician. For years now, I have been able to focus on being the visionary for the company, removing myself from the day-to-day operations, which has been the key to leading a balanced life.

What led you to diversify into other cuisines like Thai and Jamaican?

I’m now running the company in a very intuitive way, leaving myself open to new opportunities I probably wouldn’t have been open to or ready for years ago. We have built systems and procedures that can be applied to any hospitality business. Pai was about backing Jeff and Nuit Regular who are mega talents in the business, but needed support on the back-end. Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen comes from my love of Jamaica and Jamaican food. I see the opportunity for this cuisine to be updated and made more relevant.

Who are your role models that inspire you in business?

Danny Meyers comes from a business background, as do I and is also driven by his passion for this business. Although I’ve never met him, I feel we are kindred culinary spirits. He’s my number one role model.

What’s your advice for young entrepreneurs?

You cannot be risk averse. If you need a steady pay cheque, don’t be an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur you have to do whatever it takes, which may mean going without a pay cheque and moving back in with your parents – both of which I did.

What’s the best thing about Toronto in your opinion?

I am very proud that I come from a city that is so multicultural and integrated. I know it has influenced me in feeling comfortable to open up such diverse restaurants.

 

 

Down the Vintage Shopping Rabbit Hole (Giveaway)

Luxe Touch vintage bags

Luxe Touch vintage bags

Anyone who knows me knows my love of vintage. It’s a good bet that almost any outfit I wear includes a fashionable nod to the past.

When scouring shops for vintage, you can’t have expectations. Perhaps this is why vintage fanatics like me love it — the sense of adventure, of discovery, the thrill of coming across something so unique, so interesting, so potentially now again.

These days, unfortunately, great vintage finds are hard to come by. As the Globe and Mail reported last month, the availability of high-end designer vintage has changed. Trolling through thrift stores today rarely reaps more than fast fashion cast-offs. Many vintage shops have evolved into high-end contemporary resale stores in order to maintain a viable business.

Well, get ready vintage lovers, this year’s annual Toronto Vintage Clothing Show is coming. And it’s going to be bigger than ever.

Featuring:

Luxe Touch, an independent Canadian based reseller of authentic luxury handbags and specializing in pre-owned and vintage Chanel flap bags in particular.

Ian Drummond Collection, a legendary fixture in the local vintage scene. Ian has been a passionate collector of vintage clothing since the early 1980s, and was responsible for the costuming of 3000+ background performers in HAIRSPRAY and CINDERELLA MAN.  Indulge your love of the 80’s and 90’s – this year Ian will be featuring a huge selection of outfits from a recent purchase.

If Victorian period is more your speed, The Fashion History Museum (located in Cambridge, Ontario) will be participating for the first time offering a one-time-only sale of some excess inventory (nearly 10,000 garments in the regular museum collection). This year guests can also explore a treasure trove of hand-picked antique and vintage decor at the Toronto Antique & Vintage Market.

Toronto Vintage Clothing Show
Admission $10 (cash only)
Saturday, March 5th 10am-5pm
Sunday, March 6th 10am-4pm
Queen Elizabeth Building at Exhibition Place (map)

Enter to win a pair of tickets to the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show by sharing your love of vintage on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #vintagelovah (a la Carrie Bradshaw’s “Hello, lovah”) by 11:59PM on March 2nd. Feel free to tag me @TheFList. Two winners will be contacted March 3rd to claim their prize.

Are you a vintage newbie? Here are my top tips for successful shopping:

  • By nature vintage is one-of-a-kind, so shopping is competitive. Arrive early.
  • Bring cash. Not all vendors take credit cards, and while there is an ATM on site you don’t want to miss out on a purchase while waiting in a long line-up.
  • Don’t be afraid to haggle! This is why you bring cash. Prepare to cut a deal, but know when to walk away.
  • Inspect an item thoroughly before buying. Natural wear and tear on vintage may not be immediately visible, so be sure to check for loose seams, missing buttons, stains and such.
Photo courtesy the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show

Photo courtesy the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show

Don’t Miss DRESSED at Fashion’s Night Out

I’m so thrilled to host DRESSED presented by Maybelline during Fashion’s Night Out. 

Dressed shares the true and truly inspiring story of designer Nary Manivong’s adolescent life, which found him homeless at 14 in Columbus, Ohio to the present as he prepares for his debut show at New York Fashion Week. Nary is an example of the incredible focus and dedication required to succeed in the fashion business. 

Save the date! Open to the public! Space is limited! You’ll find us upstairs from rac boutique‘s Bazaar on the 6th floor of the Burroughes Building.

Thursday, September 6
Doors open 6PM
Screening at 9PM
#dressedatdark

Follow @TheFList, @DRESSEDtheMOVIE, @MaybellineCAN, @racboutique and @fno_Toronto for more! 

 

Twisting by the Pool

Last night the boys from Greta Constantine hosted their Midsummer Affair at Toronto’s former German Consulate in the east Annex. (Sure, it may be the end of August but who doesn’t appreciate the optimism?) It was a perfect evening for a backyard barbecue pool party, and the city’s entire fashion crowd appeared to be in attendance.

Guests were in an optimistic mood, too, with their summer colors and patterns out in full force. It could have been the free Stoli cocktails and burgers. And while it was a pool party, the only bathing suits donned were by the girls who treated us to a cute and quirky synchronized swimming routine set to Gwen Stefani’s ‘Hollaback Girl.’  

Hey Mister, in the back, why the face?!
LOULOU’s Liv Judd four weeks shy of motherhood 
Melissa Bernais of ICovetandWant.com
Designer Alia Juma
Nelia Belkova of Styleblog.ca and Kimberly Lyn of TheSoulsofMyShoes.com
Anita Clark of IWantIGot.com
Glenna Weddle of rac boutique and Jan Gandhi of ThePeacockParade.com
Artist Andrea Bolley dressed as a Stoli bottle. Seriously.

F-listed Auction is Live

 Happy birthday to me! For the next ten days explore F-listed, the first online auction of its kind. Browse and bid on fashionable goods donated by Canadian designers, retailers, tastemakers and celebrities across Canada. 

New items will be added throughout the week, so check back frequently. Are you on the mailing list? We’ll notify you when new items go live. Sign up here.

Proceeds help support Dress for Success Toronto, a cause I feel passionately about because we all deserve to look and feel our best. Dress for Success not only outfits disadvantaged women in professional attire, it helps them enter the professional world with mentoring
and job interview training. It’s a volunteer organization with outlets all over North America.

For more on F-listed, click here. Shop, browse and bid now, click here!

Greta Constantine’s PRIMER Collection 02 Launch

Last night the boys of Greta Constantine and the fashionable masses gathered for a chic backyard launch party of PRIMER Collection 02, a follow up to the line of basics they debuted just three months ago. With this second iteration, the design duo opted for right-on-trend color, moving away from the mélange grey and black tones of Collection 01.  Chic jewel tones like royal blue, emerald, persimmon and amber bridge perfectly from summer into fall.
Kirk Pickersgill & Stephen Wong of Greta Constantine
“Greta Constantine PRIMER is its own entity. 
It’s neither Greta light nor a diffusion label.”
The PRIMER silhouettes are voluminous and fluid, constructed almost exclusively in cotton jersey and silks. All of the pieces are wearable on women of all ages, shapes and sizes – as demonstrated by many of the evening’s guests. None of the pieces will retail over $495 with the bulk of the collection between $95 and $275 (all CAD). Chic and affordable. #loveit

Anita Gatto of I Want I Got

Denis Gagnon Interprets Alice in Wonderland

“You used to be much more…”muchier.” 
You’ve lost your muchness.”
~ The Mad Hatter (2010)
One thing that’s almost certain with a Denis Gagnon dress: it’s never too much. His latest concoction is a dress inspired by Alice in Wonderland for the Luminato Festival.
This is not something we recommend wearing if you’re planning to fall down a rabbit hole, of course. It is, however, a stunning work of art.
The dress is a hand-beaded confection of white and silver that will be on display throughout the Festival at the Wintergarden Lobby, 225 King Street West until Sunday, June 19th.
On opening night guests of Luminato were treated to a cocktail reception for the official unveiling of the dress.
Denis & Me
Denis & his muses wearing, what else?
P.S. Pardon the washed out look of the photos. I’m in-between cameras right now, and the poor lighting in the venue didn’t help either. The dress is stunning in person. Go see!

Location, Location, Location

It’s the week before the fashion mega-showcase known as LG Fashion Week beauty by L’Oreal, and fashion crowds are taking in Rogue Fashion Week. The various venues say as much about a designer as the clothes themselves. Kicking off the week at the Burroughs Building, Sparks’ works has a similar kind of historic charm – given his interest in heritage tailoring it’s not a surprise. The former F. C. Burroughes Furniture Company built the original 639 Queen Street West as its flagship retail department store in 1907. I like to think Philip is inspired by the building.

Later in the week we hit the flip side. The almost-complete Trump Tower at Bay and Adelaide provided a great backdrop for the modern flourish of Mark Fast, Mikhael Kale and Arthur Mendonca, and the pre-opening timeslot was edgy enough to warrant men in hard hats as ushers. 

Paul Hardy’s romantic collection and meticulous detailing were on point at the National Ballet School – sorry, bad pun – and I found the bowling shoes a fun disruption. The Greta & Ezra Constantine show closed the week at Audi with a slick show like a shiny new hot rod.

It’s not easy hosting a runway show off site, but these are not new kids on the design block. These are some of our top designers, the ones about whom you will say, “I knew them when…”  And in reviewing the collections, I thought it more fun to see how they looked on Twitter to the people who watch all the shows, no matter where they are:

Philip Sparks
Myth busting evening.  Backstage at Philip Sparks and the models were eating PIZZA.  
Yes – greasy slabs of pizza pie. How bloody refreshing. (@SarahEWaldock)

Lusting after that soft maple print cocktail dress from Philip Sparks tonight. 
Dresses more fun than light fixtures. (@k_cleveland)
Philip Sparks Fall 2011, photos by Jenna Marie Wakani
 
Mark Fast & Mikhael Kale 
Don’t remember this Mark Fast dress from his London show but dammmn do I want it. (@xoxSNP)
So the rich socialites of Toronto definitely came out to play today at 
the Mark Fast / Mikael Kale shows (@marcpiercey)
Just left the Mark Fast/ Mikhael Kale show. Incredible collections and
some fierce models. Love the attitude!  (@ExposedBlog)
Mark Fast Fall 2011, photo by Felix Wong
Mikhael Kale Fall 2011, photo by Felix Wong
Mark Fast Fall 2011, photo by Irem Harnak
Mark Fast Fall 2011, photo by Felix Wong

Arthur Mendonca
Thank God Arthur Mendonca is back designing in Canada. First exit – 
black slick trench – is brilliant. (@LisaTant)
Saw #Arthur Mendonca’s show tonight. Exquisite & sophisticated! 
Tea lovers – It was like a fine #Da Hong Pao Oolong (@theteastylist)
 
Arthur Mendonca 2011, photo by Dean Sanderson
Arthur Mendonca Fall 2011, photo by Felix Wong
Paul Hardy
Right on trend: footwear hitting the ground: shoes at Paul Hardy show at National Ballet school was bowling shoes. Even with evening wear. (@DerickChetty)
From Trump Hotel nouveau riche to National Ballet’s Quaker-style hall. 
Bond girls to school girls. Fast/Kale to Paul Hardy #chooseyourfetish (@amyverner)
Paul Hardy, photo by Owen E. McLeod
Greta Constantine
If you play Adele at a fashion show, I will forgive you for shining that light 
right in my eyes with every exit. (@moshamosha)
Also, for fall/winter 2011, what’s with Canadians showing chest? 
First Kale, then Mendoza, and now shirtless dudes at Ezra (@pliving)
My all white outfit choice has me inadvertantly matching Audis festooning 
dealership venue of Greta Constantine. Fashion faux pas or fun? (@suzanne_boyd)
Greta Constantine, photo by Owen E. McLeod
Greta Constantine, photo by Owen E. McLeod
Greta Constantine, photo by Owen E. McLeod

Construction Time Again

There is a saying about the seasons in Toronto – there are only two: winter and construction. While we sweat through our season of construction, the Madison Avenue of our fair city – Bloor Street – is awash in never-ending construction fencing that routes pedestrians through a narrow maze of passageways.  Not fun, but I can tell you it’s no better on the street.  Driving along Bloor, count on back-ups to cost you 50 minutes just to cross five city blocks.
The stores along Bloor suffer dearly for foot traffic, but at least one is making the most of it.  Holt Renfrew has cleverly posted signs in the passageways designed to lure in customers.  
They sympathize…“Dust damaging your ‘do? Visit Holt’s Salon and Spa today.”  They remind…“Construction wreaking havoc on your heels? Visit Holt’s Shoe Department.”  They aim to rescue us from all that is ugly on the outside…“It’s messy out but beautiful inside. Come into Holt’s!”
So I did.