Hayley Elsaesser X MYNC

Limited edition lipstick in Pep Talk

Limited edition lipstick in Pep Talk

I love when fashion designers stretch their creative wings on other projects. You really get a sense of their full personality. It’s like hearing a singer cover another artist’s song – their song choice alone says so much about them.

Designer Hayley Elsaesser recently joined forces with MYNC Beauty on a special edition lipstick in “Pep Talk” for Toronto Fashion Week, with 100% of proceeds benefiting Dress for Success Toronto. Dress for Success is an organization close to my heart, having fundraised for them in the past. Hayley made time for a quick interview just days before she was scheduled to debut her fall 2015 collection.

F-List: Can you tell me how this arrangement with MYNC came to be?

Nathalie from MYNC asked if I would be interested in a collaboration with them to raise money for Dress for Success Toronto. This is a charity I have always wanted to assist in some way for many years, so I was more than happy to do it! We came together on a new colour ‘Pep Talk’ for which I designed the packaging.

Your spring ’15 collection (and your hair) is wildly fun and colourful. What role does colour play for you as a designer?

For me colour is essential. As a designer my priority is having fun with fashion, so in order to achieve that I use colour and print. I find it very fun experimenting with colours that normally wouldn’t be paired together in prints to create something fresh and bold.

This is why I love the daring pink colour of the ‘Pep Talk’ lip colour. It is also perfect for the warmer weather around the corner. I also loved working with MYNC and especially designing the packaging as I feel makeup brands are more often minimal, sleek rather than fun, which appeals much more to me.

What can we expect from your fall ’15 show?

This will be my most exciting runway show yet, in my mind at least! I have done my first men’s capsule collection that will be showing on the runway at World MasterCard Fashion Week. I think menswear plays it very safe so I’m ready to inject a bit of excitement into the mix.

Hayley Elsaesser appears at World MasterCard Fashion Week on Wednesday, March 25th at 8PM. For more on Hayley visit http://hayleyelsaesser.com.

Win Tickets to Fashion Magazine’s Awards


Fashion crowds love a reason to fête designers, even if it’s at the end of a long week of fashion parties and runway shows. World MasterCard Fashion Week kicks off today at the tents in David Pecaut Square, but I’m already planning my Friday night with FASHION Magazine.

Once again FASHION’s Toronto Fashion Week Awards is the official closing event. The awards recognize Canadian designers, models and beauty professionals whose dedicated efforts make the Toronto shows possible.

Editor-in-Chief of FASHION, Bernadette Morra and Editor-in-Chief of Men’s FASHION, David Livingstone will announce eight winners in the following categories:

Best Emerging Designer

Best Collection

Best Menswear

Best Hair

Best Make-Up

Best Styling

People’s Choice for Best Show

This season, 300 consumers will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to attend the event at the Design Exchange. (A fashion party dahling – think open bar, hors d’ouevres and a boss of a DJ.) Click here to purchase tickets. You can also enter to win tickets for you and a guest from me!

Sorry folks, this contest has ended. Follow the link above to purchase tickets.

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.

CAFA to Celebrate Canadian fashion

Elisha Cuthbert (left) with Vicky Milner, CAFA Managing Director 

Last week, near the opening hours of World MasterCard Fashion Week, about a hundred or so well-heeled guests filed into a Ritz Carlton ballroom for a little star sighting and the first CAFA announcement. CAFA, or Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards, was recently created to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievement and emerging talent in Canadian fashion design. Its lofty goals include helping spur the economic development of the Canadian fashion industry.
That said, there actually is a $10,000 prize for the Emerging Talent Award. It’s the one category eligible to self-nomination and refers to someone with fewer than five years in business. Otherwise it’s mostly bragging rights for winners. Outside of Emerging Talent, the award categories include:

Womenswear Designer of the Year
Menswear Designer of the Year
Outstanding Achievement
Accessory Designer of the Year
Canadian Style
Image Maker
International Canadian Designer of the Year
Stylist of the Year
Model of the Year

Elisha Cuthbert, Canadian darling and a front-row-at-Toronto-fashion-week kind of celebrity, was there to announce the first-ever CAFA nominees. (As part of the nominating committee, yours truly had a hand in picking them.)

The CAFA website publishes online interviews members of their inaugural jury. ELLE Canada’s Editor-in-Chief Noreen Flanagan is among those industry experts profiled, along with TFI’s Susan Langdon and FLARE Magazine’s Tiyana Grulovic. Check back for new profiles. The awards show takes place February 1, 2014 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

See the CAFA website for ticket information and a full list of nominees.

From the Front Row

World MasterCard Fashion Week may be winding down to its last days, but the crowds haven’t waned a bit. Hundreds cram into the runway room on the hour, every hour, and the front row fills with some of the city’s most stylish denizens. There are some rocking outfits on display, but I’ve been taking note of those carrying more serious accessories – a camera.

This recurring feature catches up with some front row photographers to find out, what are you shooting with?

Hawley Dunbar, SidewalkHustle.com

Hawley has her freshly manicured finger on the pulse of all that’s current in music, fashion and technology. Turns out she’s also pretty handy with a macro lens.

What are you shooting with?
A Canon EOS 60 D. I flip between a 100mm Macro lens and a 50mm Macro depending on my location in the front row.
Do you share the photos? How?

I post them on my fashion and music blog, SidewalkHustle.com.

What’s your favourite feature of this device?
I can do a lot with my 60 D because it’s a professional level body. I love the sport setting for shooting runway because it captures the model no matter how fast they might be strutting.


Chris Howson, radio & TV host


Chris claims to be the “current owner of Brooke Shields eyebrows,” but this humble morning show host and producer at Toronto’s ProudFM radio bears more of a resemblance to Chris Noth. Think Chris Noth’s much, much younger brother.
What are you shooting with?
I’m using the Nikon D5200 DSLR burgundy edition. 
Do you share the photos? How?
I’m shooting for the Men’s Fashion Insider show Twitter account. It’s a show on OUTtv that I host. I also use the photos for Dose.ca and Dailyxtra.com.
What’s your favourite feature of this device?
I love that fact that it also shoots broadcast quality HD video. I’m a bit of a ‘jack of all trades’ in this industry so I’m glad my camera is too!
Catch up with the rest of my From the Front Row series here.

Mackage x PurseBlog Nomad

Megs Mahoney Dusil and Vladimir Dusil of Purseblog.com

Sarah Jessica Parker’s character on “Sex And The City” once said, “I’m thinking balls are to men, what purses are to women. It’s just a little bag but we’d feel naked in public without it.”  

I say a purse, perhaps more so than anything else in fashion, is all about the details.
After last night’s Mackage runway show, the brand hosted a pop-up at the Soho House. It was here I met Megs Mahoney Dusil, co-founder and chief editor of the wickedly popular PurseBlog.com, who worked with Mackage to create the Nomad. 
The Nomad is like the Swiss Army knife of purses. It does everything!  Megs wanted a bag that appealed to the busy, modern woman – functional, but works with everything in her closet.
“It’s actually three bags in one – you can carry it all together, or separate the two storage sections to be carried as two small clutches, plus all options allow you to use the shoulder strap if you’d like,” she explains on her site. “The two sections are connected by a cool zipper that adds a nice metallic element, and the black box leather is sturdy and sleek.  We added a special finishing touch with blue edge paint.”
This is the first design collaboration for both Mackage and Megs, who had a blast working with Mackage designers Elisa and Eran. I love seeing designers collaborate with bloggers.
Ahem, I said, I LOVE seeing designers collaborate with bloggers.
The Nomad retails for $395.00 and is available for pre-order.

From the Front Row

Now that Toronto’s official fashion week has kicked into full gear, the number of shooters sitting in the seats – as opposed to the media pit – has multiplied to extremes.  Beyond the iPhones and Androids, there are serious cameras in play.  I check in with those sitting front row and ask, what are you shooting with?

JR Bernstein | Fashion Photographer

What are you shooting with?
I change cameras all the time. As an official Fujifilm X-Photographer, I have access to all the professional Fuji cameras. Right now, I’m trying out one of their latest offerings, the Fujifilm X100S. This camera is sold out everywhere, so I’m really lucky to have it.
Do you share the photos? How?
I use the photos in a number of ways.  For one, I’m writing a review of the camera itself, so some of the photos will make it into my review.  Other photos are for publications I shoot for, and some are just for my own enjoyment. As a photographer, I’m constantly shooting.
What’s your favourite feature of this device?
I’m seriously loving this camera!  It’s hard to choose just one feature I like best — its cool retro look and feel, tactile manual controls, fast auto-focus, compact size or great image quality.  But I think my favourite feature has to be the hybrid optical-electronic viewfinder.  It has the best of both worlds.  It really is a camera-geek’s dream.  You get all the advantages of using a real optical viewfinder (so you’re not looking at a screen) with as much, or as little, digital information as you want superimposed on top.
Check out JR’s photography at jrbernstein.com.
Sarah Francis | Blogger
I ran into Sarah at the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards announcement on Monday, just before the tents opened.  This new awards show debuts in February 2014 to bring recognition to established and emerging designers across the country.  For more information and a list of confirmed CAFA nominees, click here
What are you shooting with?
I’m old school-ish. I use Canon Rebel XSi Digital.
Do you share the photos? How?
The photos go on my blog but are mainly for inspiration. I’m more of a writer and stylist than photographer, so my goal in the next year is to hone my pic-taking skills.  
What’s your favourite feature of this device?
I have a feeling this camera can do much more than I’m capable of at this point. However, I do love my zoom lens – it makes me feel powerful.  Until I run into someone like George Pimentel, that is.

The Fifty Shading of Fashion

First there was the book. You know the one. Next came rumours of a lingerie line inspired by the book. Then we heard that sales of men’s ties had increased – along with calls to 911 for handcuff-related emergencies. (Oh, you crazy Brits.)
Now it seems the Fifty Shades of Grey effect has crept beyond the foyer and is standing squarely in the house of fashion and pop culture.  Leather – always a major look for fall – is popping up in more intimate, bondage-inspired scenarios.  Buckle your seat belts, Mom and Dad.  Bondage fashion has gone mainstream.
The Broadway sensation, Venus in Fur, pre-empted Fifty Shades by a year, but its current run at Canadian Stage is right on trend.  The main character, Vanda Jordan, breaks out her best leather corset, stockings, thigh high boots, along with some fabulous acting, to nail the role of a lifetime.  (Aside: this is one of the most captivating plays I’ve ever seen. The Toronto production is fantastic, but only on through October 27.)

photo by David Hou | courtesy Canadian Stage
Madonna shows up in the October issue of Harper’s Bazaar sporting gilded glamour and little else.  The spread – no pun intended – is shot by shock fashion photographer Terry Richardson.  Of course, it’s one thing for the Queen of Pop to get away with leather and chains, but when major designers weave a bit of bondage into their spring 2014 collections, well, I am officially calling it a trend.  
Will Canadian designers will follow suit?  Stay tuned to World MasterCard Fashion Week to find out!
Madonna in Harper’s Bazaar
photo Harper’s Bazaar
Versace spring 2014 | photo by Yannis Viamos | Style.com
Alexander McQueen spring 2014 | photo by Marcus Tondo| Style.com
Libertine spring 2014 | photo by Umberto Fratini | Style.com


From the Front Row

Now that the international fashion shows have finished, Canada’s fashion designers vie for their share of media attention. I hit Toronto’s fashion presentations each season, from the shOws to World MasterCard Fashion Week to independent, offsite shows. You can find me snapping away on my iPhone – mostly pics to share on Instagram and Twitter.  But I’m no pro when it comes to photography. No, the pros are piled up at the end of the runway, getting the shots we will drool over hours later.

But I wasn’t alone. Social media has turned all of us into documentarians. As our spring 2014 season kicked off this week with the shOws, I wondered what the rest of the front row was using to shoot the runway – and what did they do with the photos?

Follow my From the Front Row series this month as I share stories of bloggers, stylists and more in this new recurring feature. I snapped Roz and Stefania at The ShOws, held at Andrew Richard Designs.  The room – drenched in white with a runway that wrapped around the room – is a dream for anyone snapping pics from the front row. 

Roslyn “Roz” Griffith Hall, stylist

What are you shooting with?
“I’m using a Canon 7D and my trusty sidekick Leica D-LUX4.”

Do you share the photos?  How?
“I have an online ‘Look of the Day’ column for Zoomer magazine. Some shots will become part of my Stylist’s POV wrap up, a cool image post or as a random tweet.”  When in Paris, Roz also shoots for her own visual diary, Rue de Roz.  It’s a pictorial narrative of fashion trending on the streets.

What’s your favourite feature of this device?
“I’m still discovering what this camera has to offer.” 

Stefania Yarhi, street style photographer and blogger

What are you shooting with?
“I shoot with my Canon 5D Mark II.”

Do you share the photos?  How?
“I shoot for my own blog Textstyles.ca and also for inspiration.  As a photographer, I have worked with various media outlets shooting the runway from this angle.  I love that you see more movement in the clothes and it’s a different perspective than the traditional head on runway shots.”

What’s your favourite feature of this device, or what do you wish it could do?
My camera is a professional dslr [digital single-lens reflex], the best investment ever.  I love how sensitive it is to light and when you shoot RAW, the crispness and detail is wonderful.  I do wish it could act as my phone and then publish straight to Twitter and Instagram.  But I have to also shoot with my phone to do that IRL [in real life] during shows, which gets to be panicky.”

Check back this week for more From the Front Row.

Toronto Fashion Week – Part Deux

Fashion week isn’t just about what happens on the runways, it’s how we capture and share it. Since the dawn of Twitter, live events are for the audience — whether actually in attendance or not — to offer their play by play. Now with Instagram and Vine, it’s not just about what we say, but how we see it. I saw many use Vine  to record the final walks from designer shows in New York, London and Paris, so I put my own spin on it frequently last week. What else can you say in six seconds?

One of my favorite moments of the week was the Joe Fresh show. If you wouldn’t have guessed in a million years that the fast fashion of Joe Fresh could be heavily influenced by the British impressario Malcolm McLaren, you don’t know Joe Mimran. McLaren and his girlfriend Vivian Westwood were largely responsible for the punk style of youth in the 1970s. Joe went straight to Paris for punk (with a hint of jazz) in the form of a French ingenue, a stylish young thing who, channeling a young Carine Roitfeld, donned mostly black. He brought us art in the form of Ed Ruscha — an artist known for painting words on large canvasses — and his lettered sweaters that wrapped up the collection. And then he brought us the best after party of the week. That’s Joe.

Photo by George Pimentel
Photo by George Pimentel

I skipped out on Friday’s shows due to commitments for Canadian Music Week (why, oh why does everything have to happen at the same time in Toronto?) but not before co-hosting FGI Toronto‘s Speed Networking event with Fashion Takes Action. This is the second season we’ve worked together with IMG to host the event during fashion week. Speed networking matches you up with someone new every two minutes, so if you’re not good at conversation, you will learn quickly!  The event was sold-out, thanks to everyone who came out for it. Check out FGI on Facebook and Twitter for more upcoming events.

Ready, set, go!