Nordstrom is finally here! I arrived at last night’s gala event via a long walk in high heels through Chinook Mall — and managed to arrive at the door without the red carpet. But there were still 5 fresh faced new Nordstrom employees to welcome me to the soiree.Inside, both levels of the upscale fashion retailer’s first foray into Canada were jammed. 1800 people partied around the purses, jewelry, skincare and clothing. Important brand alert: Nordstrom has the Calgary exclusive on Kate Spade apparel.Upstairs, the restaurant Bazille was converted into a VIP room for friends and family. And it was a family event — three generations of Nordstroms are in Calgary to help guide the opening. The family takes an active role managing the 275-store chain.Jim Pattison, West Vancouver kazillionaire and all-around good guy, told me he was returning home from Chicago, but decided to have the plane drop him off in Calgary so he could join the party — he’s old pals with the Nordstroms. I recognized the Order of Canada pin on his lilac-accented lapel, but not the other one. Turns out Jim is also a member of the Order of British Columbia.You know Nordstrom is a big deal when you find the Mayor of Calgary at the opening. The last time I bumped into Naheed Nenshi, it was during his heroic handling of the Calgary floods. Now, after our emergency response center recently re-opened to deal with the aftermath of our September snowstorm, it’s nice to see him at something a little less sweaty and more social.Outside the VIP room, liberally-poured Rose enhanced the shopping experience.Casey Wagar, lover of all things fancy, was loving his Chardonnay.Photo ops were everywhere, including with the 30 live mannequins on display throughout the store.Fraser Abbott was on hand to quality-check the delicious edibles provided by Hotel Arts’ Chef Duncan Ly.Bumped into the amazing Cynthia Moore, who’s jetting off next week to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, just one year after kicking flesh-eating disease in the you-know-what. Meanwhile, Jay Skelly of Holt Renfrew swears he was no spy — just an innocent partier.No Scandinavian reserve here. Erik and Julie Nordstrom mingled with Beth and Terry Drayton, enjoying the party (with some particularly fabulous cowboy boots in the background). And they should — the evening raised $180,000 for Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and United Way of Calgary.More of those mannequins, trying to make those white pillars look good. Sprinkled throughout the contemporary Nordstrom decor, they’re a structurally necessary holdout from the previous Sears space.Tucked in between the escalators and the shoes, Toronto-based recording artist Sean Jones sang to throngs of adoring women…… who didn’t mind one bit when he jumped off stage to dance with them. I’m sure Nordstrom appreciated the fact he sang the “Forget you” version of Cee Lo Green’s hit tune.This security man’s job is just beginning… because the opening party continues tomorrow, bright and insanely early, with the Nordstrom Chinook Centre Pre-Opening Beauty Bash. On Friday, September 19 from 7:30-9:30 am, enjoy complimentary consultations and demos at the main Nordstrom entrance in the mall. Expect to see hot makeup brands including Butter London, Dolce & Gabbana and Tom Ford. Everyone’s invited.
When the weather in Calgary turns to snow, like it has here for the last ridiculous three days, do your thoughts turn to interior design? If you’re anything like me, they probably just turn to interior calorie intake. But now you can combine both desires, in one decadent giveaway bundle.The Calgary Home+Design Show is next week, September 18 – 21, 2014. To whet your whistle, the good folks at the show are combining forces with Blue Besos to give away a fabulous bundle featuring goodies like spice tins and cooking classes from Ruby’s Kitchen, IKEA gift cards, mini chalk paint cans from Interiors to Inspire and tickets to the show and more…… like these artisanal marshmallows from Fiasco Gelato. That’s artisanal marshmallows. Just making sure you’re paying attention.
Wanna win? Email me: tiffany [at] bluebesos [dot] com. Y’all know I’m writing it that way to deflect those dastardly spammers, right? Tell me your fave Blue Besos post. Whoever wins the race to the inbox wins the bundle!
It’s a cloudy day here in Calgary today, with thunderstorms looming. I’m worried that polo might be postponed this evening, but for the most part, it’s been an incredible summer, weather-wise and polo-wise. In fact, Calgary has a long history of amazing polo. I’m standing with a piece of it in this photo — my horse, Simon, has been playing in the area for decades. For those of you who missed it in this month’s edition of Calgary Polo Style, here’s my article on our local Sport of Kings:
Deep Roots in the Old West
Calgary polo had its beginnings as the sport of cowboys
Polo is known as the sport of kings, but in Calgary it would be more accurate to call it the sport of cattle ranchers. Long before organized rodeo blazed a trail through the Canadian West, polo was a cowboy sport.
Formed in 1890, the Calgary Polo Club is the arguably the oldest in North America with consecutive annual play. Thanks to Southern Alberta’s passion for horses, the club not only survived two world wars and the Great Depression, it flourished. Even though the local equestrian community kept the sport alive in typical low-key cowboy style, there have been plenty of bold-faced names along the way.
Alfred Ernest (A.E.) Cross, best known for being one of the “Big Four” cattlemen who founded the Calgary Stampede in 1912, was a polo lover first. He established the Calgary Polo Club in 1890, along with several friends from the exclusive Ranchmen’s Club. Although his A7 Ranche is said to be the oldest ranch in Canada still in the hands of its original owners, Montreal-born Cross was more than a cattleman. His professional pursuits included the brewing business, the film industry and politics.
Not to be outdone, Henry Bruen Alexander, the first president of the Calgary Polo Club, built some of downtown Calgary’s most impressive sandstone buildings. His real estate legacy includes the Alexander Block, which still stands on Stephen Avenue.
Calgary polo was also buoyed by many of the remittance men who came to Wild Rose Country to expand their fortunes. Originally from England, Colin Ross was one of those “drawn to the profit potential in western Canada’s burgeoning cattle kingdom,” according to the Historical Society of Alberta. After using family money to invest in property in the foothills, his obsession with polo led him to be known as a millionaire polo player. In 1907, the Los Angeles Times raved about his unbeaten Calgary team, which traveled across North America to meet rivals’ challenges.
All of these men most likely played at Owen’s Race Track, in today’s Elbow Park. It was rented by the Ranchmen’s Club for polo games and “manly sports,” duly noted in the Minutes of Ranchmen’s Club Committee in August, 1895. Also in the minutes, and true to polo-party form, gaining approval for a license to sell beer was a top priority. And despite the official written record, the manly sport of polo wasn’t limited to men. As early as the 1920s, a women’s team organized in both Kamloops and Calgary traveled to the first international women’s tournament in New York.
As the city of Calgary grew and developed, the Polo Club hopscotched through several pieces of real estate, including fields in Hillhurst and Chinook Park. In 1959, Jim Cross (son of A.E.) helped the club put down its final roots by providing land in Okotoks.
As the club settled into its new surroundings, the aggressive sport of polo continued to attract aggressive business leaders. Mr. Charles Hetherington, President and CEO of Panarctic Oils Ltd,received his USPA rating in Calgary in 1959, eventually serving as Canadian governor for the association. Playing into his 70s, his enthusiasm still infuses every game played at the Hetherington Field at Calgary Polo Club.
Meanwhile, history marched on — so much so that it alarmed Fred Mannix Sr., an avid player since 1957. Mannix commissioned author Tony Rees to write a book about the history of polo in Calgary. Interviews with “old-timers,” as Mannix fondly calls them, not only led to lost trophies, but a wealth of material that couldn’t be limited to Calgary. The book, now proudly displayed on many a coffee table, became a much larger project, ultimately titled Polo, The Galloping Game: An illustrated history of polo in the Canadian West.
Some of the players featured in Rees’s book are still on the field. With its 10-player dynasty, the Roenisch family is particularly noteworthy. Clinton “Kink” Roenisch started playing in 1933, at age 44, instilling a passion for the game throughout his clan, continuing to the fourth generation with Daniel, who plays as a 3-goal professional at the Calgary Polo Club today. Daniel benefits from double Southern Alberta polo DNA: not only was his dad, Rob, a 5-goal professional at his peak, his mother Julie was the top-rated female player in Canada with a two-goal handicap and the first woman ever to play in the U.S. Open. She also helped to bring serious women’s polo back to the club for the first time in half a century.
Besides ensuring past history was duly noted,Fred Mannix has helped power the future of Calgary polo, by passing his love of the sport to his sons, Fred Junior and Julian.
The brothers compete in the World Polo Tour with their team, Alegria. 22-year old Julian, rated four goals, wears Alegria’s maple-emblazoned team jersey for North American competitions, leading the team to victory in the US Open this spring.
Fred Junior takes over for matches played in the mecca of polo — Argentina. A rare combination of patron and pro, 29-year-old Fred is one of the world’s best players, rated six goals in North America and nine goals internationally. Perhaps, after making Team Canada when he was just sweet sixteen, the stage was set for this Calgarian to make history. In a sport that only a few hundred Canadians play, he’s the first in 76 years to compete for the coveted Argentine Triple Crown. He’s the second Canadian in 120 years to compete in the Argentine Open. This summer he’s back on home turf, training for the forty-goal polo waiting for him this fall in Argentina.
Besides the local ranchers, pros and CEOs, the Calgary Polo Club has had no shortage of visiting VIPs. Actors Tommy Lee Jones (Men In Black, The Fugitive) and William Devane (Knots Landing, 24) have played in club tournaments. Flames goalie Mike Vernon traded his hockey stick for a mallet a few times. Jetting in from England, Prince Charles took time out from Stampede to take in a match and the professional head of the British Army, Charles Guthrie, stick and balled at the club. Lady Patricia Mountbatten Brabourne has also been a recurring field-side fan.
As the historic Calgary Polo Club plays its 2014 summer season, those bold-faced names, along with all the unsung heroes of the sport and the club, continue to write and rewrite the story of polo in Calgary.
To read the full issue of Calgary Polo Style, look for it at the Glencoe Club, Ranchmen’s Club, Bankers Hall Club, Silver Springs Golf & Country Club, Eau Claire YMCA, Calgary Winter Club and Bearspaw Country Club.
Don’t be fooled by his “this town ain’t big enough for the both of us” look — Paul Hardy’s just getting his cowboy on. Which is only appropriate, since the internationally renowned fashion designer has partnered with Calgary Stampede to take souvenir shopping to a stylish new level.
The richest rodeo on earth initially asked him to design a private label, but Paul declined after realizing their store wasn’t quite up to his brand standards: “They don’t like me saying this, but they were catering to the carnies.”
Them fighting words only whet the whistle of Stampede execs, who then asked Paul if he’d like to be the creative director of all their product merchandise. Opting to become the Oprah of favorite western things, Paul agreed, and CS Mercantile was born.Under Paul’s direction, overt Calgary Stampede branding has been dialed down. Instead, he opted for a subconscious association with Stampede colors of red, white and black, traveling the globe to find exclusive items he felt reflected Calgary culture– ie, ones that can exist outside the ten days of Stampede, like this gorgeous, subtle wolf scarf. (Shopping hint: they’re rolled up in that basket to the left).Paul believes Stampede style is more urban western lifestyle than costume, hence the home decor items. “Everyone in town has a small section of their closet that is western apparel for ten days,” he says. “But as Calgary evolves, becoming a global center of finance, we’ve become a lot more cosmopolitan and a lot more diverse in our culture. People are starting to interpret Western in their own way.”You can still find souvenir T-shirts, but they’re interspersed with paintings by Calgary artist Jane McCloy, inspired by the historic photography of Edward S. Curtis. Coincidentally, in his mission of curation, Paul sourced other products inspired by Edward Curtis’ photos, including Pendleton blankets, coffee table books and a belt buckle.Even though the buckles aren’t officially Paul Hardy designs, his collaboration has influenced almost every aspect of the CS Mercantile collection, from graphics design, to packaging, to piping on shirts.Paul’s fave belt buckle. Mine too!Besides the high-end fashion items, there’s a whole bunch of novelty going on, with prices on rubber duckies and tattoos that dip below ten bucks.Meanwhile, if you have a few more doubloons in your saddlebag, Paul has some of his own jewelry for sale, at a lower price point than usual.You can find CS Mercantile at the Grandstand until July 13th, with the online store continuing in virtual foreverness. Will we be seeing a future Paul Hardy-curated trading post off Stampede grounds, in the wild west of Calgary retail? Paul hints that there’s a possibility he may soon have another place to hang his hat.
Captain Kirk, Denny Crane, Bill — whatever you call him, the 2014 Stampede Parade Marshal has arrived in Calgary. Note those suspenders he’s wearing, because they’re a style statement.Facing the media today before he faces the throngs along the parade route tomorrow, William Shatner took all questions. Including my urgent fashion query.
ME: ”What will you be wearing tomorrow?”
This isn’t William Shatner’s first rodeo. He’s won a few buckles in his day, breeds horses and has ridden just about every style imaginable. Of course, I had to ask him if he ever played polo. Nope. “I like my knees,” he says, telling me he has a few friends who have taken a beating playing the sport. But he’s ridden polo ponies. “They’re indefatigable. They never stop. They just keep going.” My horse Simon says Bill is right.Bill charmed us all. Even us hardened media types. See you at the parade!