Claire Doty’s Soaring Style

Claire Doty can make a safety helmet look good.Claire DotyThe 17 year old Grand Prix rider is the youngest in the top level class at the Royal West, the elite international equestrian event on right now in the heart of Calgary.Claire Doty Royal WestEven though the California to Alberta transplant is dressed in classic show jumping style, with the required white breeches for competition, black is her go-to for a party or night out on the town. As much on-the-towning that this Federation Equestre Internationale rider can do at age 17.Claire Doty Royal WestBefore she walks the course, Claire tells me she’s not anti-ponytail for casual days, even though she’s around horses all the time. “I’m in Grade 12,” says Claire. “I wear ponytails a lot!”Claire Doty practice ring Royal WestClaire Doty practice ring Royal WestClaire Doty practice ring Royal West“I get nervous, but I don’t get scared,” says Claire. The height of these jumps seems totally crazy to me, but Claire has no problemo cruising Cordonos over a mere 1.45 in the practice ring. Especially since she’s maxed out at 1.7 meters. Claire Doty, Mister LoyalBut then it got real. Waiting to enter the official ring at the Agrium Western Event Centre, Cordonos becomes antsy. It couldn’t have been because of Mister Loyal, up on the balcony in the pink coat. The renowned ringmaster may dress wild, but his vibe wouldn’t upset anyone, whether they have two or four legs.Claire Doty at Royal WestClaire Doty at Royal WestOn this night, the first Saturday evening at the Royal West, the rails kept clattering down under Claire and Cordonos. But look at that form! I wish I could stay so upright on Simon during challenging moments.

Claire will have more chances to win this week. The first-ever Royal West continues through November 1st at the Stampede Grounds in downtown Calgary.Blue Besos

Royal West’s Derby Gala

I found out where the formal wear is hiding at the inaugural Royal West.Derby Gala posterAt the off-site events! Like this weekend’s gala charity fundraiser at the new Chicago Chophouse on Stephen Avenue. Arden Teasdale Derby GalaThe derby theme was the brainchild of Rocky Mountain Show Jumping’s business development manager Arden Teasdale, who set the tone for the dazzling dress requirement.Karen Linkletter, Nelson LeeSpectators were also encouraged. Equestrian coach Karen Linkletter’s hat was right on target, but Nelson Lee refrained, as did most men at the soiree. Good move, Nelson.Judy BucklandHowever, Judy Buckland bucked the small hat trend, wearing a topper so suave it should trend more than #pharrellshat.Tiffany BurnsThe Royal West’s charity of choice for 2014 is breast cancer. In of honor the pink ribbon, I wore pink leopard print.John Anderson Derby GalaThe jumpers arrive straight from the competition, still in their whites. John Anderson checks out the silent auction items in his exclusive Der Dau boots. Only two other riders wear them – Ian and Jonathon Millar – and they’re all on Team Canada. Dean and Alison MairDean and Alison Mair moved back to Calgary from London to enjoy events like this.Mister Loyal ringmasterThe party is officially a success when Pedro Cebulka, aka Mister Loyal, throws down on the Chophouse dance floor (if you need one, the restaurant will make one happen). The internationally renowned ringmaster is beloved for livening up the serious global equestrian circuit, in an ever-changing wardrobe of outlandish costumes. He’ll master the ring all week in Calgary, at the Royal West.

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Royal West Debuts in Calgary

John Anderson is smiling for a reason.John Anderson Royal WestWith the inaugural Royal West (on right now!) John has brought international show jumping back to the heart of Calgary — for the first time in 30 years. Held at the new Agrium Western Event Centre on the Stampede Grounds, the hat of choice for the next week will be black velvet, not white Stetson.

He didn’t create the new show without ruffling some royal feathers.

“The powers that be at the Royal Winter Fair were a bit miffed at me for doing this,” says John. “They thought I was copying them.” Not only does the Royal in Toronto have a rep for being one of the most important shows in the country, with its glamorous black tie events it’s also considered the start of the Canadian social season. “No one’s going to copy the Royal, they do a great job,” he continues. “We’re not a fair. We’re a horseshow. And an entertainment venue, if you will.”Erynn BallardAfter watching Olympian Jill Henselwood effortlessly clear a jump, Ontario rider Erynn Ballard says she’s not surprised the Royal has its hackles up. “You can’t replace the Royal in prestige and history. But I think the Royal West will give them a run for their money in what they’re offering in international competition, prize money and FEI ranking points.” She’s ridden in both. “But if they sat down for a moment and really thought about it, it should work for everybody. It will bring the country together.”Royal West 2014Similar to the divot stomp in polo, except without the divots and the stomping, VIP guests tour the ring before the big class. Unfazed, riders manage to duck around drinkers in order to count strides between jumps. Multi-tasking as both show president and competitor, John Anderson takes a minute to socialize. To encourage a broad-ranging audience, the Royal West is trying to get its glam on, although I saw more Stampede-chic than formal wear. In fact, except for the competitors, I didn’t see any formal wear, even though corporate sponsors are hosting parties in suites with cocktails, catering and flat screens. C’mon, Cowtown, let’s take it up a notch!RRC Black Magic aka FelixBackstage, the horses were ready to rumble. I was crushing on this cutie, RRC Black Magic, aka Felix. Don’t tell my horse Simon. Although I don’t know if he’s the jealous type.Candace Crosby, Vet ExtraordinaireThen, caught in the act! Who do I see with her official checklist? Simon’s vet, Candace Crosby. She was there to administer FEI drug testing and generally make sure the horses are ok. Don’t tell Simon about my little swoon over Black Magic. Although my crush receded when Black Magic refused a jump in the ring later. Btw, nice Royal West jacket, Candace!John Anderson Royal West 2014Back to the man who put this party together. Besides representing Canada at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, he also operates Rocky Mountain Show Jumping, an elite training and horse show facility. If anyone can create a new equestrian tradition in this country, I’d put my loonies on John Anderson…John Anderson Royal West 2014John Anderson Royal West 2014John Anderson Royal West 2014John Anderson Royal West 2014 … as he simultaneously pulls off a faultless run over 1.45 meter fences, along with his horse, Terrific.

Besides the big jumps for big money, there are also crowd pleasers, like pony equitation and Jack Russell races. How about some polo, John? You could have a good three-on-three demonstration game in this arena!

“In the coming years I’m going to do more entertainment things for the crowd,” says John, diplomatically non-committal. “Make it more exclusive. Bums in seats are ultimately going to make it successful.”

The Royal West continues at the Stampede Grounds through Saturday, November 1st. Next up — how the horsey set parties, and style files on the youngest competitor in the International Championship. Stay tuned for more Blue Besos coverage on Royal West!Blue Besos

Fearless Abstract at The Heather Co

IMG_1279Tucked away in Mount Royal, along the 14th Street SW corridor, you’ll find The Heather Company for design and decor. The boutique features hard-to-find bedding, drapery, cushions and fabric.Heather DraperOn this particular day, founder and creative director Heather Draper is too busy being hostess with the mostess to take time out for a posey pic. Keeping her clients’ flutes topped with champagne takes priority as she celebrates her latest creative collaboration.The Heather CompanyThe interior designer prides herself on keeping the catalog status quo out of her store. Now, to compliment her own bedding line, The Heather Company Collection, and a curated selection of furniture pieces, she’s found the perfect paintings:  abstract acrylics and mixed media on canvas, by a local artist.Samantha da SilvaGlamazon fashionista Samantha Da Silva is that local artist. Originally from Brazil, Samantha now calls Calgary home. Her fearless approach to fashion is a sartorial indication of the education she also provides, in a course called Fearless Abstract, which is not only a fabulous fit, but also the opportunity for a double entendre.Jewel Notes CalgaryThere’s original art in every nook and cranny of The Heather Company. I spotted these glass bowls by another Calgary artist, Michelle Atkinson. They’re part of her Jewel Notes glassware and sculptural pieces collection.Samantha da Silva paintingIn case you’re wondering, all the art at The Heather Company is available for purchase. Except for the painting that sold during the party!Blue Besos

Deadly Stylish

“What is going to be healthy and delicious, and also make me happy?”Adrian Todd ZunigaThe host of Literary Death Match is starving. Maybe not quite to death, but definitely in that just-got-off-a-plane and made-it-through-customs kind of way. Yet Adrian Todd Zuniga is not the type to order off a menu without some intense Q&A.

I get it. We’ve met at Joey’s Eau Claire, just around the corner from the Westin, the Wordfest hotel of choice, so I can do some grilling of my own. Once Adrian finishes his blackened basa, I want to know — what will he be wearing tonight as 4 authors face off onstage?Adrian Todd Zuniga Literary Death MatchA cornflower blue suit. Of course.

Literary Death Match is a traveling word circus. With Adrian as its ringmaster, no staid, snooze-inducing readings are allowed on his world stage. The show, which visits dozens of cities a year, is Def Poetry Jam meets American Idol (minus the meanness) meets Double Dare.

The Los Angeles-residing, Missouri-born author and screenwriter created LDM eight years ago. This is his second visit to Calgary. Being a man of style, he abhors being seen in the same outfit twice.

“I rotate through suits. It’s very important for me not to wear the same thing in the same city. It would be lame.”Adrian Todd Zuniga, Todd Babiak, LDM 2013Last year Adrian wore a red velvet smoking jacket, which bookended nicely with 2013 competitor Todd Babiak, no slouch in the wardrobe department himself. See my style feature on Todd here.

Besides making sure he didn’t lame out with a suit repeat, Adrian didn’t feel comfortable wearing a bow tie back-to-back with his last appearance in Calgary. Also important to note:  ”I don’t wear bow ties on dates. I think it’s too much of a statement. I think I’m a more subtle gentleman on that front. But I do wear suit jackets to pretty much everything.”Adrian Todd ZunigaEven while our interview cuts into his pre-show quiet time, he has the rumpled flair of someone out of a Robert Doisneau photograph.THE KISS by Robert Doisneau

Like “The Kiss” sans a girl to kiss. Which is confirmed when Adrian volunteers, apropos of nothing, “I haven’t kissed a girl in Calgary yet.” Later that night, onstage, he mentions he is single.Adrian Todd Zuniga Calgary Wordfest 2014The downside of his fashion daring can have drawbacks. Like when he told his friends his new suit  was the ultimate in Don Draper. They said, ‘You mean the Pete Campbell suit?’

Luckily, the Sterling Cooper doppelganger apparel on stage at the GRAND couldn’t derail the momentum of the 2014 Death Match. In fact, the cornflower shine only added to the intrigue of authors Michael Crummey, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Alison Pick and Matthew Thomas being rated on literary merit, performance and intangibles.

LDM is normally judged by a panel of three, but the only way to compensate for a last-minute cancellation by Mayor Nenshi was to bring in two backups. From left to right at the black table:  comedian Chris Gordon, author Carrie Shyder, Olympic hero Mark Tewksbury and author Johanna Skibsrud. I will totally name favorites:  even though Mark claimed he wasn’t a literature type, the author of three books was hilarious and enthusiastic. Ginger Jesus, aka Chris Gordon, was a close second, and as he made very clear, sponsored by Hudson’s Bay.

The evening ended in a race to ring the bell, to identify classics from one-star Amazon ratings. Lone stars, as Adrian aptly put it.

Adrian Todd Zuniga in Cowtown“I believe the way you dress is a compliment to the people you are with,” says Adrian. “So I’m sorry that I’m basically saying, go fuck yourself, by what I am wearing today.”

Don’t worry, Adrian, I’m not taking it personally. And thanks for this candid with the cows, by the way.

Kidding! Great to see you! Literary Death Match marches on to Austin, London and San Francisco next. I have no doubt Adrian’s closet can support the world tour.Blue Besos

Women in Clothes at Wordfest

Women in ClothesIn a wonky Wordfest mashup of fashion and literature, Calgary’s book festival (on right now!) held an event last night devoted expressly to an anti-fashion book on style:  Women in Clothes.Theatre Junction GRAND CalgaryHeld at Theatre Junction GRAND, festival-goers got to experience one of the coolest venues in the city. Built in 1912, the Grand Theatre was a glorious space for live performance. Gradually, though, it sank into disrepair. In 2004, its existence as an indoor golf driving range embodied the depths of its despair. To top it off, developers were about to turn it into a parkade. That’s “parking garage” for my American friends.Theatre Junction GRAND CalgaryLuckily a few forward-thinking citizens stepped in to save the heritage building. Some of the old despair is woven into the uber-gorgeous design of the current re-vamp. The box office attendant told me countless people have asked her when the ceiling will be repaired. Sigh.WORKSHOP Kitchen+Culture Calgary RestaurantThe space is also home to WORKSHOP Kitchen+Culture. Opened just last month for lunch and dinner, it’s named for the original theatre company at the Grand.Wordfest clothing swapBut I totally, completely digress. Upstairs, the audience was getting warmed up for the Women in Clothes event with a clothing swap, which reminded me of my old YEG days, when my friends would take turns hosting closet-cleaning giveaways. Items not snapped up by the girls were donated to a worthy cause. Same principal here, but perhaps less wine. In a Wordfest-y twist, the swappers were encouraged to pin a note to the clothes they were trading, explaining the specialness of the items.Women In Clothes Wordfest Paul HardyOn to the main event, inside the Flanagan Theatre: a reading of some of the stories edited by Sheila Heti and Leanne Shapton (Heidi Julavits was unable to attend). The book is based on a survey of women’s emotional connection to what they wear. The stories have a depth that takes us way beyond the glossy pages of fashion mags. In one, we heard from a mother who wears her mom coat, a puffy black-grey or grey-black number. While it has the bonus of bounteous pockets that can carry goldfish, sippy cups and other items needed for her kids, she yearns for a wardrobe that is exclusively Comme Des Garcons and causes constant confusion. In another, we heard from a garment worker who will never wear the intricate and expensive bras she sews. Hilarious and poignant.

The reading was followed by a sit-down with surprise special guest: internationally-renowned-yet-Calgary-residing fashion designer Paul Hardy. He recently upped the style situation at Calgary Stampede, check out my one-on-one with him this summer.Women In Clothes WordfestThe resulting conversation, moderated by Shelley Youngblut, was philosophical and funny at the same time. But I couldn’t keep my eyes off the swap leftovers Paul had brought up on stage with him. Those green pants looked like they would be a perfect fit.derek beaulieu Calgary Poet LaureateI was distracted by the man sitting beside me — one of the few in attendance. It was Calgary’s Poet Laureate, derek beaulieu. FYI that’s not a typo, he prefers the e. e. cummings mode of moniker. The second only poet laureate for Cowtown, he’s already started his two year term with a digital bang, bringing poetry into the everyday on Pattison billboards around the city. He’ll be hosting Wordfest’s Poetry Cabaret this Friday.Wordfest Clothing Swap Women In ClotheseThe evening wrapped up with author autographs, while the final unswapped items remained onstage. I swooped in and got lucky.

Wordfest continues in Calgary and Banff October 19. Maybe I’ll see you at Literary Death Match tomorrow night!Blue Besos

Fave Fall Lipstick

Confident by Estee Lauder If lipstick grew on trees, I’d want a deep berry foliage flourish of Confident, one of Estee Lauder’s new limited edition Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipsticks. It will be lacquering my lips this weekend as I negotiate multiple turkeys. It’s Canadian Thanksgiving!Dangerous Lipstick by Estee LauderJust when I was thinking the crotch of my new Schubert Chokecherry was a dangerous place to position an open lipstick, my go-to neutral for every day hit the dirt. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Estee has named this rich brown with hints of mulberry Dangerous. However, no danger of this happening in your purse with the magnetic lid. Let your lipstick do the dirty work for you at family gatherings. Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Girls Give Back

To commemorate its newly-minted relationship with Canada, Nordstrom goes commando. A Commando-brand crystal thong, that is.Nordstrom Chinook Centre LingerieOk, you have my attention. What’s going on, Nordstrom? Turns out they’re giving the girls a great fit in the name of supporting breast cancer. Certified fitters are available for appointments all day October 3 and 4, with two bucks from every bra bought going to Rethink Breast Cancer. Nordstrom and participating brands (including Betsey Johnson, Spanx and Hanky Panky) will pony up $5,000 minimum. Like a little music with your lingerie? The DJ starts spinning tomorrow night at 5:00.

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Nordstrom YYC Opening Gala

Nordstrom YYCNordstrom 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.Nordstrom YYC OpeningInside, 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.Nordstrom Family in CalgaryUpstairs, 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 CalgaryJim 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.Mayor Naheed Nenshi at NordstromYou 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.Nordstrom YYC OpeningOutside the VIP room, liberally-poured Rose enhanced the shopping experience.Casey WagarCasey Wagar, lover of all things fancy, was loving his Chardonnay.Nordstrom YYC OpeningPhoto ops were everywhere, including with the 30 live mannequins on display throughout the store.Fraser Abbott, Hotel ArtsFraser Abbott was on hand to quality-check the delicious edibles provided by Hotel Arts’ Chef Duncan Ly.Cynthia Moore and Jay SkellyBumped 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.Nordstrom YYC OpeningNo 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.Nordstrom YYC Opening GalaMore 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.Sean Jones Nordstrom YYC OpeningTucked in between the escalators and the shoes, Toronto-based recording artist Sean Jones sang to throngs of adoring women…Sean Jones Nordstrom YYC Opening… 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.Nordstrom YYC OpeningThis 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.

Meanwhile, let’s gloat a little, Calgary. Ottawa and Vancouver are next in line for Nordstrom Canada, but they’ll have to wait til next year. Welcome to town, Nordstrom!Blue Besos

Upcoming Women of Influence Event

Now that our rude winter awakening is over with in Calgary, fall is in the air. It’s time to network. How else are we going to show off our outfits inspired by Vogue’s massive September bible?Lori Bacon

Lori Bacon’s outfit may be water-resistant. After all, she is the president and owner of Swimco, a Canadian retail success story based on a bathing suit narrative. She’ll be at the Westin next week to help entrepreneurs build brand legacy and growth strategy. I’ll be there, so expect Blue Besos to go from niche to mainstream in, oh, the next few weeks, after listening to the wisdom of Lori’s 30+ years of entrepreneurial experience.Women of InfluenceIn addition to listening to Lori’s presentation, plan to participate in a mysterious-but-intriguing-sounding “Connecting Activity,” enjoy some Q&A action and a glass of wine, all in a tight two hours! The event is September 24. Get your tickets here. I hear they’re selling out fast.

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About Tiffany

About Tiffany

I'm a model, journalist, short-time polo player and long-time fashion addict...

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