On a freezing cold evening last Thursday in Calgary, where we’ve been subject to an unusually lengthy slog of sub-zero temperatures sans chinooks, the Christine Klassen Gallery celebrated its new location on 50th Avenue SE, just east of Macleod Trail. No one seemed to mind that the gallery has moved from its downtown design district location. The free parking is a siren song. Nor was the lack of coat-check an issue. It was too cold inside to take them off anyhow. But the generously stocked bar kept us all warm enough to relegate our mittens to our pockets.The opening coincided with EXPOSURE 2014. The photography festival celebrates its first 10 years with Decade, an exhibition of photography curated by Vincent Varga. Decade is a showcase of mostly new works from a cross-section of accomplished photographers who have already been involved with Exposure.Keeping the focus on the important stuff here, the ART, I’d like to say that I’m not smiling because of the wine. Nor is it because I’m having a particularly good hair day (a rare occurrence). It’s actually because I found a photo that summed up my previous weekend.This 1955 photo by Fred Herzog encapsulates my carnivorous stay in Banff, where I binged on bison, elk and wild boar pate. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Meatateria is there anymore. Or it would have been high-priority on the itinerary.I loved this striking photo with Edvard Munch-ish clouds roiling above the Rockies.A bold use of blank space in Danny Singer’s photo, Bassano Summer Sky, gave it a painting-like appearance.The bonus of being at the Christine Klassen Gallery was being able to see her other exhibitions, like this photo by Colin Smith, who integrates trippy reflections into his prints. Meanwhile, Exposure continues for the rest of the month, in galleries in Banff, Canmore and Calgary.
‘Twas the night to begin Christmas shopping, and all through CORE mall,
Many creatures were stirring: hundreds of deal-seekers, big and small.
First a performance by the Calgary Philharmonic and Choir,
Underneath a tree with soon-to-be lit star on tallest spire.
Host Dan Levy, formerly of MTV’s the After Show,
Braved the red carpet, which being inside, had no snow.
Jann Arden played to a massive crowd,
In the name of 5 charities, everyone got loud.
Western riding and jumping may be fun, but how about polo?
Stopped by Holt Renfrew to check out some of their autumnal offerings in the middle of Calgary’s heat wave. Holts was happy to provide H2O so we didn’t dehydrate, but there was no stopping what came down the pink runway: tidings of winter, just around the corner.
Looks like those shiny skinny black leggings American Apparel made popular a few seasons back are still chugging along. Revved up with motorcycle deets and upscaled to pleather and other thicker materials for fall, we’ll be able to pair them with the oversized tops that will best hide our fall love handles. You can’t stop them — it’s a daylight savings thing. You can only work with them. I’m not a fan of this Theory jacket’s 80s sillouehette… but I might be in a month or so.
Pretty In Punk was one of Lisa Tant’s themes for the show. On a spectrum from Sid Vicious to Punky Brewster, I’d say this is somewhere in a safe middle ground for the department store consumer. The studs on this Alice and Olivia leather jacket are riding the motorcycle theme. More daring, the McQ pink plaid leggings. I have one word: yes.
Fur! Don’t know if any of the sleeveless-dress-wearing audience members are ready for it yet, but I’m pleased to see that all my hats will still be in fashion. I’d like to keep them in storage until November. But here in the big YYC, that may be too much to ask. Marni fur-trimmed coat.This little cropped coat with thick knit sleeves (Holt Renfrew Fur Salon) is more palatable for forthcoming fall foliage. Meanwhile, if you have legs laroux leftover from summer fun, flaunt ‘em. Glad to see we’ll be able to get our money’s worth out of last season’s OTKs. Boots shown here are Miu Miu. As for short shorts and skirts, I might have a closet full of them, but am always glad for an excuse to stockpile some more.
Think you have to go to South Beach to enjoy a poolside mojito with piped-in DJ sounds of summer? Don’t book that flight to Miami just yet. Here in Calgary, Hotel Arts is the destination for bikini-clad bevvie-sipping hotties looking to cool off.Now that most post-flood cleanup scenes like this are in the past and the crowds from Stampede have corralled elsewhere…… the pool at Hotel Arts is one of the verrry attractive reasons to party in Calgary. One of the first boutique hotels to hit Cowtown, it did an Ace Hotel-worthy conversion of the Holiday Inn in 2005. Look beyond the exposed skin and you’ll notice a camera crew shooting video and still shots.It’s part an Tourism Calgary campaign currently running nationwide: We’re Open! The subtext being that the water is in the pool, not on the streets anymore. Welcome tourists! Of course Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is the star of the campaign. This photo, taken by Chris Bolin (who was enjoying the sunshine after covering the floods for the Globe and Mail) was snapped right after I interviewed the mayor on the hottest, sweatiest day of the year so far… 37 degrees Celsius. Watch the finished video here. Meanwhile, as the sun bakes into our backs, I feel like I can speak for the both of us here: we’d rather be in the pool with the We’re Open guy.
The festivities associated with the world’s largest rodeo aren’t limited to the Stampede grounds. Everywhere you turn in Calgary, someone’s throwing a party. And chances are it will be in a parking lot.Throw down a hay bale and some cowboy tchotchkes and you’re ready for a roundup.The Calgary Home + Design Show isn’t until September 19th, but that’s no reason not to have a Stampede party. The way Show Manager Jill Kivett and Amanda Haines of Reformation PR rock their daisy dukes and boots, it makes you think this is not their first rodeo.Before Stampede I had lofty plans of wearing a different cowboy hat for every blog post, but as the days on the dusty road start to blur together, I’m leaning on the ol’ wild rose lid a lot. At this point, I’m more concerned with pacing myself. Early in the day, with those cowprint balloons above my head, I’m exuding a respectable healthiness. Kinda like that yogurt commercial.The smartest strategy to maintain a semblance of sobriety is to eat a big meal. With Gaucho Brazillian BBQ providing the best grub of the week, it wasn’t hard to do.It’s hard to leave when the western wear is this good, but another parking lot was calling my name. My Stampede name. Which I haven’t thought of yet, but I’m sure I’ll come up with a great one next week, once the chucks champs have packed up their wagons. Ran into this purple pardner on the way to Jim Pattison’s party. A brief bicep battle was the only appropriate reaction.Inside, more cowboy accoutrements than I could sling a gun at. Stampede is kind of like Halloween, except everyone is wearing the same costume. Except for that dude in the red plaid shirt who photobombed with aplomb.This cowgirl kindly allowed me to take a picture of her booty.And, in the Wearing a Ten Gallon Hat Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Play Bagpipes category, Calgary’s finest showed up for a little pipe and drums. Highland dancing officers proved there’s more ways to bust a move than the two-step.Bye bye, Amber Big Plume, from Tsuu T’ina Nation, the 2013 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess. Gotta git to the next!This sake glass is where it started to get sloppy. Maybe it was because I took a break from the parking lots to get some sushi at Zen8. But more likely it was because the sushi corralled me toward the VIP suites at the biggest parking lot party of them all. Giddyup!Happy Stampede indeed. During this marathon 10-day event that turns all Calgarians into cattle drivers, rodeo champions or barrel-racing princesses, all chutes seem to lead to the Cowboys Tent. Which led me to Outrider Steve Sirianni, who, being from Vegas, moonlights as Executive Director of Slots at the Monte Carlo Casino. I’m feeling lucky!
Time flies when you’re evacuated! The Calgary Stampede is well underway, in keeping with their “Come Hell or High Water” pledge, and continues til Sunday. It had to happen. It’s like the New Orleans Saints winning the Superbowl after Katrina, although the timing was on hyper fast forward. Even though some of us in the dark, damp and powerless neighborhoods may be wondering if city inspectors have forsaken us for deep-fried butter on the midway, all we can do is trade our rubber boots for cowboy boots — mud be damned!Stampede starts with a good set of boots. Hopefully this cowgirl got back to the farm before the downpour that set off more flash floods. It’s been a rainy start to the rowdy roundup.Okay, okay, I’ll lighten up. Just because bartenders like this make it easy. The pose was his idea, btw. Meanwhile, can you spot the two clues that this photo was taken in Canada? Hint: look at the money, honey. And the sign for bladder relief.The famed Cowboys Tent, on the edge of the Stampede Grounds, was a veritable style corral.Check out the cowgirl cannister clutch.The devil is in the details. Or at Stampede, is it the corporate presence? Because this buckaroo didn’t win his buckle at the rodeo.Bumped into Conservative Cowboy Lindsay Blackett, who has made the leap from culture to construction. Somewhere along the way he must have stopped at a politically correct dude ranch. I predict a public service comeback.Then the music got louder and leather-encased toes started tapping.Tulle and tall boots are a license to twirl.Ten gallon hats as far as the eye could see. Totally depending on how far your eyes could focus.Boot scootin’ through crushed Corona cans.It’s official. It’s a party! Lace shirt, Guess. Little black dress, Bebe. Belt, strategic cowboy-meets-Indian combo. Happy Stampede!
If you live in Canada, there’s no way you can’t know this, but for everyone else who might not have heard: the City of Calgary is currently fighting not become the next Atlantis. Like thousands of others who were evacuated last Thursday due to massive, unprecedented flooding, I’m just now braving the devastation to see how the homestead is doing. So blog posts will be sporadic for a while. In the meantime, mud-covered and sludge-spattered, the people of Calgary have more going on than a Jackson Pollock painting. It is the style of the brave, the hard-working and the ever-positive. And rubber boots are the must-have footwear fashion of the moment.
London called, but I blew it off, and instead hit the road for exotic Edmonton. I had a call-back for an audition for Cut Bank, a feature film starring John Malkovich, Billy Bob Thornton, Liam Hemsworth and Teresa Palmer. Shooting will take place in various locations around Edmonton, with the town of Innisfree, about 140 km east, acting as Cut Bank, Montana.
I was asked to try out for the role of ultra-smiley Chandra Blueford, the pretty local news reporter. The character is described as small town glamorous, ie, the girl who will always be overlooked for primetime news. I had already been through casting director Rhonda Fisekci’s rigorous first round, so when she asked me back a second time, I decided it was worth the drive to YEG. Actors in Hollywood might have to deal with LA traffic, but could they handle three hours fighting semis on the Deerfoot?
The audition was fun — I actually remembered my lines and didn’t have a meltdown in front of director Matt Shakman, who was super nice, btw. I wore my pink pantsuit to channel the crazed Nicole Kidman character from To Die For, but apparently I didn’t nail the small town glamor they were going for. It was down to two people for the role and I didn’t get it.
However, all was not lost, because, just north of the downtown core, I discovered the perfect accompaniment to my peg leg:Since Buckingham Palace is a long puddle jump away, this guy stands guard at a self-storage facility just north of Edmonton’s downtown core. He doesn’t say much, but don’t get him fired up. Because he has a rather large…… firearm! Sleeveless shirt, Armani Exchange. Jeans, Converse One Star “The Motocross.” Flip flop, BCBG. Key pendant, Tiffany & Co. Take a last look at the Aircast on the other foot, because soon I will be saying Adios.
Meanwhile, Cut Bank begins filming in Edmonton today! YEG paparazzi, start your engines and start clicking. I expect to see all kinds of photos of John and Billy Bob surface online as they live la vida loca in the Gateway to the North.
Gettin’ my hair did for a photo shoot today. Two hairdressers make for faster flat-ironing when the photographer needs his model ASAP.Actually, there were three photographers today — part of three full-on photo teams, complete with art directors and assistants, for simultaneous shooting throughout the building. Hero Images is a stock photography company based in Calgary. They’ve only been in business for a year or so, but they’re busy. They do up to five shoots a month, which just goes to show the growing appetite for royalty-free images. If a business only needs a generic look for their advertising, it’s easier and cheaper to buy images this way instead of setting up their own photo shoot. Normally I wouldn’t do stock photography, but Hero assured me they would not be selling my image to escort sites needing a photo of a woman in high-collared business attire. But you can never predict exactly where your face will end up. The last time I did stock, my mug ended up on an ad promoting a herbal remedy for hot flashes. But with everything my visage has been through in the last couple of months, I was excited to land a modeling gig — especially since Calgary is not the world’s top fashion capital. The photographers today might have been thinking about the additional photoshop challenge due to the scar on my nose, but not a single person asked me about it. Which I really appreciated! Looks like they were going for Business Traveler In Airport Lounge here.The location for the shoot was the super-cool gold LEED certified City of Calgary Water Centre. (Ahem… I’d like you to appreciate that I busted out of my personal American spelling zone to spell Center the Canadian way back there, in the name of journalistic accuracy… since I am a Serious Fashion Blogger). Besides reducing electricity usage for lighting, all those windows conjure up a corporate IBM headquarters/Microsoft campus aesthetic.
It will be three to four months before the images will be finished and ready to sell. In the meantime… photo bomb!
If you love a pair of shoes so much you buy a pair of colors, who says you can’t wear both at once? Not Sing Tao journalist Phoebe Cheng (aka Miss Match), who picked up both sets of heels in Hong Kong. Much more subtle than my constant Aircast clash, while adding oomph to the Oval Room at the Fairmont Palliser.