Taking the neighborhood between Le Chateau and RW&Co up a notch, WEEKEND Max Mara opened its doors this morning at Chinook Centre —just in time for the weekend.Vancouver has three of ‘em, but this is the first WEEKEND Max Mara in Calgary. Invited guests were treated to an informal fashion show to get a grip on the brand’s style MO.Bright colors and florals borrowed from the 80’s are cycling into resurgence.The black and white stripe story is back, just like it is every spring. But Max Mara, which makes its own fabrics and runs its own factories, gives it a high-end twist. In business journalism I believe they call that an industry vertical. But we don’t need to worry our pretty little heads about that…… especially when the stripes are horizontal.Catherine Guadagnuolo, founder of the Vestis Fashion Group which licensed the store in Western Canada, shows off a cashmere wrap coat. Coats are the core of the Max Mara brand and have been worn by multiple princesses, both real and of the tabloid variety. However, Kate Windsor and Kim Kardashian weren’t in attendance today.She also assured me that the parkas and scarves on display weren’t shipped in especially for Calgary’s psycho summer weather. Those stylish Italians just wear scarves all year long.No unique design details for Cowtown in the 1660 square foot space. In the interest of brand cohesiveness, all decor was brought in from Italy. Presumably, so were these super cool mannequins. This is only our first taste of Max Mara. Their luxury store is slated to open at Chinook in November of next year. Welcome to Calgary!
Spring has finally sprung in Calgary. With the green shoots and fresh new leaves comes another new restaurant, with a green Italian mascot parked faithfully outside.Green is the theme on the inside as well, as far as the server’s hip baseball tees go. They’re a casual contrast to the stylish, airy decor of the shoebox-shaped room with a deluge of daylight. Bocce has managed to create a comfortable vibe inside the newly constructed building on the corner of Fourth Street and 22nd Avenue SW. The Tiffany blue accent wall (which I love, of course) reminds me of a similar wall at Black Pig Bistro. Which is a good thing. Calgary could never have enough Tiffany blue. However, the horde of hungry food bloggers was focused on a tastier topic: the food. With three restaurants within 3 blocks of each other, Dominic Caracciolo is the Don of Fourth Street. The man behind Mercato takes his Italian food verrrry seriously. After trying several Bocce pastas (the one with the mushrooms was my favorite) and some amazing calamari, I appreciate his fierce foodiness, even if it means he’s so intent on delivering a meal he can’t meander for a brief photo op. His determination has created a delectable situation — I even heard one food blogger say she thinks the pizza here is better than Double Zero. Uh oh — them’s fighting words! Still, don’t go typecasting Dom as all Italian, all the time. The third restaurant in his Mission triple savory slam is Wurst — a German beer hall.If the permit gods are with them, Bocce will open to the public next week, with their delivery service up and running (or maybe driving in that green Fiat) by the end of June.
Every year in mid-March, the Rodeo Drive of the desert, El Paseo, holds a week-long salute to spring fashion. Haute fashion thrives in the heat of the Coachella Valley. But this being the greater Palm Springs area, which has always had a flair for entertainment, there’s more than couture going on under the big white tent. Don’t let the ladies with the white hair fool you.Palm Springs knows how to party! Which Dr. Deb Windham, wearing white, specializes in. The physician and artist is a renowned Coachella Valley personality.So is Karen Barone, half of the husband-and-wife artist duo Karen and Tony. The super cool horse sculpture behind her is one of their creations.As someone who spends a lot of time agonizing over my as-yet unpublished novel, I particularly liked that books were also part of the party. Fabulous Books, with its homage to Tinseltown allure, is a wonderful shop on the main drag in Palm Springs. After everyone got their cocktail on, it was time for the catwalk. The runway was rocking all week, but the Saks Fifth Avenue show, featuring top designers from McCartney to McQueen, is one of the highlights. Below are pics of some of my fave outfits for both women and men.I had one of the best seats in the house, right at the end of the runway.… with a pack of paparazzi behind me. Forgive the blurry action shot.Then it was on to the after-party at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert. There’s so much art in the desert, the museum needs an outpost just 12 miles away.Don’t tell the impeccably decked-out Francesco Santoro that I’ve been wearing the same outfit all week. The Beverly Hills handbag designer specializes in exotic skins like crocodile, ostrich and python. I tried to keep my threadbare Gucci out of sight.This party even gave a culture-boost to a break for the loo. I took the long way to the restroom so I could check out Red Sweater. Victor Rodriguez uses acrylic on canvas to show his daughter looking at a photo of Christy Turlington.Woman: can you believe how real she looks? Man: [wisely not saying anything].Joan by John Deandrea is beautiful and spooky at the same time.Ain’t no party like an El Paseo Fashion Week party! See you next year!
Bridgeland’s latest addition to the foodie world of Calgary is still papered up against prying eyes.But last night, if you were on the list, you were invited to a sneak peek at Black Pig Bistro, before the media launch next week and before the public opening. It felt very VIP, but it was actually more grassroots — and savvy marketing strategy. The soft launch was for local social media supporters.And who doesn’t support free food and wine?Circulating chef and co-owner Alison Bieber offered chicken liver pate in appetizer form, which will be served as a smear on the antipasti dish when the restaurant opens. I’m anti-smear, but pro-pate. Delicious.Love the random Tiffany blue wall in the middle of the subtle brown and white decor. Or Blue Besos blue. Take your pick!The other two-thirds of the co-owner triumverate, Denise and Larry Scammell. Larry tells me black pig is the tastiest of all pork.After all those conservative photos, I finally found the restaurant’s namesake, willing to ham it up for the camera. Black Pig Bistro opens to the public next Wednesday.
Hold the anchovies? Who says that? Not Double Zero.
The popular Stephens Avenue pizza joint created a new white anchovy crostini concoction to celebrate the opening of their brand spanking swanking new location, in the north end of Chinook Centre.Executive Chef Robert Jewell, slinging the pie in the sky here, sings the siren song of the white swimmers. “You don’t have to bring the sexy to anchovy, to me they’ve always been sexy. It’s one of my favorite things to snack on. We’re trying to open customers up to it.” He says they’re more subtle than sardines. If that doesn’t get you you, maybe the super-luxe price tag will: $45/kilo. Prepared the Double Zero way, the little fishies pair nicely with Prosecco.But let’s get to the real reason we’re here: the pizza. Plagiarizing directly from the 00 website, “Double Zero is named after the finest grade of flour on the planet.” Since I know flowers better than flours, I’ll just take them on their word.Wondering why this dude with the beard is lurking everywhere? He’s all over 00. The tables, the walls, even the advertising. We’ll get to that in a minute. In the meantime, check out the ‘za. Super affordable and super good……once it’s served it doesn’t stay on the plate for long. The one with the bacon was my personal fave.The media party was wisely contained to the downstairs bar/bistro area, but upstairs the restaurant was rocking! Even though it has only been open since Monday.Packed with beautiful people, can Double Zero sustain the Opening Week clientele standards once mall rats get wise to their fresh new dining option conveniently located right next door to Tori Burch? Although Chinook shoppers are pretty cute.Back downstairs I thought I’d tracked down The Dude. Not Jeff Lebowski, but the bearded bro in all the promo. Turns out it was a different beard, belonging to a different dude: Jon Molyneux of the uber-tasty Concorde Group. But he revealed the wine list cover model is Peter Feenstra of Tank Design, a Friend Of The Restaurant, like everyone featured in the arresting black and white wall murals. Feenstra also designed all the furniture in the restaurant.Thanks for the party, Double Zero! Not only did I learn beards are optional here, it turns out that 2 x 00 = feel good, taste good math.
With an icy nod to a species of the verge of extinction (Bus and Stan Fuller’s former decor mascot) Earl’s Tin Palace re-opened last night in Calgary, with an invitation-only VIP bash. With our weather right now, that sculpture should be good for weeks.
Normally I wouldn’t get overly excited about an Earls opening. The casual food and dining chain opens another restaurant every few months these days, both in Canada and the US. With their reliable, reasonably priced food and tasteful ambience (now that the parrots have flown the coop) it’s always a safe bet. But this particular Earls has a special place in my heart, because it’s in the heart of Mission, one of my favorite areas of Calgary.This is what Earls looked like after the June 2013 flood hit Fourth Street.This is the same corner (24th Ave and 4th St SW) from Fifth Street. I couldn’t get any closer because it was under several feet of water. Summer was ruined for the vibrant neighborhood. As work dragged on through the winter, I can’t tell you how many times people said to me, “Let’s meet at Earls Tin Palace.” But we couldn’t. It was still rebuilding after the flood.So last night, it was wonderful to walk in side and see this. A standing room only crowd having a fantastic time, while admiring the updates. The tired rows of Bombay Sapphire bottles above the bar are gone. Subtle bricks and wood accented by industrial style lighting give the room a fresh take.Calgary’s finest partiers included a Mongolian horseman, aka Jason Gogo.An army of Earls Girls kept up with the crowd hungry for sushi and sliders from their favorite haunt, now a Kitchen + Bar.The Earls re-opening ended up being a celebration of the big picture: Mission, back on its feet. Calgary, taking care of its own during the flood. My dear friend Cynthia Moore rocking blue leopard print after almost losing her life to flesh-eating disease one year ago this week. And me, with my nose intact after cancer surgery one year ago this month. Not to mention a few drinks in honor of the Best New Blog honor. Glad to see you back, Earls Tin Palace!
Hey everyone! Look at Blue Besos — it’s on the list of nominees for Best New Blog on the Canadian Blog Awards website.
Now here’s where I start to beg.
Please, please, please take a second to vote. It only takes a second because they don’t have any pesky requests for your personal email, etc. All you have to do is click the link above, scroll down to the Best New Blog section, click the circle beside Blue Besos (hopefully!) and click the VOTE button. The best part? You can do it from anywhere in the world!
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.
With wind chill making it feel like -30, it was a cccold red carpet last night. Nevertheless, it was braved by hundreds of hatless fashion fans…… who crowded inside Belgo Brasserie, where their efforts paid off: everyone’s hair was fabulous. It was all in the name of the second annual Schmancy Style, which supports the Glenbow Museum. The crowd parted for the main event when the first model strutted like Moses through the Red Sea. Below are some of my favorite looks, all available at Holt Renfrew.
The crush of cameras at the end of the runway was as feverish as a New York fashion show. Except the dude kneeling in front of us who kept getting up to give his knees a break, blocking our shots. That would result in bloodshed at NYC’s Fashion Week. But we kept it injury-free in YYC.The finale flaunted fur, which we Calgarians will probably need to keep wearing until June.Silent auction featured many stylish items, including this Jekyll & Hyde Harness by FarLee Mowat.Stylish people included three quarters of the Vinegar Designs Lab. Vincent, where are you? The Schmanciest Man of the Evening Award goes to Jason Gogo, who executed a high kick during our photo op. Now that’s Schmancy Style!