Simon and Gabby had a busy day of polo planned on Saturday, but they were happy to take a few moments to help spread the word about a Toronto-based initiative making the world a better place — through fashion.The Fabric of Humanity offers ethical employment for those in the apparel industry, from as far away as Columbia and Mongolia. And gives us a chance to wear our hearts on our tee.Fresh off a Kickstart fundraising success, in which 82 backers pledged $20,588, the Fabric of Humanity will be helping apparel industry workers in Tado, Columbia create their own co-operative and invest in professional sewing machinery.So when you don a Fabric of Humanity tee, you’re doing more than just making a change of clothes. You’re wearing clothes of change! Show your support in style here.I always have time for a little snuggle with Simon…… but soon it will be game time on the field behind us at the Calgary Polo Club. Time to get ready. Oh, and the players who oppose Team Blue Besos today? FYI, the charity stops with the T-shirt.
Spruce Meadows may be a show jumping facility of international acclaim, regularly hosting the world’s best equestrians — but it took Hermes to get me there. I was glad it did, because not only did I get to salivate over my fantasy saddle, but I met a local rider who is making his mark on the world’s show jumping stage.My first stop was a white tent in the plaza near the West Grandstand. Inside, Hermes saddle maker Nicolas Cornebois had come all the way from Paris to demonstrate his craftsmanship on the item that every horse-mad girl with a weakness for luxury brands covets. Aka: moi.
The press release calls him a Master Saddle Maker, but Monsieur Cornebois demurred, telling me it wouldn’t fly with his colleagues back in France. Talented and humble.Meanwhile, salesmen swooped in with equestrian-themed scarves to swooning shoppers.The mercurial Cheval Fusion from this year’s Spring/Summer collection caught my eye.But the Hermes pop-up shop devoted most of its space to items for the horse enthusiasts attending the Masters CSIO 5. If your pony’s been hinting they’d like a tack upgrade, this was the place to take that carrot to the next level.
While many of us associate Hermes with high fashion for humans, the brand is still very connected to its roots as a 19th Century saddle and harness maker. Although I can’t help but give a thrifty heads-up: my secret source at the orange H tells me the $60 glycerin soap isn’t that different from what is available at the dollar store.However, Hermes isn’t above a little collab in the horse department. The historic brand recently worked with Freejump to develop these quick release stirrups…… which I saw in action a short time later …… in the Hermes branded warm-up ring.Romain Duguet, a Swiss riding superstar, is no stranger to Hermes. Not only is he sponsored by the company, he won the Grand Prix Hermes in Paris in April.The custom-built jumps mark the first time Hermes has partnered with Spruce Meadows. Obviously making Romain and Otello du Soleil feel right at home.Then came Ben. Perhaps in preparation for this moment, but more likely because the photogenic Ben Asselin is an amazing rider, Hermes’ most recent recruit is a hometown hero — who also happens to have the ultimate hometown advantage. Not only is 21-year old Ben from Calgary, he is the son of Canadian Olympic riders Jonathan Asselin and Nancy Southern… whose family owns Spruce Meadows.Ben’s horse, Plume de la Roque, makes Hermes gear look good. From quilted saddle pad to branded ear bonnet.Ben and Plume enter the International Ring at the Spruce Meadows Masters.Even though Plume sailed over this fence in the sizzling heat of Friday’s competition, Ben didn’t make the top twelve in the overall standings. (Romain placed 11th).However, the Hermes sponsorship makes Ben a winner in my books. Meanwhile, newsflash: Hermes also makes polo saddles. What do you think, Simon? Should I try one?
Boy, was it a hot one last night! 35 degrees Celsius at the Calgary Polo Club. That’s 95 Fahrenheit, my American friends. Still, look at my faithful steed Simon go! He’s flying ahead of doggy doc Tom LeBoldus’ pony. How do you like them apples?Or carrots? Before the game I checked out the new Juice Because pop-up at Willow Park Village to stock up on some tangy and energizing Peter. Named after a certain rabbit, I’m guessing.It must have helped, because I even managed to hit a ball or two. Our camo-jerseyed Team KatSaw made it into the finals, which are scheduled for tomorrow if it doesn’t rain. Meanwhile, check out KatSaw Farms patron Ross Prokopy making a splash in purple at the Veuve Classic.The temporary cold-pressed juice shop off Macleod Trail and Willow Park Dr SE is a handy pit-stop on the way to the polo club, but if you don’t check it out before they close on August 31st, don’t worry — they deliver! Head to their website.Meanwhile, come on out and tailgate at the Calgary Polo Club — soon, before the season ends. This heat won’t last forever.
If there are yellow jerseys on the field at the Calgary Polo Club…… and people like Gael-Anne Hatch and Chad Oakes (producer of must-see TV shows Fargo and Hell On Wheels) in the VIP Lounge…… then it must be the 2015 Veuve Clicquot Calgary Polo Classic. This is where the bubbles meet the storied hardwood of the Ranch House bar.Leslie Echino, owner of Blink Restaurant, and Katy Bond of Parker Bond PR managed to look dewey fresh and delightful despite 30-degree heat.While Rob Peters, the man who started Peters & Co, Elaine Duncan and leather-vest wearing horse whisperer John Scott kept cool inside.Katrina Prokopy, the inspiration behind hubby Ross’ team KatSaw Farms (he named it for his wife and son Sawyer), knows this is no time for a Mona Lisa smile. Especially with a pair of Prada Baroques perched above. Go big or go home!Meanwhile, alpha male Ross Prokopy of GMP Securities proves that not only does he play an aggressive game of polo, he also makes a mean mimosa.Despite the talent in Club League, I celebrated a rare summer week of bruise-free legs. Veiled spectator-sporting Paula Marie took support staffing to a stylish new level.While Gordon Ross of Remax and Bernadette Geronazzo, who’s accustomed to being In The Public Eye, toasted the game…… that was still in progress, beyond the revelers at the Ranch House. Mitch Horne checks up for Land Rover, under Allison Rooney’s watchful eye.It was only fitting that Team Veuve, aka Northern Blizzard, took home the cup. John Rooney, CEO of Northern Blizzard Resources, hoists his bubbly, with long-time pro Joe Henderson in the background. Cheers!
Another Stampede has come and gone in Calgary, in a blur of pre-parties, concerts at Fort Calgary and a midway victory that left me with a giant stuffed moose on my first try, thanks to a Whack-A-Mole hammer that reminded me of a polo mallet. It was a stretch, but allowed me to channel my inner winner, just like Team Blue Besos did for the second week in a row on Saturday. But looking back on Stampede 2015, two highlights stand out the most — one of which was, claro, a fashion moment.Met this miss from Texas in her custom-made Maida boots in the VIP tent at Sheryl Crow. Tear your eyes from the deluxe dirt in our alcohol-flowing cage beside the stage and feast your eyes on Cynthia Wood, who wins the Blue Besos Fave Stampede Outfit award, due to the details.From the saddlebag with the perfect rodeo trifecta of leather, fringe and rhinestones…
… down to the ostrich and calf boots that took nine months to make…… it was the heel-clicking positivity of her soles’ soulful message that spoke to me: lucky in love and lucky in business. Those gears in the right horseshoe are her company logo, Gimmal.But even if they’re straight off the shoe rack, any kind of boots will help you stomp your way through Stampede. On my right, LA producer Debbie Emery puts her best foot forward to blend in with the locals while shooting her new sports insider travel show, Sportstown USA.Of course, to get the right shot, you have to get up close and personal. Being right on the rail comes with a risk, as the cowboy to my left kindly warned me. If I kept gaping, mouth ajar, I’d probably swallow some mud.But I couldn’t help it — I was obsessed with the outriders. The lead man up front is tasked with steadying five amped-up horses and pointing them in the right direction before the race. Which is enough to inspire some slack-jaw, but wait — there’s more.When the horn blares and the stove man at the back has thrown the “stove” into the wagon (not kidding!!) he has to run out of the way before he gets run over…… then hop onto his steed while it’s all hopped up! Somehow, even with those stirrups swinging wildly, each outrider manages to settle in for a speedy lap around the track, making sure to stay within 150 yards of their wagon. It’s not only me who considers the outriders fascinating — each one in the Calgary Stampede comes with their own trading card.Sadly, the Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth has concluded for 2015, but we’ll be back to cheer the chucks next year!
After years without racing in the Calgary area, horses are back on the track. Century Downs Casino is so fresh the slots aren’t even sticky yet. And this weekend, it was opening day for the reason behind their existence (aka the help in securing their liquor license): the racetrack. Conveniently located beside Cross Iron Mills outlet mall. I fully supported the opening parade’s emphasis on horse style. In this case, it was zebra-striped everything — even girth straps.The fashion sense continued with the drivers. Standardbred silks just seem to have a certain Evel Knievel super-coolness.No scissors here. This is how ribbon-cutting rolls at the racetrack.I found most of the high-fashion hats inside at a private reception, where the peeps were not only VIP, they were smart, since it was ridiculously cold outside. Hazel Bennett of Borders Racing Stable wore a lovely feathered hat originally worn by her mother in the 1940s. Dr. David Chalack stuck with his ten-gallon, but what would you expect from the man who is not only the Chair of the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, but a board member of the Canadian Dairy Network and past president of the Calgary Stampede?Sandra Rexilius paired her beautiful brown velvet chapeau with her actual riding jacket. Bien sur!While Premier Jim Prentice stuck to his lawyerly go-to duds, albeit weekend casual with the button down shirt sans tie, it looks like he might have picked up a little fashion advice — and a big belt buckle — from Max Gibb, vice-chairman of the United Horsemen of Alberta and Century Downs.Although he seemed to charm the harness drivers without cowboying up.Finally, the wait was over and the first official race at Century Downs began. The photo finish ended up being a few short feet between new guard and wise guard: 22-year-old Travis Cullen (ladies, he lives in Airdrie) and 60-year old Rod Hennessy.My fave outfit of the day could be winner Rod Hennessy’s lucky orange and blue silks, but my favorite expression is definitely that manure-eating grin on Waitin Ona River’s face. Congratulations, you two! For more on Opening Day, please check my article in the Calgary Herald.
Blue Besos Goes to Sayulita!Playa Escondida is a secluded beach 18 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It’s also the name of the muy romantico boutique resort here, tucked into the lush jungle hillside overlooking the Pacific.If, for some loco reason you didn’t realize it when you made your reservation, when you arrive at the resort’s office (to do that, I recommend booking the hotel’s driver, who will greet you at the airport with a giant Suburban and make sure you have enough cervezas for the 40-minute ride, purchased from the liquor store conveniently located in the PVR parking lot) it hits you: this is not a Four Seasons. Or a Hyatt. Or a Hilton. Or any other hotel brand with a global marketing initiative. And, as a globally recognized woman tends to say… it’s a good thing.This is what a hallway looks here. Overflowing with foliage, Playa Escondida feels like a hipper version of the Swiss Family Robinson’s house, minus the ladders. The very things that make this resort so wonderful also make it tricky to photograph. On the right, you’ll find the entrance to the fine dining restaurant. The steps up to the lounge are hidden on the left. Follow the path to the end… … and you’ll arrive here. Don’t feel compelled to choose the hammock because that lounger looks a little too hard. Someone will be right out with cushions to get it just right, Goldilocks.Even when it’s booked solid, the small number of rooms at the resort limits guest numbers, keeping the beach muy tranquillo. It’s not the best for swimming with these rocks scattered along the shoreline, but if you walk south for, oh, about five minutes, with Monkey Mountain in the distance, you’ll find a long stretch of sand. Perfect for body surfing. Even during major holidays, the beaches south and north of the resort are deserted, probably because there are no other hotels along this stretch of the Nayarit coast.Or you can get there on horseback, via a jungle trail. The hotel has its own horses, so if you book a ride, it’s just you and the gaucho. Speedy is playing it cool, but I look a little bedraggled because we’ve just been cantering up and down the beach having the ride of my dreams, splashing through the waves. Check out Speedy’s one-eared bridle! Her Mexican saddle is totally different than Simon’s Argentine polo saddle, but once I settled into it, it was vaquera time.The owner, who has no other hotels, started with a couple of thatch-roofed casitas ten years ago. Now up to almost 30 rooms and villas, two thirds are either right on the beach, like these ones above, or have an ocean view.After outdoor yoga, offered free every morning on a terrace overlooking the ocean (claro) I finally tried a coffee at the restaurant, also overlooking the ocean, although my photo doesn’t really show it. Being in vacation mode, I have to admit that My Usually Ultra-Excellent Photography Skills were in slacker mode.Every other day I had my coffee at the room, brewing it myself with the maker provided. Can you see why I had vacation brain? Look at this view! Deets on the Love Nest later. (I’m not kidding — that was the name of my room). Meanwhile, I highly recommend David Sedaris’ latest: Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. His hilarious essays were the perfect length for my reduced mental alacrity. Playa Escondida is one of those rare hotels where the reality is actually much, much more beautiful than the website photos. Which is saying a ton, because their website is great. I was so agog, I almost forgot to blog.
So I’ll leave you with the video that instantly cemented my decision to come here. It’s like no promo I’ve ever seen, and instantly filled me with amor for my as-yet un-met amigos at the resort. Meanwhile, that’s not all! Blue Besos Goes To Sayulita continues all week.
Claire Doty can make a safety helmet look good.The 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. Read More
I found out where the formal wear is hiding at the inaugural Royal West.At the off-site events! Like this weekend’s gala charity fundraiser at the new Chicago Chophouse on Stephen Avenue. Read More
John Anderson is smiling for a reason.With 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. Read More