Who doesn’t love an airplant? The experts at Blue Grass Nursery know when you put one into a hanging terrarium, along with some strategically placed lava rocks, they’re impossible to resist.That’s probably why their table at the Calgary Home + Garden Show sneak peek was packed with enthusiastic DIY-ers. As one of the 650 vendors who’ll be packed into the BMO Centre next month, the folks from Blue Grass will be offering up instruction for anyone interested. Stop by the Corral to make your own. They’ll have moss, ferns, succulents and other goodies if you’re not feeling my minimalist design in the photo above.Meanwhile, over at the Amborella Floral Studio table, do-it-yourself took a decidedly Chardonnay turn, thanks to host Last Best Brewing & Distilling. Since I’d never been in their lovely 11th Avenue location, I was surprised by both the decor and the breadth of their drinks on offer. Delightful and delish.After finishing my floral crown, I was ready for a luau. Not really the chic flower girl look I was going for. The vintage mirror at Last Best added its own effect, just to take my selfie down a double notch.Reformation PR’s creative director Amanda Haines played it smart, getting the professional guidance of Amborella owner Misha White.Success!This event being all about design, of course there was no mere photo wall. A photo lounge inspired us all to remember: the Calgary Home + Garden Show will be here before you know it. February 25-28 at the BMO Centre. See you there!
This was supposed to be a holiday gift guide, not a story about my unexpected visit to the town of Ritzville, Washington.But when you see a dozen accidents on I-90 in an hour, the black ice starts to speak to you. Go forth and find a motel.
The wifi, mini fridges and Direct TV at the Top Hat joined the conversation.I have never been so happy to see a $48 room. Family owned, the people who run the Top Hat Motel in Ritzville are super-friendly. Although the walls are paper-thin, the rooms are clean, with a homey Holly Hobby thing going on with the decor.
Which became the perfect backdrop for this jolly Crabtree & Evelyn holiday gift set. Nothing is better to counteract extreme winter dryness than C&E ultra-moisturising (spelled with an S to honor the brand’s British roots) hand therapy. This box brings it to you in three scents — Caribbean Island Wild Flowers, Pear and Pink Magnolia and Evelyn Rose.Another last-minute stocking stuffer idea: more hand lotion, Apple Snow this time, tucked inside this Christmas cracker.With time on my hands and a delightful dinner of Spokane Trader Joe’s takeout the future reward, I decided a brisk walk was in order, despite the blizzard. The aptly named Ritz Theater was one of the first historic buildings I passed. A walking tour sign informed me its smooth stucco is a sample of 1930s modern style.But if you missed out on the Star Wars sleeping bag action this week, don’t go thinking you’ll be able to do it here, just because it’s opening a month later.With church bells peeling as I walked the deserted streets, it seemed like everyone was off praying for the blizzard to break. But further down the road, I found a Carnegie Library. And if you’re wondering, yes, that Carnegie.Inside was the loveliest library I’d seen since the one I used to frequent in Gates Mills. Except that one didn’t have birds of prey guarding every shelf.Back outside, a tumbleweed was headed for the Railroad Depot Museum. It was time to get back to the Top Hat…… where thin walls don’t matter if you’re the only one staying there. One more shopping day everybody! Are you ready?
Kensington was the style destination today for designer Aleem Arif, who stopped by Kismet Clothing boutique to offer a sneak peek at his spring collection. But despite the fact that his leather label Bano eeMee uses 100% sustainable, vegetable-tanned leather, there’s no silver lining here. That’s because Aleem amps up his linings with images, either inspired by his travels or collabs with other artists.
Bano eeMee is the brainchild of Boston-raised banker Aleem Arif, whose label is a hybrid of his mom’s name, Bano, and his nickname, eeMee. Formerly an algorithmic stock trader, he moved to Calgary and discovered his passion was actually fashion. Who says Calgary is all about Stampede? Bano eeMee is now based in Toronto, with supple lamb leather jackets in 30 stores across Canada. Oh, and Galeries Lafayette is pressuring Aleem to do a special line in Paris.PR powerhouse Ellen Parker wore her own Bano eeMee jacket from last season, but this jacket won’t be her last Bano eeMee.Yes, Ellen. Get this one.
Spring and Summer look fabulous, Aleem! Glad to have you back in YYC, even if it’s just a quick jet set. Although I’m predicting that your visit will be more stylish than social: us high-fashion Calgarians will inspire your fall collection.
How do you launch a luxury shopping website? Obviously, you throw a party. For the Calgary-based Upside, it only made sense to have it in an upscale Mount Royal home — with some of the most beautiful walk-in closets you have ever seen.The Upside is Canada’s largest online luxury consignment retailer offering authenticated designer goods. Yes, that means they’re second-hand. It also means prices are in Canadian dollars. With no obscene shipping duties.Normally, buying used items online would make me nervous. But after getting the chance to see the merch myself, I can confidently say they are more pre-ignored than pre-loved. Dirt-free. Unscuffed. Some items still have their tags.I wasn’t the only one who was intrigued. The party was packed with power shoppers, like philanthropist and political campaign manager Cynthia Moore, who take their clothes seriously. With a capital ‘S.’Unforch for the male guests, the curated inventory – comprising 250 + designers – only caters to women. But the soiree offered a chance to peak inside an abode that may have been home to Leonardo DiCaprio when he was filming The Revenant in Alberta. I couldn’t quite confirm that, but the good news is that luxury realtor Gordon Ross will be happy to assist you in acquiring it for yourself — it’s for sale.Downstairs, in the living room, while watching Upside founder Lauryn Zhukrovsky on the mic, I got the distinct impression that partygoers were being encouraged to tweet about it. Meanwhile, like all good parties, everyone ended up in the kitchen.
Wishing you’d been there? There’s another chance to get up close and personal with the Upside’s high-end goodies with the Black Weekend Pop-Up Sale, November 27-28. A selection of retailers will be under one roof in the former Domicile space on 11th Avenue S.W. Meanwhile, you can shop til you drop online — 20% off everything tomorrow.
Remember Riva’s Eco Store, an eclectic collection of organic, pesticide-free, non-toxic … stuff? A guilt-free general store in the heart of Inglewood. That shop is no longer — Riva has rebranded with retail editing and a new name — a perfect excuse for a party.
… and a sleep spa downstairs, complete with mood lighting, to showcase a Calgary exclusive: the hand-made Hastens Mattress. With the most expensive beds going for more than $60,000, it’s a whole new way to stuff money in your mattress, but you’ll sleep like a royal. As the only store I’ve seen whose manifesto includes a list of mortal enemies, Goldgrass Home, I like your style.
If I was jazz-handing it in my Red Mittens, the future would be clear for all palm readers: CAN-ADA. Still, hands down, the Olympic symbol is the Team Canada giveaway… or give to: 30% of all red mitt sales go to athlete development.
I wore the new 7th edition handwarmers field-side on the final day of the season at the Calgary Polo Club, but with the first snow today, I’ll need to keep my mitts on hand at all times. Oh, I crack myself up. Find this year’s design on sale now at Hudson’s Bay.
Got a chance to check out Dish and Duer’s performance denim recently. The Vancouver-based brand has developed N2X – a proprietary fabric – combining Tencel, made from eucalyptus trees, with polyester, spandex and cotton. The result? Denim that looks like a dress pant on the outside (with a sublet, satiny sheen) and feels like a sweat pant on the inside.The breathable, stretchy fabric is so comfortable, they’d be great for riding in.However, in the interest of not getting my dusty rose “Dish N2X Skinny Skimmer” dirty, I decided to let them ride solo on Simon. He went easy on them and took it slow.The sun may be setting at the Calgary Polo Club, where these photos were taken, but the day is just beginning for Dish and Duer. You can find their complete line for sale online and at their pop-up shop in Vancouver. Meanwhile, they have a Kickstarter campaign that begins today! Show your support and receive your own pair of jeans for almost half price.
How much better can life get for Paul Hardy? Calgary’s internationally renowned fashion designer can now add museum curator to his list of couture accomplishments. I caught up with him last night at the VIP opening reception for his new exhibit, Kaleidoscopic Animalia, which opens at the Glenbow today. Through a feat of accidental iCamera magic, his head appears to almost float away from his dark-colored clothes, in a dramatic echo to brain beside him, culturally influenced by animals. Also available on a scarf in the gift shop — the kaleidoscopic brain, that is, not Paul’s head.Even though Paul was double-booked, expected at a party at his own studio (which tend to be fabulous) he took time out to give a Kaleidoscopic personal tour. The displays are a mashup of his original designs and artifacts he found languishing in Glenbow’s vaults. As the museum’s Artist In Residence this year, he had special access.You’ve got to see the exhibit in person to experience the true hustle of a Bay blanket bustle. Anyone who knows their Canadian history realizes those blankets weren’t originally a branding brainwave — they were all about the fur trade.My fave is “Homestretch,” which sent me off into a trippy polo fantasy. But Paul told me it was inspired by the Run for the Roses, aka the Kentucky Derby, in which the winning horse is draped in a blanket of roses. Besides being inspired by the mannequins, the exhibit reminded me of the opulent department store window displays that seem to be nearing extinction. Grouped around themes instead of strict museum sorting by date or place of origin, the creativity is easy to consume, yet complex in meaning. In Everything Isn’t Black and White, Paul delves into a time when the Haida created argillite art for Europeans, in reaction to a declining sea otter trade.
I’m bee-ing proactive by stocking up on Bee Lovely Body Butter by Neal’s Yard Remdies. Organic honey and orange oil soften the skin while smelling divine, with bonus karma points. The recently launched product line ties in with NYR’s international campaign to save the bees.
Wordfest is back, and with it, one of my favorite nights of raucous, intellectual battle: Literary Death Match. If you don’t have your tickets yet, get them now: LDM is back in Calgary for the third time tomorrow night. To celebrate the upcoming war of words with ensuing hostile hilarity, I am reposting my interview with host Adrian Todd Zuniga on his “Deadly Style” from his last visit to Cowtown.
“What is going to be healthy and delicious, and also make me happy?”The 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?A 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.”Last 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.”Even while our interview cuts into his pre-show quiet time, he has the rumpled flair of someone out of a Robert Doisneau photograph.
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.The 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.
Don’t worry, Adrian, I’m not taking it personally. And thanks for this candid with the cows, by the way.