According to Frank Sinatra, whiskey is a gentleman’s drink. Frank was such a fan, his legacy guardians agreed to lend his namesake to a new offering from Jack Daniels.Tennessee’s best was on the tip of everyone’s tongues Tuesday night in Calgary, the city of choice for the Canadian debut of Sinatra Select. Thus the selected gentlemen swarming Teatro’s Opera Room. Many of them declined to refer to themselves that way, but at least they looked the part.Ryan Atkins, Alex Orlando and Scott Watson.Dan Wright of WAX and Kevin Gordon.Let’s get a side view of those super-cool specs, Dan!Mark Burkart of McKinley Burkart and Jay Cowles of Spriza.Norm Bogner of Spriza and Ryan Jennings of Jennings Wealth.In case you were wondering how to accessorize a black wedding band (sapphire with diamond) Norm prefers a Panerai timepiece. And you can never go wrong with a fistful of sour mash.Frank couldn’t make it in person, but the evening was not without crooning, thanks to V. Williams.I felt a little like ol’ Blue Eyes himself, getting hustled through the Teatro kitchen for an intimate lecture … … on the fine art of single barrel aging. Jack Daniels looked right at home in Teatro’s 10,000 bottle wine cellar.And despite the original 1911 Dominion bank vault looming behind me, I felt right at home. but I suppose 45% alcohol content accelerates that emotion. However, my Jack Daniel’s Country Club badge is 90-proof that I’ve arrived.
Fairmont Cows roamed the Oak Room tonight seeking greener pastures at the Palliser. No greenbacks here, but luckily these multi-colored mammals aren’t adverse to multi-colored money. After grazing the globe with celeb bloggers like Mr. Fab and Binzento, as well as Fairmont Chef Herbert Gradeur, they’re back home in Calgary to raise money for Ronald McDonald House of Southern Alberta. Silent auction success!
Is that the Maharaja or designer Paul Hardy?Held at his Calgary studio, where he toils on creations for celebrity clients like Bette Midler, Sarah McLachlan and Carrie Fisher, his Halloween Fashion Fete came with a strict dress code: come as your favorite fashion icon.So it was no surprise to see Lady Gaga, James Dean and Katy Perry on the guest list.Along with Princess Diana and Sir Elton John.It made sense that Boy George would be here to DJ — not to be confused with Nathan Hedley of Formula Promotions.Kim is glowing, but Kayne looks a little pale, thanks to my flash. Please don’t get mad, Mr. West.Jenavive’s singing pipes rocked the dance floor in zebra stripes. Jean Paul Gaultier and a stylist I didn’t recognize jetted in from Vancouver for the soiree. When Stylist Guy showed me a photo of the real Stylist Dude, I realized he nailed it!But no one got my costume either. It took a lot of explaining and pointing at my now monolingual Hello sticker. But that’s the fun of Halloween: it’s the best conversation starter ever. What ARE you? Turns out magic assistant Gwyn Auger was a bunny in a top hat. Meanwhile, Mr. Hardy gives us his best side on the left. His secret two-way mirror overlooking the front door is on the right. Umm… am I not supposed to mention that, Paul?Upstairs, Mandy Stobo came as an artist.Recently of Scuba Nenshi fame, the Bad Portrait painter has been known to mix media.I couldn’t resist the ultimate party favor. Good to know that style icon Hello Kitty will be immortalized in watercolor forever… … since party pix tend to get blurry as the lights trip fantastic. Especially when you’re hanging with Gianni Versace.
The first TOPSHOP in Alberta has arrived.300+ people patiently waited their turn to pour through the newly opened doors this morning. But even with the most enthusiastic response to a TOPSHOP debut in Canada, the senior events and marketing manager tells me they still need to create more brand awareness.Steph Hoff whisks me away to the personal shopping room so we can chat.”We’re not really in-your-face billboard advertising,” she says. “It’s more organic, through social media and word of mouth.” Besides prepping for the opening event, the marketing team spent nine days partying in YYC — in the name of research. “To understand what the environment is like, understand what the people are like.”Like the flagship stores in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, the Calgary location will feature premium collections, collaborations and limited edition products. And that super VIP-yet-free personal shopping room. Which, I should mention, has a good-sized stash of cupcakes.In the denim dreams department: my hunt for the ultimate classic jean jacket may be over. You can find TOPSHOP in all its two-story glory attached to Hudson’s Bay, at the south end of the mall.
It snowed today in Calgary. Alllll day. After a summer-like 22 degrees Celsius yesterday — that’s over 71 degrees Fahrenheit y’all. But that’s not the big reveal. A vibrant hangover (story of the night before not included) led from a still-tequila-infused brunch to a Siberian hike through one of the largest municipal parks in North America. Created in the 1980s as a small antidote to rampant development, Nose Hill Park is home to a large amount of native fescue, which is a big deal. Grasslands like this are an endangered species.
With my brain cell count at a significant disadvantage, I didn’t realize the wonderfulness of it until a good friend sent this picture to me. I climbed Nose Hill this year. And won.
Peak foliage, as the leaf peepers say in Vermont, where watching autumn colors is a sport, has passed in Calgary. The leaves are swirling to the ground, dry and crunchy. Kinda like my skin, which, luckily is not currently yellow, orange or red.In my hunt for maximum pre-snow hydration, I turned to an old standby, Nivea. In Calgary I could wear this as a day cream during winter. Pure and natural moisturizing night care keeps my skin hydrated for hours. 95% naturally sourced incgredients. And no parabens, silicones, colorants or mineral oils.But when I want something a little lighter, ie an actual daycream, I’ve been using Aqua Effect nourishing daycare. Don’t let the almond oil worry you, it goes on as a nice, light lotion with the classic Nivea baby soft scent. Creamy but easy to smooth onto your skin without any oily feeling.This stuff makes your skin feel like velvet. Body Milk goes on thick and creamy, but doesn’t leave your hands sticky afterward. The only sticking point is that it goes on more like a cream than a milk, so it takes a little more time to apply. It’s worth the effort, but if I need a faster slap and dash to softness I usually go with the Shea Butter Hydra IQ Smooth Replenishing body lotion, not pictured here.
All photos taken on the pedestrian bridge to Lindsay Park, home of the huge Talisman sports complex. It’s looking a lot better than in did during the June floods, above.My favorite pedestrian bridge, just a few miles up the Elbow River, doesn’t exist any more. All three super-bouncy suspension bridges got washed out and won’t be rebuilt til next year. City engineers tell me they’ll be more solid, aka more safe and less bouncy. Here’s a run down memory lane, across the old bridge. At least this winter I’ll be more moisturized.
Best-selling author Todd Babiak knows exactly how many suits he owns.“30 in total. 11 in rotation.” The man who identifies as overdressed on his professional Facebook page has a passion for fashion. That’s why we’re meeting at the Fairmont Palliser in Calgary ahead of Wordfest, which starts Monday — not to discuss the new book he released September 25th, with promo billboards coming soon to a city near you.
“There’s a stereotype of writers that they’re frumpy and they don’t dress well,” he says. “Because writers aren’t supposed to have any money, they’re supposed to be struggling and they’re supposed to be counter-cultural.”
His penchant for personal style is a rebellion to that — and growing up poor. He started off doubling preppy polo shirts in high school, collars up, and moved on to suits. Still, he’s embarrassed by his numbers, as if it might be a tad too extravagant. As a former news anchor, I think 11 sounds woefully low, especially for someone who wears them almost every day, even when he’s skateboarding to a business meeting in Edmonton (his home base). But then I remember he’s a guy. I ask him how many ties he has. “Oh, zillions.”According to his latest count, he also has a zillion shirts. Todd favors Banana Republic shirts for their slim fit and French cuffs. Which, in turn, can only mean a zillion pairs of cufflinks. These ones are from Artworks in Edmonton.With accessories like this conversation starter at the top of his fly, no one will ever notice if Todd wears the same suit twice. He picked up this Flightpath Designs belt buckle at the Art Gallery of Alberta.
Dressing up is the great divide between his books and his business — a marketing company called Story Engine. “I have a psychological switch in the day. I work on novels in the morning wearing comfortable clothes, even PJs. Then I shower and get ready. Even if I’m going to stay at home, I get dressed up to work on Story Engine.”
He’s color-blind, but he knows the J. Lindeberg suit he’s sporting is brown. He’s got a thing for Swedish menswear designers (Tiger is another go-to for Todd) who do that slim Euro fit. “It works for me because I’m little.”A new round of drinks arrive, distracting us from a lengthy digression into the history of pleated pants. The Oak Room’s cocktail menu had so many delectable creations it was a tough choice, but I settled on the Green Park, because of the basil, and substituted Hendrick’s Gin for Bombay. Lemony and refreshing, it also part of the same color palette as the cover of Come Barbarians. But as delicious as it was, those floating green bits made me nervous. I ducked out to the loo to make sure nothing was stuck in my teeth.Which gave me a chance to appreciate the sumptuous lobby. With centennial celebrations in the works for June 2014, the Fairmont is one of the few old-school places in Calgary where you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The lobby is usually bustling, yet hushed. The perfect place to rock my new skinny crops that I stole from the Gap for $16.99. Who cares that they were on the summer sale rack? The fact that it’s not snowing yet in YYC is the ultimate excuse to bare some ankle. Purse, Gucci. Shoes, MICHAEL by Michael Kors. But back to Babiak in the Oak Room, where he was still focused on fashion. “You can’t wear bow ties all the time,” he says. “They’re too whimsical. So I’m probably 20% bow ties.”He looks for ones that are hand-made in small batches. Last time he was in Brooklyn, he discovered a boutique where he picked up this Pierrepont Hicks bow: 100% cotton and 100% hipster.“Also, I like the way an untied bow tie looks.”
So do I Todd, so do I.Did you notice the vintage polo photos on the wall behind our table? Of course this is now my favorite nook in the Oak Room.You’ll have plenty of opportunities to acquire your own autographed copy of Come Barbarians at the 18th annual literary festival in Calgary this week. With three Wordfest appearances, we’ll see if Todd ups his bow tie ratio. And if he wears one, will it stay tied?
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.
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.
When Papyrus apologizes, they care enough to send the very best: It wasn’t even a big deal. In fact, it probably wasn’t even their fault. The stationery store had promised to send me a package, and it got lost in transit. But 2 weeks after the mysterious and minor disappearance, the manager of the downtown Calgary location at The CORE hand-delivered a lovely token of apology.Personalized note cards! I just happen to work with one of the most knowledgeable printing experts in the country, who immediately told me that Crane & Co makes The Best Paper In The Business. When the White House requires stationery, they order exclusively from Crane. The 200-year-old company eschews killing trees — it prints on paper made from cotton. He went on to tell me about their embossing technique that uses a hand-crafted die and no ink, but these details weren’t even necessary. The cards had me at Hello, Little Piggy.Just when you thought classic good manners appeared as often as pigs fly…