Alexandra Weston, Director of Brand Strategy at Holt Renfrew, brandishes her FEED bag given to her by Lauren Bush, who runs the charitable foundation of the same name. Pay $40 to buy one of the cotton bags, handmade by Indian artisans, and you’ll feed 25 schoolchildren in India.That’s the point of H Project, the new boutique at Holt Renfrew in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. Satisfy your need for retail therapy and you’ll be fulfilling the real needs of struggling folks around the world. Buy a WeWood timepiece at an affordable price point of $120 and a tree will be planted. A portion of your purchase of Proof sunglasses, made from sustainable wood, will go toward sight-giving surgeries to people in India.Many designers sell items with proceeds going to charitable causes, but rarely do they come together under one roof. Some, like Cornelia Guest and her cruelty-free handbags, were already selling their socially and eco conscious items elsewhere. Others, like Canadian designer Jenny Bird and her Guardian Tusk jewelry collection (proceeds go to the World Wildlife Fund) developed lines exclusively for H Project. In all, Alexandra has gathered thirty brands of apparel, accessories, home décor items and beauty products for the boutique, elevating fashion from style statement to ethics edict. In the midst of all this global artisan accomplishment, a local artist from the Alberta Printmakers’ Society strutted her silkscreen stuff.Limited edition bags, handmade in Calgary, free with purchase at H Project. Take a stand and self-indulge. It could help change the world.
This wrap almost makes the impossible plausible.Spotted in the Victoria Park district: the distinct tartan of a certain luxury goods clan. Tarted up by Ink’d Graphics, a Cochrane company that specializes in creative car wraps, I could almost imagine driving this Cadillac of minivans though the Scottish moors. But then I got ahold of myself and realized my Highlander fantasy makes much more sense when it involves more Burberry, less van. That buckle almost makes me want to take a look under the hood. Some things just make my engine purr.
If an area ever needed a new brew pub, it’s this lonely corner in Victoria Park. Someone told me there was a recent move to rename the area Victoria Landing to obscure the neighborhood’s ghetto past, but I haven’t seen any evidence of this myself. But no matter what you call it, the people who work and live in this part of town don’t have many dining options.Inside, a soft launch lunch was jammed with customers, mildly frazzled service staff and good food. The former Olive’s has been stripped down from a high-end Italian restaurant to the rough-hewn Vagabond Brewery, offering more casual fare and beer, beer… and beer. Still, I managed to order a sauv blanc.I sampled the Kale Caesar Salad (yummy with ginormous homemade bacon bits) and a hearty Pulled Pork Pizza. Also: the Lobster Dog. Deep fried in beer and corn batter, it’s a classier version of the deep fried everything that will be available just across the street at the Stampede Grounds in July. Vagabond is perfectly positioned for noshing pre- and post-concert at the Saddledome.
Celebrating the birthday of one of my favorite people this weekend, I was delighted to discover what happens when chocolate and Louis Vuitton collide: This cake gives a whole new meaning to a la mode. A match made in my personal heaven, it’s from the talented bakers at Buttercream Bake Shoppe on 17th in Calgary. They do calorie-laden customer orders for wedding cakes, cupcakes – you name it. I’ll let you do the talking because my mouth is full. Tasted just as good as it looked.
The mountains bring out the carnivore in me. It starts with the clothes. Suede boots, made in Italy. I paid a lot of money for them at an intriguing little boutique in San Francisco, but I can’t even brag about them because they have no designer name… anywhere. Who does that? However, I remember the shop’s name. Paolo Shoes in Hayes Valley. Check it out next time you’re there. Suede handbag, Gucci. Dress, Max Studio. Coat, Armani Exchange. Shearling hat, A Vintage Affair in Calgary. Because a hat like this makes sense when you’re surrounded by snow. You can’t hear my grumbling tummy, but I’m smiling through the hunger pangs. Luckily downtown Banff has a number of incredible restaurants less than a five minute drive from the Juniper Hotel.So many places in Banff are all about using natural recovered local materials, like the Maple Leaf Grille. I dig this wall.More than that, I dig their Game Platter. With a selection of bison, elk, beef and duck sausage and charcuterie, it’s a carnivore’s cult list. There might have been some bunny in there too. With local cheeses and tomatoes thrown in, I was pretty much in edible heaven while eating this. Which is good, because tomorrow I’ll need the calories. Come back manana for a little boarding, Banff style.
Get that John Mayer song out of your head, I’m about to talk about art.Back in October, I was driving through downtown Calgary and I saw this. It’s not that unusual to see construction crews working 24/7 here, but blowtorching a giant head is a tad uncommon, so I pulled over. This sculpture reminded me of one I’d seen at Sunset Beach in Vancouver. And another holding court on a corner of Marine Drive in West Van. So I looked it up. Yes, Calgary is the latest city to welcome one of Jaume Plensa’s giant heads to our public space. The Barcelona sculptor is obsessed with heads. Our version is a 12 meter tall bent-wire portrait of a young girl, placed in the curve at the foot of Encana’s new Bow Tower. Besides engaging a wide audience, the panel who chose Jaume wanted a sculptor whose work could withstand our wicked winds and wild weather changes.A few days ago, driving by the Bow again, I realized it’s finished. I love it! My red-eye fix-resistant eyes glow with the inspiration Jaume was going for when he said, “My vision for Wonderland is to inspire everyone who experiences the sculpture: I believe the architecture of our bodies is the palace for our dreams.”
He did another sculpture for the Bow, a bronze called Alberta’s Dream, which will be unveiled later this year. In the meantime, did you notice? Almost impossible to tell with the graininess of this shot and the rays of light coming from my crazy flash eyes, but … no bandaid! I’m wearing Lancome concealer and foundation. Next time I’ll brave a close-up. Boots, Michael Kors.
The snowstorm in Calgary today is all my fault.Yesterday I packed away my winter clothes. I figured the first weekend in March was a good time to clear space in my non walk-in for flimsy spring things. Seems reasonable, right? Wrong! This is Calgary, where it snows almost every month of the year. Even in July, after weeks of tornado-inducing heat, there’ll still be that one day when snow comes down in a big way. Like today. The snow’s been flying sideways since morning. We’ll probably get close to a foot. So… sorry about that, everybody.However, Aerin Lauder’s new collection will inspire you to think spring. Or at least help you look good while you dig out.“Garden in Bloom” is one of Aerin’s spring style palettes, a neutral collection of soft, nearly nude shades for a healthy, fresh glow. The purse packable includes three eyeshadows in Iris, Lily and Dahlia, with Nectar blush.Even more appropriate, considering our current lack of sunshine: Floral Illuminating Powder. Six soft pastels swirl into one shade that brightens the complexion with subtle radiance. Because I think we’re all looking a little pale in Cowtown right about now.Please note, NO MAKEUP WAS HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS PHOTO SHOOT (with apologies to the American Humane Association). Even after exposure to the Blizzard of 2013, it all applies flawlessly and still retains Aerin’s signature rose scent.
This pic might be more Narnia if it was in a scenic snowdrift, but I live in Calgary’s Age of Winter. Today it was a tough slog, glamming up back alley survival with Eskimo attitude in sub zero temps. Someone’s gotta do it. Hooded cable knit sweater, Roots. Scarfs (all three) by Mom. Mukluks, from way up north.