When Jason Gogo invited me to “the paintings of an emotional terrorist,” I thought he was talking about an art show. When I arrived, I wasn’t so sure. The place looked like a showroom for that Army Surplus store in Inglewood.
For most of the 2500 guests who attended the oh-so-elegant Diner En Blanc, it was beaucoup de travail. Pulling together a sensational outfit, tout en blanc. Waiting until the last-minute communique for the muster point. Traveling en masse par l’autobus to the secret location. Carting chairs, tables and gourmet picnics up to the field at Pumphouse Park.But after setting everything up, it was oh-so-worth it. Especially if you could flaunt your white on white coordination down to the bag you schlepped your meal in.Starting in a Parisian park 26 years ago, Dîner en Blanc is now an international exposition of all the best Frenchie things: joie de vivre, friendship, elegance and gallantry. Held in approximately 50 cities around the world, this was Calgary’s second time at the enchanted evening rodeo, where diners gather in a secret location, by invitation only.Those who attended the Parisian-themed pop-up picnic courtesy of major sponsors avoided the shlep, sitting down to a beautifully appointed table in a prime location close to live music, complete with service and gift bags. This was despite Core Value Number Four listed in the lengthy rules and regulations of Diner En Blanc International, which states that “There are no VIPs and no VIP spaces at a Dîner en Blanc® event.” However, I am pro VIP, as long as the list includes me. Nordstrom, Indochino, Telus, RBC, Evian and Alliance Française … sign me up!Chef Michael Noble didn’t have to agonize over his white outfit — Diner En Blanc was just another day on the job. He created 600 picnic bags of gourmet edibles that could be pre-ordered, all in the name of The Nash Restaurant and Off Cut Bar, his new venture that will open in the old National Hotel in Inglewood next month.Another person who didn’t spend the day shopping for her outfit was the lovely Miss Treena, who went green while wearing white, recycling her wedding dress for one more fabulous night.My own moment of white glory was this corsage. And pourquoi pas? Diner En Blanc makes prom style chic. Polo players always have plenty pairs of white pants at the ready.Artist Jason Gogo, one of the event’s hosts, superbly attired as usual, distracting from the fact that the champagne was rose, not blanc.In a city whose claim to fame is hosting the largest rodeo on earth, it was lovely to see the enthusiasm for an evening devoted to elegance. A votre sante, Diner En Blanc!
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!
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!