Nordstrom is finally here! I arrived at last night’s gala event via a long walk in high heels through Chinook Mall — and managed to arrive at the door without the red carpet. But there were still 5 fresh faced new Nordstrom employees to welcome me to the soiree.Inside, both levels of the upscale fashion retailer’s first foray into Canada were jammed. 1800 people partied around the purses, jewelry, skincare and clothing. Important brand alert: Nordstrom has the Calgary exclusive on Kate Spade apparel.Upstairs, the restaurant Bazille was converted into a VIP room for friends and family. And it was a family event — three generations of Nordstroms are in Calgary to help guide the opening. The family takes an active role managing the 275-store chain.Jim Pattison, West Vancouver kazillionaire and all-around good guy, told me he was returning home from Chicago, but decided to have the plane drop him off in Calgary so he could join the party — he’s old pals with the Nordstroms. I recognized the Order of Canada pin on his lilac-accented lapel, but not the other one. Turns out Jim is also a member of the Order of British Columbia.You know Nordstrom is a big deal when you find the Mayor of Calgary at the opening. The last time I bumped into Naheed Nenshi, it was during his heroic handling of the Calgary floods. Now, after our emergency response center recently re-opened to deal with the aftermath of our September snowstorm, it’s nice to see him at something a little less sweaty and more social.Outside the VIP room, liberally-poured Rose enhanced the shopping experience.Casey Wagar, lover of all things fancy, was loving his Chardonnay.Photo ops were everywhere, including with the 30 live mannequins on display throughout the store.Fraser Abbott was on hand to quality-check the delicious edibles provided by Hotel Arts’ Chef Duncan Ly.Bumped into the amazing Cynthia Moore, who’s jetting off next week to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, just one year after kicking flesh-eating disease in the you-know-what. Meanwhile, Jay Skelly of Holt Renfrew swears he was no spy — just an innocent partier.No Scandinavian reserve here. Erik and Julie Nordstrom mingled with Beth and Terry Drayton, enjoying the party (with some particularly fabulous cowboy boots in the background). And they should — the evening raised $180,000 for Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and United Way of Calgary.More of those mannequins, trying to make those white pillars look good. Sprinkled throughout the contemporary Nordstrom decor, they’re a structurally necessary holdout from the previous Sears space.Tucked in between the escalators and the shoes, Toronto-based recording artist Sean Jones sang to throngs of adoring women…… who didn’t mind one bit when he jumped off stage to dance with them. I’m sure Nordstrom appreciated the fact he sang the “Forget you” version of Cee Lo Green’s hit tune.This security man’s job is just beginning… because the opening party continues tomorrow, bright and insanely early, with the Nordstrom Chinook Centre Pre-Opening Beauty Bash. On Friday, September 19 from 7:30-9:30 am, enjoy complimentary consultations and demos at the main Nordstrom entrance in the mall. Expect to see hot makeup brands including Butter London, Dolce & Gabbana and Tom Ford. Everyone’s invited.
As the flood cleanup continues in Calgary, the heartwarming stories of volunteerism are enough to make you cry. From the strangers who show up at flooded homes, armed with shovels, offering to help, to the dude dragging a cooler down sludgy streets, asking if anyone wants a cold one. The bare necessities — strong backs and beer — are still desperately needed, but Calgary has taken flood relief to a new level: art + fashion. This is a “bad portrait” of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who has been a true leader in this time of tumult. For $20, you can order the limited edition shirt with this image until Sunday at midnight, with proceeds going to the Red Cross.
Artist Mandy Stobo is well-known around these parts for her Bad Portrait Project. When she paints someone, she doesn’t stop to think about things for too long — that’s how her Bad Portraits work. So when she needed a facial embodiment of Calgary’s massive flood, Mayor Nenshi was a natural. And her first instinct to symbolize a massive amount of water? Scuba goggles.
“I felt so helpless,” she says. “The only thing I knew how to do is artwork.” But her art is helping — big time. With the sale of her shirts raising $4000 so far, she has decided to create a series. She launches another shirt Monday. Just who will be the subject of the next portrait is a closely guarded secret.
You can order shirts, tanks or an 18” x 24” print of Mayor Nenshi here. They should be mailed to you within two to three weeks. Collect ‘em all! A new limited shirt will be up for grabs each week. Buen trabajo, Mandy.