TIFF SPECIAL: At the Hello! party

Ashleigh Dempster and Amanda Blakley, of The Society (seen here during TIFF 2010), were among the stylish guests at the Hello! soiree. Story by Amanda Alvaro.

If you stood back from the red carpet outside the Royal Conservatory on Saturday night, you would have sworn you’d descended on a true Hollywood fete.

First clue. A bevy of black-clad PR beauties flashing mega-watt smiles as they turned down dozens of disappointed partygoers who didn’t make the list to this year’s Hello! Magazine Party.

Second. A row of cameras, two-deep, lining the carpet, followed by a crowd of TIFF watchers who stood on concrete planters, craning their necks to catch a glimpse of those who paused and posed for the perfect shot.

Yes. It all looked very Hollywood indeed. The only thing missing was…well…the Hollywood stars.

While the party certainly drew a list of Toronto social elite, it didn’t draw the likes of big name celebs like Matt Damon and K’naan, who were noshing at the One x One party down the street,  leaving many of the TIFF carpet-watchers asking each other, “Who was that?!”

Never mind. What the Hello! Party lacked in Hollywood celebs, it made up for in a sizable crowd of Canadian artists, fashionistas, socialites and personalities.

Walking the red carpet? Photographer Caitlin Cronenberg, actress Tara Spencer Nairn, Flare editor Lisa Tant, boxer Lennox Lewis and his gorgeous wife. Other stylish partygoers included David Rocco and wife Nina (decked out in a sensational pink and silver sequined Versace), and actresses Natalie Brown and Amanda Crew, who informed us that she picked up her simple black sundress from Aritzia just hours earlier.

Inside, the party was cast in a hue of Hello! red lighting and was packed wall-to-wall with a mix of Canadian media personalities:  Seamus O’Reagan, Jian Ghomeshi, Rick Campanelli, and Amoryn Engel, who mingled with regulars on the social circuit; Suzanne Rogers, The Society’s Amanda Blakley and Ashleigh Dempster, Ainsley Kerr, Shay Lowe, Jason Dehni, Tony Cohon, Jane Gill and Sebastien and Sheila Setner.

Former Hello! Editor-in-chief Ciara Hunt (who moves to Boston this week) passed the reigns to new editor-in-chief Alison Eastwood , while musician Ivana Santilli, Being Erica actress Erin Karpluk and model Monica Schnarre made the rounds among political lightning rods Ruby Dhalla and Michael Bryant, and Dan and Dean Caten of DSquared.

Speaking of designers, while some opted for big-name designer dresses with big price tags by Versace and Bob Mackie, others made a style statement without breaking the bank in frocks from Zac Posen for Target, BCBG and a smattering of fall sequined must-haves by Haute Hippie and TwentyCluny.

The show stopper? The venue itself! The Royal Conservatory’s towering windows that overlook the Philosophers Path are coupled with pale wood accents and too many stunning architectural details to mention, making it the perfect platform for the glamourous soiree.

In the end, the beautiful and fashionable crowd may not have been Hollywood royalty, but against the Conservatory backdrop, sipping copious amounts of champagne, they certainly looked the part.

Want more TIFF 2010? Read Leanne Delap’s first TIFF column, and check out our picks for the fest’s hottest parties. Torontoist’s complete coverage of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival is all right here.

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