THE IT: Operanation VII, tomorrow night!

Tomorrow night is Operanation VII, Cinderella: Rock the Ball. Buy your tickets now!

Story by Marq Frerichs.

If you’ve ever had the privilege of bringing something new/different/cool to the eyes and ears of little ones, you’ll understand what I mean about seeing the lights go on—ping, click, pop, bells and whistles, crack and fireworks going off. Bringing the performing arts to kids is one of those unsung parts of working as a performing artist. Truth is, we complain about school shows just ‘cause everybody likes to complain, just a little. But the truth is that they’re wonderful experiences for both the artist and children.

You may be asking yourself: Why are you telling me this?

Because tomorrow night is Operanation VII, the Canadian Opera Company‘s hotly anticipated gala event, which is raising money for the COC’s children’s outreach programs. And with Monday’s election outcome, the arts and, more importantly, the arts and education of our future citizens have never been more pressing.

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THE IT: Bustle Spring 2011

Story and photography by Marq Frerichs.

Monday night at LG Fashion Week and Bustle rocked the house, band and all. The collection felt like a departure for Bustle, much softer in colour and tone.

Don’t get me wrong—there was still all the hippness and bravado from previous seasons, but something about the pastel striped socks made me think that perhaps the new baby in the lives of Bustle designers Shawn Hewson and Ruth Promislow is influencing their sweeter palette.

And the mint green suit was awesome.

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THE IT: Holt Renfrew’s True Patriot Love

The culmination of the Holt Renfrew Spring 2011 runway presentation at LG Fashion Week. Photography courtesy of George Pimentel.

Fashion Week kicked off in high style this season with a special runway presentation organized by Holt Renfrew and featuring some of the hottest names in Canadian fashion: Jeremy Laing, Smythe, Pink Tartan, Line Runway, Denis Gagnon, Lida Baday, Wayne Clark, Wings and Horns, and Mikahel Kale. (I know, right?!)

The design talent on display was impressive enough, but equally remarkable was how smoothly it all went down. The FDCC’s Robin Kay and Coco Rocha gave brief yet warm opening remarks, then an introductory video inspired by Diana Vreeland ended by suggesting that “Magenta is the navy blue of Canada” (in homage to the legendary editor’s quip “Pink is the navy blue of India”). Then it was on with the show!

The Style Notebook talked to Jennifer Daubney, lovely girl-about-town and the communications manager at Holt Renfrew, who helmed the runway presentation.

What was the biggest challenge in organizing a show of this magnitude? What surprised you the most about the process?

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THE IT: Philip Sparks Spring 2011

When the news broke that Philip Sparks, designer of the city’s best-loved menswear line, was showing womenswear for the first time, people talked about it with the kind of anticipatory fervour usually reserved for promising first dates.

It ended up being love at first sight.

A little New York cool, a little Toronto indie, the spring womenswear featured classic pieces—trench, shirt-dress, a perfect pair of high-waisted shorts—and a lovely print (repeated throughout the collection) taken from a photo of cherry trees in High Park.

Click through for a sweet selection of looks, arranged boy/girl.

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THE IT: Greta Constantine Spring 2011

Story and photography by Marq Frerichs.

And Friday night brought the fashion world Greta Constantine Spring 2011. What can I say…I’m really just so enamored of this line. Grecian folds and draping make for beautiful clothes. For the men, Bowie said it best: “Blue, blue, electric blue and there I will live”, and so I will. In comparison to the pastel palette offered by some, I’m digging this boldness.

Did I mention that Coca Rocha opened the show?

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THE IT: London’s top shops

Hostem and Vintage 123, two stops on London’s amazing Urban Gentry shopping tour.

Story by Sara Graham, a Toronto writer and girl-about-town who recently spent a stylish sojourn in London.

Landing in one of the world’s fashion capitals can be more than a little overwhelming. Just stand on the corner of Oxford Circus for five minutes, as I did recently. It was a tidal wave of fall fashion and I was most definitely caught in the undertow.

It’s impossible not to shop. There are the usual suspects: Topshop, Selfridges, Harrods, and Dover Street Market for those who can afford the edgy couture on offer.

But when it comes to the business of “new” in London, no one quite has their finger on the pulse like Kevin Caruth. He started Urban Gentry tours back in 2007, and, after forging key relationships with hotel concierges—think customized tours for teens, and private sessions for the serious shopper or casual browser—his team is now servicing some of the world’s top fashion journalists. I had to get in on this action.

For my purposes, Kevin suggested that his protégé, Mae Shummo, take me in and around the East End where the business of fashion, art, and all things designer are flourishing at a rapid pace.

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SOME LOOKS WE LIKED: At Nada, Joeffer, and Dmitri-Chris

A look from Nada, Spring 2011. Story and photography by Marq Frerichs.

The Brickworks were all a-buzz last Thursday night at the Art of Progression fashion show, presented by Audi. The designers? Nada, Joeffer Caoc, and Dmitri-Chris—all important names in Toronto fashion, and examples of an interesting (and undeniable) shift of the fashion scene away from the official action at LG Fashion Week.
Here are some of our favourite looks from the show.

THE IT: Miu Miu’s artful influence

Miu Miu’s standout Spring 2011 collection, which showed on Wednesday in Paris,  featured an array of influences, including American Idol (on the runway soundtrack) and the Walk of Fame (in the form of star prints and appliqués). Our favourite reference, intentional or non? The dress that looked like a detail from a Clyfford Still canvas. Beautiful.

THE IT: Wet Cement at Harry Rosen

Wet Cement’s limited-edition Harry Rosen T-shirt. Story and photography by Brendan Adam Zwelling.

An in-store appearance by L.A. screen-printing T-shirt upstarts Wet Cement at Harry Rosen: Stranger things have happened, but possibly not amid the windsor knots and Canali double-breasted blazers of the menswear legend’s Bloor Street flagship branch. Stef Zeh and Andrew Lee, the friendly duo—designer and president, respectively—behind the breakout T-shirt line, set up temporary shop last weekend to press limited-edition Harry Rosen designs on demand for customers and media alike.

Your correspondent, having been given the chance to personally man the printing machine, left with a smart blue-on-blue version (plus a blue-on-self bonus, despite close supervision) that gave Harry’s some Chelsea Hotel-style grit. It would land comfortably in the Wet Cement design concept of signs, official warnings, notices, and scrawlings which populate the brand’s shirts, sourced from photos taken by Lee and Zeh themselves and printed with heavy emphasis on textual detail. Flip through them on the rack and they’re like a hazy, turbulent travelogue from a lost weekend in New York or an intense European tour.

Their hands-on, personal approach to production is what made the Harry’s gig possible: the setup on the main floor was essentially a micro version of their actual production line, and the process itself hasn’t changed much.

“In the beginning we didn’t have any money; I had a job when I was sixteen silk-screening t-shirts, so I knew how to do it,” Zeh recalls, with the honest earnestness of someone who still can’t quite believe how far an idea has taken her. “So we literally went to Home Depot and bought a 500 watt halogen bulb for $15. My darkroom in my old apartment was about this big [roughly the size of a single bed] and we used to sit in there playing Yahtzee together while the screens would burn, then I would go and wash them out in my bathtub with a paintbrush and a hose. So when Harry Rosen was like ‘We’ve got this machine but it’s kinda rickety,’ and we had to shove cardboard in it to make it work – this so brings it back to the beginning!”

Kitchen-sink commerce has since given way to sales at Neiman Marcus and Saks and a growing celebrity following.

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LETTER FROM LEANNE: Marc for the people

The limited-edition Marc by Marc Jacobs tote ($48), created exclusively for Holt Renfrew, and on sale now. Part of the proceeds go to support Vision Spring, a non-profit organization providing affordable sunglasses to people in the developing world.

Story by Leanne Delap, who will be writing a regular column for The Style Notebook.

Carry-alls have become an important accessory. We all drive, bicycle, or tote on transit, many grocery and sundry bags. You feel like a criminal carrying a plastic bag, so you collect reusable totes in a way you never would have predicted. I love the oddball, though curated, cloth sacs I grab: a Harrods bag, one from a bookshop in Martha’s Vineyard, a Toronto Public Library tote, and a plasti-straw Marc Jacobs tote with retro red piping.

So I was intrigued when Holt Renfrew recently launched a limited-edition charity bag from Marc by Marc Jacobs. The bags are like the Prada parachute fabric: High-tech with a sheen. The front is the logo in the form of an eye chart. In short, the kind of item you see and unreasonably want, whatever that says about me-slash-us.

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