THE IT: Inside the 2010 White Cashmere Collection

Detail from Katrina Tuttle‘s design for the 2010 White Cashmere Collection, held at the AGO last week. The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation event, in which top Canadian designers create clothes made entirely out of bathroom tissue, coincides with the brand’s reintroduction of its limited-edition pink product, of which 25 cents from each package sold goes to the Foundation.

Story and photography by Brendan Adam Zwelling.

Last week’s White Cashmere show—featuring designs from Renata Morales, Pat McDonagh, Réva Mivasagar and other top Canadian couturiers—made crafting ensembles out of bathroom tissue almost look easy, obscuring a design process swathed in challenges.

“The biggest thing is that it tears,” recalled Katrina Tuttle of creating her belted sheath dress. “That was the hardest thing to get around—figuring out what was the best way to strengthen it so the garment would hold itself up. The first day, the first 12 hours, was about trial and error.”

Sleek cocktail dresses, voluminous frocks and even a swimsuit—all formed from pink and standard-issue white Cashmere bathroom tissue—appeared across a runway navigated with careful confidence by a model contingent featuring Canada’s Next Top Model, Meaghan Waller, in a sweeping Ines Di Santo gown. Shay Lowe’s Tudor-esque ruff necklace boldly established territory for accessorizing under the TP aesthetic. Remarkably there were no casualties on the catwalk, save for a bit of downed flower detailing.

Style legend Pat McDonagh, whose striking commission evoked a candy-flossed southern belle, remembers “three weeks of utter labour” culminating in near-disaster.

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THE IT: Anthea Simms, runway photography star

Then and now: Carine Roitfeld, editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue, in the ’80s (left), and last season in New York.

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

For better or worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, Anthea Simms has been married to the business of runway photography for almost 30 years. Her images have appeared in countless publications, including ELLE UK and Flare, which was the first magazine to commission her work.

Anthea and I met on a blustery afternoon at the Metropolitan Hotel in London’s Mayfair district. After my delightful discovery that she too owned the Canon G11 camera (which made me feel much better about dropping the substantial sum to buy it), Anthea schooled me as we arranged a snap-happy mini-shoot of our gorgeous Afternoon De-Light tea.

Between bites, Anthea answered a few questions about her career, Carine, and her fascinating experiences as one of the few female runway photographers.

How did you get involved in runway photography?

“I first trained as an illustrator and ended up having a tough time making a living freelancing. So, needing to find a full-time job, I started working for a fashion company. One day a photographer dropped out of an assignment at the last minute and I was given the opportunity to do some shooting…really horrible looking back on it…but it was so fantastic [in that it was] instant, not instant by today’s standards, of course. For me, as an illustrator, by the time it takes to get things done, it was so quick! After that I just kept on going.

[In terms of runway photography] it helps if you love the clothes. When I started, there were some pretty revolutionary designers, and the ’80s was really the beginning of runway madness.”

What was your first experience as a runway photographer?

“The first show was in 1981, before I started doing the whole circuit. It was Betsey Johnson in New York and I shot that in black and white. I think it’s great that I can even remember that. Well, at least it’s a designer that’s still in business, which is quite an achievement.” [laughs]

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THE IT: The Mixedfit T-shirt project

A T-shirt design by Hannah Claus at the Mixedfit show. Story and photography by Brendan Adam Zwelling.

The humble T-shirt stretches its simple fabric across the length and breadth of our lives. Both a timeless casual default in most wardrobes and a staple of American Apparel-era hipness, these social billboards project statements, clichés, politics, and commerce in equal measure–or, when unadorned, they become the foundation of understated chic. We ask a lot of them, too: They carry the burden of our cheap jokes and shameless sloganeering, and support the weight of our icons who fill them out to bursting point (never more devastatingly than on Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire).

With that in mind, the debut of the Koffler Gallery’s Mixedfit project at the well-appointed Queen West branch of Balisi (711 Queen St. W.) on Tuesday night was a characteristic launch—DJ, drinks table, and teeming crowd enter stage-right—for an atypical product. Four eclectic T-shirt designs by four diverse artists were on show and did not disappoint for both style and substance.

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THE IT: Sasha Grey at the Drake

Story by Caitlin Agnew. Photography by Jen Arron.

Last week, I stayed up way past my bedtime to catch Sasha Grey‘s DJ set at the Drake Hotel. While I knew of Sasha from her starring role in Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience, she’s known to most people through her work in adult entertainment—that, and her racy American Apparel ads. I couldn’t help but wonder: What exactly does one wear to see a DJ set by someone known for not wearing anything at all?

After making my way past the inscrutable security outside, I saw Keanu Reeves checking in with the concierge in the lobby. Is he a secret Sasha fan?  Thanks to my press pass, I was kept in the VIP section, far away from her many, many male fans. I was very grateful.

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THE IT: Sarah K of catl takes us vintage shopping

Sarah Kirkpatrick, of the Toronto band catl, which has two songs in the Jonathan Sobol movie, A Beginner’s Guide to Endings. The movie stars Harvey Keitel and Tricia Helfer and premieres at TIFF tonight. More details at the end of the post!

We spent an amazing day vintage shopping with Sarah in Mirvish Village. Story by Caitlin Agnew. Photography by Brendan Adam Zwelling.

Sarah Kirkpatrick is no stranger to the spotlight. As the vocalist, organist, and percussionist of Toronto blues band catl, she’s a veteran of both the stage and stage style.

I first met Kirkpatrick at The Butler’s Pantry on Markham Street. It was the morning, or rather, afternoon after her band’s biggest show to date: opening for the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at Lee’s Palace. She sat down next to me, lowered her yellow sunglasses, and ordered a Coke, joking afterward on how it made her feel better, like “less of a dirtbag.”

A Pilates instructor by day, Kirkpatrick knows her body—very well. She doesn’t follow trends or designers and prefers buying quality vintage, using the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly as guides: “I’m more concerned with shape and lines and the clothes actually fitting properly.”

We decided to spend the day vintage shopping in her favourite neighbourhood, Mirvish Village, where I witnessed first-hand just how a rock star chooses her look.

TIFF SPECIAL: Cheryl Hickey’s festival fashion tips

ET Canada‘s Cheryl Hickey and Rick Campanelli. Photo courtesy of Central Image Agency.

Story by Kyra Kendall.

For the 11 days of the Toronto International Film Festival, Cheryl Hickey’s job is to make both her style and her celeb interviews look effortless. The Style Notebook caught up with Cheryl on the red carpet, and quizzed the popular TV personality on her favourite festival designers and how quickly she can get changed in a limo. (Hint: It’s impressive.)

When do you start planning your TIFF outfits?

“I start thinking about looks I might want to try about two weeks before the festival. The process is ongoing from that point—making revisions/edits right up to the last minute. The last-minute changes are not because of what I see other people wearing at the festival—they’re more reflective of what mood I’m in, what the weather is like. You know, every party girl’s considerations!”

How many outfits do you need for the festival?

“I need two or three outfits for each day. I need casual “movie screening looks” (likely sweaters and jeans because those theatres are FREEZING), smart casual outfits for interviews, and finally, party dresses for the evenings. It makes for a lot of outfit changes in a day, but that element of glamour is what the festival calls for.”

Which designers do you prefer to wear during TIFF?

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TIFF SPECIAL: Black Swan review

Story and illustration by Ayalah Hutchins.

After months of hearing about Rodarte‘s foray into costume design, this week the anticipation became reality as I excitedly watched the design house’s tutus in motion in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan.

This psychological thriller stars Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers, a professional dancer at a New York City ballet company, whose life is completely consumed by her career. Every night, she returns home alone, where she lives with her overly protective mother (Barbara Hershey), and leads a sheltered, isolated life, seemingly frozen in childhood.

When principal dancer Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) unexpectedly retires from the company, artistic director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) looks for a new dancer to star as the Swan Queen in his raw interpretation of Swan Lake. Desperate for the role, Nina is faced with a challenge.
Innocent and inexperienced, she is able to personify Odette, the White Swan character perfectly. But despite her strong technique, she has difficulty embodying Odile, the seductive and manipulative Black Swan. Enter Lily (Mila Kunis).

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TIFF SPECIAL: Meet the man who made Nikki Beach

Story by Leanne Delap, one of Toronto’s top writers (fashion or otherwise), who will be covering all the glitz, glamour and Glowerers for The Style Notebook during TIFF. Today: Behind the Nikki Beach phenomenon.

Photography by Brendan Adam Zwelling.

If you build it, the models will come. And so it was with Nikki Beach Toronto, a pop-up bar conversion specially for the festival. Nikki Beach is the white hot brand that founder Eric Omoré started in Miami in 1999. The French-born impresario then took the poolside champagne cabana concept back to the homeland setting up in St. Tropez, then expanding his empire to other playgrounds of the Diddy and fabulous, such as St. Barts, Cabo, Marbella, Croatia, Egypt, Qatar and Panama among the 20 outposts.

Some seven years ago, Omoré took a temporary tent to the Cannes festival; this is his second year in Toronto (Nikki Beach was in the Park Hyatt last September).

But its temporary home this year, at C-Lounge on Wellington, is a natural fit. The team brought in an ocean of white—the brand’s signature non-colour—to drape every inch of the place.

Then they filled it with models. Unlike other temporary havens set up for stars around town (such as the London-based private members’ club Soho House, reported on in this space earlier this week), Nikki Beach Toronto is open to regular paying customers around parties planned for this week.

Thus is the place you could actually have seen Will-i-am  from the Black Eyed Peas mingling with normal folk. Pretty, normal folk I qualify that, all swaying around the reflecting-pool-side bottle-service cabanas bathed in soft light.

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TIFF SPECIAL: How to throw an A-list party

Natasha Koifman, president of NKPR, and mastermind of some of TIFF’s hottest events. Story by Justine Iaboni. Photography by Brendan Adam Zwelling.

Planning an official TIFF red carpet party isn’t as simple as sending a mass Facebook invite—chances are if you’ve got one of those in your event inbox, it’s not the real deal. Natasha Koifman, PR maven, is the real deal.

Getting an invite to one of her TIFF events is like winning the 6/49—‚just imagine! Natasha’s agency, NKPR, is behind this year’s It Lounge, a celeb-only playground open every day during the festival, and glamorous events such as TORO magazine’s RED party and Saturday night’s swanky Artist for Peace and Justice  fundraiser.

In her Adelaide Street office (dubbed “the trenches” during TIFF),  Natasha gave last-minute directions to lighting technicians and a room full of caffeinated staff working away on Macbooks, while looking the picture of chic in knee-high Christian Louboutin boots.

Natasha sat down with The Style Notebook to talk about the behind-the-scenes of throwing a top-notch A-list soiree.

How did the TORO After Dark space come together?

“We’ve been working with TORO magazine for just over a year. Chris Brady, one of the co-founders of TORO magazine, ended up purchasing the entire New York Times Canadian photo archive with over 24,000 images, incredible images from over the past century—like Niagara Falls when it was frozen over in the 1920s, Jacqueline Onassis visiting Trudeau in the 1960s, etc.

We thought that we should really bring these images to the world, and what better time to do this than during TIFF? I thought, Why don’t we create a destination? So we created a place where celebrities can come and hang after dark—when all of their stuff is done. A lot of other film festivals don’t have this component. I remember the festival 15 years ago when we used to do that at Rosewater Supper Club, but that wasn’t really an organized thing. So now, we’re downtown by day on Adelaide at the IT Lounge and uptown by night at the PEARS on the Avenue building.”

So you’re more into creating a celebrity “space” versus just another celebrity party?

“Yes. I mean the party scene can be especially disjointed during the festival. It’s more about creating a space and a lounge and a destination as opposed to a party. I think there’s enough of those going on during the festival. We do have some of our own, certainly, but I wanted to have a destination where everyone could just hang and chill. I wanted to create a place where I would want to go to, you know, at 12 o’clock at night.”

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TIFF SPECIAL: Party-pretty with the Brill girls

Story and illustration by Ayalah Hutchins.

Brill Communications knows what girls like. Last week, the hip Toronto PR firm hosted a pop-up beauty lounge in their John Street offices, offering hair and makeup touch-ups, as well as polish changes. The pros at Donato Salon + Spa were on hand to ensure that overstretched media and TIFF guests were red carpet ready.

From the moment I contacted Brill’s Ashley Bartlett to book a last-minute appointment, I felt like I’d entered an oasis amid a hectic, hopped up TIFF schedule. The glass of Prosecco on arrival was a particularly welcome touch.

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