TIFF SPECIAL: Inside the Soho House

Gemma Arterton and Dominic Cooper, last night at the Soho House. Photo courtesy of Grey Goose.

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: Touring the ultra-exclusive Soho House pop-up space.

Some parties around town are lit by searchlights and paparazzi strobe, but the most exclusive lounge in town has a back alley entrance off Spadina and the only identification is a tiny brass plaque hidden on the loading dock that reads Soho House.

We’ve been colonized by the Brits again, this time for a splashy six-day stint: The London private members arts club (there is a branch with boutique hotel in New York and a recent West Hollywood club only) trucked its signature mismatched couches and lamps up from New York along with the club chef, Paul Gerard.

There is no guest list, as the doors are open only to the private club’s international movie mogul jetset members. The club has set up temporary shop in Cannes for some years now, and did a trial party here in Toronto last year before extending their commitment to most of the festival this year. “It just made sense, this is where our members are this week,” says the club’s plummy London-based publicist Izzy May.

The heaviest hitter, Harvey Weinstein, has brought in a stream of box office boffo, from Colin Firth (who was feted with a giant chocolate cake for his 50th birthday) to Javier Bardem, Marion Cotillard and Blake Lively.

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TIFF SPECIAL: At the RED party & Fubar II after-party

Photographer Caitlin Cronenberg, the curator of the RED exhibition, in front of a photo of her filmmaker father. Story by Emily Blake. Photography by Louie D.

Last night, I solved one of the city’s greatly lamented questions: “Where are all the men?” My first night of TIFF-trotting found me at two deeply different parties, and at each was a veritable swarm of men.

First up was the party for RED, curated by Caitlin Cronenberg and held at PEARS on the Avenue, the condo showroom at Ave and Dav, currently converted into the TORO After Dark Lounge. I suppose one shouldn’t be shocked when attending an event hosted by a men’s magazine that there would be men there. But so many! And for an art exhibit? Shocking.

The event was uptown in all conceivable ways—suits aplenty, cold cocktails, hot apps, a candy bar, and plenty of bling. Perhaps all the men were there to get a peek of D. Cronenberg, whose films are practically universally acclaimed among the testosterone set. Though the photos themselves—a glimpse into the New York Times’s Canadian photo archive, recently purchase by the owner of TORO— are really enough of a draw. Some of the images featured well known faces (Jackie O nose to nose with a horse—adorable!) and some were more esoteric, but Miss C did an excellent job of placing them throughout the space; every time I found myself in a nook there was something fascinating to look at.

Also fascinating was the contingent of TV talent—Colin Mochrie, Spenny (sans Kenny), Natalie Brown—and scenesters like Jeff Stober of the Drake, communications maven Mary Symons and designer guy Anwar Mukhayesh. It was clear this off-the-grid TIFF event was one of the evening’s best fetes.

But in the true spirit of TIFF one must never linger in one location too long.

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THE IT: Fashion’s Night Out T-shirt

Fashion’s Night Out T-shirt ($25, exclusively at Holt Renfrew‘s 60 Bloor St. location, until September 20)

In Toronto, we’re going crazy with TIFF, and in New York, it’s all about Fashion’s Night Out (and Fashion Week, of course). Tonight, the original—and biggest—FNO will include karaoke with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, a Helmut Lang block party, and a “French-Style Flea Market” at the Ace Hotel starring Alexander Wang, Rodarte, and the intriguingly named “designer cupcakes.”

Back home, you can get in on the excitement with a T-shirt that is chic, affordable, and in service to a great cause: Part of the proceeds go to the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research and the New York AIDS Fund.

In TIFF terms, that’s two Milano Spritzers at the Four Seasons bar, or a cab from the Drake to Yorkville. In other words? Well worth it.

—Laura deCarufel

TIFF SPECIAL: Inside the 99 Sudbury party

Story by Caitlin Agnew. Photography by Jason Jajalla.

On Wednesday night, with expectations high, I attended my first TIFF party. Not just for this year—ever. Before leaving for the Festival Opening Party at 99 Sudbury, I got my notepad and pen ready for all of the celebrity autographs I’d soon be collecting and spent a few moments rehearsing my best red carpet pose.

A little premature, perhaps. This event was actually a fête for in-the-know industry insiders looking to throw down after a hard day of preparations for the inevitable TIFF chaos to come. We anticipated, commiserated, and gossiped over much-needed wine and delicious nibblies like gnocchi poutine and chicken wing meatballs.

The evening was relaxed, sophisticated, and a good harbinger of what’s sure to be an amazing couple of weeks.

Click through for more pics!

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TIFF SPECIAL: Dressing daggers, part 2

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: Celebrating the inimitable Jeanne Beker.

As of today, our televisions are peopled by a shiny perky army of celebrity presenters, chirpily presenting celebrities. I often can’t tell them apart, so pleasant, nondescript—well, nice looking—and even of tone are they.

They all follow in the footsteps of, and don’t hold a candle to, the woman who is our real cultural ambassador, the woman who introduces us to famous people and us to them: Jeanne Beker. Who is darn well tremendous looking, just not in that talking head kind of a way.

And though I’m a newbie to this spontaneous medium, I hope there is room between the ventilating and the fanning for some old-fashioned earnest appreciation. For I have tremendous admiration of and respect for Jeanne Beker, the hardest working woman in the business. She has been on-air since 1985, first at New Music where she belied the mold of bubbleheaded VJ with her feisty personality and gravitas. Yes, I said gravitas. Call her questions air-balls, call her fawning and you would be missing the target by a mile.

Jeanne has helmed FT for a quarter decade, along with innumerable newspaper, magazine and radio gigs, a relentless schedule of hosting duties at charitable events where she is unfailingly gracious no matter how tired a (divorced) single mum she ever was. Then there are the TV specials, shifts filling in on the anchor desk, and a stint filing for MovieTelevision—not to mention her tireless support of the Canadian fashion industry. Others dazzled by the lights of Milan and New York have forgotten their homeland; never Jeanne.

The great thing about Jeanne is that her voice—the pitch, the sway, how she does voice-over—is how she talks and how she writes. It is why she clicks: There is a through-and-through authenticity to her style. Watch other hosts, they follow a time-honoured formula of erasing their own personality. Their goal is to make it look easy.

Jeanne’s art is that you see the brass tacks. She hustles, she pushes her way through the throng. That is fashion! She fits!

And what she does is damned hard: Even as the senior vet among the television crews of the world, even beloved by all the players, she phones nothing in. Look, I’ve interviewed Karl Lagerfeld, to use the most extreme example in the business, and he makes you sweat blood. The famously taciturn Tuton breaks into a beam with Ms. Beker.

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TIFF SPECIAL: Inside the Tastemakers Lounge

Story by Caitlin Agnew. Photography courtesy of the Central Image Agency.

IT SPOT: Tastemakers Lounge, Intercontinental Hotel Yorkville (220 Bloor St. W.)

The scoop: One of TIFF’s top gifting suites (for festival talent and stars), the Tastemakers Lounge  is centered around the theme of “Fresh Goods.” There are three interactive stations: Wescan Optical for fashion eyewear, Mattel for the latest in board games, and Joe Fresh Beauty for touch-ups and manicures. Ninety-five percent of all brands showcased are Canadian, and an online auction of board games signed by celebrity visitors will benefit the SickKids Foundation.

Previous visitors: Sigourney Weaver, Joaquin Phoenix, Samuel L. Jackson, Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Aniston.

My favourite swag item: Fold-up flats from Damn Heels, something I’ll be carrying in my purse for the next 11 days.

Quoted: “You never know who’s going to stop by. With so many people staying in the hotel, we’re reaching out to all of them, but the big names never RSVP.” —Michelle Easton, rock-it Promotions.

Click through for behind-the-scenes pics!

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TIFF SPECIAL: The top 5 most stylish films

Story by Justine Iaboni. Natalie Portman in Black Swan/all photography courtesy of TIFF.

Ever since Tom Ford ruled the celluloid catwalk with last year’s A Single Man, I’ve been waiting for the chance to applaud a handful of films solely for their ability to be stylish. This isn’t like some best costume award—I’m talking pure aesthetic bliss, that may or may not manifest itself in a sequined, off-the-shoulder dress and a crisp tux or two.

1. Black Swan (2010) U.S.A.

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder.

There are many reasons why Black Swan will undoubtedly be a festival favourite this year—early buzz from Venice, top tier performances, and a seriously stylish pedigree. Aronofsky thrusts his drop-dead gorgeous cast into a grotesque vision of the performer’s psyche; everything we see on screen is increasingly imbued by this motif, including the costumes. Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the sisters behind Rodarte, designed all the ballet costumes, which seem to be right on the mark considering the dichotomies that run through the film between the white swan and the black swan; innocence and subterfuge; Portman and Kunis. Rodarte’s collections have always balanced soft, pastel fabrics and often whimsical designs with a darker, edgier aesthetic employing spikes and knits with lots of runs in them—perfect for a dancer’s attire.

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TIFF SPECIAL: Dressing daggers, part 1

Illustration by Ayalah Hutchins.

Welcome 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. First post: On last night’s FashionTelevision anniversary party.

Jeanne Beker ascended the glass podium and there were audible gasps from the fashion/journalism veterans around me. She. Looks. Fan. Tastic.

She does: All shimmering in a black sequin dress showing off toned and well—why beat around the bush—gorgeously thin gams and arms. Model thin.
”Herbal Magic, I heard she did Herbal Magic,” said a fashion director beside me. “No way, the Elizabeth Manley thing? She doesn’t look like that!” Said the retail titan.

It was Jeanne’s party and she rocked it. Tuesday night’s 25th anniversary bash for FashionTelevision launched the season, and the unofficial start of TIFF for the city’s media and fashion set.
Yes, it was the first day of school (or the night before the first day for private school mums), but the schedule is competing with not only New York Fashion Week, but Rosh Hashanah and, of course, the elephant in the city, TIFF.

And people dressed quite decadently, considering the 7 to 10 call time. The standout for me was the reigning social queen Catherine Nugent who wore an haute couture Hanae Mori custom cream silk tuxedo. Ballsy as hell in a room with red wine on trays. “That’s life,” was her response as a pair of young men in some leiderhosen-like arrangements lurched by sloshing their grape juice.

Flare editrix Lisa Tant also surpassed in a grand-shouldered Greta Constantine black satin cloaklet.
I personally grooved on Hermès PR director Kate Chartrand in her customary towering heels and crisp cropped grey pants with a tough-ass set of chains on the pocket.
Suzanne Boyd was regal in embroidered leather, and retired to the patio for air in the dense throng.
Bernadette Morra wore a sleek blue sheath and her new role as official FASHION mag editor very well.

This crowd for me was a trippy reunion.

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TIFF SPECIAL: Red-carpet ready for $163.50

Story by Caitlin Agnew. Illustration by Brian McLachlan/Torontoist.

While TIFF is all about out-of-this-world parties and the outfits to match, the majority of us aren’t working with a blockbuster budget. With our wallets’ best interest in mind, we’ve scoured Toronto for the best fashion and beauty deals to take you from Norma Jean to Marilyn—diamonds not included.

THE DRESS

My Favourite Dresses (myfavouritedresses.com, 634 Yonge St., Suite 201, 416-944-9207)

Located in Toronto’s high-end shopping mecca, My Favourite Dresses rents A-list designer dresses so you never have to wear the same thing twice. New arrivals just in time for TIFF? Frocks from Hervé Leger and Halston. Bonus: Dry cleaning is included.

Price: $50

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TIFF SPECIAL: Top parties & hot spots

The Drake Hotel, a perennial TIFF hot spot. Story by Caitlin Agnew. Photograph by George Whiteside.

Acclaimed cinema aside, every Torontonian worth their fleur de sel knows that the Toronto International Film Festival is all about the parties—11 nights of parties, to be exact. In that spirit, we’ve compiled a list of the top spots to get up-close-and-personal with the stars, exchange festival gossip, or simply being seen (paparazzi not included). Get your beauty rest now—starting next week, you’ll be living in a city that doesn’t sleep.

Open Call at the Drake Hotel, September 9 — 18
1150 Queen St. W., thedrakehotel.ca, 416-531-5042
THE CROWD: Fun-loving scenesters
THE DRINK: Margot Tenenbaum Cocktail
OVERHEARD: “So who’s hotter: Natalie Portman or Mila Kunis?”
For the seventh consecutive year, the Drake plays host to some of TIFF’s hippest parties, guaranteed to be a hit any night of the festival. Don’t forget to stop by the Drake General Store to pick up a TIFF gift bag complete with Moleskine film journal and paparazzi figures.

Festival Opening Party at 99 Sudbury, September 8
99 Sudbury St., 99sudbury.ca, 416-849-6567
THE CROWD: Toronto’s young and eligible
THE DRINK: Champagne
OVERHEARD: “Lanvin for H&M!”
Tucked away between King and Queen, 99 Sudbury always draws a stylish crowd. For the TIFF kick-off, DJ Vaneska and DJ Oliver are on the tables, while The Row and Opening Ceremony are sure to be on the dancefloor .

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