THE INVITATION: At Boobyball 9: FLASH

Jacquelyn West and Natasha Penzo, co-chairs of Boobyball 9. Story by Carole Park. Photography by Natalie Castellino.

Disco balls, big hair and sequins were de rigueur at Studio 54, so it was no surprise to see all of the above in abundance at Boobyball 9: FLASH in support of Rethink Breast Cancer. On Saturday night, the Kool Haus was transformed into a 54-worthy venue for an evening that would have made Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager a bit envious. A tall, tanned blonde wearing nothing but silver pasties and a thong served sparkling rosé to arriving guests, while photo-op areas framed the venue’s perimeter—one couldn’t help feeling as though the paparazzi was around at all times.

All that seemed to be missing was a crescent moon with a silver spoon and having someone ride in on a white horse.

Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger and Diana Vreeland couldn’t make it, but there was no shortage of party-goers going all out for their 15 minutes. Spotted were co-chairs Jacquelyn West in Hervé Léger and Natasha Penzo in Joeffer Caoc. Ainsley Kerr, co-chair and event specialist for Rethink Breast Cancer, looked like a dancing queen in her  flowing pink mini-dress, while blogger-about-town Nolan Bryant channeled classically chic Halston in a grey turtleneck and jacket.

Continue reading

THE INVITATION: At the Artbound pARTy: Fame

The Society’s Ashleigh Dempster and Amanda Blakley vamp it up at the Artbound pARTy fundraiser. Photograph by Sonia Recchia.

Story by Emily Blake.

The ’80s, despite being oft ridiculed for their fashion, music and hairstyles (hello crimping iron!), are perennially called upon as inspiration for costume parties. There is fun in the ridiculous, and those of us who have only vague memories of what our parents dressed us up in in the ’80s seem to take great joy in the excess, the schadenfreude, the truly over-the-top ridiculousness of an ’80s costume party.

Enter The pARTy: Fame, a fundraiser for Artbound, a non-profit volunteer initiative, in support of Free the Children, which encourages art programs and schools in developing countries.

While my original costume idea—Robert Palmer girls—was shot down by my girls in favour of something a little more Desperately Seeking Susan, I was still excited to see what the attendees would come up with. I wasn’t disappointed.

As we rolled up in front of Maison Mercer—the new club at 15 Mercer that played host for the evening—we spotted a Lloyd Dobbler costume complete with long coat and boom box. Any fear I had of being over-costumed was dispelled. Everyone—literally everyone—was fully decked out.

Continue reading

THE INVITATION: TIFF’s last great nights

Scott Speedman at the ET Canada party. Story by Emily Blake. Photography by Natalie Castellino.

TIFF never ends in a flash of lights. It sputters and flares and peters out. The tired troops of media, publicists, and film folk whittle their party schedules from three or four a night to one or two a night. Being a slightly lazy sort myself, on Tuesday and Wednesday (my last night of revelry), I was a one party per night girl.

Not to say I didn’t choose carefully. When an invitation came in from ET Canada, arguably the biggest kahuna of celebrity journalism in our fair city, to attend a party for a film called Good Neighbours starring one Scott Speedman (or, as I still think of him, Ben from Felicity), my choice was made.

Continue reading

THE INVITATION: A night with Steve Nash, James Franco & co.

Story by Emily Blake.

TIFF can be a celebrity whirlwind. Heads snap in all directions and the whispers of “Isn’t that…” and “So and so looks so different in person” echo throughout the city. So when a celebrity athlete makes a film about a Canadian hero, and hosts the party at the home of a famous Canadian artist, it can become the perfect storm of star sightings.

MVP Steve Nash is the athlete in question, our very own basketball savant and my hometown boy (both of us are from Victoria, B.C. leading to one degree of separation). His documentary about Terry Fox, Into the Wind, was the reason for the ruckus, which included an army of valets, Mounties in full costume, a red carpet and many, many, lit up bottles of Vitamin Water, the party’s sponsor.

Inside there was a scene not often found during TIFF—the sports crowd. Olympic athletes like Adam van Koeverden (Canadian gold medallist in kayaking) and members of the Canadian women’s gold medal hockey team, mingled with men who, due to their height, must either have been pro b-ball players or human ladders.

We also saw film producer Jason Reitman, TV and radio host George Stroumboulopolous, and Ben Kowalwicz, the lead singer of Billy Talent. What really made the night for us though, happened while we were standing in the open air Zen Garden on the bottom floor, discussing Electric Circus (what else?) with designer Philip Sparks and NOW Magazine’s adorable Andrew Sardone. Out popped Charles Pachter, owner of the incredible home we were ogling.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

TIFF SPECIAL: Three big parties, one major night

The cast of Bunraku—Josh Hartnett, Kevin McKidd, Woody Harrelson, Gackt, Ron Perlman—in the Soho House on Saturday night. Photo courtesy of Grey Goose.

Story by Emily Blake.

Every year there is one evening during TIFF when the (figurative) stars align, and the perfect party night arises. Last Saturday night was it. While during the civilian party season it is unusual to be glammed up to go out before 9 p.m., TIFF requires a slightly longer window. Which is why I was dressed up and in a taxi, checking my teeth for lipstick, at 6:45. The mission? Three parties, in three places with three raisons d’être that illuminate the variety of festivals within a festival that are happening on any given night.

First up, Hello! Hollywood, as slick and glossy as the magazine hosting it. Held at the Royal Conservatory, the party had all the markings of sophisticated society. Champagne flowing? Check. Floor to ceiling windows? Check. Society swans? Double check. The party was simmering towards a boil when I made my early exit. There is no time to loiter when the night’s festivities have only just begun.

Southbound I went to the newly renovated Civello salon on Queen, home for the evening for the cast of Julia’s Eyes and hosted by Ray Civello and FILLER Magazine. As a fan of Pan’s Labryinth I was excited to spot Guillermo del Toro, the producer of the movie being feted.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

THE INVITATION: At the IZOD IndyCar Series

Story by Justine Iaboni. Photography by Brendan Adam Zwelling.

When two race car drivers host a red carpet event, a few expectations have to be met. First: A sweet token supermodel clad in a thermal racing suit must appear in every picture taken on the red carpet. Check. Second: There must be a gawk-inducing racecar parked out front, which no one has ever driven before, obviously teleported to the event. Check. Lastly: Lots and lots of dudes in slick suits and branded golf shirts milling about. Check, check and check.

The IZOD series drivers Alex Tagliani and Paul Tracy got the basics down pat—and they even invited a stylish array of their racing friends, including Dancing with the Stars survivor Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Al Unser Jr., Ryan Hunter-Reay, Gil de Ferran and yes, the lovely Danica Patrick.

Continue reading

THE INVITATION: At the Peroni party (and the Thompson)

Stylish Peroni guests, including Tanya Kim (far left), Chris Sherman (middle) and Jeremy Freed (second from right). Story by Emily Blake. Photography by Dave Starrett.

As someone who lived in Italy briefly, I’m always thrilled when something I loved there pops into my Canadian life. This summer this came about when an invitation to sip Peroni arrived in my inbox. In the stifling heat wave that cloaked Toronto, there was no way I would skip an opportunity to lounge on the Spoke rooftop with a sweating bottle of birra italiana in my hand. The evening in question arrived, and up I went, wading into the crowd of scenesters, TV producers, and girls with impeccable sundresses.

Despite the exclusivity of the location, there seemed to be almost a block party quality to the evening—in the best way possible. Guests clinked glasses, talked summer cottage plans, and peeled off layers in the heat. The Society’s Amanda Blakely and Martina Stritesky engineered the trend of air kisses from a distance, as everyone came already sporting a fine glow. eTalk’s Tanya Kim held court in one corner, while the doyenne of Rogers, Suzanne, set up camp in the other, wearing a summer dress reminiscent of LV’s fall collection. My pals and I lingered longer than planned—the sun setting on the city was so lovely , the beers so refreshing, the crowd so mellow that we were loathe to carry on. However, the Thompson was calling—one of our travelling company had not yet seen it—so we were bound to the plan.

Upon arrival one thing was clear.

Continue reading