TALK TO ME: Leith Clark, part I

Story by Mishal Cazmi. Illustration by Ayalah Hutchins.

Only the prettiest adjectives—ethereal, whimsical, and dreamlike—can describe Lula magazine. It’s a magazine dipped in sunlight and enchantment, a world inhabited by dreamers.

Published twice a year, Lula has become more than a magazine; it’s evolved into brand and a lifestyle, made in the image of Clark herself. A Lula girl is a special kind of a girl. She’s a bit Sofia Coppola, a bit Enid Blyton. She eats cupcakes and sips champagne. She wears Moschino and Erdem.

Leith Clark, the editor-in-chief of the magazine, also happens to be Canadian. Clark’s journey is a familiar narrative in the magazine world—a small town girl who moved to New York City in pursuit of her dreams. She interned at Interview magazine before moving to London to work at British Vogue as an assistant to Kate Phelan. But Clark also made it in a big way.

She’s styled stars (Keira Knightley), campaigns (Chanel), and shoots (Harper’s BazaarVogue). And of course, she created Lula, a magazine that began as a small labour of love and has since earned an international cult following. In other words, Leith Clark is the best friend you wish you had. Every suburban girl need only look to Clark, a former resident of Oakville, Ontario, to realize that dreams can come true. She’s the living embodiment of the Lula fairy tale.

Clark was recently in Toronto for the opening of her Lula pop-up shop, curated for The Room at the Bay in celebration of its God Save the Queen event. In a Chanel dress and her favourite Tabitha Simmons suede platform wedges, Clark sat down to chat with The Style Notebook.

You curated the LULA pop-up shop for The Room, which you also did earlier this summer for Harvey Nichols. What were you looking for when selecting items for the pop-up shop?

“Sometimes it’s very selfish. The Miu Miu shoes that are in there were actually shoes they did five years ago. I think I called every Miu Miu store in the whole world and they were all sold out. This May, I got engaged and I remembered those shoes again. I wrote a letter to them saying, just so you know, one of the very first thoughts I had about a wedding were those shoes. So they made them and sent them to me to my house with a card, which was amazing. And then Harvey Nichols asked me to do a pop-up shop for them last summer and one of the first things I thought to do was phone Miu Miu again about those shoes.

Everything else in the shop is by people that I love. Charles Anastase made a dress similar to this one three years ago, but it was short with much wider straps and a higher neck. The Sonia Rykiel dress is a variation of one that existed that was longer. It usually starts with something they’ve already done. With Rodarte, I was really annoying and decided I wanted to wear white dresses forever! There’s also a book called Pretty Things by Liz Goldwyn. It’s so wonderful and I think people don’t see it enough.”

Lula has a very particular aesthetic. When you’re preparing an issue, how do you decide who gets to be in the pages—who the photographer is, the writer, who to interview?

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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 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.

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STYLE MAP: Coco’s Closet

Story by Justine Iaboni. Photography by Brendan Adam Zwelling.

Coco’s Closet (413 Jane St., 647-981-6870).

Nadia Trelle, a former associate buyer at Holt Renfrew, could easily become any girl’s new best friend. Not only is she très enthusiastic about all things fashion, she’s also a girl’s girl—which becomes clear within just a few minutes of watching her interact with her customers. She wants them to find the perfect dress, the perfect bag, or the perfect shoe, and she makes it her mission to help them succeed. (With a few Chanel bags on the shelves, how could she steer you wrong?)

Nadia’s consignment boutique, Coco’s Closet, is one of the first to pop up in the Bloor West Village area, after the recent success of shops like Fashionably Yours and LAB  Consignment in the Queen West and Ossington neighbourhoods.

What strikes me most about the selection at Coco’s is the quality. The Postcard winter jacket with fur trim has surely never seen a Canadian winter, and a beautiful pair of Burberry rain boots have certainly never splashed in a puddle. The finds that particularly caught my eye were a Balenciaga Giant clutch and a Missoni knit twinset that I had to reach out and touch. You know, just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

What can we find in Coco’s Closet?

“I take things that are a year or two old, unless, of course, they’re classic pieces. An Hermès scarf from 20 years ago is still relevant, right? Ideally, I’m a mid-to-high end store. I have a Christian Dior dress, Armani, Prada, Gucci, Robert Rodriguez, but I also have some Theory pieces, as well as premium denim like Sevens and Citizens. I also carry the odd piece  of Banana Republic. I’m really looking for up-to-date fashion. The boutique is 70 percent on the higher end of things, but I’m always looking for that fun fashion piece. If something comes along that I think is right for me, I’ll put it in the store.”

Why consignment versus retail?

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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 BITE: An amuse-bouche of fashion news

Double-take: Pierre Hardy’s Gap collab really is that great. Story by Anne Pringle.

Gap + Hardy
The Gap’s latest collaboration with a high fashion designer is about to debut next week—Tuesday, October 19, to be precise. The merchandise is a pair of shoes created by famed French designer Pierre Hardy. The former Hermès creative director was reportedly supposed to create three additional fall 2010 styles for the Gap, but only the one pair being released ever made it to production. The one pair won’t disappoint, however: Think black suede wedges with leather detailing and laces, for under $200. (Fashionologie)

Burberry going strong
Burberry Group has reported a rise of over 21 percent in their first-half revenues (which translates to roughly $975 million), and it’s not even due their new technological ventures (like their new interactive website and 3-D runway shows). Burberry’s CEO Stacey Cartwright claims the increase is in thanks to “high-quality sales – from main line stores rather than outlets—and there were fewer markdowns than in the past.” In short, while the recession may seem to be doing a double-dip, the luxury market is still going strong. The most popular items sold from the British label this season? Aviator jackets, shearling boots and sling bags. (WWD)

Creative mishap at Chloé
The new ad campaign for French fashion house Chloé has just been released, and features Brazilian supermodel Raquel Zimmermann as the face of their newest fragrance, Love, Chloé. Zimmermann has starred in dozens of high-fashion campaigns (including Balenciaga, Chloé, Fendi and Lanvin, to name a few), and the ads were shot by Dutch photographer duo Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin (known for their work at labels like Jimmy Choo, Yves Saint Laurent and Narciso Rodriguez). Sound like a recipe for the perfect campaign? Well… Somewhere along the way, a mistake was made in creative, and Zimmermann appears wearing a head-to-toe Chloé outfit, save the belt, which is YSL. Oops! (WWD)

Wu for Shiseido
There’s no sign of Jason Wu slowing down—earlier this week, he continued his trip across the Orient to China, where he unveiled his new makeup collection in collaboration with high-end cosmetics company Shiseido. The line, Supreme Aupres, includes eyeshadows that come in a silky soufflé formula and are available in a variety of jewel tones. Wu gushed excitedly about his new project, “They’re like the icing on the cake. These are dessert cosmetics!” (Into the Gloss) via (NY Mag)