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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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: Inside the madness with Debra Goldblatt

Debra Goldblatt, the founder of Rock-it Promotions, one of the top PR firms in the city with a major TIFF presence. Story and photography by Marq Frerichs.

Perhaps you checked your Twitter feed, glanced at a newspaper, or walked through Yorkville in the last few days? Yes, you’re right—there is something happening in this here town. It’s TIFF madness. Madness, I tell you!

Or, as Debra Goldblatt would say: It’s all logistics. Say it with me: Logistics.

When I sat down with Deb, the founder of Rock-it promotions, last Wednesday, she was cool, calm, and rather serene—in fact, the very model of a modern major general. The Rock-it promotions office in the Burroughes Building was quiet, with two banks of computers, a central conference table, and Deb’s office on the Queen Street side. There was an easy energy in the room, with four members of the team on-site and the rest out in the world, paving the ways and means.

The only hint that they might be overtired? The bowls of candy on the table.

Two things were different with Deb right off the bat. One, she gave me a real kiss, not the air kind. Two, she offered me water. Wonderful, because no one really needs a caffeine boost in this hopped-up business. I sat in her office with her while she fielded a few calls, negotiating meet-and-greets in five-minute increments. “You can have 10:50 to 10:55.” Whoa!

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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: 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.


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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