Introducing Herschel

It's back to school time, and for some of us that translates to "time to get a bag" time. While I appreciate a good handbag and an oversized tote as much as the next girl, these options just didn't cut it when I was in school. Commuting to campus for a day that lasted anywhere from 4 to 12 hours meant I often had to carry a lot of stuff. A laptop, books, a clipboard (it's so much easier to sketch economics graphs by hand), a snack, a water bottle, dance shoes...you name it, and chances are I've sherpa'd it around UBC.

Thankfully, "functional" doesn't have to be synonymous with "ugly" as demonstrated by the classic cool backpacks of Herschel Supply. The Vancouver-based company combines the simplistic, utilitarian appeal of retro styles with practical features and fabrications suited for modern needs. Think sturdy canvas, lots of pockets, cushioned straps and padded compartments perfect for protecting your laptop.

At the KNOW?SHOW trade show I attended a couple weeks ago, I had a preview of their spring/summer 2012 collection: lots of bright primary colours (love!) and brown leather accents, as well as a slew of pouches, wallets and laptop and netbook sleeves in coordinating colours. But if you can't wait until next spring to buy a backpack, I suggest you visit their website and order one now before school starts next week.

What do you carry your books in?

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Thomas Sabo Store Opens in Oakridge Centre

Thomas Sabo has come a long way since Sabo and creative director Susanne Kolbli founded the company in Germany in 1984. Establish a reputation for whimsical sterling silver charms and a sense of fun? Check. Expand into Europe and Asia? Check. Launch a line of watches and a new fragrance? Check. Now Thomas Sabo has its sights set on Canada. They opened their first location in Toronto in 2011, and this month they opened their first Vancouver location at Oakridge Centre with a swish party co-hosted by Fashion magazine.

According to Thomas Sabo's PR manager Martin Hurtig, the store's dragon wallpaper walls, red accents and display case pandas are supposed to reflect the latest collection's theme, 1930s Shanghai. The store's decor changes accordingly every season.

From what I saw, there's something to suit everyone's tastes. Classic girls will love the filigree-like silver feathers, crystal-encrusted butterfly pendants and pearls. Rocker girls, meanwhile, will gravitate toward edgier pieces like an oversized scorpion pendant. Girls looking for fun pieces will appreciate the bewildering selection of silver charms with enamel accents. As for the guys, some of my favourite pieces included woven leather bracelets with silver clasps and fleur de lis cufflinks.

I also had a chance to try out Thomas Sabo's new fragrance, Charm Rose, while I was there. The verdict: this gourmand scent featuring notes of strawberries, champagne and dark truffles is delicious without being cloying and reminds me a bit of passionfruit.

Thanks to Thomas Sabo and Faulhaber PR for the invitation to see the new store! For more information or to see the full selection of jewelry, check out the Thomas Sabo website.

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Today's Outfit: Simple Summer Colour

  • Anthropologie cardigan
  • Elroy Apparel dress
  • Kelsi Dagger sandals

It took an entire summer, but I've finally given in to the colour-blocking trend that took the fashion world by storm. I love being able to nail a trend without buying trendy pieces, so to speak, but by combining pieces that I already own and would wear in a dozen other outfits. And with a colour combination as bright and cheerful as orange and pink, any accessories other than a great pair of shoes seem superfluous.

Happy Friday! What does everyone have planned for this weekend?

9

Mad for Milly

Milly has long been associated with feminine on-trend styles, and the new fall/winter merchandise that's trickling onto Shopbop is no exception. Think cozy knits, trompe l'oeil bows, and a wide-legged trouser that seems to look wonderful with everything. The colour palette of ivory, cherry red, black and charcoal is classic yet spot-on for the upcoming season. Other pieces--demure blouses, a knit poncho, knee-length dresses--are also worth perusing. Milly is completely out of my price range, but a girl can dream, can't she?

What are you looking forward to wearing this fall?

9

Luxe or Less: Blue Lace Baby

Jessica Stam behind the scenes of Flare's cover shoot. Source: Flare tumblr. Photo by Gabriel Steele.

Two of the biggest trends this fall are lace and all things blue, so it should come as no surprise that at least one designer decided to combine the two. Lacy, long-sleeved dresses in a deep rich blue showed up on the September 2011 cover of Flare magazine as worn by Jessica Stam, and on Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, during her tour of Canada. Their frocks were by Vionnet and Erdem, respectively.

Kate Middleton in Erdem. Source: Globe and Mail.

Those of us who aren't supermodels or duchesses will have to look elsewhere (read: fast fashion chains) for our blue lace fix. As it turns out, blue lace that looks elegant is hard to find at a mass retailer level. Lace tunics and racerback tanks and tees in boxy cuts--all intended to be layered over camisoles--abound. Chic ivory and black lace items are commonplace. But you have to look a bit harder for sophisticated blue lace pieces.

This was why I was lucky to have found this dark blue lace top at H&M for a scant $29.95. The luxe look of the lace belies the small price tag, and the pretty 3/4 sleeves with the scalloped edges mimic the demure appeal of the dresses pictured above.

For those who prefer their blue lace in skirt form, consider the ASOS pencil skirt (£30.00).

Finally, for tall girls who want something more adventurous than navy, there's this royal blue lace dress with a sweetheart neckline, courtesy of Topshop (£40.00).

Will you be wearing blue lace this fall?

10

The Journey, Not the Destination


It was only a three-hour drive away, but Whistler felt like it was a world apart. The boy and I spent a night at the Whistler Alpine Chalet, a cozy bed and breakfast with fitness and spa facilities. We didn't really do much. We had prime rib in the Village and caught the opening band and the tail end of the Barenaked Ladies concert. There was late-night stargazing on our room's patio, a delicious three-course breakfast, and a drive back to Vancouver filled with pit stops for sea-to-sky, mist-filled vistas.

Sometimes it really is more about the journey than the destination. Mini getaways like this are good for the soul, and the trip got us talking about other places we'd like to take road trips to. Portland and various stops in Washington State rank high on that list, and who knows, that trip might be happening in September.

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Whistler-Bound

The boy and I are off on a much-needed mini getaway where fun and relaxation await us. Posts will resume Tuesday. Have a great Monday everyone!


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The Charm of Chains

Forget the dainty charm bracelets and pendant necklaces of your childhood. It's oversized, pile-them-on-thick chains that make a statement, resulting in a look that's unabashedly sophisticated. I love the plethora of styles that have been available lately. Metallic links, colourful loops, chain-mail mesh. There's definitely a number to suit every style, and now's a good time to add a bracelet or necklace to your wardrobe. Another plus: chain links are a relatively classic motif, so chances are you won't look démodée a couple years down the road.

Luv Aj chainmaille bib necklace ($199.32)


Marc by Marc Jacobs faceted 'Jessica' necklace ($82.32)


Kenneth Jay Lane lavender link necklace ($79.73)


Gorjana 'Brinkley' tassel bracelet ($57.80)


Vita Fede 'Anneli' bracelet ($249.15)


Soo Ihn Kim 'Darya' bracelet ($127.56)


Assad Mounser 'Shine a Light' bracelet ($249.25)


DANNIJO 'Chauna' bracelet ($281.04)

12

Banana Republic Launches Mad Men Collection

Mad Men fans may be mourning the fact that the show won't resume until 2012, but at least they can mourn in style thanks to the Banana Republic Mad Men collection. Co-designed by Banana Republic creative director Simon Kneen and Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant, this limited edition collection features classic pieces that straddle 60s chic and a modern sensibility.

At the media preview I attended last week, I spotted plenty of leopard print, lace, full skirts, fitted cardigans and tailored dresses. Pumps, pearls and a leopard clutch rounded out the accessories selection. These pieces would be as appropriate for a Betty or Joan as they would be for a contemporary office setting. For the men, there were suit separates, cardigans, fedoras and cuff links.

Fellow bloggers Melissa, Niki and Alicia

Guests sipped cocktails as they shopped the collection and enjoyed complimentary makeup touch-ups from BeautyMark. After all, it's hard to nail the 60s look without the perfect lip colour or cat's eye liner!

So what did I pick up? These grey cigarette pants that I've been eyeing ever since the promotional pictures were released.

The pants are a wool blend and fully lined, so I'll wait until the weather cools to do an outfit post. Pictures soon, I promise! I can't wait to "Mad Men" myself in them.

Thanks to Banana Republic, Lisa Kwong and Tait PR for the invitation to the preview. To shop the collection, visit your local Banana Republic store or check out their website.

7

Suki's Signature Spa Facial 2.0

Known as a go-to destination for hair, Suki's on South Granville boasts another side that you might not know about. Downstairs from the hustle and bustle of hairdryers and stylists is a tranquil full-service day spa offering everything from facials and manicures to steams, massages and body scrubs. Recently they revamped their offerings and they now use only Dermalogica products for their skincare treatments. As a fan of Dermalogica and good skincare in general, I couldn't say no when offered a chance to try Suki's revamped signature facial.

My visit on a sunny Thursday morning began with the requisite paperwork and tour of the spa. Suki's has the relaxing day spa atmosphere down pat: the facilities are luxe, clean and comfortable, and the vibe couldn't be further from the frenetic pace upstairs. After that, it was time for me to change (robe, wraparound towel, disposable flip-flops) and head into my facial room where esthetician Tessa was waiting.

The signature facial feels a bit like an "everything but the kitchen sink" facial. It's good for the uninitiated who don't know what they want and are looking for some overall pampering, but less than ideal for seasoned spa-goers who want very specific things from their facials. Over the course of an hour, Tessa cleansed my skin, exfoliated, applied a masque and moisturized my face and neck. She alternated all of this with some light all-over massage and extractions, as well as plenty of steam and hot towels. In the middle of the treatment, she also performed a "skin mapping," a concept that Dermalogica pioneered. Breaking down my face into 14 distinct zones, Tessa analyzed the problems that plagued each zone. The assessment: a few broken capillaries, some congested pores and dehydration on my cheeks.

The Dermologica products Tessa used on me: soothing eye makeup remover, soothing additive, daily microfoliant, active moist, precleanse, special cleansing gel and colloidal masque.

So did the signature facial do its job? Indubitably. The stress-induced breakouts on the left side of my face appeared diminished, my skin was more even-toned and I felt infinitely more relaxed than when I first entered Suki's.

Thanks to Suki's for letting me try their signature spa facial. For more information about their services or to book an appointment, visit their website.

5

Portobello West Celebrates 5 Years

I'm back! Thanks for bearing with me as I took a mini-break from blogging. Last week was spent focusing on work, relaxing after some intense deadlines, getting back into yoga and attending various events, one of which was an intimate fete at the Portobello Petite pop-up shop to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Portobello West. Located at Kingsway and East 10th in the Rize development showroom, the pop-up shop features goods from 5 Portobello West regulars: eco-friendly clothing from Elroy Apparel, children's clothing and accessories from Little MoSo, jewelry from Jenn Ellis and Street Cat Designs, and chocolates from Beta 5 chocolate.


Guests enjoyed drinks and complimentary chocolates as they admired designs from Portobello West vendors who've achieved success outside of the monthly fair: Nicole Bridger, Dotted Loop, Two of Hearts, Blushing Boutique and Irit Sorokin. The evening concluded with a festive pinata and speeches.

The next market is happening on August 28th. Congratulations, Portobello West! Here's to another 5 years. In the meantime, you can visit Portobello Petite at Kingsway and East 10th until the end of August.

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