Soirée Snapshots: Kiehl's, Privilege, Birks

Just a little look at what I've been up to the last few weeks.

Meet Mr. Bones, the Swarovski-crystal-studded fellow hanging out in the brand new Kiehl's store in The Bay. That's right--the cult skincare and grooming brand that began as a New York apothecary in 1851 has partnered with one of Canada's most illustrious retailers on a store-within-a-store. All the Kiehl's store signatures are present, from the vintage Harley Davidson motorcycle (an obsession of the Kiehl family) to the little wooden medicine drawers (chock full of product samples) and Mr. Bones himself. Although the original Mr. Bones served as a teaching aid for the pharmacy students, this sparkling incarnation was created by Jason Matlo, who also designed a limited edition T-shirt with all proceeds going to Camp Goodtimes.

Kiehl's fans will find all their favourite products here, including Amino Acid Shampoo and Conditioner, Creme de Corps body lotion, and #1 Lip Balm.

The denim wall at Privilege, a little gem of a boutique located in the heart of Port Moody. It felt a bit strange venturing so far from Vancouver to check out a new store and shop, but a 20% one-night-only discount proved irresistible. Throw Canada Goose parkas, J Brand denim, MICHAEL Michael Kors pieces, Alden Rae wrap bracelets, and Rebecca Minkoff handbags into the mix, and it was pretty much guaranteed I couldn't walk away empty-handed. I can't wait to show you what I bought in my next outfit post.

Take a dash of Canadiana and mix it with diamonds and white gold, and you'll get the latest collection from Birks, Les Plaisirs de Birks. Pendants and rings featuring heart, cross, snowflake, and leaf motifs are bubbly and wearable for everyday, but for dramatic impact it's hard to beat the large maple leaf brooch. Also noteworthy: the new BIRKS MUSE collection, which features delicate scrollwork inspired by the ceiling of their original Montreal store dating back to 1879. (In fact, I loved the motif so much I tweeted a photo of one of their pendants.) The engravable pendants would make lovely Christmas gifts, don't you think?

Creme de la Creme Ticket Giveaway

Photo by Ellen Hong

Are you a newly engaged couple looking for wedding inspiration? Or perhaps you're part of the bridal party helping the lucky bride and groom plan their big day? Whatever your reason may be, you should stop by the Crème de la Crème Grand Wedding Showcase this Sunday at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Vancouver. This unique luxury wedding event returns for its eighth year with a showcase titled "Le Rêve" (The Dream). In other words, think dreamy table settings, floral arrangements, bridal dresses and accessories, cakes, and the ultimate highlight: a fashion show featuring top designers like Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Monique Lhuillier, Reem Acra, and Jenny Packham.

Date: Sunday, November 4, 2012

Time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Location: Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver (791 West Georgia Street)

Tickets: $45 per person, online at

Interested in going? I have a pair of tickets to give away to one lucky Solo Lisa reader. Simply leave a comment on this post by Thursday November 1st, 12pm PST. Entrants must be from the Lower Mainland. Comments must have some means of contact (email, blog, or Twitter). One winner will be chosen randomly. Good luck!

UPDATE: The winner of the giveaway is Julie Switzer, who just got engaged last week. Congratulations on both fronts, Julie! You'll be receiving an email shortly. To everyone else, thanks for entering!


Today's Outfit: Playing Dress-up with Wear Else (Part 1)

Luisa Cerano vest (borrowed from Wear Else) | Joe Fresh sweater | Forever 21 shorts | J. Crew 'Janey' flats | Badgley Mischka purse | J. Crew bangle and BCBGeneration bow bracelet (available in other colours here and here)

Vancouver-based retailer Wear Else is stepping up their sartorial game this season with a new lineup of brands. Not only do they have exclusive rights to Raoul and Nationality, they'll be carrying See by Chloe and DVF shoes this fall. Additionally, fall marks the welcome return of pieces from well-loved labels such as Alice + Olivia, M Missoni, and RED Valentino.

With such an amazing selection of brands, you can imagine how excited I was when they sent me an impressive fall/winter 2012 lookbook and expressed an interest in collaborating. Based on the lookbook's outerwear selection (blazers, leather jackets, winter coats!), I decided it might be fun to pull a couple pieces of my choice for outfit photos. This was my first time doing a pull; admittedly, it was a little nerve-wracking walking out of the store and assuming responsibility for $1700 worth of outerwear. In fact, the shoot almost didn't happen because I didn't want the pieces to get rained on! Thankfully the weather cleared up just long enough last Sunday for some photos on the rooftop patio after brunch.


Product Review: Tata Harper Skincare

I've been hooked on Tata Harper skincare products since I had the chance to meet Tata Harper herself in September, so this product review will sound like a lot of fangirling. Her all-natural anti-aging skincare line is made in Vermont and full of active ingredients. Hydration boosters like hyaluronic acid plump and firm skin, while gentle exfoliants reveal a glowing complexion with minimal effort. Simply put, these are products that won't harm you and they really work.

After the glowing results of the facial Harper gave me, I was eager to try the Tata Harper skin care regimen I received for review: the Refreshing Cleanser ($82.50), a gentle no-foam cleanser that contains clay and white willow bark to thoroughly cleanse pores and exfoliate; the Hydrating Floral Essence ($71.50), an oil-free, alcohol-free moisturizing toner that refreshes the skin after cleansing and throughout the day; and the Rebuilding Moisturizer ($110), which uses raw honey to protect skin, hyaluronic acid to plump it, and aloe vera, rose water, and floral essences to calm it.

All three products met my expectations and surpassed them. The Refreshing Cleanser smells like an orange Creamsicle and feels rich and moisturizing to the touch. Because it's so gentle and formulated for sensitive skin, I use an eye makeup remover on my eyes and lips and a precleansing product on my face before cleansing. (I also use an organic exfoliating scrub once a week instead of relying on the Refreshing Cleanser alone.) The Hydrating Floral Essence feels cool, refreshing, and altogether delightful when I spritz it on and absorbs quickly. The Rebuilding Moisturizer moisturizes effectively but feels non-greasy to the touch.

After a month of using Tata Harper, I can definitely see and feel a difference. My skin feels softer and firmer and there's less redness. What's more, I have a healthy glow in the mornings even before I put on makeup. These products are pricey, but based on the results (and the fact that they're all-natural), I think they're worth it.

Tata Harper skincare is available at BeautyMark.


Eco Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013: Standing Armed

Wearable, on-trend clothes in luxe fabrics have been Standing Armed designer Lindsay Walsh's calling card since she debuted her label. Last week, she delivered an exquisite collection at Eco Fashion Week that had something for everyone while maintaining a cohesive design story (no easy feat, I assure you). The fact that the collection's palette seemed to be two sides of the same coin definitely helped: the light creams and pink-and-gold paisley jacquard print in the first half of the show, followed by darkier, moodier pieces in black and burgundy-and-gold brocade.

Fans of this season's baroque trend will be pleased to see Walsh incorporate the jacquard and brocade prints into tailored dress shorts, a shirtdress tunic with a high-low hem, patterned trousers, and a sleeveless top with a sharp geometric peplum. Those who are looking for sleek and simple separates to incorporate into their workwear will find plenty to love too: blouses, loose silk trousers, suiting, and an elongated menswear-inspired vest which looks so elegant loosely buttoned over an LBD. Meanwhile, the black silk jumpsuit strikes just the right minimalist cool-girl vibe, requiring only a change of accessories and shoes to be a versatile go-to outfit for parties.

Photos by Wayne Mah.


Eco Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013: Atelier B.

Sustainable materials, local production, innovation, and quality: these are the values that belie atelier b., an emerging label based in Quebec and founded by Catherine Métivier and Anne-Marie Laflamme. Their focus on these core values, as well as their timeless designs, have earned atelier b. mentions in Lucky and FASHION. At their spring/summer 2013 show on Thursday evening, the best of atelier b.'s design signatures was definitely in evidence.

Titled "Exquisitely Slow," the collection invokes the languorous sensuality of summer days and a clear sense of nostalgic yearning. At the same time though, the clothes feel fresh and modern. A blue-and-white gingham shirtdress and perfectly tailored cropped trousers seem like they would be right at home in the 1960s or in modern day Mt. Pleasant. (Topknots and knotted extra-long skinny belts only added to the hipster chic vibe.) Classic-with-a-twist tees and blouses look as though they are meant to be worn next season and beyond. The same could be said of the shorts, collarless jackets, and sun dresses. Indeed, "Exquisitely Slow" is a worthy detour from the land of fast fashion.

Photos by Wayne Mah.


Eco Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013: Voyou

Before I begin my series of reviews of Eco Fashion Week shows this week, I want to get on my soap box and gripe a bit. You see, I've attended EFW (and eco designer shows) for a few seasons now, and after having seen the good and bad of green fashion, I have to say: I wish eco fashion wasn't so obviously "eco." Casual-to-a-fault hoodies and yoga pants; ill-fitting, drab-coloured garments; clashing outfits that look like they were patched together from the contents of a grandmother's sewing bin--these are all eco fashion clichés that make the average, fashion-conscious consumer shudder and want to shop at conventional stores instead of doing their part to help the environment. Is it impossible to design clothes that are trend-conscious and sustainably made, that prioritize fashion-forward design as much as the environment? As it turns out, no. So for this season's EFW coverage, I'm only focusing on the shows I saw which meet such criteria.

Founded in 2011 and made entirely in Quebec, designer Lise-Marie Cayer's Voyou line is all about combining comfort with a contemporary, urban sensibility. Her clothes are meant for active Canadian men and women with busy lifestyles. Although "Voyou" translates to "thug" or "hoodlum" in French, there was no note of rebelliousness in Cayer's spring/summer 2013 offerings for women. Rather, her sorbet-hued eyelet sundresses and pastel stripes were sugar and spice and everything nice. My favourite piece: a throw-on-and-go chambray dress, so perfect for summer.

Photos by Wayne Mah.


Today's Outfit: Dotty

Zara shirt and necklace | J. Crew polka dot cafe capris and 'Martina' wedges | Roots clutch

Just a quick outfit post this time. After the long week I've had, my mind feels just as dotty as my trousers. In the past five days, I've met with individuals from four beauty brands, checked out a hidden gem of a boutique in Port Moody, looked at the latest Birks diamond collections, and attended an evening of fashion shows at Eco Fashion Week. (More about all of these things in upcoming posts, I promise.) Of course, the highlight of the week was Topshop Wednesday. Not only did I pre-shop the collection and check out the store, I also had the privilege of having dinner with The Bay and Topshop, and going to the after party at FIVESIXTY where Metric took the stage. Oh, and did I mention squeezing in work and blogging too? Like I said, it's been a long week, exhausting yet exhilarating at the same time.

Have a good weekend!


Sneak Peek: Topshop and Topman Inside The Bay

The excitement around the new Topshop and Topman locations inside The Bay downtown has been mounting over the last few weeks. And from what I saw at the media preview and festivities yesterday, the new store (reportedly the largest international Topshop location outside the UK) definitely lives up to the hype. Staffers flown straight from London worked with personnel from The Bay around the clock to put together everything before the October grand opening. The hard work paid off: They transformed an entire floor into a retail space true to Topshop's aesthetic, with neon signs, clusters of impeccably dressed mannequins, and store sections that flow seamlessly into each other. What's more, because this is such a large location, expect a full range of sizes (including petite sizes) for women and an impressive Topman selection.

The store officially opens on Thursday October 18 at 9:30am. (That's today!) Happy shopping, Vancouver! For now, here's a little glimpse of what you can expect to find.

If you're into studded pieces, you're in luck: I spotted plenty of shoes, bags, moto jackets, and vests sporting all sizes and shapes of studs. There's even an entire wall devoted to studded flats and loafers in the shoe section. Burgundy hues were also in abundance.

Masterful black-on-black layering on the mannequins, showing the details and textures of these pieces to full advantage.

Chambray, camo, and one of many great outerwear pieces available.

Lovely black-on-green clutch with cutouts.

My favourite accessories were the accent collars in leather, pearls, and jewel-embellished fabrics, as well as the statement necklaces. I also liked the selection of faux fur earmuffs, hats, and scarves on one wall (so cozy and cute for winter).

My favourite trend story: futuristic 60s. As one Topshop staffer explained, they basically took classic 60s-inspired silhouettes and gave them a futuristic twist. Each section of the store is organized around a different trend story, making it easy to find complementary pieces.

For the gents, expect a more fashion-forward, trend-driven approach to dressing from this London import. The patterned knits (polka dots, Fair Isle-inspired, intarsia) and slim-cut tweed suiting really stood out. The sizes are cut smaller relative to other retailers, making me suspect that more than a few girls will be raiding the guys' section for blazers, jackets, vests, and cardigans.

Shoes. Enough said.

Autumn Dress Trends: Peplums and Wintry Florals

With the right style and accessories, a good dress can go from being a spring/summer staple to an autumn essential. My closet is full of frocks that I wore with bare legs and flat sandals during the warmer months. Now, I plan to wear them with tights, boots, and cozy cardigans or an eye-catching jacket.

Of course, a girl can never have too many. When I was invited to take a look at the selection of ladies dresses online at Next, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Colour-blocking, peplums, wintry florals--it's hard to resist adding an on-trend number to my collection. The bold colours and graphic prints on the floral frocks are strong enough to stand on their own, making day-to-night dressing a breeze, while the peplum frocks seem pretty perfect for the office or the holiday party season.(And yes, in case you're wondering, they do ship to Canada!)

Which one of these dresses is your favourite?


Malene Grotrian Fall/Winter 2012

I've been following the ascent of Danish-born, Vancouver-based designer Malene Grotrian and her eponymous line since 2009, so you can imagine what a pleasure it was to view her fall/winter 2012 show. Titled "New Heights," the show--which took place at Performance Works on Granville Island--was preceded by a VIP reception at the Dockside restaurant in Granville Island Hotel and promised beautiful clothes and more than a few surprises.

For fall/winter 2012, Grotrian strayed from her tried-and-true formula of bustiers and party skirts and experimented with a more eclectic approach. This collection felt like it was more about pleasing her clientele and satisfying their requests than presenting a cohesive design vision. As a result, I can't say I was a fan of every look that came down the runway that evening. But there were a few standouts. The graphic checker-pane-patterned sheer maxi dress styled over a white slip, black-and-cobalt strapless peplum dress, military-inspired trenches, and black-and-cobalt jersey dress with an adjustable back drape were all highlights.

Aside from presenting her latest collection, New Heights was a chance for Grotrian to announce the launch of her new eponymous magazine, a publication that celebrates the intersection between lifestyle, fashion, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy. An electrifying performance by violinist Rosemary Siemens (clad in a custom Grotrian creation) preceded the other big announcement of the evening: Grotrian's new Made to Measure line, which enables clients to commission custom-designed clothes for any occasion. They're both ambitious projects, but as Grotrian has demonstrated by building a successful business and showing at New York Fashion Week in her first three years, she has the determination to tackle anything and succeed.

Photos in this post courtesy of Malene Grotrian.


Fiveleft Leather Clutch Giveaway

A show at Eco Fashion Week, a feature in FLARE magazine, and now, his 1000th bag. Bag and leather goods designer Lincoln Heller of Fiveleft Leather has accumulated some impressive milestones during his career. All of his bags are made by hand in Vancouver and come with individual serial numbers. But the 1000th bag--a boxy black-and-white carry-all satchel--is extra special. So special, in fact, Fiveleft is hosting an auction and party on November 3rd at the Robinson Studio Gallery in its honour.

Fiveleft is doing something else to celebrate: offering one lucky Solo Lisa reader a Leashed Clutch (valued at $120, pictured above) in red, light brown, or black. This statement wristlet boasts the best of Fiveleft's design signatures: colourful treated leather, sleek and structured lines, interesting hardware. To enter the giveaway, simply comment on this post by Friday, November 2nd, 12pm PST, and answer this question: "Guess who just made their 1000th bag?" Entries must have some means of contact (email, blog, or Twitter). Good luck!

UPDATE: The winner of the giveaway is Natalie (@OceanScented)Congratulations!


Today's Outfit: Back to Basics

JACOB convertible sash sleeveless blouse (c/o) | Banana Republic cardigan | Joe Fresh belt | J. Crew cafe capris | Paolo Corelli pumps | Badgley Mischka purse | J. Crew and H&M bangles

One of my fail-safe autumn outfits has always been a cardigan worn over a short-sleeved blouse, tee, or tank. Even today I'll still reach for this combination when I'm feeling lazy or rushed, or merely craving something comfortable. The latter was especially true when I donned this JACOB blouse for a day of errands. As great as its tomato red hue and bow detail look with this cardi-and-khakis ensemble, I imagine this blouse will look just as good tucked into pencil skirts, or worn loose over skinny jeans with the detachable bow tied around the waist as a sash. It's a versatile piece that can transition from the office to a casual date or a night of salsa dancing.

Speaking of salsa dancing, I feel compelled to tell you a bit about our trip to Seattle last weekend. The boy and I drove for three hours (plus the border wait) to dance at Century Ballroom with out-of-town salseros. (Lest you think we're insane, we know some hardcore dancers who drive there almost every week. In fact, salsa is why they got Nexus passes.) We spent the first day shopping and dancing. Unlike past trips where I was psyched to buy clothes and shoes, this time around I spent more time (and money) looking for things for the home: an acrylic tray to house my growing nail polish collection, kitchen essentials, Voluspa candles, luxuriously fluffy towels. As for the salsa dancing, it was SO much fun. Dancing with some of Seattle's best leads was completely worth the drive.

On the second day, we met up with some friends for brunch and strolled around Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square while enjoying the unseasonably warm sunshine. We also stopped by Experience Shoes because I needed some new salsa shoes. Experience turned out to be the highlight of the trip as we got to know owner Jim Hadley, a dance enthusiast and photographer who once shot for Vogue and Make Up For Ever. Jim ended up giving us a dance lesson in his store, ignoring Doc Marten-buying customers and even family members who stopped by to say hi just to show us a footwork combo.

Although we had low (read: zero) expectations of having good food during the trip, Seattle surprised us again and again. Carne asada tacos at Tacos Chukis (kudos to Yelp for that recommendation), thin-crust pizza at Via Tribunali, chicken and waffles at Local 360, and the creamiest clam chowder I've ever had from Pike Place Chowder were just some of the highlights. All in all, it was the perfect weekend getaway to unwind and relax. Other than this lingering cold I've been fighting, my spirits are rested and my energy is restored.


Product Review: New Radiance Facial Glo Papaya Cleansing Scrub

Now that I'm getting older, my skin seems more susceptible to dry patches, dullness, and congested pores. One way of combatting all three problems is to exfoliate once or twice a week with a gentle scrub or mask, which makes products like New Radiance's Facial Glo Papaya Cleansing Scrub ($26) essentials in my skincare arsenal. The star ingredients in New Radiance's product are papaya extract and salicyic acid; together, they gently exfoliate and unclog pores.

The Facial Glo Papaya Cleansing Scrub was a bit hit-and-miss for me, to be honest. I liked how it smelled and the consistency of the formula (a light, lotion-y texture). But I wasn't crazy about the manual exfoliation micro-beads that felt scratchy and irritating. In fact, although the package recommends daily use "for maximum effect," I was reluctant to exfoliate every day using this scrub because of the micro-beads. The improvement in my skin after several weeks of semi-regular use (read: 1-2 times a week) was negligible at best. As for the much-lauded papaya extract, it was third from last on the ingredient list, meaning that there wasn't very much of it in the formula. (That would explain the less-than-incredible enzymatic exfoliating action.) Because I've had experiences with highly effective masks and scrubs from all-natural lines, I'm going to have to pass on New Radiance's.


Featured in Framework Magazine

After a long overdue weekend getaway to Seattle, I'm slowly readjusting to normal life and fighting a cold. (Sigh.) While I'm getting back into the blogging groove, check out the October issue of Framework Magazine, which features yours truly on their monthly blogger panel talking about Thanksgiving plans and favourite autumn activities. Many thanks to editor Bria Lear for the feature!

P.S. Only two more days to enter my Shopbop $100 GC giveaway!


Today's Outfit: Chambray and Lace

Zara shirt | H&M skirt | Joe Fresh belt | BCBGeneration and J. Crew bracelets | Roots clutch | Colcci shoes

I'm going to keep wearing pencil skirts sans tights as long as the sunny weather holds out. Case in point: this chambray-and-lace ensemble which I wore to the ION magazine x Little Burgundy media preview and party. In fact, I liked it so much I wore it again on Sunday for an afternoon of shopping and errands and dinner with my parents, albeit with a lower heel. Judging from the compliments and the admiring side-eyes and once-overs I got while trying on wedges at J. Crew, I'd say this combination was a resounding success.

Aside from celebrating my birthday (a quiet Tuesday dinner at Les Faux Bourgeois) and moving offices (from Yaletown to downtown bordering on Gastown), life lately has been an unending cycle of work, fashion events, yoga and salsa (whenever I can fit it in), and watching Netflix at home when I'm too tired to do anything else. This weekend though, the boy and I are busting out of our humdrum routines with a brief getaway to Seattle. Fun and relaxation, here I come!

To my Canadian readers, have a happy Thanksgiving weekend! And before you go into a turkey coma, remember to enter my Shopbop giveaway.


Product Review: Givenchy Mister Lash Booster

If my lashes look a little fuller and longer these days, it's thanks to the magic of Givenchy's Mister Lash Booster ($33, available exclusively at Sephora). Ingredients like extract of Artemia Salina and polymers help boost lash growth, prolong the growth cycle, and add curl and shine. The plastic bristle applicator and turn-click dispensing mechanism ensure the product can be applied precisely with minimal waste. Although Mister Lash Booster is suited for use as a lash serum at night and a pre-mascara primer during the day, I've been applying it before bed almost exclusively. Nevertheless, the results are (pardon the pun) eye-opening. It's not Latisse, but it's a pretty decent over-the-makeup-counter alternative.


Soirée Snapshots: Anne Sportun x Kiss & Makeup, ION x Little Burgundy, Tableau Bistro

I've been doing a lot of running around the past week with going to events, keeping this blog alive, and holding down a full-time job. Not easy! Hence my recent streak of forgetfulness: On more than one occasion, I've shown up to appointments and discovered I forgot my SD card or camera battery (or even my camera). Here's a glimpse of what I've been up to, courtesy of my smartphone camera.

Waking up at 6:40 am can be tough, but taking car service to West Van to try on diamonds was worth it. The occasion? Toronto-based fine jewelry label Anne Sportun hosted a trunk show at Kiss & Makeup last week. Sportun's sparkling creations (made from gold, silver, diamonds, and other gems) are delicate yet striking, exuding a sensual and organic warmth inspired by nature. Trays of earrings, rings, necklaces, and even a rare paraiba tourmaline pendant invited guests to try on and touch. (Let's just say there was a lot of wistful longing.) If you missed the trunk show, don't sweat it: Anne Sportun is a staple label at Kiss & Makeup, and you can always request a one-of-a-kind piece you've seen via serial number.

I think I've found my dream engagement ring: a 2-carat, cushion-cut raw diamond with the loveliest smoky grey hue, in a raised setting, surrounded by smaller diamonds. (Boy, take note!)

That same day, ION magazine and Little Burgundy hosted a spring 2013 media preview and a little party to celebrate the grand re-opening of their Robson Street location. Guys and gals alike can expect casually stylish footwear at Aldo's little sister store, which stocks labels like MEL by Melissa, Jeffrey Campbell, Vans, Fred Perry, and Truth or Dare by Madonna. Highlights: the biggest selection of Herschel Supply bags I've ever seen and these adorable bow-adorned ankle rain boots from MEL by Melissa.

To celebrate the launch of their new Casse-Croûte menu, Tableau Bistro invited guests for an afternoon of oysters and bacon Caesars yesterday afternoon. There was even a shucking competition among local media personalities. Casse-Croûte (which means a light meal or snack) is available on weekdays from 2:30-5pm. Oyster lovers, take note: A glass of Moet and half a dozen oysters will only set you back $20. I know where I'll be the next time I'm free during happy hour.

Back to Top