Best of Blog 2012

The sequinned RACHEL Rachel Roy dress I wore to meet the designer herself.

2012 has been a tremendous, eventful, and sometimes overwhelming year. I don't think I've necessarily accomplished everything I set out to do (more about that in a future post), but the adventures I had along the way sure were fun! Here's a look at some of my favourite memories and blog posts.

January started with navel-gazing and goal-setting, and some cooking as I tried my hand at making turkey and white bean chili. (Both very apropos activities at this time of year, I might add.)

Some of the big names in fashion that I had the privilege of meeting or learning more about this year included Derek Blasberg, Rachel Roy, Mary Katrantzou, and Van Cleef and Arpels. And of all the big names setting up shop and opening new stores in Vancouver, J. Crew and Topshop were definitely two of the biggest. (Have you had a chance to shop their Boxing Day sales yet?)

Among the fashion shows I attended, VAWK's VFW show and both Standing Armed shows (reviews here and here) stood out the most.

A detail shot from one of my favourite outfit posts this year. The fur vest (softest thing ever!) is from Wear Else.

My favourite addition to my wardrobe this year has to be this green bow-adorned Kate Spade bag. And with emerald being declared the Pantone colour of the year for 2013, I can easily see myself toting this on my arm for many days to come.

Beauty was a big part of Solo Lisa this year and will continue to be going forward. I had so much fun trying new products this year, from my first BB cream to an organic hair mask based on a traditional Polynesian recipe. I was introduced to Curel's premium line and SkinCeuticals's potent tinted sunscreen. Products from ILIA, Givenchy, Dermalogica, and Philosophy snuck into my daily routine. I became better acquainted with the founders and origins of some of the best organic and natural beauty and skincare brands. Meanwhile, I eschewed brushes but found myself favouring orange lipstick and nail polishes of all sorts.

Hmm so what else happened this year? I bought a home and moved in with the boy, started decorating (and found myself redecorating as the seasons changed), and was published in FLARE. Oh, and I became a project lead at work. Yup, no big deal.

Okay, enough looking backward. What are you doing to ring in the new year? If a night on the town is in the cards, these tips and these tips might help. And if you're staying at home and sipping on bubbly from the comfort of your couch, these additions might make your evening even cozier.

See you all in 2013!


A Sparkly NYE with Irit Sorokin

Every year, it's the same routine: We vow to get fit, save money, and so on as soon as the holiday season's indulgences end and the sobering reality of a new year begins. I know that last year I told myself I would buy less but buy better, and for the most part I've stuck to it.

For those of you who've vowed to do the same thing, why not spend your Christmas dollars on a signature piece of jewelry like one of these Irit Sorokin designs? These locally made bijoux feature big, rich-hued gemstones like lapis lazuli, calcedony, agate druzies, and geode druzes. They're a great way to dress up an LBD for NYE, a sweater dress for the office, or a heather grey tee and black cashmere cardi for weekends. Unlike that cocktail dress you might be tempted to splurge on and maybe only wear on December 31st, this is a purchase you'll thank yourself for year-round.

Irit Sorokin pieces are available at Jeweliette, Urban Rack, Forever Young Jewellery, House of Jewels, Fine Finds, and Chloe Angus in Vancouver. Prices range from $30 to $500.


Happy Holidays!

Thank you, dear readers, for following along and reading Solo Lisa for another year! Throughout the ups and downs of the past year, your company has made my blogging journey so much more enjoyable than I ever thought it could be. I wish you and your loved ones a warm and wonderful holiday season.


And Since There's No Place to Go...

Perhaps it's my crazier-than-normal workload, the flurry of social events, or the threat of snow looming in the weather forecast, but lately I've been more of a homebody than ever. After all, there's something special about the warm, cozy feeling that comes from curling up at home after a long day and relaxing with a hot cup of tea. If you're anything like me, these treats will make life at home even sweeter--so much sweeter, in fact, you might be tempted to say "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow." P.S. If you haven't finished your Christmas shopping yet, they make great gifts for others too.

1. The Sleep Shirt ($210) is a luxe alternative to froufrou nightgowns and pajama pants that ride up and wind about your legs at night. Designer Alexandra Suhner Isenberg was inspired to create her one-size-fits-all design after finding (and getting hooked on) a vintage nightshirt from London's Spitalfields market.

2. This silver JULMYS tree ($9.99 from IKEA) is an elegant nod to the season without going overboard in the decor department. I put mine on my dining table and arranged red ornaments, white porcelain birds, and candles in glass votive holders around it to form a centrepiece.

3. The Altuzarra for Target tray ($79.99) has countless uses around the home. Corral loose items or pieces of costume jewelry on your dresser. Fill it with white pillar candles and vases of red-and-white mums for a seasonal coffee table accent. Place small platters of olives, cheese, and good bread in it for guests to snack on.

4. I've been hooked on Voluspa Goji Tarocco Orange scented candles ($24), which fill our cozy little condo with the most intoxicating orange fragrance.

5. On my wishlist this year (and the boy already knows this): a pair of slippers that will keep my feet toasty against cold hardwood floors, like these Granted knitted slippers ($57, available at LYNNsteven).

6. The Central Park West 'McCarren' sweater wrap feels like a more pulled-together, socially acceptable version of a bathrobe. In other words, it's ideal for those days when "effortless chic" is literally, uh, effortless. I found mine on sale at LYNNsteven, but if your size is gone, Revolve Clothing has it too.

7. Oprah says 8/10 women wear the wrong bra size; therefore, it must be true. Luckily, FORTNIGHT Lingerie designer Christina Remenyi not only makes the prettiest vintage-inspired underthings, she makes finding the perfect fit a breeze with her wide range of sizes (cups A to F, band sizes 32 to 38). Ladies who loathe underwire and foam will rejoice: FORTNIGHT has a wide selection of comfy soft-cup styles ideal for lounging around in and wearing out. Available at LYNNsteven.

8. and 9. When the weather outside is frightful, doing my nails while watching Love Actually sounds delightful. My polish picks BUTTER London 'La Moss' ($17) and Essie 'Stylenomics' ($10) pay homage to this season's trendy colours, burgundy and hunter green, while keeping manicures Yuletide-appropriate. Available at BeautyMark.


Today's Outfit: Blue and Gold

Joe Fresh dress | Kate Spade necklace | J. Crew bangle and H&M studded bracelet (similar) | Roots clutch (similar)| DKNYC booties (similar)

Only one photo and no fancy close-ups today, I'm afraid. The boy snapped this pic quickly as we were running late getting ready for his office Christmas party. I love this Joe Fresh dress: The blue-and-gold floral print is sophisticated, and the Mad Men-esque silhouette imparts such a ladylike vibe.

Because this is the third office Christmas party I've been to as the boy's plus one, the routine was familiar. Buffet dinner at the Metropolitan Hotel, check. Musical chairs played by nominees from each table (winner's table gets to eat first), check. Games and speeches, check. Open bar and silly dancing, check. The big difference between this year and previous years was that we didn't go back to his bachelor pad in Burnaby or rent a hotel room downtown; rather, home was just a hop, skip, and a Skytrain ride away in Mt. Pleasant. It felt nice knowing that we were both going home together at the end of the evening.


5 Pre-Party Prep Solutions

I've always believed in good skincare habits, so naturally I'm a huge fan of pre-party prep rituals that care for one's complexion while priming it for makeup application later. After all, healthy skin makes the best canvas! Here are 5 pick-me-ups guaranteed to boost radiance and help you relax before you apply foundation and BB cream. Depending on how much time you have (5 seconds or 55+ minutes), there's a solution that'll work for you.

5 seconds: Think of the Lise Watier Beauty in a Flash Kit ($42) as an advent calendar for beauty lovers. Each door in this silver-foiled box opens to reveal a treat for every occasion, whether it's last minute cocktails or a blind date. Stash one of the Flash Lift Radiance vials in your bag if you're expecting to go out for Friday night drinks with colleagues: The contents erase fatigue and fine lines and refresh makeup in no time at all. Perfect for freshening up in the office bathroom.

5 minutes: Philosophy has really outdone itself with its micro exfoliating treatment kit ($70, available at The Bay). Inspired by the latest in dermatology treatments, this two-step, at-home microdermabrasion peel seems intimidatingly harsh but is actually quite gentle, plus it takes less than 5 minutes. Citrus-scented vitamin C/peptide crystals provide gentle exfoliation, followed by a lactic/salicylic acid activating gel that warms to the touch. Use the micro exfoliating treatment kit once a week for optimal results, and follow the instructions to the tee (1 minute for the crystals, 2 minutes for the gel) to prevent causing skin irritation. I like the idea of using it in a pinch to get rid of dry skin flakes pre-makeup application.

15 minutes: Slip on a mask and relax. MaskerAide's Pre Party Prep sheet mask ($6, available at BeautyMark) leaves skin soft and smooth with its blend of argan oil and natural extracts. For tired eyes, the Bio Lift Eye Patch in the Lise Watier Beauty in a Flash Kit de-puffs, moisturizes, and smooths with its blend of collagen, aloe, witch hazel, and vitamin E. I like how the eye patches adhere to the undereye area and don't fall off, making it easy to multi-task and do my nails at the same time.

55+ minutes: The Eminence Organics Detox Kit ($69, available at Spa Boutique) is basically a 5-step facial in a tube featuring pint-size products meant to be used in a specific order. First cleanse with the Citrus Exfoliating Wash, then gently scrub away dead skin with the Pear & Poppy Seed Microderm Polisher. Skip the redness and warm tingles induced by the Lime Stimulating Masque if you're short on time (the effects take 2 hours to fade away but are well worth it if you have an entire afternoon). However, the soothing Pink Grapefruit Vitality Mask is a must. Finish off with the Sour Cheery Whip Moisturizer (smells so good) and a few drops of Couperose-C antioxidant serum and you're good to go.

P.S. Prepped, primped skin, check. Now in case you missed it, here are a couple of glitter-infused makeup looks to try this holiday season.


Hands Up

This winter, I've been keeping travel-size hand creams in every place conceivable: on the bathroom counter, on my desk at the office and at home, in my purse, on my nightstand. I suffer from dry hands and am constantly washing my hands (hello, seasonal germophobia), and I don't like interrupting my work to go searching for lotion in another room. Others must surely feel my pain, which is why luxe, sweetly scented hand creams make great stocking stuffers, standalone gifts (particularly if they come in gift sets that let you sample different ones), or the ideal beauty indulgence for yourself. So without further ado, here are 5 ways to treat your own hands or someone else's to something special this holiday.

1. Mary Kay Limited Edition Vanilla Sugar Satin Hands Pampering Set ($51). This 3-piece gift set includes an exfoliating hand scrub, a hand softener that provides deep and immediate moisturization, and a lighter hand cream, all in a season-appropriate vanilla sugar scent. I keep the hand scrub by the bathroom sink as a reminder to exfoliate regularly, and it works.

2. Eminence Organics Vanilla Almond Gift Set ($30, available at Spa Boutique). Vanilla and sweet almond oil give the Hand & Cuticle Cream and Shimmer Body Lotion an intoxicating, all-natural fragrance. This limited-edition gift set is a terrific introduction to Eminence Organics for the uninitiated.

3. Dermalogica multivitamin hand & nail treatment (available at BeautyMark). Dermalogica's latest offering is like the Cadillac of hand creams. Its non-greasy formula not only moisturizes, it promises to even skin tone, fight the signs of aging, and condition nails to keep them from splitting and peeling. Tip: Keep this ultra-luxe lotion on your nightstand and apply before bed to reap the full benefits.

4. Jurlique hand creams ($32 for 40 ml, available at Spa Boutique). Rich formulas full of natural extracts, beautiful scents (citrus, rose, or lavender)...simply put, a hand cream you'll want to buy for others and be tempted to keep for yourself.

5. Aruhndara Helping Hands Gift Set ($49, available at Aruhndara). If a sunny getaway to Thailand is out of the budget this Christmas, a few spa-inspired Thai beauty imports might be the next best thing. The travel-size lotions in this set come in four subtle Asian-inspired scents, each one containing a different list of botanicals with different benefits for skin and nails. My favourites are the Princess Pa and Eastern Treat formulas. Although Aruhndara's products are new to Vancouver and North America, they've been a staple of Thai spas for many years.


Today's Outfit: The Big and Little Things

Club Monaco hat (similar style here) | Togs coat (similar style from WEEKEND by Max Mara also available) | Joe Fresh sweater and necklace | Forever 21 shorts | J. Crew Janey flats | Vintage Coach bag (new re-issue also available)

These photos were taken a couple of weekends ago. I wanted to say something clever about the hat (purchased on sale in January, rarely worn because it's real wool and gets water stains), or perhaps how busy I've been lately. But if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that the boy got into a pretty serious car accident Thursday morning when someone crossed the median line into his car and sent him into a 180 spin. Thankfully he's not hurt, although I can't say the same for the car. I'm counting my blessings right now and every time I stop and think about what might have happened, my heart seizes up with cold, unfathomable fear.


3 Makeup Looks to Sparkle in this Season

The holiday season always seems to call for extra effort beauty-wise. After all, shiny Christmas decorations, cocktail dresses, and statement baubles make a girl crave some sparkle in her beauty routine too, whether it's a shimmery scented body lotion or a gold nail polish. My everyday makeup requires minimal effort, but the fun glitter eyeshadows I'm seeing this season make the prospect of experimentation irresistible. So without further ado, here are 3 looks ranging from my everyday face to something more dramatic. Hopefully they'll inspire you to try something different at your next party!

Everyday Polish (aka my normal routine)

Every busy girl needs a five-minute face she can put on when she's in a hurry. (Think rushing to the office in the mornings, errands, running late for a movie date, Christmas shopping...) This is the basic minimum I do to make myself look awake, energetic, and groomed. It takes practically no time at all and provides the basis for the next two looks.

How to

  1. Apply BB cream all over face and blend well.
  2. Apply concealer sparingly where needed.
  3. Dot cream blush on cheekbones and blend well.
  4. Brush brows into place.
  5. Curl lashes and apply mascara.
  6. Apply a lipstick/balm hybrid for colour and moisture.

Purple Glitter Cat-Eye

Okay, now we're getting fancier! Truthfully, I'm an eyeshadow-phobe: No matter how carefully I blend, I always think I look overdone with eyeshadow and opt for liquid liner and a bold lip instead. But this glitter-infused cat-eye is subtle enough for even me to wear, plus it's just gosh darn pretty. Tracing an outline before you start, and using a two-in-one product like Lise Watier's Duo Shadow & Glitter, makes things easier.

How to

  1. Use a sparkly black eye pencil to draw a line along the lash line, flicking outward when you reach the outer corner of the eye. Thicken the line until it looks less delicate, more graphic.
  2. Using an angled liner brush, lightly press a creamy purple eyeshadow base on top of the pencil line until the entire pencil line is covered. You may find yourself blending the purple base and sparkly liner at some point. That's fine, but make sure there is plenty of purple base for the glitter to adhere to in the next step.
  3. Now, dip the same angled liner brush into the glitter and lightly press it on top of the purple base, all along the cat-eye line.
  4. Apply two coats of lengthening, volumizing mascara instead of your normal mascara.
  5. Apply a light lipstick (this one changes colour to become the perfect shade of light pink).
The tools: Givenchy Noir Couture mascara and Le Rose Revelateur de Liv Magic Lipstick in 'LIVely Pink', Eco Tools eyeliner brush, Lise Watier Eye Shine pencil in 'Black Gold' and Duo Shadow & Glitter in 'Plum Star' (other purple shades also available).

Holographic Holiday

Red shadow and hologram-effect glitter sound like a recipe for disaster; however Make Up For Ever Holodiam Powder is surprisingly elegant and manages to transcend any icky clown-face connotations. I really like how this look turned out in real life: the red was sheer and watercolour-esque and the sparkles NYE-worthy. Although the shadow appears dauntingly pigmented in the miniature jar, it goes on sheer and can be layered for added intensity. Whatever you do, the key here is to use primer and lots of it.

How to

  1. Apply a neutral primer all over lids.
  2. Using a sparkly black eye pencil, draw a cat-eye line along upper lashes.
  3. Using a small crease brush, dot Holodiam Powder along the upper lash line up to the crease, outward toward the temple, and just under the outer corners of the eyes. It should look like an exaggerated cat-eye done with red watercolour.
  4. Using an all-over shadow brush, apply a nude shadow just under the brow as a highlighter. Blend into where the Holodiam Powder ends to even out any uneven edges.
  5. Apply mascara if needed.
The tools: Essence I Love Stage eyeshadow base (available at Shoppers Drug Mart and super affordable at less than $5), Lise Watier Eye Shine pencil in 'Black Gold', Joe Fresh crease brush, Make Up For Ever Holodiam Powder in 302, NYX Nude Matte Shadow in 'Kiss the Day' (available at London Drugs).

Your turn! What do you do to switch up your makeup routine for the holidays?


Soirée Snapshots: Kiss & Makeup, Lise Watier

Another week, another slew of events! This time around, I got a preview of the holiday wares at Kiss & Makeup, and a sneak peek at the new Pastel Power makeup collection from Lise Watier (coming in spring/summer 2013). Here's a photo-heavy look at what caught my eye.

You can always rely on Kiss & Makeup to deliver an eclectic mix of fashion, accessories, beauty, and home essentials. New this season: 21 Drops, a line of aromatherapy oil roll-ons intended to cure what ails you. With 21 formulas to choose from, you're sure to find one for your needs, whether it's an immune system boost, a sleep aid, or an oil to energize you or help you focus. Pick one (or mix and match two or three), apply to your pulse points, and inhale deeply. I went home with a vial of De-Stress--a soothing blend of lavender, chamomile, and ylang ylang--and have been hooked ever since; it's a godsend during the busy days from now until Christmas vacation.

Few things feel more chic than carrying a clutch with just the essentials for evenings out. If you're in the market for a new one, try a colour-blocked version or a sequinned envelope silhouette. (Not shown here: the impressive collection of Rebecca Minkoff MAC bags available in-store.)

Cute and colourful, these Pendleton furry slippers, print-emblazoned travel blankets, and mugs make great pick-me-ups for the home or hostess gifts.

Neon knits and warm flannel.

Kiss & Makeup has a decent selection of The Laundress products. Thank goodness, because I'm on my third bottle of Wool & Cashmere Spray already. The cedar-scented, anti-microbial formula neutralizes odours sans harsh chemicals. I spritz this on wool coats throughout the winter, on tailored trousers and skirts between drycleanings, and on cashmere sweaters before steaming them.

A little glimpse at Lise Watier's spring/summer 2013 collection, titled "Pastel Power." The shades were inspired by the mint greens and soft, fresh hues that dominated runways, as well as the transformative power of pastels when worn on the face. Check out the bloom-bedecked limited-edition palettes. Pretty, no?

It feels strange to be thinking about spring when Christmas isn't here yet, but that was what all the attendees at the Lise Watier #pastelpower party were doing. Ultra-feminine Kitsilano boutique Rebecca Bree proved to be the perfect backdrop.

Chains, spikes, ribbons, and gold: it's hard to choose a favourite among these bracelets.

The floral wall at Rebecca Bree.

Vancouver Loves Natural Beauty: Éminence Organics

You may remember a blog miniseries I did in September, Vancouver Loves Natural Beauty, which highlighted the natural and organic beauty brands founded right here in our fair city. Little did I know then what a positive reaction it would receive. Readers emailed me eager to share their favourite local and organic or all-natural skincare labels, leading to a few more installments in the miniseries. Enjoy!

The limited edition Vanilla Almond Gift Set contains a travel-size Hand & Cuticle Cream and Shimmer Body Lotion. The vanilla and sweet almond oil-scented hand lotion is the perfect pick-me-up all day long, while the shimmery body lotion adds a bit of radiance along the collarbone and decolletage during the festive season.

Éminence Organics counts Grace Coddington and Gucci Westman as fans and is beloved in spas and resorts around the world. In other words, this organic label (founded in 1958 and based on old world skincare remedies) is doing something right. Éminence Organics makes its products in Hungary using ingredients from European farms, and combines a holistic old world approach with the best of cutting-edge beauty science. However, the company is headquartered in Vancouver, where Hungarian-born founder Boldijarre Koronczay settled in 1998 and decided to build his life and his company. (You may have spotted the head office's sign on the corner of Cambie and Broadway.)

The Detox Kit is a facial-in-a-tube that will help undo the effects of holiday overindulgence, re-hydrate, and restore radiance to the skin.

As brand representative Elisa Kosonen tells the story, when Koronczay began his business, cosmetics companies made bold claims and ineffective but expensive products full of synthetics. Koronczay--a firm believer in the power of natural remedies--concocted some samples based on old Hungarian recipes and showed them to spas. Aestheticians scoffed at the little pots of jelly-like substances, but the proof was in the pudding (or rather, the jelly): the products boasted wonderful results and clients loved them. Today, the full 180-odd product range is still available exclusively through spas and resorts. (Check the website for a retail location near you.)

Impressive results aside, Éminence Organics has quite the green pedigree. Products are made in small batches to coincide with when ingredients are at their peak of freshness. What's more, Éminence Organics farms practice biodynamic farming, a holistic approach to agriculture that goes a step beyond organic farming. Biodynamic farming seeks to replenish the land of lost nutrients through natural solutions and gives crops the best growing conditions possible, sans pesticides or chemicals.

Navigating through the site's selection can be a bit daunting. So many botanicals, so many products, addressing a bewildering variety of skin concerns. I'll be taking the plunge test-driving a few of their products in the coming weeks (including the ones pictured here). Stay tuned.


Soirée Snapshots: BeautyMark, Loft 82

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! From holiday media previews to pop-up shops, here's a look at what I was up to last week.

It's a bright Christmas indeed at BeautyMark, where the #neonnoel theme meant lots of DIY fluorescent decorations and holiday cheer. Their makeup selection (hello, new Butter London, Essie, and Deborah Lippmann nail polishes and ILIA lip colours) and skincare (Tata Harper and Consonant Body, to name two of my favourite organic brands) was as phenomenal as ever--great gift ideas for the beauty lover on your list. New and noteworthy this year: the Beauty Society rewards club (sign up, and for every $100 you spend, you get $5 in reward dollars to spend in-store), and the Varnish Nail Lounge upstairs (experienced nail technician Linh Khuu helms it).

Aren't these knit hot water bottles adorable?

I spotted some new products in the mix of old favourites. MaskerAide sheet masks (not shown) are based on the sheet masks so popular in Asia, but better for you and the environment: The serum contains no parabens, sulfates, artificial fragrance, or mineral oil, and the packet is recyclable while the mask is biodegradable. At $6 a pop and available in a variety of formulas for different skin concerns, they make affordable and fun stocking stuffers. Pink Door Design Lab--a line of luxury bath products created in Vancouver--just launched this year, but is already creating buzz with its thoughtful packaging and lovely scents. Their multi-tasking massage candles are a terrific gift for the perpetually stressed, providing ambiance and soothing aromatherapy while melting into massage oil.

Loft 82 may be new to Vancouver, but its sister store OAK + FORT has been a Gastown fixture for some time now. The Alberta-based import launched its pop-up shop at 840 Granville St. last Wednesday. Unlike OAK + FORT's minimalist, highly unified aesthetic, Loft 82 embraces an eclectic mix of textures, fabrications, patterns, and colours inspired by seasonal trends, vintage design, and antiques. Definitely worth checking out.


Alan Anderson, Costume Jewelry Maestro

Alan Anderson stands next to the twin of the cuff formerly owned by the late Elizabeth Taylor.

As I mentioned in my previous post, few things top an eye-catching statement necklace when it comes to dressing up for the holidays. But while my budget is more H&M than haute creation, those who consider themselves costume jewelry connoisseurs need look no further than Canadian designer Alan Anderson. Anderson's bold bijoux have been spotted on the red carpet (Viola Davis wore one of his necklaces at the London premiere of The Help), magazine covers (Katy Perry on the cover of Italian Vogue)--and perhaps most thrilling of all--amidst Elizabeth Taylor's vast collection of jewels on auction at Christie's. I caught up with Anderson while he was visiting Holt Renfrew in September and had a chance to ask him about everything, from his beginnings as a jewelry designer to his fascination with Hollywood.

Humble beginnings: A self-described "A-type personality," Anderson pursued a career in design and visual display for 20 years and collected vintage costume jewelry as a hobby before becoming a self-taught, full-time designer. A chance meeting with another designer led to him buying vintage jewelry-making components from a Rhode Island wholesaler. He then spent hours experimenting at his kitchen table, learning how to weld and solder. "Some of [the pieces] along the way were distasters, and a couple pieces turned out really good," he recalls. After another 1-2 years of experimentation, he was turning out fairly good pieces that he gave away as gifts. As more people began wearing Anderson's pieces, the word-of-mouth buzz around his designs grew.

So what attracts him to costume jewelry as opposed to fine jewelry? "The size! I don't believe in small or subtle."

The inspirations behind his latest collection: The textiles and vivid colours of India, particularly those he spotted while walking through Little India in Toronto. Anderson also draws a lot of inspiration from Old Hollywood films and actresses.

When he's not making jewelry, he can be found... reading historical books and biographies ("I'm an information junkie"), or cooking (his specialty is anything baked, and he makes his own jams and preserves).

Look for Alan Anderson's jewelry at Holt Renfrew.


Playing Dress-up with Wear Else (Part 2)

Trina Turk coat (borrowed from Wear Else) | Chanel purse | H&M dress and necklace | DKNYC booties

It may be Thanksgiving long weekend and Black Friday for my American readers, but here in Canada the race toward the holiday season began shortly after Remembrance Day. I've been to one holiday party already and have two more before this month ends. Can you believe it? Christmas seems to begin earlier every year.


Product Review: LUSH Twilight Shower Gel

The latest product from LUSH has nothing to do with vampires, werewolves, or Kristen Stewart, but you might be excused for thinking that based on the name. The misleading moniker that Twilight Shower Gel ($9.95-27.95) bears instead refers to the soothing, calming properties of its star ingredients: lavender and ylang ylang. I've been using it for the past couple of weeks and it does everything that a shower gel should. The sparkly purple formula lathers well (particularly with a pouf), smells great, and rinses away cleanly without drying out skin. Best of all, its lavender scent does seem to help me sleep a little more deeply at nights. Taking a shower with Twilight and enjoying a hot mug of caffeine-free tea has become a pre-bedtime ritual.

So, in a nutshell: Pick up this limited-edition shower gel while you can. Sleep well. Vampires and werewolves not included.


Soirée Snapshots: MUGLER x The Room, Joe Fortes, Man Repeller x Secret Location, The Cross

One of the many incredible couture outfits by MUGLER that was on display at The Room

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I've been pretty busy lately! Here's a look at some of the events I had the privilege of attending in the past few weeks.

I went to the MUGLER x The Room event at The Bay downtown not knowing what to expect, having only known the label through its infamous gourmand fragrance, Angel. The couture outfit retrospective was therefore a great opportunity to get acquainted with this design house's past work, which was eclectic and wildly inventive.

Think gowns inspired by insects (crafted from diverse materials like sequins, glitter-embellished scales, and horsehair), a motorcycle-inspired bustier (complete with protruding rear-view mirrors and tasseled handlebars), and a cyborg-esque molded moto jacket. Seeing these garments up close was a real treat. The label, founded by Thierry Mugler in 1974, lay dormant until 2011 when Nicola Formichetti was tapped as creative director. With such a rich past and an intriguing fashion talent at the helm, I'm eager to see what this label has in store for the future.

And speaking of treats, Joe Fortes was decked out in its holiday best as it served an assortment of tantalizing dishes to a hungry crowd at their holiday tweet-up party. The chicken and waffles, tuna tataki, and seafood all met with approval, while the raw oyster bar kept tweeters more than satisfied. Drinks and complimentary gingerbread men rounded out the evening. P.S. Check out their newly launched seafood-laden brunch menu.

Gastown shop Secret Location played host to Leandra Medine of Man Repeller fame last week. The New York-based blogosphere darling was greeted by an enthusiastic and well-heeled crowd, who patiently lined up for their chance for a meet-and-greet with Medine.

In case it wasn't obvious from this post, I've been on a real home decor and nesting kick lately, so of course I couldn't resist The Cross Decor & Design's nine-year anniversary celebration. Guests enjoyed canapés, champagne, and a raw oyster bar as they shopped the store's elegant wares. For many, the 20% one-night-only discount was a chance to stock up on holiday decorations and Voluspa candles. As for me, I bought some vintage-inspired glassware and design accents.

(Buffalo) Check, Please

I used to have a short-sleeved, tie-neck blouse from Forever 21 in buffalo plaid that looked great with a basic black-cardi-and-jeans combo. But being from Forever 21 and of dubious quality, after a year of wear it mysteriously shrank so much in the shoulders that I had to give it away. (The boy was kind of sad about it. He loved that blouse on me.) Anyway, I didn't realize what a buffalo-checked hole this blouse left in my wardrobe until we were in Seattle last month and I spotted this J. Crew shirt. In the dressing room, it was love at first wear. The soft cotton--no, make that softest cotton ever--felt perfectly worn in and draped just so. Forget online stalking this shirt hoping it would go on sale; I was sold right then and there.

Since then, I've been extra aware of this perennially popular print while window-shopping in stores and online. The good news for those who are as much a fan of it as I am is that buffalo plaid is back with a vengeance. Sleeker cuts, more luxe fabrics, and oversize graphic patterns make this new crop of printed pieces a little more fashion-forward, a little less lumberjack. Wear them during the holiday season for a festive vibe, and pull them out again next autumn when the leaves start falling. Here are some of my favourite pieces in one of my favourite prints.

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