Givenchy Beauty Giveaway Winner

After almost 50 entries, the winner of the Givenchy beauty giveaway is...


In response to my question about springtime beauty rituals, Shelley replied, "Lighter lips, more pedis." Congratulations! The lipstick and nail polish sound like they'll be perfect for your beauty needs.


Danier Spring/Summer 2012 Sneak Peek

On the morning I received the Danier leather spring/summer 2012 lookbook email from their publicist, it was dreary and grey outside with a good chance of rain or snow. But after scrolling through numerous photos of brightly coloured leather clothes and accessories, my burgeoning case of seasonal affective disorder vanished. Yes, the colours really are that potent, and the designs are wonderfully on-trend.

You can thank notable fashion stylist George Antonopoulos in part for Danier's fashion-forward direction of late. (After all, his capsule collection OBJECT did spawn three of my four picks below.) Antonopoulos's sophomore collection is a beguiling mix of modern minimalism and classic charm, all done in neutral, neon and pastel leathers.

Will you be checking out Danier for a jacket or bag to update your wardrobe this season?

Citron-coloured leather makes this mod colour-blocked shift dress ($349) sweet, unusual and very bold.

I love the lightness of this cream-coloured moto jacket ($649) for spring--so different from heavy black leather. The gold hardware adds a luxe touch.

This satchel ($99) mimics the coveted Mulberry 'Alexa' at a fraction of the price. The tan shade is nice if you're looking for a classic everyday bag; for more adventurous souls, the teal version is amazing.

"Everyone needs a brightly coloured clutch" is one of those hyperbolic statements that's proven quite true in my case. I can't count the number of times I've used my orange-red clutch. The sleek style and neon hue of this OBJECT by Danier clutch ($149) remind me of the colourful envelope clutches popping up all over street style blogs.

P.S. My Givenchy beauty giveaway is still on. Enter now!


Vancouver Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2012: Other Highlights

I spent most of my Saturday at Vancouver Fashion Week in the second row, craning my neck and raising my camera between two people's heads to get a clear shot of the runway, working against the light, and shooting extremely wide-angle frames hoping I could crop out people's heads afterward. Needless to say, those photos turned out terribly, which is why I had to rely on the images that photographer Eugenio Flores posted on the VFW Facebook page. I did manage to see a couple of shows from the front row and take some decent photos towards the end though. Here are my favourite photos from Farida Lalji and Teresa Rosati.

A model in the Farida Lalji fall/winter 2012 show exhibited dancer-like grace while highlighting the fluidity of Lalji's Indian-inspired creations.

Bright colours and animal prints galore in the Farida Lalji show

This Teresa Rosati gown featured a black-and-white Marilyn Monroe print.

P.S. My Givenchy beauty giveaway is still on. Enter now!


Vancouver Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2012: VAWK & VAWKKIN

VAWK designer Sunny Fong has come a long way since his days as a winning contestant on Project Runway Canada. His attention to detail and immaculate designs for his luxury women's wear label have earned him devoted fans and accolades from some of Canada's top fashion publications. I had the privilege of seeing his fall/winter 2012 collection firsthand at Vancouver Fashion Week this season.

For VAWK's latest collection, Fong turned to Japanese culture and science fiction, particularly the idea of the sci-fi samurai. According to Fong's vision, the VAWK woman, it seems, is elegant enough to attend a gala but carries herself with enough attitude and grit to hold her own amongst warriors and cyborgs. His inspiration translated into kimono sleeves and wide obi-style belts. Leather and fox-trimmed coats, jackets, and blazers juxtaposed sharp tailored lines and sleek silhouettes with soft draped collars. Leather tattoo koi graced a backless gown. Models sported leather helmets and topknots. The colour palette was simple: mostly black with some rich plum in the form of silk dresses. A touch of gold in the form of leather trim and sequinned pieces conveyed the same hard-edged beauty a samurai sword might hold.

This season also marked the debut of a new sister line called VAWKKIN. Inspired by the modern working woman's need for a seamless wardrobe that transitions from work to play, VAWKKIN incorporated menswear influences into very wearable (and feminine) separates. Think the sharpness and refined detail of VAWK, but done in fabrications and styles that work for the office or cocktail hour. The minimalist colour palette of black-and-white patterns, solid black, grey and teal allowed focus to shift to compelling design details like a bow on the shoulder of a blouse, or a ruffle along the bottom of a coat.

Both shows marked the first time Fong has ventured westward and shown his work in Vancouver. Considering how impressive I found his work to be, I can only hope he visits us more often in the future.

Photos from the Vancouver Fashion Week Facebook page by Eugenio Flores.

P.S. My Givenchy beauty giveaway is still on. Enter now!


Vancouver Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2012: Xsenia & Olya

Vancouver Fashion Week's fall/winter 2012 season just took place last week. While I wasn't able to go to the opening gala or the weekday shows, I did manage to catch Saturday's shows, including the one I'm recapping here: Xsenia & Olya. The London-based design duo, Xsenia Runa and Olya Shishkina, first met as students at Central St. Martins. They had already debuted their spring/summer and autumn/winter 2012 collections in London and Paris before coming to Vancouver.

Their spring/summer 2012 collection, titled "Staircase Wit," drew inspiration from Madeleine Vionnet and photos of jellyfish at the Vancouver aquarium. The result was a breezy collection of bias-cut maxi dresses with thigh-high slits. Streamer skirts and tunics fluttered with movement. The digitized prints--in a South Beach palette of cobalt blue, teal and orange--were eerie yet elegant. Floaty dresses in red, purple and mustard rounded out the collection.

Their fall/winter 2012 collection also featured rich cobalt blue prints on maxi gowns and tunics, this time paired with reversible outerwear by Olya Shishkina. My favourite piece was a classic-cut belted brown leather trench with fur panels and lapels (not shown here, unfortunately). Their intriguing designs, combined with their zero-waste pattern-cutting techniques, are a testament to Xsenia & Olya's skill. I'm eager to see where their aesthetic goes from here.

Photos from the Vancouver Fashion Week Facebook page by Eugenio Flores.

P.S. My Givenchy beauty giveaway is still on. Enter now!


Today's Outfit: Collared

  • Zara white sequinned collar
  • Cici sweater dress
  • American Apparel leggings
  • Maison Martin Margiela booties
  • Joe Fresh pearl stud earrings
  • Silver cuff bracelet (from Boudoir in Yaletown)

Sometimes dressing in lots of bright colours floats my boat, other times...not so much. Little touches like contrasting textures, sequins and a bit of silvery shine kept this from being just another basic black outfit though. I'm still trying to think of more tops and dresses to wear this little sequinned collar with. So far it seems to work best with crew necklines.

Have a good weekend everyone!

P.S. My Givenchy beauty giveaway is still on. Enter now!


Q&A with Designer Cassie Dee

Cassie Dee's spring/summer 2012 collection hits all the right notes for this season. Her on-trend use of Pantone's 2012 colour of the year 'Tangerine Tango,' sharp tailoring, and playful riffs on classic staples like the blazer and the button-up shirt offer a cohesive, well-constructed vision. Although her eponymous label is only two years old, her skill belies her years of experience as a pattern maker and teacher's assistant at the former Helen Lefeaux school.

Since her impressive debut at Toronto's LG Fashion Week last season where she placed as a finalist in the Mercedes-Benz Start-Up Competition, Dee has returned to Vancouver and is hard at work on collaborations with Miss Universe Canada and her next collection. She took a break from her busy schedule to talk with me about her background, her work and Aesop's fables.

Let's get some basic details down first. Full name? Where are you from, and where are you based now?

My full name is actually Cassie Dee! Sort of a pun on the name Cassidee, but Cassie Dee is my real name. I grew up in Calgary and moved to Vancouver to attend fashion school in 2004. I decided to stay in Vancouver to work in fashion and when it was time to launch the label, I decided Vancouver would be the place!

How did you first become interested in fashion? Where did you study?

I think I was always interested in fashion, though it is hard to remember, growing up I had a lot of interests! I was always drawn to interesting silhouette or a little something extra on an outfit. Growing up I always disparaged the Oscar dresses that I felt were too boring and rooted for the girls that used those moments to shine.

I moved to Vancouver to go to Helen Lefeaux in Gastown. I was drawn to the program initially because it was just 10 months long! After I finished the year I ended up going back for 2 more years as the patternmaking and construction teacher’s assistant anyway and it was great. I really enjoyed it and I met so many great people who are now working in fashion; that is pretty much how I met all of my friends in Vancouver!

What was the inspiration behind your spring/summer 2012 collection?

For Spring 2012 I took my tailored, city girl aesthetic and rooted it in an out west color story. The main colors I pulled from a version of Aesop’s fables that was illustrated by Arthur Rackham. I always thought it was so funny when the animals wore clothing and I put one of my favorite illustrations on my wall. I also pulled in a lot of country style elements like bold topstitching, beautiful buttons and patchwork and a few nature-inspired shapes to create cowling and swirling seam lines.

I focused on layers and separates. I also wanted the collection to have a really 3-D look on the hanger, nothing flat. I do woven blouses every season; for spring I moved all of the seam lines into curves and swirls, like the bug’s shells pictured on my wall, to create that 3-D hanger effect on even streamlined, fitted pieces.

The city wardrobe on a road trip idea really comes through in the silhouettes. A tailored element mixed with a draped piece makes a really easy to wear, modern silhouette. The idea of pairing that silhouette with a vintage color story and some nostalgia-inducing details seemed fresh and appealing.

Do you have any design signatures/trademarks that are very Cassie Dee?

Strong tailoring and strong, very directional color stories. If I can throw a bit of fancy sewing in there, usually I can’t resist.

I love your philosophy of having quality pieces in one's wardrobe that one can always rely on for a confident, relaxed, chic look. What's the first thing you reach for from your closet when you need to get ready in a hurry and want to make sure you look great?

Great coat or jacket (or blazer weather depending!). It is always the first thing people see you in and it’s almost always necessary. I tend to dress in a lot of layers but even if I feel like I can’t find anything to wear, I know at least I have a great piece to throw over top!

What was it like presenting your collection at Toronto Fashion Week?

Presenting Spring/Summer 2012 at Toronto Fashion Week was exciting and inspiring. The presentation options and different spectacles at the venue took the event out of the usual realm for me. Truly, I did go with an experienced, awesome team helping me out so that could have added that slick and polished feeling to it, but I really did appreciate the idea of turning the show into a bit more of a spectacle. I think it is good for me to mix it up a bit and showcase my work in different arenas so I do plan on going back to Toronto Fashion Week, but I am really excited to do the Fall show here in Vancouver.

What's next for you personally and professionally?

The solo Fall 2013 presentation is a big goal/dream of mine. It feels like both my personal life and professional life are geared toward making it a unique and beautiful experience that presents the product but also takes the viewer through the inspiration. I think personal progress and growth to me is somewhat measured in how much I push myself as a designer.

For more information about Cassie's work, check out her website.

P.S. My Givenchy beauty giveaway is still on. Enter now!


Violet Hill Boutique x The Doctor's Closet

Tucked away in the charming fishing village of Steveston, Violet Hill Boutique is a little treasure trove of adorable and affordable fashion finds. Because I rarely venture outside of Vancouver, Violet Hill's party last Friday evening--hosted in conjunction with blogger Monika Hibbs of The Doctor's Closet--seemed like the perfect occasion to see the store firsthand.

Guests sipped cocktails and champagne and nibbled on dainty macarons while conversing and perusing the store's mix of local and international brands. Lifetime Collective (whose spring collection I blogged about here), Gentle Fawn, J Brand denim and Danish high street label Oxmo were just some of the brands on the racks. Violet Hill also stocks Monika Hibbs's bfrend bracelets and Georgia Heraty's Social Experiment cocktail rings. (I featured the latter in this post.) Bloch ballet flats and Kelsi Dagger sandals rounded out the shoe selection.

With the generous discount and gift card offered by owner Nicola Gillam, I just couldn't say no to a couple of new wardrobe additions: an Oxmo mod shift dress and a turquoise Social Experiment ring.

The next time you stop by Steveston for fish and chips, definitely drop by Violet Hill Boutique!

P.S. My Givenchy beauty giveaway is still on. Enter now!


Product Review: Marcelle BB Cream

If seasons are defined by beauty trends, then this might very well be the Spring of the BB Cream. Alternately known as beauty balm, blemish balm, or blemish base, BB cream was first invented in Germany as a post-surgery skincare product. It has since become all the rage in Asia, where women attribute their flawless complexions to the cosmetic multi-taskers. Depending on the formulation, BB creams can act as an all-in-one moisturizer, sunscreen, anti-blemish or anti-aging cream, and illuminating lotion. The BB cream craze has now hit North America, with department and drugstore brands rushing to bring their versions to the market.

I had a chance to try one for myself the first time when London Drugs sent me a sample of Marcelle BB cream ($22.99 at London Drugs). Marcelle's version promises to even out skin tone, hydrate, protect from aging and environmental stress, and control shine, among other benefits. The paraben-free, non-comodegenic formula is fragrance-free and oil-free. What's more, the formula contains a slew of skincare ingredients: hyaluronic acid, aquaxyl and aloe vera to smooth and hydrate; vitamin E, green tea and chamomile for antioxidant and soothing benefits; and light-reflecting powders to even out and enhance skin.

Marcelle BB cream in the light-to-medium shade proved to be a great foundation alternative, providing just enough coverage without looking cakey. Not only was my skin evened out, it looked healthy and glowing, especially with a little concealer under my eyes and a peachy-pink blush. I didn't notice a significant improvement in the overall condition of my skin, but I did like the consistency of the formula and the fact that it was fragrance-free and non-greasy.

That being said, the biggest downside to Marcelle BB cream is the lack of SPF. I tried to make up for it by applying sunscreen or SPF powder, but that diminished the radiance and even tone, resulting in a pale ashy look. Overall, I found Marcelle BB cream to be a good alternative to foundation and liked the formula; however, the lack of SPF also makes me curious about other BB creams.

Have you tried BB creams yet? Which one is your favourite?

P.S. My Givenchy beauty giveaway is still on. Enter now!


Givenchy Beauty Giveaway

A pretty bottle of perfume on your vanity, new nail polishes for a spring pedicure, a lipstick that makes one feel devastatingly's amazing how small beauty indulgences can make us feel so good. Givenchy is giving one lucky Solo Lisa reader even more reasons to indulge with an eclectic assortment of beauty and fragrance products, all bearing their sophisticated prismatic and silver-and-black packaging:

  • Vernis Please nail polishes in 'Island Lagoon', an iridescent blue, and 'Blooming Pink', a bright cream coral (value $17 each). These colours were available on a limited basis in 2010 but aren't available anymore. The blue and coral shades are perfectly suited for the warm summer ahead.
  • Dance with Givenchy fragrance (value $60; available exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart). Notes of jasmine, ylang ylang, apple, mandarin, wood, musk, and vanilla blend together to create a fresh, sweet scent that captures the spontaneity of a young Parisienne getting ready for a night of dancing in her chic apartment.
  • Givenchy Hot Couture fragrance (value $90; available at Sephora). Sweet raspberry nectar, magnolia and ambered vetiver combine into a scent that's at once sweet and powdery, fruity and floral.
  • Rouge Interdit lipstick in 'Voluptuous Nude' (value $29; available at Sephora). As far as nude lipsticks go, this one is pretty perfect.
Interested? Here's how to enter:

  1. This contest is open to Canadian and international readers.
  2. All entries must have some means of contact (Twitter or email). Any entries without a means of contact are disqualified automatically.
  3. Leave a comment on this post telling me about your springtime beauty rituals , e.g. "I spritz on a floral perfume before leaving the house" or "I can't live without a coral lipstick."
  4. The contest ends Friday March 30th, 2012, 12pm PST. One winner will be chosen randomly.

Good luck!


Lifetime Collective Spring/Summer 2012 Collection

According to its brand philosophy, clothing label Lifetime Collective is the brainchild of artists and creative types, "defined by the changes that occur and the creative ways we adapt." A lofty, if cryptic, claim. But for anyone who's just interested in the clothes, all you need to understand is this: Lifetime makes some lovely garments with a vintage-inspired simplicity that borders on nostalgic yearning. There are basics that are classic and recognizable, but they also feel fresh and free-spirited at the same time.

A female wanderer was the inspiration behind Lifetime's spring/summer 2012 collection for women: "With long stretches of road and beauty before her, she comes to learn that all that glitters is not gold. Nevertheless, she's off to find her own adventures now and so, she walks confidently, blissfully, towards the unknown." She is an independent soul, a former "daydreaming tomboy" progressing toward a more feminine approach to style.

The wanderer's dreamy, meandering reverie translates into clothes that look like they're ready for a road trip. Think raglan sleeve sweaters, high-waisted denim, button-up shirts, cardigans and stripes, chic olive trousers with the ease of pajamas, and outerwear that's just as comfortable when walking the dog as it is when on the road.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that designer Jude Feller (of local label lily+jae fame) was at the helm of this collection.

Shop the collection on Lifetime Collective's recently launched website.


Shabby Apple Giveaway Winner

Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter the Shabby Apple 'Tuileries' dress giveaway! The response was overwhelmingly positive with over 80 entries, but there can only be one winner, and that lucky reader is...


Congratulations! I'll be contacting you shortly with details on how you can claim your prize.

For anyone who's disappointed about not winning, remember that you can still use the code sololisa10off to get 10% off your Shabby Apple purchase for a limited time only. Plus, I have another giveaway starting next Monday with some lovely beauty products, so stay tuned.


Product Review: Zoya True Nail Polish Collection

If springing forward an hour for Daylight Savings hasn't put us in the mood to think spring yet, perhaps updating your nail polish from winter's dark reds and plums to something lighter will. Pastels are a huge trend this season, but if you're like me and you look better in saturated shades, a pastel nail polish is an easy way to wear the trend without looking ghastly.

Zoya's True Nail Polish Collection ($9 each at Spa Boutique) boasts a palette of subdued pastels tinged with grey inspired by the runways. As with all the nail polishes that Zoya makes, the ones in the True collection are free of toluene, camphor, formaldehyde, and DBP. Plus, Zoya polishes are supposed to be the longest-lasting natural nail polish out there.

Spa Boutique sent me 'Bevin'--a creamy pastel green with a hint of grey and teal--to review. Fans of Chanel's 'Jade' or Essie's 'Mint Candy Apple' will find 'Bevin' a pleasing shade. It's not as green or as candy-coloured as its predecessors, and the grey and teal notes give it a sophisticated touch. I applied two coats of 'Bevin' along with my usual base and top coat. Although the colour looked great, I was disappointed with how quickly the polish peeled and chipped. Usually I stay chip-free for 3-5 days, but Zoya's cream polish formula began peeling only 2 days after I did my nails. I touched up my nails twice in a week before giving up and removing the polish. Their glitter nail polishes (which I reviewed in December) are a lot hardier.

Zoya gets kudos for their selection of on-trend colours and their commitment to a formula free of known toxins. But if you're looking for a low-maintenance, chip-resistant manicure, this is not the nail polish brand for you.

Will you be wearing pastel nail polish this spring?

P.S. Entered my Shabby Apple dress giveaway yet? Do it now!


Pink, Red, Orange, Coral, Magenta...

From top left corner, left to right: Aiko 'Cici' sweater ($244.96), Tilo gradation scarf ($128.65), Nanette Lepore 'Rebel' shorts ($234.66), Cut 25 combo knit skirt ($375.67), Parker peasant top ($215.11), Velvet 'Amissa' striped tee ($122.48)

Whatever you call these hues, they're warm, energetic and instant mood brighteners, especially when they're all combined in the same piece. I love how pink and orange are bold yet classically preppy at the same time. Of course, orange doesn't look too shabby with red, coral or purple either. Stripes or twists, florals or ombré...take your pick as to how you'd like to incorporate these shades into your spring look.

Would you wear these colour combos?

P.S. Entered my Shabby Apple dress giveaway yet? Do it now!

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