This April, Prepare for a Trip Down the Rabbit Hole

November 15, 2016 12:02 am

Images by Ali Matthews.

Last week, a select group of Ottawa’s most fashionable was invited to take a tumble down the rabbit hole and participate in an evening of fashion and beauty at the Loft Gala Prelude.

The night was organized to celebrate the return of the 2017 Loft Gala to the Hilton Lac Leamy on April 1st, 2017. It is at this time that the evening’s committee unveils the theme and introduces the 2017 Loft Gala Featured Designer.

img_7532The theme was clear as soon as you entered the room. Upon arrival, guests were greeted by the Queen of Hearts and Mad Hatter and suddenly, the whimsical, jewel-toned invitation began to make sense. Between the colourful fauna, oversized flowers and checkerboard floors, it was clear that we should be anticipating some unexpected, over-the-top, Alice in Wonderland fun come April.

Then came the models. Styled by a team from The Loft, led by co-owner of the Loft Toronto and Master Stylist, Sylvie Prud’Homme, the adorned women looked positively ethereal and served as a living, breathing reminder of the creativity and beauty that the Loft Gala is known for.

Throughout the evening, Sarah Freemark from CTV Morning Live served as the guide through Wonderland. Dressed in a gorgeous floor-length, red gown from Cantas Boutique, Freemark introduced us to Loft Gala Founder Bruno Racine, Presenting Sponsor L’Oreal Professional, and the charity that the evening is dedicated to support, the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.

fullsizeoutput_6d23According to the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, someone in our community is diagnosed with cancer every two hours – a shocking statistic that Racine shared when he took the podium. For Racine, cancer has hit too close to home too many times and he created the Loft Gala to bring the community together and raise funds for this worthy charity that helps so many in Ottawa.

The final business of the night was to reveal the 2017 Loft Gala Featured Designer, Mikael Derderian presented by L’Oréal Professionnel. Derderian joined the party via Skype and despite a time difference that had him up at 4am, the crowd could feel his excitement and appreciation. Born in Beirut, Derderian started his life in fashion in Montreal where he attended the prestigious Lasalle College. His work can now be seen on red carpets around the world and loved by celebrities from Britney Spears to Céline Dion and of course, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.


Derderian’s designs are now sold al worldwide, but in Canada you can snap them up at Holt Renfrew and Saks Fifth Avenue.

All that said, do yourself a favour and book your tickets today. Not only will you be supporting a deserving cause and be in the company of 700 like-minded fashionphiles, but it also gives you plenty of time to focus on planning your hair and outfit now.

In Search of Style: Velvet Crush

November 12, 2016 10:46 am

Photography by Ping Hu / Greenery and Décor by Canadian Mountain Weddings / On-Site Assistant: Gail E.P. Gunn

winter-lotus-photography-by-ping-hu-2Feature Image: Winter Lotus Photography by Ping Hu 2 / Fit-and-Flare Velvet Dress by Betsey Johnson $129.99 from The Hudson’s Bay

For the holidays, we’re crushing on velvet. Smooth and soft velvet is a key piece in my wardrobe this season as it adds a hint of the holidays while also translating from work to evening. Go ahead, wear a velvet blazer to the office! Mixing up your style as the seasons change is a sure way to get noticed.


Velvet Preen by Thornton Bregazzi Dress

You’ll note that this season’s reigning motifs are infinitely more opulent. Lustrous velvet, shimmering sequins and glitter infused accessories all in abundance are what makes this holiday season extra special.


Velvet Etro Bag

Get ready to strike a pose in luxurious velvet. The opulent fabric is soft to the touch and has a hint of shimmer, which adds an elegant and upscale element to the overall look. Infuse some style in to your classic work wardrobe with a velvet blazer or a fitted velvet dress for a touch of luxe.

Velvet accessories reigned supreme on the fall/winter runways, appearing on the hottest shoes and bags of the season.

We saw an influx of velvet that’s worthy of investment from Bottega Veneta, Opening Ceremony, Preen, Rochas, Roberto Cavalli and Phillip Lim.

From lush accessories to generous swaths of velvet, there is no limit to this ladylike look.

“Velvet has a vintage feel but a glamourous outcome!”


3.1 Phillip Lim | Adam Selman | Aigner | Akris | Alberta Ferretti Antonio Berardi | Armani Prive | Balmain | Bottega Veneta | Dennis Basso Derek Lam | Desigual | DKNY | Dolce&Gabbana | Dries Van Noten Elie Saab | Elie Tahari | Ellery | Etro | Fendi Gabrielle Colangelo | Giambattista Valli | Givenchy | Gucci | H&M Haider Ackermann | Holly Fulton | Jason Wu | Jill Stuart | Joseph



Kenzo | Luisa Beccaria | M. Martin | Mara Hoffman | Marc Jacobs Marni | Monse | Nicholas K | Opening Ceremony | Oscar de la Renta Osman | Peter Pilotto | Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini | Prabal Gurung | Prada Preen | Rachel Zoe | Ralph Lauren | Roberto Cavalli | Rochas Roland Mouret | Rosie Assoulin | Schiaparelli | Sophie Theallet | Stella McCartney Trussardi | Ulla Johnson | Valentino | Vanessa Seward | Vetements

Angie’s Models and Talent International Opens New Flagship Centre

September 28, 2016 9:45 am

Photos by by Ali Matthews.

For over two decades, Angie Sakla-Seymour has owned and operated the top modelling agency in the Capital. Angie’s Models and Talent International (AMTI) has been successful at bringing local talent to the global stage through countless magazine covers, advertising campaigns and film.

img_6044“When we first launched Angie’s Models and Talent International, everyone told us it would be a challenge to uncover international talent in the National Capital Region,” says Angie.

“I think today, it is safe to say, that we’ve more than proven the naysayers wrong.”

For years, a number of Ottawa and Toronto-based actors and models have been putting their stamp on the small screens, silver screens, and catwalks of the world – garnering international praise in the process.  After years of making international strides, AMTI is relocating the flagship centre to Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park.

Members of the media and local influencers were invited to celebrate and mark the new AMTI flagship location at 825 Exhibition Way, Suite 203 with drinks and hors d’oeuvers.

Ottawa’s DJ Ilon was on the scene playing the tops hits for the soiree.


Ottawa Life caught up with Angie to ask her what’s next for AMTI:

Congrats on your new location, Angie! Tell me why you chose Lansdowne as your new home?

I first came to Lansdowne for a meeting in 2015 and I felt energized by the area! With the total redesign, which includes all the shops, restaurants, the new football stadium, the brick roads, it felt like a little piece of NYC’s meat packing district right here in our very own Ottawa. It really felt like this was going to be the new place to be in the city.

img_6061How will your new space differ from your previous location?

Our new space is modernized, with sleek interior design and is a lot more spacious. The location feels like a community, where Ottawans and those from outside Hull/Ottawa spend full afternoons in the area partaking in everything Lansdowne has to offer.

Were there any particular design elements that you had to have for the agency?

Definitely. We chose this space especially because it gives us flexibility to offer more to our roster. There is lots of space to have editorial shoots and development for our models and actors. Aesthetically, we wanted design elements that were bright and sharp; cutting edge, but also comfortable. We kept the concrete floor and exposed ceiling, as we feel both incorporate the edge of NYC’s meatpacking hard lofts, while also staying true to the heritage history of Lansdowne.

You’ve been in business for 26 years, what’s next for you and your models?

We want to continue discovering amazing hidden gems and propelling all of our talent that the Ottawa/Gatineau area has to offer, to new heights. Develop more supermodels and mentor more leading men and leading women to achieve success on the big and small screens. 3 years ago, AMTI Toronto opened and we’re so happy with the notoriety and success we’ve accomplished there in such a short time. We want to continue to push the envelope here at Lansdowne Place and also in Toronto and we look forward to the next 26 years being even more successful than our first 26.


Do you currently have any fresh faces that you think will be the next ‘it’ model?

Yes, we do! We have several. Jordan McEwen who is 15 walked in Toronto Fashion Week at 14 and has already travelled to Japan twice and Singapore. Ariel Himbeault is 16, has travelled to New York and has already shot campaigns for Shoppers Drug Mart Beauty, Holt Renfrew and La Maison Simons. Savanah Cane is 17, has just signed in Miami and is the face of NRML Femme Femme autumn campaign. Emily Taylor can be seen on the cover of Weddingstar Magazine 2017 and has shot the Silver Stitch FW16 campaign. Charlotte Marks has been to New York twice, walking in over 9 NYFW shows and has had very successful trips to Hong Kong and Tokyo.

img_6048On the male model side, we’re really excited to see what Kyle, Daniel G., Nonkon, Gabriel, Kyler and Colin achieve. Jafari has received interest in London, has shot the new Andrew Coimbra Autumn 2016 campaign & has shot the latest Nikon commercial. Brandon Keel has worked in New York and Milan, and along with Stephen James, has shot the latest Pure Lifestyle Apparel campaign.

On the acting front, Sam Ashe Arnold has shown at 13 years old that he is the next leading man, having only been in the industry for 16 months. Winter Hymns, a short film he Executive Produced and is a lead actor in, has cleaned up in the festival circuit and is in consideration for an Oscar nomination. He’s also the lead in The Adventure Club, alongside Kim Coates and Billy Zane. John-Alan Slachta just wrapped Season 2 of Nickelodeon’s ‘Make It Pop,’ where he was a series lead for both seasons. Helena-Alexis almost never has a week off from filming and has recently filmed the latest instalment in the xXx (Triple X) movie series with Vin Diesel. We’re also very excited about our emerging leading lady Grace Zanichkowsky, as she is earmarked for series lead roles in two television series’ waiting network approval.

img_6051For any aspiring models, what are some of the assets that will make them the right fit for your agency?

Any aspiring models should have an outgoing PERSONALITY, good body proportions, a great smile and great hair. We also recommend to come see us at one of our open calls, so we can see them in person, talk to their parents and help them learn more about the industry and us as an agency.

Among Angie’s success stories are international supermodel Brianna Barnes, reigning Canadian supermodel of the year, Herieth Paul, and a handsome actor by the name of Ryan Gosling whom she discovered in Cornwall before she was even in business.

For more information on AMTI, please visit

Ottawa Set to Celebrate Launch of Capital Style Files

September 20, 2016 10:19 am

All photos supplied by Alexandra Gunn.

Ottawa’s style influencers and industry leaders are being shown the spotlight in the latest Bell Fibe, TV1 series highlighting the capital’s most stylish citizens. The brand new fashion series comes to Ottawa this fall showcasing the city’s most exclusive events, including the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Gala. Viewers get a behind the scenes look at the wardrobes of Ottawa’s biggest trend setters and how they are working to make Ottawa a fashion capital.

The joint venture between Bell Media and producer Katrina Turnbull explores how Ottawa is more than just a political city. Turnbull says that since the inception of the series and throughout the filming it has been “a great opportunity to elevate Ottawa’s fashion scene. Ottawa is known for being a leader in politics, technology, and the environment, but little is known about the city’s fashion industry. This show has given Ottawa style a platform to showcase local designers, boutiques, and the people working to make Ottawa a fashion capital.”

alex-and-katrina-filming-capital-style-files-2Season 1 of Capital Style Files displays an array of guests including Ottawa Life Magazine’s fashion editor, Alexandra Gunn; creative event planner, Tami Varma; and top fashion blogger, Dominique Baker. The diverse set of guests offers an opportunity to redefine the shortsighted view that Ottawa has a limited fashion scene by displaying some of the guest’s significant achievements and their extensive community engagement.

The first 3 guests documented in Capital Style Files will set the tone for the series and outline some of the arenas in which the style-set work and play.

alex-filming-capital-style-files“These guests weren’t shy about letting us into their lives and their closets. We followed them to the city’s most exclusive events to see how they dress on the town. Later, we go right into their wardrobes. They share how they’ve cultivated their style and exactly where they shop for clothes in Ottawa and abroad” says Turnbull.

The buzz surrounding the series is expected to grow with news that Katrina Turnbull and her Bell team are expected to finalize the filming of Season 1 in the coming months.

“We are filming the second half of Season 1 this fall with an exciting lineup of guests and never-before-seen venues featured on show. Viewers will want to tune in for an exclusive look at Ottawa’s style scene” says Turnbull.

alex-and-katrina-filming-capital-style-filesOttawa’s fashion and arts community is gearing up to celebrate the launch of the series. An official launch party and screening of the scenes from Capital Style Files takes place at the CTV studios in the ByWard Market on Monday, September 19th at 7:00PM. Longtime writer and creator of the fashion parenting site, and producer of Capital Style Files, Katrina Turnbull will be the host of the evening and has instructed guests to “bring it” when dressing for the event.

Attending the launch party? Be sure to tweet our Fashion Editor, Alexandra Gunn at @OttawaStyle and tell her what you think of her segment.

For more information on Capital Style Files, please visit:

In Search of Style: Fall Fashion

September 16, 2016 12:07 pm

Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexandraGunn. Photo Winter Lotus Photography.

 Fiery in nature, red is a “standout” colour and should be worn when you want to be noticed. A bold red is warm, sensual and immediately pleasing to the eye. Designers warmed up the autumn palate with reds of all hues, showing satin finishes, lacquered separates and even displaying a head-to-toe velvet look that set the runway on fire.

The Pantone Colour Institute’s biannual fashion report highlighted the shade Aurora Red as a staple for Fall/Winter and is expected to dominate upcoming collections in stores. Don’t overthink the shade, just use colour as a way to update your look or to add some sizzle to your fall wardrobe. 


Kate Spade Small Hemsley Bag $258

Kate Spade Small Hemsley Bag $258

Kate Spade Small Hemsley Bag $258










Kate Spade Gold Buckle Collar Necklace $228

Kate Spade Gold Buckle Collar Necklace $228

Winners Metal Choker Necklace $19.99

Winners Metal Choker Necklace $19.99

Invention and reinvention are the mothership of fashion, and thanks to an overall ‘90s resurgence, the choker is making a comeback. It doesn’t matter if you prefer a statement choker made from metal, velvet, leather or if it’s embellished with rhinestones, this fall add a little something around your
neck and join the ranks of the fashion set.



Guess Kielo Faux Fur Vest $148


Guess Babita Fur Coat $198

Fur, both real and faux, made a strong showing on the runway but it was the use of show-stopping patterns and bold colours that prove that fur is back on the fashion radar. Top marks go to designers Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung and Libertine for offering a twist on the standard style, creating a “look at me” trend that will keep you warm to boot. You don’t need to spend a fortune on this luxe look.

For the cooler evenings opt, for a vest and look at vintage shops for hidden gems. Traditional fur styles and colours are a wise investment as classic looks stand the test of time. An easy way to add fur is through accessories, such as, fur-trimmed gloves or a fur scarf. These small additions will add a touch of glamour to your overall look.


Alex’s Fall Essentials

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comfort in classic sleepwear with
innovative moisture wicking technology
for a dry and good night’s sleep.

seryumLaurel Whole Plant Organics is a
sweetly scented serum with nourishing
plants high in antioxidants, making this
the ideal anti-aging serum and a cult favourite.
You can purchase at ORESTA.

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Memories of Sussex Drive

July 12, 2016 2:00 pm

Years ago I was inside my store late at night. The lights were dim except for the bright lights focusing on the dresses in the window. I caught sight of an emotional moment between two teenagers. They were dirty, disheveled, and had squeegees in hand as they kissed each other on the sidewalk in front of my window framing a crisp white satin wedding gown. The contrast was striking.

There was something so raw and real about these teens. The scene in front of me drove me to tears as I thought of all of the weddings in which I have participated.

Some weddings were truly exceptionally beautiful experiences. They included warm people who were unaffected and clearly led by their hearts to create a wedding that was meaningful and depicted who they were to their loved ones attending. These people understood why everyone was gathering together and there was a complete ease in their actions. They created their own extravagance of experience through this eternal symbiotic love, natural and pure. All of these weddings had a public and daring risk of desire and affection; it was the same emotion that captured and raptured the squeegee kids that night in front of my store. This dramatic display of emotion was attractive and true.

Some of the other weddings that I have been a part of were more like calculated productions of the calibre of the Academy Awards. There were layers of bureaucracy, hundreds of workers, with thousands of decisions. The invitation list was a who’s who of whatever group these people belonged to rather than a personal event, engaging friends and family. Certainly these toneless events were entertaining. These are weddings that people remember year after year, because of the team of planners, lighting directors, choreographed wait staff, and a cake taller than the groom. These spectacular events have limitless budgets, but no room for the couple getting married. From an event perspective these weddings are quite impressive, but I wonder, where is the love?

It’s easy to feel excitement and frivolous drama while planning a wedding, but I wonder how many engaged couples really understand what they are embarking upon. The triumphant selflessness and monotony of surrender that is required. It is an exercise of impossible strength and perseverance and a reminder that while the two have become one, that there is an ever present responsibility to uphold a dignity for the other person, in consideration of the other person. It can become more complicated with children and their needs. Parents have to teach their children how not to be selfish and at the same time need to live unselfishly themselves. Life gets complicated and the challenges to maintain a union can become overwhelming.

Given the reality of marriage, a wedding should give people the opportunity to congratulate the couple on the decision to deny selfishness and a pilgrimage pointing toward spiritual maturity. This type of acclaim should be reflected within a wedding.

There should be a focus on the raw beauty of the event, this lifetime change for two people – a celebration of a decision and duty, intimate, not a performance. It might even be difficult to find 200 friends with whom to share that same contemplation of spirit, people willing to focus more on the ceremony and consider the reception a joyous afterthought. No doubt, this runs the risk of clearly omitting some of the traditions that people have come to think of as necessary.

Rather than pulling off a major production, a successful wedding hinges on carefully drawing the guests into a profound intimacy of love. It’s not about entertainment but about witnessing the beauty of love and celebrating these everlasting decisions. That remains a far greater privilege, not unlike the privilege I had that evening when I witnessed those two teenagers in front of my store.

A Sneak Peek at The Milton Shoe Company

June 23, 2016 11:14 am
The Rog - Chelsea boot inspired by Roger Gingerich

All photos courtesy of

We’ve got a little secret for you. If you’re looking to put the right foot forward into your next business venture, or you’ve always wanted to walk a mile in the shoes of great movers and shakers (and just plain stylish men), but never had the funds to do so…now is your chance.

The Milton Shoe Company is a new Canadian brand set to launch next fall, but luckily for us,  they’re conducting an online pre-sales launch this week. There are 250 pairs of selected boots and shoes on offer (at a fraction of their original price) until July 31.

Every pair is designed in Canada, made of whole-grain leather and crafted in Portugal. Each one is also capped by Goodyear welted soles, a sort of calling card of the premium Milton brand. And for these shoes, the delight is in the details.

The designs are as much about inspiring confidence within as they are about outward style. The  company’s mantra “Focus on greatness,” is inscribed in the bottom of every sole, to remind your feet where to lead you. Each pair of shoes is also named after an entrepreneur, business-leader, or trailblazer who inspired the design, and each design has the namesake’s own personal mantra etched into the inside.

The four pairs they have on offer for the pre-sales launched are inspired by men from all walks of life, and they carry sayings such as:

“Pursue the impossible, because all of mankind’s greatest achievements were once thought to be impossible until someone did it.”

That one belongs to Joseph Ng, CEO of Umoro Inc., who started one of the fastest growing fitness companies in North America, even after he declined an offer on Dragon’s Den.

Oh, and did we mention that the shoes look just plain cool? Flip through the slideshow below to see more of their designs:

Fashion Rebellion

June 15, 2016 1:21 pm

Photo Courtesy of Justina McCaffrey.

There seems to be a wind of change blowing in the fashion industry. It was proclaimed in January that New York Fashion Week 2016 would present Ready-To-Wear fashion not just to the buyers, but to consumers as well. Believe it or not, this was truly a radical change. This new consumer angle to the shows would take away some of the mystique of the runway by (magically) offering to sell the collection as soon as the pieces were barely off the models.

In an already stressed-out industry this instant “turn around schedule” would be next to impossible to meet and it would be betting on what styles, sizes, and colours would sell, moving briskly into production mode.

The new approach, deemed revolutionary for the industry, was met with skepticism. Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld referred to the fashion industry on Feb. 25, 2016 as “a mess.”

It could have been this state of industry flux that made my mind wander. Why, with all of the clothes offered to us can we still have nothing to wear in our closets?

I thought of a beautifully draped plaid dress I saw that would look wonderful on a friend of mine. She did indeed try it on, but looked in the mirror and replied: “so, where do I go with this?” Despite liking the dress, and looking fantastic in it, she did not have the required lifestyle to wear it often or even at all.

I think a lot of fashion pieces fall into this category. It is fancy clothing artfully assembled that just becomes an assembly of items stored away and forgotten.

I thought about the people in fashion: the retailers, the fabric suppliers, the sewing machine operators, and of course the other designers.They made me think of new, possible directions that would work for everyone.

These are sad thoughts. I wish that the gorgeous fuchsia fabric that I had chosen for the closing dress of the last fashion show would be worn and appreciated. I wish there was a place where that bugle beaded mini skirt could be admired daily.

April2016_Justina_chemise launch copyThis is how the lightbulb went off in my head. Over the course of my career, I have been attached to my uniform of a crisp white shirt that works with a skirt, black crepe pants or jeans and works perfectly whether traveling to Paris, Rome, Hong Kong, Florida, or New York. My shirt was my “go-to” item that saved me a tremendous amount of time whenever I was in doubt with what to wear.

When I thought about it, over the course of 20 years, I had purchased over 35 white shirts.All were from the same manufacturer. However,ten years ago, my beloved manufacturer stopped making these shirts and I began the process of trying to crack the code on how to create the perfect fitted shirt by reconstructing the pattern.

It took ten years of development, but last month I materialized my first white shirt sample. And that is when it hit me. A very practical fashion enterprise was right there in front me: the custom-fitted shirt for ladies. I took a photo and shared it with my sister who is known for her carefully edited and concise wardrobe and lifestyle. She immediately and enthusiastically placed an order, my first, on this original sample. Within hours I added text to the photo, and posted it on Catherine Landry’s Ladies Who Lunch Facebook page, and within a week I received over 100 orders.

I had obviously tapped into something, an unmet demand within a woman’s wardrobe.

My shirts are custom and made to measure. I take over 12 measurements and cut each shirt individually to coincide with my mission statement that clothes should revolve around the person.The person should not have to change to fit the clothing.

This ideal invokes the dignity of the human person rather than the conveniences of the fashion industry. If NY Fashion Week can rebel, clearly so can I.

Society Salon Celebrates Grand Opening

June 9, 2016 2:20 pm

The newest blow dry bar and salon to come to downtown Ottawa celebrated their grand opening in front of city officials, longstanding clientele and friends on Tuesday.

Standing outside the Sparks Street location, Society Salon owner Stefania Capovilla unveiled the new blow dry bar featuring two blow dry chairs and three cut a colour chairs. Sketched by local artist Noah Venkatarangam, the blow dry bar menu features four signature Ottawa- inspired styles to choose from. Looking for silky, straight and smooth? Ask for a the Centretown Sleek. To achieve undone curls, ask for Westboro Beach Waves and when the red carpet calls, ask for the Hilly-wood.

Society Blow Dry Menu

With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Stefania is sought after by a mix of government workers and high profile officials. You only need to look to her wall of media coverage to see that her years of styling have include political elites of all stripes from former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the late Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Conveniently located near Parliament Hill, Society Salon is now welcoming clients from across the nation’s capital to join the roster of well-coiffed clientele. “My clientele has been expanding over the past five years and I wanted to bring my services closer to them as well as provide a much needed blow dry bar to the area,” said Stefania.  “Many of my clients attend work related receptions on the regular or they are simply pressed for time, which is where the blow dry bar comes in. We’ve already seen such a positive reception from the new blow dry bar and I’m certain that new clientele will see the value in the occasional blow dry when we are so accessible.”

When deciding to move closSketch Artist Noah and Stefaniaer to the Hill, location was paramount and it was serendipitous that Esthetics by Lucie was looking for a tenant to share the 1120 square foot space. Lucie Rosano, owner of Esthetics by Lucie, is well known for her beauty bar services including waxing, a new brow bar and express shellac manicure services.

“I saw an opportunity to team up with Esthetics by Lucie and bring Society Salon to the convenience of downtown,” said Stefania. “Lucie has become a mentor to me. She has been in the business for over 34 years and it was obvious that our businesses would be a perfect fit to co-exist in the same space. We’re the one stop shop for all beauty needs. Sometimes I will book a client to come in to get highlights and a cut and then she will head over to see Lucie for a shellac manicure. Providing styling services to my clients has always been my specialty, but working alongside an esthetics studio allows my clients to gain easy access to other services as well.”

Guests enjoyed sugary sweets, champagne and snacks as they congratulated Stefania and Lucie while taking part in the ribbon cutting ceremony. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson was in attendance to officiate the ribbon cutting and gave the small business owners an official letter to mark the occasion.

For more information about Society Salon, please visit

Ottawa Salon Wins a Blush-Worthy Amount of Awards

May 31, 2016 11:58 am

One of Blushes’ entries for the ‘Contemporary Classic’ and ‘Editorial Stylist of the Year’ awards.  All photos courtesy of Silas Tsang. 

A local salon with international inspiration was recognized in a big way during February’s Canadian Hairdresser Awards/Mirror Awards. Blushes, an already multi-award winning salon located in Ottawa, walked out of the award ceremony with three separate wins.

Between the two of them, creative director Silas Tsang and colour director Dorothy Tsang took away the awards for “Men’s Cut and Style,” “Contemporary Classic” and “Editorial Hairstylist of the Year.”Each is a huge honour, even for an already well-established salon.

04 (1)

One of Blushes’ entries for the ‘Men’s Cut and Style’ award.

“I’m really excited to receive that kind of award on a national scale,”Silas says.”It’s a really good feeling.”

The 22nd Hairdresser Awards/Mirror Awards, which were held February 27 this year at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, is run by Canadian Hairdresser Magazine. This year’s theme was “Mosaic,” which celebrated both the diversity of stylists and the myriad colours they apply in their art. They received hundreds of nomination entries this year for a variety of categories, including the unique “Best Selfie” category. Silas and Dorothy were nominated for eight awards in total, and they brought home three of the most prestigious.

The “Men’s Cut and Style” award celebrates a haircut that can be worn anywhere for any occasion. Dorothy Tsang also won a Salon Magazine Contessa Award for the same men’s collection.

The “Contemporary Classic” award is just what it sounds, a style that fits a classic look into today’s trends. The “Editorial Hairstylist of the Year” award is given to a stylist who creates a cut that fits perfectly on the runway or the cover of a magazine.

Silas began styling hair in London in 1985. Since then, he’s worked on his craft in Hong Kong and Germany, before settling in Kanata’s west end in 1992 to open Blushes. He chose this area because a close family member was already living in Ottawa. In 2007, Silas and his wife Dorothy began entering competitions similar to the Mirror Awards as a way to become more involved with the industry. At first, the competitions were difficult to break into, but after furthering his education in the UK, Silas and Dorothy began gaining ground.


One of Blushes’ entries for the ‘Men’s Cut and Style’ award.

“Blushes uses very high standards, European styles,” Silas says. “I really believe the technical has to be strong. People [in London] are more daring to try something new.”

Since then, the Tsangs have been finalists for the North American Hairstyling Awards and they’ve won awards from Colour Trophy, Contessas, Haute Coiffure Français and have worked on projects like Ottawa Fashion Week and Project Runway Canada.

Blushes is also a “Green Circle” salon, which means that they recycle and repurpose products like foils, colourtubes, papers and plastics while making sure that excess hair chemicals don’t end up down the drain.

“Hairdressing for me is about passion,” Silas says, summarizing why the industry has such a strong hold on him.

You can find Blushes at 4048 Carling Avenue in Kanata or online at

Celebrating Style For The Working Mom

May 5, 2016 10:12 am

Photo by Valerie Keeler Photography. 

working-mom1 working-mom2 working-mom3 working-mom4


Whether she leaves her home for an office or not, every mom works. The challenge is stepping out in a functionally chic outfit. Finding a balance between fashionable and functional is possible if you have the right pieces to ensure success.



Stuck in a rut? A tailored jacket is a secret weapon. It brings denim up a notch, polishes casual dresses, takes slim pants to the boardroom and can cover up a slouchy outfit. The trick is to find a jacket that suits your lifestyle and then have a local tailor nip and tuck your latest great find. Getting the perfect fit will elevate the final product way beyond its original price tag. As we transition to spring, a cropped trench or a bright blazer are two easy ways to add polish to any outfit.

Winners Cropped Trench



Let’s face it, it’s all about comfort. The key is to find a compromise between a trend and easy-to-wear clothing. A dress is perfect as it can be worn year-round with the addition of tights. Opt for a wrinkle-free material and a cut that is both polished and form fitting. I love the design of this two-in-one sweatshirt dress and it pairs perfectly with casual leggings or leather leggings for date night.

Marshalls Two-in-One
Sweatshirt Dress $399.99




A large structured bag can accommodate all of your necessities. Ensure the top has a zipper to keep everything in place. You’ll often see celebrities opting for a large designer handbag in lieu of a diaper bag. If you’d prefer a stylish diaper bag, Kate Spade’s signature Stevie bag (LEFT) can be worn over the shoulder or tossed onto your stroller handles (thanks to special straps) and comes with a nylon changing pad.



Spring Trend Sneak Peek The Classic Shirtdress

Fashion’s current penchant for shirting brings the classic shirtdress back to the forefront. This classic style borrows details from a man’s shirt creating a sleek design whilst its clean lines provide an ideal canvas for spring’s bold botanicals and vibrant colour palette. Buy it now and wear your shirtdress with tights or knee high boots.

working-mom11 working-mom12 working-mom13
Kate Spade Sunny Daisy
Organza ShirtDress $598
Marshalls Printed Silk
ShirtDress $99.99

Nicolette Mason x Addition Elle Dress

Follow Alex on Twitter: @AlexandraGunn

Capital Catwalk Showcases Best of Local Fashion Designers

February 3, 2016 11:19 am

All photos by Mireille Sylvester,  

Ottawa’s fashion community dressed to the nines to raise money for cancer on January 30. The University of Ottawa branch of HerCampus, an online magazine for university students, hosted its 4th annual Capital Catwalk in support of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. The glitzy night included a fashion show featuring eight local designers, and during intermissions guests also had the opportunity to browse local businesses, visit a palm reader and participate in a silent auction.

Held at the E & Y Centre in Ottawa’s South End, Capital Catwalk attracted hundreds of guests of all ages, who dressed up in their Saturday best to get a glimpse of what Ottawa’s fashion designers have been working on. The designs didn’t disappoint. From casual wear to evening gowns, designs by local talents Zarucci, ZARGARA, Julien George, Rebecca Rowe, Kristie Lance Designs, Julianne Buchholz and Avenir Design Studios lit up the runway. The models’ confident struts brought the clothes to life, and audience members were active participants, taking photos and sharing their observations on social media.


The catwalk wasn’t just for fashion – local artists such as Ottawa Redblacks dancers, singer Kelsey Rourke and acrobats Acro Yoga took the stage to entertain guests while the designers prepped their collections backstage. Local businesses also shone during the event, with a slew of booths selling clothes, jewellery and home products in the marketplace area.

HerCampus’ University of Ottawa branch launched Capital Catwalk in 2012, and the event has grown consistently since, with the organizing team acquiring more sponsors and more interest from local businesses each year. This year’s proceeds went to the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, which supports cancer care and research.

How I Got My Name Back

January 5, 2016 10:55 am

By Justina McCaffrey.

For me, fashion is a journey that defies the constraints of the runways around the world. It’s an industry to which I have given myself for over twenty years. However, my journey as a designer and entrepreneur has not always been easy, and like fashion, I too defied constraints to find my way to where I am now. To help explain my journey, I feel compelled to tell the story of my name.

I was my parents’ first-born child and was given the name Justina Antoniuk. My grandfather had immigrated to Canada from the Ukraine and my namesake was my grandfather’s wife. As I grew from a child into a young woman, more than once I would change the name that was given to me. At four years old, I made a deliberate decision to change my name to Nina, and I stayed Nina for many years. As a pre-teen, I studied acting and played the role of Juliet. It was then that I realized that a name can divide families, despite Juliet’s proclamation, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2, 1-2). As a teenager reading Vogue, I saw that the names on the labels of clothes could signify luxury. And during my time at the Fashion Institute in LA, I discovered that no one in Southern California could pronounce Antoniuk. For all of these reasons, by the time I got married, I took no issue with taking the last name McCaffrey, but I kept something that had been so lovingly given to me twenty-three years before – my first name, Justina.

Why write so much about my name? I did not know as I portrayed Juliet that one day, my own name would be such a big part of a familial divide. Following my divorce, on the fateful day of February 18, 2008, I was locked out of a business in Ottawa that bore my name. My designs and materials were put away in a secret location and the constraints of being separated from my creative property weighed heavily on me. The store became a place with “my name” and “my stuff ” that betrayed me. Every day that my name was on that building was in some ways a broken day. I had to fight for and protect my name – my brand, and eventually, the Sussex store was rebranded to a different name. I began working from the bottom of my new life, consulting for bridal companies in Los Angeles and New York and beginning my collection, Justina Bridal, now sold at Neiman Marcus and Kleinfeld in New York.

As I focused on my current company in Toronto, I did not predict that circumstances would circle me back to “my long-lost stuff ”. A good friend notified me of the bankruptcy sale of the same business that had locked away my designs and thrown me out. With this friend’s support, I returned to Ottawa and finally saw this mysterious place. I was driven to tears as I saw the once-happy dress forms, now worn and misshapen, and was able to purchase back patterns, fabrics, and machines. I visited the sale every day and when it was over, the manager approached me with what looked like a bag of bones and said, “Justina, this is yours.” Inside the bag were the letters that spelled my name that were once attached to the Sussex store. She had given me my name. And just like that, I was free of those past constraints.

As I explained earlier, fashion is a journey that defies constraints and needs continuous giving. I am anticipating an imminent move back to Ottawa, with a desire to give. My new facility, a gorgeous Victorian home in Gatineau, will give clients a very different experience than the pressures of “Say Yes To The Dress” or my Sussex store. Clients will bring their friends, drink champagne and stay a while, like a bridal shower. It will be a retail experience as comfortable as purchasing online, but without restraints, as women will be able to touch and try on dresses. And so, like clockwork, my journey in fashion continues, and I welcome the women of the Ottawa area to join me.

Shoppers Drug Mart’s Enhanced BeautyBOUTIQUE is the Rideau Centre’s Latest Big Upgrade

January 4, 2016 12:02 pm

Beauty lovers arrived at Ottawa’s Rideau Centre for the grand opening of Shoppers Drug Mart’s latest Enhanced beautyBOUTIQUE on December 2. Beauty bloggers and experts were invited to explore the store’s luxurious new environment and its prestigious brand assortment, featuring Chanel, Dior and Paul & Joe.

The upgrade comes as Shoppers continues its commitment to give Canadians the best beauty experience in the retail environment. The 4,000 square-foot beautyBOUTIQUE features new fixtures, digital signage, enhanced fragrance and skin care areas and provides customers with a beautiful retail environment complemented by 16 prestigious brands.

“Our goal is to offer a unique and inspiring experience, leveraging our customer insights in beauty while also integrating emerging customer trends,” said Mike Motz, Shoppers Drug Mart’s President. “Shoppers Drug Mart has always pushed the envelope when it comes to the beauty category and as a result we have become the market leader in mass and prestige cosmetics, fragrances and skin care products and the beauty destination of choice for Canadian women.”

Beauty Expert Lyndsay Craig was on hand to unveil the Spring Collection from Parisian-born, cult favourite Paul & Joe. Each season, Paul & Joe launches a limited edition capsule collection featuring a unique colour palette and custom packaging inspired by that season’s fashion line.

Craig shared her favourites from the upcoming spring collection and what she chose for those on her Christmas list.


Beauty expert Lyndsay Craig (far right) applies makeup to a customer at the BeautyBOUTIQUE’s grand opening.

Alex: Tell me about the Paul & Joe collection that you’ll be bringing to the newly renovated Beauty Boutique.

Lyndsay: Exclusive to Shoppers Drug Mart, Paul & Joe Beauté is a brand that stands out in the newly renovated Enhanced Beauty Boutique. The Parisian born, cult coveted brand is fun-loving, sophisticated, and infused with a relentless joie de vivre. PAUL & JOE products feature luxurious textures and on-trend colours all in unique, retro-modern packaging.  Named after her two sons, Sophie Mechaly launched PAUL & JOE in 1995 as a menswear company. In 1996 she introduced womenswear and in 2002 launched the Beauté collection which includes colour cosmetics, skin care, body care, nail, tools and fragrance.

Paul & Joe is also recognized for releasing beautiful limited edition collections called Collection Sparkles. These are capsule collections featuring a unique colour palette and custom packaging inspired by that season’s fashion line. “Papillons de Printemps” or “Butterflies of Spring” is the next capsule collection launching in Spring. This collection is inspired by the delicate, brightly coloured wings of a butterfly, introducing vibrant pops of colour just in time for the warmer weather. The collection also includes interchangeable packaging for lip and cheek that highlight the Spring Paul & Joe fashion prints.

Alex: How does Paul & Joe stand out from the other brands carried in-store?

Lyndsay: The incredible high-quality and versatility of the Paul & Joe make-up in addition to its nostalgic yet trendy packaging, makes this brand very unique and a coveted favourite.

Alex: What are some of your favourite items from the collection?

Lyndsay: There really are too many to choose, however here are some of my most favourite items from the collection! The Moisturizing Foundation Primer S – This primer has a very unique, hydrating texture that ensures your make-up will last all day! The Gel Foundation, Eyebrow Pencil and Illuminating Touch Pen.

You can find out more about BeautyBOUTIQUE and it’s products at

Holiday Glamour

December 21, 2015 1:09 pm

Just in time for soirée season, fashion editor, Alexandra Gunn, shares her garment guide for Christmas cocktails, New Year’s Eve countdowns and everything in-between.


Overdress: Embrace winter’s opulent luxe with a striking emerald gown for a cocktail event. Eliza J emerald gown $208


My twist on the little black dress Add silver studding for a sophisticated style. Xscape black dress $249


Pajar fur hat $160


Sparkle and Shine Nothing says festive quite like a sequin party dress. You can never have enough sparkle! Ralph Lauren purple sequin dress $288


Red Alert Flirty meets feminine in a cutout long gown. Accessorize with bubbly. Xscape red gown $279


PHOTOGRAPHY Valerie Keeler, Valberg Imaging Inc.


CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS Tinseltown Christmas Emporium


Three Fabulous Thrift Stores to Get You through the Holidays

December 17, 2015 2:00 pm
Clothes Secret

Wearing mom’s old jeans from the eighties may not be a fashion faux pas anymore. The masses are flooding vintage and consignment stores, on the hunt for new, one of a kind finds with one of a kind prices. Despite the appeal of finding a diamond in the rough though, thrifting can be a hassle. We’ve all been there, the dusty racks, that thrift store smell. So let’s just skip the wild goose chase. We’ve narrowed down the top three vintage, thrift and consignment stores in the city bound to have you dressed to the nine(ties). 

Clothes picThe Clothes Secret

The Clothes Secret has become a beloved Glebe staple since opening its doors 24 years ago. 

“I decided to run the store after I had my first child,” Shop owner Valerie MacIntosh told us back in October. “I wanted to spend more time with her, so Chelsea and I opened the store together. She was 7 months old.” Chelsea is now in her twenties and still helps her mom run the shop. In fact, it has become a family affair, with both Valerie’s husband Yves and daughter Nathalie also joining the booming business. The Clothes Secret serves as one of Ottawa’s most established consignment stores, and after visiting the shop in person, it’s no wonder why. Encountering names like Ralph Lauren, Diane von Furstenberg, BCBG and Kate Spade is not uncommon. As a haute couture girl with an H&M budget, I was in love. As many cost cutters are, I am an avid online shopper. So of course I was curious as to what The Clothes Secret offered that the online market lacks. 

“You don’t get the value of having someone in the store helping you. We know your size, your career. People are tactile, they want to see it, try it on. You cant have a conversation with the computer, we have a conversation with you. We’re all about customer service and that’s always been a big part of our business.”

I had to agree, practically everyone who entered the shop was immediately greeted by name. Not only does the clothes secret offer one of a kind pieces, it offers one of a kind service. Definitely worth the trip to the Glebe.


Vintage and Bridal

Located in the heart of Centretown, Vintage & Bridal brings an airy and magic element to Ottawa’s bustling core.

Forthright in its name, this consignment boutique offers fantastic vintage and you guessed it, bridal pieces. What they don’t tell you is that there is also a fantastic array of accessories and even home wear. It really has a magic and whimsical aesthetic. If was a physical landmark (and not madly overpriced) this would definitely be it.

Society of St. Vincent De Paul

I must begin with a disclaimer; as I got off the bus to appraise St. Vincent De Paul I was met by the lingering aroma of hot dogs, and therefore was already delighted. Entering the shop, I noticed multiple boxes of amazing vintage records. Do I have a working record player? No. Did I want all of them anyways? For a dollar a piece, obviously. The finds didn’t stop at the door either. The shop boasts a massive selection of books, clothing, toys and furniture; all well sorted and even more well priced. By far the largest of the stores I visited, St. Vincent De Paul put all of their space to good use. From vintage HBC, to brand new Calvin Klein, I was blown away.

Featuring a highly anticipated and specially themed sale every few weeks, St. Vincent’s shop window is comparable to a heavily curated museum. Visually pleasing and with rock-bottom prices, it’s no wonder long-time supporters will line up as early as 4:30 a.m. to get their hands on some exceptional pieces.

With this Ring: The Heirloom Connection

November 27, 2015 10:02 am

All photos courtesy of Alexandra Gunn

The holidays are the perfect time to pop the question. You’re surrounded by family and friends and there’s something in the air that just makes that special moment feel even more memorable. But, before you buy the ring, make sure you consider all of your options. If you have access to a family gemstone and value that connection to your family, consider repurposing the heirloom to further continue that tradition. Heirloom stones passed down from family to family are perhaps the most meaningful, as they link the bride-to-be with generations of excited brides.

DE_WB4“Family heirlooms are what we have to remember our ancestors by,” says Erin Wright, co-owner of Magpie Jewellery. “Symbols of our heritage, they carry with them the hopes, the dreams and the energy of the people who wore them. Re-purposing or re-designing heirloom pieces is a way to prolong the life of your family legacy.”

You might have the ring and are ready to propose, but it’s important to remember that the family heirloom must appeal to the future bride and you have to be certain that the design is fits with your relationship and lifestyle. If you like the stone but dislike the setting, consider a simple reset. What’s most important when considering an alteration is to keep the stone — and the spirit in which it was given to you — intact for the next generation. Simply put, recycling family jewellery will not only cut down the cost, but it will also bump up the sentimentality.

“Re-purposing also appeals as a ‘green’ choice in jewellery right now,” says Wright. “Recycling your own jewellery and using diamonds or gemstones that have already been mined also fits into one of the major trends we’re seeing right now in bridal jewellery, and that is Vintage design.”

Whether you’re looking for a vintage themed engagement ring or if you’re simply looking to keep that family connection, you’ll want to review what’s best with a professional.magpie_vintage

In preparation for one of the year’s busiest retail seasons, on November 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. Magpie Jewellery in Westboro is introducing their Bespoke Bridal design service and teaming up with Anne Sportun to kickoff their Holiday Trunk Show & Launch of Vintage Bridal Collection with a “Diamonds & Cocktails” party.

“December is one of the most popular times of the year to get engaged,” says Wright. “With festive decorations, champagne and sparkly lights everywhere—plus plenty of gatherings with family and friends – it’s the perfect time to pop the question to that special someone. At Magpie, we want to help make that moment as unique as the person you’re presenting the ring to.”

magpie_custom2Whether it’s starting from scratch or re-purposing family heirlooms, Magpie’s Bespoke Bridal design allows clients to be a part of every step of the design process, from sketch to 3-dimensional wax mockup to final product. Working with all eco-friendly karats of gold, silver and platinum, ethically sourced Canadian diamonds and gemstones, it’s a guaranteed one-of-a-kind experience with a one-of-a-kind result.

“Anne Sportun looks to nature for inspiration, all while combining the precious with the everyday,” says Wright. “The subtle beauty of organic asymmetry in her work has made her pieces a popular choice for brides-to-be with an appreciation for non-traditional designs.”

At “Diamonds & Cocktails,” guests are invited to browse and try on the newly unveiled designs while sipping on colourful drinks and snacking on light hors d’oeuvres. The Upkeep Shoppe will also be on-site r693_1024x1024treating everyone to complimentary manicures.

With some of the finest handcrafted pieces from designers across Canada, you’ll have lots of options to choose from, or get inspiration from, for your one of a kind redesign.

WHAT: “Diamonds & Cocktails” party in tandem with the Anne Sportun Holiday Trunk Show & Launch of Vintage Bridal Collection.
WHEN: November 27th from 7 to 9 pm.
WHERE: Magpie Westboro (430 Richmond Road).

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