Celebrating Style For The Working Mom

May 5, 2016 10:12 am

Photo by Valerie Keeler Photography. 

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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.

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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 beautyboutique.ca.

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 Etsy.com 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).

COMMON Ottawa: The New Luxury Street Style

November 26, 2015 1:50 pm

All photos courtesy of Alexandra Gunn

The fashion landscape in Ottawa is ever evolving with new boutiques opening their doors to the public with hopes that they can offer something different than what’s available at the new updated malls across the city.

Common2On Thursday, Ottawa’s media will be getting a sneak-peek at the latest store offering a distinctively different street lifestyle with luxury street wear and contemporary fashion, art, books and novelties all in one location called COMMON.

Located on 380 Elgin Street, COMMON will be opening it’s doors to the public on Friday. In advance of the grand opening, I spoke with the owner, Nader Salib about what style Ottawa has been missing out on… until now.

Alex: Welcome to Ottawa, COMMON! Tell me what your clients can expect when they walk through the front doors for the grand opening?

Nader: They can instantly expect to feel the culture we are trying to promote and grow here in Ottawa. There will be lots of different artists working at their crafts who all add something special to the space. Jesse Alberto from Le Petit Salon will be styling some of the models, who will then be modelling some of the clothes COMMON has to offer – a very strong brand mix ranging from high fashion to everyday accessible clothing. We wanted to make sure we offered different brands and a different style than the retail generally found in Ottawa.  All while in the background our photographers will be shooting our look books along side a group of artists, who will be working on a mural in phase 2 of the Common, which will be the eatery.

Alex: Why did you decide to open a common space for a variety of independent businesses?

Nader: I felt like malls these days are quite washed out and bland. Growing up, many of us spent so much time at the mall, but now wouldn’t dare to spend more time than needed whenever going there. I wanted to create one hub where it gives the vibe of an “anti-mall”. So odds are you can find what you’re looking for, but the quality and creativeness found at COMMON would be like no other. Even though we haven’t been opened very long, these businesses are already starting to feel like a family and we connect so well with he clients. It’s a one-on-one experience regardless of which part of the Common you’re in.COMMON1

Alex: Tell me more about this common space. How did everything come together? How did this idea get started?

Nader: I’ve always wanted to open a retail store but the market in Ottawa is a little tricky. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling and came across an anti-mall in California. I was immediately taken by the atmosphere there, because you didn’t limit yourself to just one business. There were a few shops, restaurants, bookstores, and without knowing I found myself there every morning starting my day. Grabbing a small bite, have conversation with all the different businesses and educating myself on all types of art and things I’ve always been interested in but never actually really took the time to learn about. Finally it was all there. So it stuck with me for a bit and I didn’t think much of it — just that I loved it.  Finally when I was in Ottawa looking for a space for a retail store and at the same time looking for a small restaurant space. I came across 380 Elgin. It was 5,000 square feet, way too large for any business alone to survive in such an expensive area, but when combining a few businesses together with like-minded owners, it all came together.

Alex: Who are some of the fashion designers that will be carried? What local brands will be carried in-store?

Nader: We work with a lot of independent designers but I make sure that their brands are brands I strongly believe in. This is a passion project for me  and I wanted it to really reflect that. Some of the brands we carry are Stampd, knomadik, April 77, UNIF, Represent, Rochambeau, among many others. Our biggest brand is Rick Owens DRKSHDW.  I’m excited to have them all in store. UNIF is one that I think is a great fit for the city here in Ottawa. I think it’s a strong reflection of the people here. Then there’s DRKSHDW which is our most high-end brand. We’re so happy to be able to carry them because it’s very rare whether in the United States, Canada or Europe even that stores are able to hold that account. When they agreed to work with us we were ecstatic and it means they had as much faith in the store and concept as we did. Rick Owens is someone that many of us have looked up too and admired, so to carry his brand in the store is something to be proud of.

COMMON3Alex: What sort of style will be carried at COMMON?

Nader: We are going for a more luxurious street style. Even though we try to find something for everyone who walks through our doors, we try to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone a bit when it comes to their clothing. We don’t want people to blend in with the idea that Ottawa is a conservative government city. There’s lots of great and creative minds here who just need a platform and a little extra push to really express themselves in a way they feel comfortable. Fashion is a good place to start with that. We do styling for anyone who walks in because we put them in something they feel comfortable in that reflects their personalities as well.

Alex: What do you want local artists and shoppers to know about COMMON?

Nader: That everyone is welcome to come through our doors. We want to help young creatives get some recognition across some of the bigger cities in Canada and the United States. I’ve seen some locals here in Ottawa that blow my mind with the work they do, yet they never have a platform to display their work. Whether you’re into art, music, architecture, fashion, hair, or coffee — we’re here to help answer any questions and offer any advice we may have. We want people to know that their dreams are really achievable, sometime you just need guidance and to know where to start.  That’s what we’re here for.

The Wonderful Works of Andrea Warren

November 13, 2015 1:54 pm
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All photos courtesy of Andrea Warren

Some artists create their work for fame and fortune, but some, like Ottawa-based visual artist Andrea Warren, create art for much more significant reasons.

Warren’s art is unusual and enchanting. In some pieces, Warren combines multiple acrylic colours together to create an almost stained glass-like visual. In others, Warren patterns different and unusual textures and images.

Experimenting with new materials in her art is what Warren does best.

shanghai1“I like to work very loosely and introduce some elements of chance into my work,” Warren explains. “I start a lot of my abstract paintings by throwing paint at the canvas, and in my next layers work within those lines, pushing around fluid color and letting them pool and mix directly on the canvas. I’m obsessed with modern pigments and finding new color combinations.”

And, it seems, much of Warren’s inspiration for her work also comes from her professional life.

Since 2008, Warren has been teaching for Golden Artist Colors, a paint company based out of Berlin, New York. Warren is one of Golden’s youngest artists, and provides lectures and workshops for art associations, universities, galleries and other art groups all over Ontario and the East Coast.

Clearly a fountain of artistic knowledge, Warren is also an instructor for Artswell. Artswell is a registered Canadian non-for-profit charity that is dedicated to improving marginalized people’s well-being through art.

Warren’s passion for teaching art began while working at an art supply store in Langley, BC. Warren enjoyed helping customers find the right supplies for their work, leading her to extensively research artist materials.

While Warren was learning concepts and techniques while attending art school, she noticed a lack focus on learning practical knowledge about artist materials. Through her research, Warren soon became an expert in her graduating class, often being approached by curious fellow students seeking advice about materials.

It seems rare for an artist to take the time to share their talents with others. Warren does just this, and it is clear that she thoroughly enjoys sharing her wealth of knowledge with aspiring artists, both young and old.

“I love seeing people get excited when they discover a new color or technique, finally find a solution to a creative problem, or produce something they love,” Warren says.

shanghai3Warren is currently working to develop new written and visual content for her classes, as well as creating new educational resources (such as video and online tutorials, as well as a book) for her students.

Warren hopes to one day open a co-op studio/classroom/gallery space, but admits that the idea is currently in a dreaming and research stage.

Like many Ottawa-based artists, Warren is passionate about her community. While her career has Warren teaching around the world, it’s clear that Ottawa holds a special place in Warren’s heart. She says the city’s creative community is vibrant and full of supportive talent.

“Seeing the immediate and huge outpouring of support from local artists, musicians and restaurants when (the Somerset Street businesses) burned down last month, it makes me proud to live in this city. We may be small, but there’s something really special about the creative community.”

In the New Year, Warren hopes to seek gallery representation in Ottawa, as well as in other cities. At the end of the month, she’ll be travelling to a Golden conference in Miami, and will also be appearing in the Miami Art Basel. You can learn more about Warren by visiting her website.

Five of the Most Innovative Engagement Shoot Ideas

November 11, 2015 12:07 pm

Getting engaged is a very important step in a couple’s relationship. Usually, the engagement period gives a couple time to plan their future together, iron out any major disagreements and discuss dreams and hopes.

It offers them a chance to get to know one another even more and marks an important new chapter in their life together. That’s why so many couples decide that they want to capture the moment of their engagement and hold onto the memories forever. If the standard engagement shoot ideas are a little too boring and just don’t appeal to you, then take a look at our innovative top five and let yourself get inspired.

Engagement 21. You’re both active and love hiking? Then your engagement shoot is the perfect opportunity to get creative with your common interest. Put on your hiking boots and climb to the top of your favourite mountain or visit your favourite spot in the woods to get some stunning pictures together.

2. If you both like science fiction and you absolutely love Star Wars, then there are tons of ways in which you can incorporate this interest in your photo shoot. Stage a lightsaber fight and have the special effects added in afterwards for an engagement shoot that is out of this world. There are specialist sites out there such as Photobox, which can provide more personalised touches to your photos.

3. The Zombies are coming! Invite some of your closest friends and family members along to your photo shoot and have them dress up as scary zombies while you and your other half run for your lives. This shoot can be done in the forest or in an urban setting and it’ll definitely be a unique memory to treasure.

4. Do you both love reading and spend countless hours comfortably sitting next to each other on the couch with a good book in your hands? Then why not ask your favourite library or bookshop if you can have your engagement shoot there? Surround yourself with countless stories and come up with your own as you embark on this new life together.

5. Revisit the place where you first met or where you had your first date. Sit near the window, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, share some of your favourite memories and let the photographer take a photo from the outside. Or head to the ice cream place where you shared your first ice cream together and take some creative snaps while enjoying your favourite flavours.

Think about what hobbies, interests and memories connect the two of you and try to incorporate them into your engagement shoot. That way you can add a wonderfully personal touch to your photos making them another great memory to treasure.

Art in Fashion 613 Shines Bright

October 16, 2015 9:55 am

Photo courtesy of Art in Fashion 613

Art in Fashion 613
is bringing something new to the capital. Taking place on Saturday October 17 at Library and Archives Canada, the event is an inspired fashion and night market created by Kym Brown, the designer and owner behind Bombshell Revival Designs.

Brown is an up-cycled artist, meaning that she creates new and unique pieces of wearable art by reusing and repurposing existing garments. Art in Fashion 613 was inspired after Brown asked herself two questions: ‘can art be fashion?’ And ‘can fashion be art?’

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Photo courtesy of Avenir Design Studio

These questions began to develop and the idea grew. Brown and her partner, Rene Trim of Creative Ottawa, were ready to try something fresh in the art and fashion scene.

“We realized that we both shared a passion to bring a new level to night events in Ottawa,” says Brown. “Especially those that promoted art, and, in my case, fashion as an art form.”

The result? Art in Fashion 613 was born.

Art in Fashion differs from other night markets because Brown and Trim have specifically chosen the vendors to fit the theme of art being fashion and fashion being art.

Each vendor and designer were privately approached by the duo and invited to participate according to their work, type of medium and the quality of their craftsmanship.

Brown also believes that Art in Fashion is truly a one-of-a-kind show that is taking place in Ottawa.

“This is also, to our knowledge, the first fashion show and night market event where guests of the event will have the opportunity to purchase runway creations directly from the designers that very night at the event.”

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Photo courtesy of Bombshell Revival Designs

35 curated and hand selected vendors will be at the event. Vendors range from painters to mixed media artists, to jewelers to up-cycled artisans.

There will also be a section of the market devoted to personal grooming and adornment vendors, as well as bakers who will be providing guests with delectable cupcakes, shortbreads, macaroons and other treats. Savour Italy will be catering the event with finger foods.

Brown and Trim hope that Art in Fashion attracts customers from all walks of life, regardless of age, vocation, cultural background or taste.

The all-ages event will have a wide variety of fashion statements being presented, along with a burlesque performance during the show (Brown notes that the burlesque act will not have a full reveal), and an assortment of artisan vendors at many different price points.

John “Milky” Mielke from BlastTheRadio.com will be broadcasting live from the event, providing the evening’s music.

Brown plans for Art in Fashion to become an annual event. The duo is also hoping to expand the event to include a different theme to the fashion show each year.

If you are interested in attending the event, you can find out more information on the event website. Advance tickets can be purchased online at EventBrite and are $20 each (which includes a complimentary drink ticket). Admission at the door on the night of the event is $25. Ample free parking will be available.

Justina McCaffrey Joins the Ottawa Life Magazine Team as a Fashion Columnist

October 10, 2015 12:09 pm

Internationally renowned high fashion designer, speaker and writer, Justina McCaffrey, has joined the Ottawa Life Magazine team and will be sharing her expert advice on all things related to fashion and style with OLM readers over the next year.


Justina McCaffrey stands with one of her gorgeous wedding gowns.

“I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to be part of such a great publication. I hope to offer a new, modern, and distinctive approach to fashion, the runway and my travels around the globe as a fashion designer,” said McCaffrey.

McCaffrey’s high-end bridal gowns are sold across Canada, the United States, China and Japan, and have been top sellers at renowned bridal boutiques such as Kleinfeld Bridal New York and Neiman Marcus. She also specializes in evening gowns and business wear.

“We’re very excited to bring the perspectives of such a prestigious Canadian designer to the readers of OLM,” said Dan Donovan, Publisher and Managing Editor, OLM.

Readers can look forward to McCaffrey’s first article in the next issue of OLM, set to be released November 21.

OLM is Ottawa’s leading general interest and lifestyles magazine, providing provocative, informative and entertaining information about life, fashion and homes in and around Canada’s capital region.

Fall for Fringe

September 29, 2015 1:58 pm

Seen on virtually every runway this season, including the Burberry, Valentino, Pucci, Ralph Lauren, and Chloe runways, fringe is back and will continue to remain on trend well into 2016. Today’s fringe provides texture and interest to any outfit. This season it’s hanging off the hemlines of pencil skirts, showing up as an embellishment on sweaters and is creating a high-impact look when added to accessories. As with any trend with this much wow factor, it can be intimidating to take on. Here’s how to capture the look in a completely modern way. For those who are more daring with their style, opt for a bold, fringed skirt that really moves when you walk. Pair it with your favourite t-shirt and add a pair of heels to bring the look together. If this trend is too tangled or tasselled for you, then stick with accessories. A clutch or handbag can add the perfect amount of modernity to any outfit.




Alex’s Fall Favourites


Nothing says luxe like a sweep of posh, plush fur when the temperature drops. With so many faux fur options available, this look will continue to remain a style staple for decades to come.
I always purchase a new fragrance with the change of seasons. Right now, I am loving the warm and spicy scent of ‘Mimosa and Cardamom’ by Jo Malone.
Hiking in Gatineau Park is on the top of my fall must do list. I’ll be wearing my brightest pair of runners to take in the beautiful leaves.



Threadbare Politics

QAlex, I’m a new political staffer and I’m still
trying to figure out how important it is to wear
your party colours during election season.
Do I really need to stick to the political
colour scheme?

ARED pencil SkirtHow partisan is your clothing? Like it or not, what you wear may indicate which party you will be voting for on October 19th. With the election looming, each political party is working on getting its message out and many staffers are using their political colour (blue, red, orange or green) as part of their identity. If you’re on the campaign trail, you’ll notice that posters, propaganda as well as backdrops will follow this branding strategy. As any party faithful will tell you, partisan style is the easiest way to express your loyalty and strengthen the image of your team. I’m not suggesting that you only wear one colour for the next few weeks, but rather, try to incorporate your hue as often as possible. A simple way to accomplish this is by wearing a brightly coloured skirt, blazer or bold accessories.

Photos by Valerie Keeler at Valberg Imaging.

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Wesley Clover Parks

September 15, 2015 2:19 pm

For thousands of years, horses have made our lives easier.But in the past hundred years they’ve gone from being utilitarian to something more akin to friends. Their deep eyes seem to resonate an incredible emotional intelligence and calmness.

Even after spending only a few minutes with a horse, it’s easy to understand how so many people form lifelong bonds with these majestic animals.

On a warm afternoon in late August, Ottawa Life Magazine set out to capture this bond. Shooting in the gorgeous Wesley Clover Parks with experienced photographer Paul Couvrette behind the camera, we looked at how riding has shaped the lives of three local women.

The photo shoot was a unique experience for just about everyone involved.

“It’s my first time taking portraits of horses, and I’ve been doing this for about 40 years,” says Couvrette, who runs the oldest standing photography studio in Ottawa.

“There’s not much I haven’t taken a crack at,” he says.

Of course, each horse requires a different approach. Like their owners, the horses have their own distinct personalities and fascinating histories.

Wesley Clover Parks is a new and versatile outdoor hub where visitors can go to camp, learn, or ride.The park is open to campers, and most sites have access to amenities. There you can also watch or take part in equestrian training and events. You can learn to ride at the Ian Millar School of Horsemanship or watch high-level hunter, jumper or dressage competitions.

Find out more about this expanding outdoor asset, just 15 minutes away from the downtown core, at wesleycloverparks.com.

Pamela Coulston

Copyright must be credited:Couvrette/Ottawa(613) 238-5104www.couvrette-photography.on.ca

Photo courtesy of Couvrette Photography.

It all started at pony camp when she was a child. Since then, Pamela Coulston has found ways to be around horses. She has worked as barn help, including at a Grand Prix stable in Germany.

It was not until she moved to Rwanda to work in international development for UNICEF that Coulston first bought her own horse. “I think it was one of 17 horses in the whole country,” she laughs. Coulston has owned four horses since moving back to Canada, and here you can see her standing with Maude, a dark bay Hanoverian she’s been with for four-and-a-half years.

In the photo she and Maude are dressed for jumping, a demanding sport that tests the horse’s agility and speed.

After working in international development and as a freelance journalist for years, Coulston left both to follow her dream of designing jewellery and opened her first boutique 2008. Today she owns Disegno Jewellery in the ByWard Market, and designed most of the brilliant jewellery in this photo shoot.

You can find more of her work at disegnojewellery.ca.

Lea Wouters

Copyright must be credited: Couvrette/Ottawa (613) 238-5104 www.couvrette-photography.on.ca

Photo courtesy of Couvrette Photography.

Lea Wouters can remember just about any time she met a horse growing up, and from the moment she first saw one when she was in kindergarten, she was hooked.

“I don’t know where I got the addiction from,” Wouters says, “but I just love horses.” She convinced her father to sign her up for horseback riding when she was eight. After that, she delivered newspapers and helped an elderly man during school lunch breaks to earn and save money.

“I bought my first horse when I was 13,” she says, and you can tell from her voice that the well-earned feeling of pride hasn’t quite worn off.

Wouters bought her third horse when she was 17, and finally bought her first farm when she was 21. Today she owns Serenity Hanoverians, where she and her family breed, raise and sell Hanoverian horses, a German breed known for its athleticism.

The horse she took to Wesley Clover is Strawinskij. Together, they competed in dressage for years before the 22-year-old Hanoverian gelding had to retire because of his age. In this photo, Wouters is dressed in dressage clothes, although in most competitions today, the rider would wear a helmet instead of the more traditional top hat.

In dressage, the horse and rider need to have a strong connection. In competitions, they work together to perform a series of precise and elegant movements to show off their strength and discipline.

“The best way to explain it is like ballet on horseback,” Wouters says. “You’re pretty much one with the horse.”

You can find out more about Lea Wouters’ work with Hanoverians at serenityhanoverians.ca.

Guin Carter

Copyright must be credited:Couvrette/Ottawa(613) 238-5104www.couvrette-photography.on.ca

Photo courtesy of Couvrette Photography.

Although all three featured equestrian enthusiasts have been working with horses for more than a decade, only one can say that the decade has been most of their life. Guin Carter started riding horses at the age of four.

“My grandmother brought all of the grandchildren into this day camp, and I guess I just stuck with it,” she says. Now 14, Carter is just starting her second year of high school, and now rides horses in international tournaments. During busy seasons, she has to train at least three times per week for the competitions, but Carter still finds horseback riding relaxing. “I’ve been doing it so long, it’s really calming,” she says.

Carter competes in hunter tournaments, where horses clear jumps while trying to look as graceful as possible. She’s currently in Canadian hunter’s gold division, which has brought her to tournaments as far south as Florida.

Carter plans to continue competing in hunter championships, but her career goal is to become a photographer.

With Carter is a ‘fiery’ polo pony from Jeremy Monette, a member of the Ottawa Polo Club.


Hair and makeup by Melanie Albert, owner and master stylist of MelaStyles in Orleans. She specializes in formal updos and has honed her skills all over North America, including a training period in New York City where she worked with celebrity hairstylist Nick Arrojo. Albert is experienced in styling for weddings and fitness competitions.


OLM’s Alessandra Gerebizza made sure that everything ran smoothly for the shoot.

Beauty Roundup: Summer Camping

August 10, 2015 2:00 pm

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Ricketts

It’s mid-summer and camping season is in full swing. Finally, you get to enjoy some reception-free downtime with the family and reconnect with nature. You don’t want to forget a thing, so you take out your packing list from last year (wow, I am so organized!). Tent and sleeping bag, check. Cooler, check. Sunscreen, bug spray, soap…check, check, check!

Your hope is to reconnect with nature, so you try your best to keep the campsite clean. But what about all the chemicals you’re dragging along in your products? We know these can potentially harm the ecosystem around you and pose a greater risk to the environment and your health in the long run. Although making the switch to cleaner products can take some time, camping is a great opportunity to go green in your beauty routine!


Sunscreen CollageYou’ll be living outside for a few days, hiking on trails, paddling the canoe on the shiny lake and maybe going for a dip in the water if you’re brave enough; but remember sunscreen is paramount. You’ll want to make sure to reapply throughout the day and include waterproof protectio
n if you anticipate sweating or swimming.

I like Green Beaver’s Natural Mineral Sunscreen Lotion for Kids (40 SPF). It has clean ingredients, is safe for the entire family and offers waterproof protection.

Don’t forget to protect your lips. Most lip balms contain SPF, but may not necessarily pass the non-toxic test. For healthier lip protection, opt for a product like Badger Balm’s multipurpose waterproof Face Stick. It can be used all year round and is also safe for the entire face.



Bug Spray

Natural Bug SprayAlthough nothing really works like the real stuff, DEET-free natural bug sprays combined with a fragrance-free beauty regime can help ward off those pesky mosquitos. Natural Bug Spray is safe for the entire family and non-toxic. The essential oils found in its formula are known to repel bugs, not kill them.








Soap CollageConsider packing light with an all-purpose soap that can be used to wash your dishes, hands, body or hair. The natural and biodegradable formulations are safe for the environment and offer a wonderful herbal scent, perfect for the great outdoors.

For all the ritzy glampers out there, I recommend this lovely Cottage Kit from Modern Apothecary that includes a lake-friendly shampoo and conditioner, natural bug spray and moisturizing body oil.

If you prefer to use a bar of soap, opt for a eucalyptus essential oil based soap that doubles as a mild insect repellant. This natural and lake-friendly Mountain Sky Pine-Eucalyptus soap will leave you smelling fresh and clean. I would avoid cedar notes, as mosquitoes love it just as much as we do!










Deoderant CollageWhether it is for everyday use or camping, switching from an antiperspirant to a deodorant is something everyone should consider. Aluminum found in antiperspirants, the ingredient that stops you from sweating, may be linked to diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. I have recently made the switch myself and have found a perfect formula. Green Beaver Natural Deodorant with Tee Tree oil has antibacterial properties and goes on clear.

If bathing is not readily available, consider using a body deodorizer spray like Demes’ Get the Funk Out, with antibacterial properties. This spray can also be used safely on clothing or camping gear that, let’s face it, can smell funky after a few days. Bonus—Demes is an Ottawa based brand that produces non-toxic, vegan and cruelty-free products for the family.

Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale

July 24, 2015 1:30 pm
Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

It may feel as though summer is just starting to sink in here in Ottawa, but you shouldn’t be surprised that some of our favourite retailers are already gearing up for fall fashion. You won’t want to miss out.

You can easily stay on trend with Nordstrom’s two week fall Anniversary Sale featuring brand-new, trendy styles available both in store and online. The sale is now in effect but prices go up August 3!

Why should you start stocking up on cool weather clothes while the summer heat is so sweet? Nordstrom has a large array of fall inventory on the shelves and there are some serious deals to be found.

I’ve previewed all of the stellar designer fashion goods and picked out a few of my favourite fashionable finds:

Nordstrom SOFIA CASHMERE1. When cashmere goes on sale, I shop! I picked up this beautiful Sofia Cashmere open-front cardigan with a shawl collar of lush fox fur. I really like the luxe look of the grey cardigan and it is an easy way to dress up an outfit.

The Sofia Cashmere long cardigan is on sale for $444.90 — after sale $665.00.




Nordstrom ESCADA2. I love this elegant jersey dress because it has a flattering, figure-defining waistband and the gorgeous color makes this dress a showstopper.

Pick up the fitted Escada’s ‘Dondi’ Jersey Dress, Sale $579.00 — after sale $950.00





Nordstrom REBECCA

3. Fall is the ideal time to buy a new bag for the fall and winter season. What I like about this classic Rebecca Minkoff leather bag is the exterior zippered pouch to store essentials, like a cell phone and the easy magnetic closure at the top. The depth is also perfect for carrying a stack of paperwork, makeup and a book.

This Rebecca Minkoff ‘Medium MAB’ tote bag is on sale now for $176.90 — after sale $265.00



Nordstrom VINCE4. This rich burgundy leather drape jacket with an asymmetrical lapel is a statement-making coverup that can be worn casually with jeans or it can be paired with a blouse for the office.

This Vince drape neck Jacket is on sale for $659.90 — after sale $995.00





Nordstrom TROUVEIf you’re looking for a budget friendly option, designer Trouve offers a leather drape jacket in black and beige for the sale price $219.90 — after sale $328.00.

The Anniversary Sale began in the early 60s with the acquisition of Best Apparel. At the time, Best Apparel had an anniversary event in place, which originated in the mid 40s. Nordstrom decided to keep the sale and expand it and it has since become the store’s largest and most popular event of the year.

Join the Anniversary Sale conversation online by using #NordstromOTT and #NSale, and tagging @NordstromOttawa.

Mellow Yellow

July 13, 2015 12:00 pm

Fun, fresh and often associated with the warmer months of the year, yellow is a worn-to-be-seen colour that will liven up your wardrobe this season. The sunny shade was seen on the Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Burberry Prorsum and Naeem Khan runways and the statement shade is also a sunshine basic at budget-friendly stores. Whether you opt for canary yellow or prefer a more subtle splash – lemon, maize or mustard yellow – there’s a shade of yellow for everyone. Prefer to dabble in this trend before committing to clothing? Start by accessorizing with a novelty handbag or style your outfit with bold jewellery.



From left to right: Addition Elle Yellow Necklace $40, Joe Fresh Yellow Sweater $29, Joe Fresh Yellow Scarf $12, Winners Printed Sundress $59.99, Winners Novelty Wicker Handbag $129.99, Joe Fresh Yellow Tank $16, Winners Enamel Bangle $59.99, Joe Fresh Yellow Flower Skirt $39, Kate Spade Pineapple Purse $348.alex-gun-blue

So how do you strengthen your image? Stay clear of a fashion rut by keeping up with trends, while maintaining a classic look. A wrap dress is a great option as it’s flattering on all shapes and sizes.

Kate Middleton has given this style a royal stamp of approval and set off a fashion frenzy around the world by stepping out in a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. DVF is renowned for her signature wrap dresses and this bright blue wrap that I’m wearing can be worn to the office or for a night out. Don’t forget to accessorize your work uniform with a statement bag and always have a tailored blazer on hand. A crisp white blazer is a fresh alternative to the traditional year-round black option. The term ‘power dressing’ is about honing a professional look that is current and portrays an image that you’re resilient enough to manage whatever is thrown your way.








From left to right: Kate Middleton in a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress, Marshalls Collarless Blazer and Crop Top $34.99 and $59.99, Kate Spade Harmony Tote $298.

Purchase Alex’s Two Looks at Nordstrom: Right: Diane von Furstenberg Petal Dreams Wrap Dress $458.00, Gold Michael Kors watch $300.00, Kate Spade Blue Jean Pumps, Ted Baker dark blue purse $325.00. Feature Image: Diane von Furstenberg lemon gold blouse $251.00, Tory Burch Callie skinny pant $240.00, Steve Madden sunglasses $38.00, Sam Eldelman nude strappy heels $168.00, long necklace $205.00, yellow bracelets $36.00


Photography: Valerie Keeler, Valberg Imaging Inc. valbergimaging.com
Hair: Stefania Capovilla

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