Angie’s Models and Talent International Opens New Flagship Centre

September 28, 2016 9:45 am
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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.

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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.

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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 www.angiesmodels.com

In Search of Style: Fall Fashion

September 16, 2016 12:07 pm
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alex

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. 

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Kate Spade Small Hemsley Bag $258

Kate Spade Small Hemsley Bag $258

Kate Spade Small Hemsley Bag $258

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chokers: MUST-HAVE ACCESSORY

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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.

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Guess Kielo Faux Fur Vest $148

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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.

 

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Memories of Sussex Drive

July 12, 2016 2:00 pm
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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 milton.shoes.

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
April2016_Justina_McCaffrey_COURTESY JUSTINA MCCAFFREY

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
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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 SocietySalonOttawa.com.

Ottawa Salon Wins a Blush-Worthy Amount of Awards

May 31, 2016 11:58 am
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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.

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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.

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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 blushes.ca

Celebrating Style For The Working Mom

May 5, 2016 10:12 am
Alex

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.

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1 THE JACKET

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
$399.99

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2CREATIVE COMFORT

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

 

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3THE CARRY ALL BAG

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.

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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
$195

Follow Alex on Twitter: @AlexandraGunn

Capital Catwalk Showcases Best of Local Fashion Designers

February 3, 2016 11:19 am
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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.

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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
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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

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.

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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
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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.

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

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

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Pajar fur hat $160

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

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

 

PHOTOGRAPHY Valerie Keeler, Valberg Imaging Inc.

CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES PROVIDED BY The Hudson’s Bay

CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS Tinseltown Christmas Emporium

FOLLOW ALEX ON TWITTER @AlexandraGunn

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.

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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
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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
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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
Engagement

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.

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