Thursday, October 29, 2009

Maui Maui Maui Maui Maui Maui Maui

Hubs and I are travelling to Maui verrrrrrrry early tomorrow morning to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary, yay! I'll be taking a break from blogging until we return, so please check back November 9 to hear all about my non-tan and how many pounds of dried mango were consumed. Aloha! 

Photo taken by me on the road  to Hana last year. Mmm, Hawaii... 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fur Sure

You know when you buy an item of clothing or a great accessory and you wonder how you ever managed to get dressed without it? That’s how I feel about my new fake fur vest.  I bought it a couple of weeks ago, and now every morning as I’m choosing that day’s outfit, it’s actually a struggle not to throw it on. Fur — of the faux variety, please — is cozy, goes with everything, and looks luxe and louche all at once. What's not to love? 

Photos above via Stockholm StreetStyle 

Photos above via The Sartorialist 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Skull Love, Part Deux

Speaking of skulls (er, three weeks ago), how fabulous are these cocktail rings festooned with tiny skulls by Italian jewellery label Iosselliani? Just in time for a touch of Halloween spookiness — but I would definitely wear mine year-round. 

At Forward 

At Bona Drag 

At Zoe 

I love the contrast of the superfeminine, traditional pearls with the badass little skull in the last ring. Which one is your favourite? 

Monday, October 26, 2009

The September Issue (And How I Couldn't Come Up With A Clever Title For This Post)

Five questions that popped into my head after seeing The September Issue — which was excellent, by the way — this weekend:

  • Will there ever be another editor as powerful as Anna Wintour? She’s got a bony finger in every fashion pie imaginable, from previewing and editing designers’ collections (whether they like it or not, it would seem) to negotiating delivery schedules for major department stores to altering runway designs in an attempt to make them more saleable. I was blown away hearing her say, “Yes, I talked to Mrs. Prada and she agreed to change the fabric on those dresses.” Can you imagine? It's hard to fully grasp the breadth and scope of her influence, and how far beyond Vogue it actually extends.

Sienna Miller chillin' with her Catholic buddies in the September 2007 issue of Vogue

  • How would The September Issue have turned out had it been made today and not back in 2007 — when obscene amounts of money were being thrown around and Wintour could order a $50,000 spread to be re-shot on a whim? Candy Pratts Price, who was featured in the documentary, has just been laid off from and it’s very likely that more losses will follow. Does the Vogue universe we see in the movie still exist? 

  • Could André Leon Talley be any less sane? Honestly, he might be the world’s most fashionable mental-hospital escapee. I strongly recommend you watch him crazy it up here . 

 Photo via 

  • Could Wintour’s daughter, Bee Shaffer, be any more of a bratty, condescending, disrespectful little snot? Her mother is the most important woman in a $300 billion industry, and Bee still has the nerve to look down on fashion? Please, please won’t someone slap the sneer off her rich law-student face? 

 Photo via 

  • Could Grace Coddington be any more fabulous? She really does steal the movie. Next to Wintour, who comes across as ruthless, humourless and coldhearted, Coddington is feisty, emotional, funny and real. She doesn’t put up with Wintour’s bullshit and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. On the flip side of that, she also reveals the vulnerability she feels after toiling for over 40 years in an industry that thrives on change and wants everything to be Newer! Faster! Younger! Coddington is a frizzy-haired, cat-loving, flat-shoes-wearing fashion goddess, and like every other girl who has seen The September Issue, I worship at her altar.   

P.S. This is my new favourite Grace Coddington photo, taken by the supremely talented Tommy Ton for :

Don't you love the look on Coddington's face? She's totally thinking, "What the hell is that bitch wearing?" 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jimmy Choo for H&M Oh Em Gee

It’s pretty clear that every woman and her dog is eagerly awaiting the new Jimmy Choo for H&M collection, which hits stores November 14, but can we please focus for a moment on what’s really important here?

Look. At. Sasha's. Nails. 

Perfection. The short length of the nails keeps this look from veering into cougar territory while the leopard print feels totally fresh in black and white. So many of the animal-print manicures I’ve seen lately — zebra stripes and leopard spots done in super-bright colours — have been too, too much, but this monochromatic pattern is just right.

I’m digging the rest of the campaign, too, from the hair and makeup to the styling to the photography (not to mention the insanely beautiful Sasha Pivovarova). The clutch bags are tempting me, and while the shoes seem nice, I’ll reserve judgment until I can feel the quality of the leather in person.

Happy weekend, everyone! I’ll finally be seeing The September Issue (I can’t believe how long it’s taken for that movie to open in Toronto) and will report back on all the Vogue-y goodness next week.  

All photos courtesy of H&M 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tea Party Crasher Exclusive: Q&A with Abigail Ahern

Today I'm incredibly excited to feature an exclusive interview with one of my favourite interior designers, the fabulously talented Abigail Ahern. I first came across Abigail's work last year and instantly developed a giant girl-crush thanks to her signature use of deep, moody greys combined with pops of bright colour and her ability to create gorgeously whimsical, alluring spaces. The way the London-based designer skillfully plays with proportion, transforms flea market finds into drool-worthy pieces and takes on any DIY challenge — while making it all seem effortless, of course — commands major respect. Her book, A Girl's Guide to Decorating, is one of the few design tomes I reference again and again; I can't get enough of the glamorous, modern rooms and the unexpected touches of levity. How cool is it to find a designer who doesn't take herself too seriously? Abigail's work is edgy and enchanting in equal measure, and I'm delighted to be able to share with you a glimpse inside her colourful, creative mind.

How did you get your start as an interior designer? Have you always been passionate about design?
I’ve always been interested in interior design — in fact, I can remember being about six years old and saving up all my pocket money to rip out the horrible pink carpet my parents had laid in my bedroom. I wanted to paint the floor instead!

I started my career working for Terence Conran’s publishing company, Conran Octopus. I was on the picture desk and worked on some amazing books about interiors. It gave me the design bug and the passion to change my career direction.

When did you open your shop, Atelier Abigail Ahern? How do you balance your time between the shop and designing for clients?
The store opened in 2003. I tend to work there three days a week, and the rest of the time I’m either working from home or out researching.

Can you walk me through a typical day in your life?  
A typical day starts very early — at 5:45 a.m. I head to the gym for an hour. That’s followed by a coffee from a fabulous coffee house nearby. I couldn’t live without coffee! I then collect my puppy, Maud, who is not such an early riser, and take her to dog club. It sounds bizarre, but a group of her friends meet in the local park and romp around for an hour.

If I’m store-based, it’s a quick 10-minute walk to the shop with Maud. Once there, I restyle various sections of the space or work on our new product range or yabber to customers. Days in the store are difficult to structure, what with the phone ringing and customers visiting. Days spent working from home are a lot more structured. I may be spending time researching for a client or perhaps coming up with designs for our new lighting range.

The day finishes around seven: it’s walk time for Miss Maud, then supper and the odd glass of wine. My husband and I work together so we never really stop talking shop, I hate to say!

How would you describe your decorating style?
It’s pretty eclectic – I like to think of it as an Aladdin’s cave of gorgeousness. One journalist called it Alice in Wonderland on acid! I like to mix styles, play with scale and combine humble pieces with luxurious ones. I don’t design with rules in mind; I just follow my heart.

What’s your favourite space in your home and why?
It has to be the lower ground floor, which houses the kitchen, the dining area and a snug. It’s really the hub of our home: here I cook, or sit by our open fire, or work and potter in and out of the garden.

What was the most interesting or challenging client project you’ve worked on?
Accessorizing a brand new spa for the Ritz Carlton in Miami was one of the most challenging projects. It’s a huge space (42,000 square feet), it’s in another country, and it took an incredible amount of research and thought. Worth it, though — it stretched me to the limit but I loved it.

Have you ever made any design “mistakes” or looked back on a space and wondered, “What was I thinking?”
I’ve had the odd off-moment with colour – luckily not with clients, but for myself. I once painted a room aubergine and it was so hideous I was painting it back before it had even dried, much to my husband’s annoyance!

 You’re a huge advocate of DIY, which is something many people fear when it comes to decorating. What advice would you give would-be DIYers?
DIY is all about confidence, so I would simply say go for it! In my book, A Girl’s Guide to Decorating, all the projects are small, mostly require just a few tools, and can be undertaken in a day. If you start with something small – say boxing out a shelf to fatten it up and make it super gallery-esque – you then get the confidence to work on bigger projects.

What are your favourite design-on-a-budget tricks? Where should you splurge and in which areas can you save?
Spray-painting flea market furniture is one of my favourite things to do — it completely transforms the furniture into something super sexy. I would say splurge on paint: the more expensive the paint, the higher the pigmentation and the more velvety and opulent it looks.

In terms of saving, I’m a huge fan of elongating kitchen and wardrobe doors with cheap wood and then
painting out. The cupboards become far more bespoke- looking, and cheap wood like MDF really reduces the overall cost.

What are your favourite places to shop around the world?
Merci in Paris has to be number one, as I absolutely love that concept store. I love Rossana Orlandi in Milan and ABC Carpet and Home in New York as well — and flea markets anywhere.
In terms of design, what are your favourite colour combinations right now?
Deepest, darkest grey combined with peacock teal and saffron yellow.

How do you cozy up your home in the fall and winter?
Throws and cushions come out from the loft, and an abundance of tea lights get scattered all over the place. Winter foliage and English hydrangeas in vases always makes me feel incredibly snug and cozy.

Which designers have influenced you?
Mr Jonathan Adler, Kelly Wearstler, and of course, Ilse Crawford.

What are your favourite décor magazines?
Every month, I always buy Italian Elle Décor, Australian Inside Out, British Elle Decoration and  Living Etc. — and now the online mag Lonny, which sort of replaces Domino, a magazine I loved and miss dearly.

What’s the most important thing to remember when it comes to home décor?
The most important thing to remember is a simple one: follow your heart and your instincts, and decorate and surround yourself with what you love. Don’t bother with keeping up with the Joneses or following trends – just follow your heart.

What’s the one design item you’re most coveting right now?
Anthropologie is about to open in London and I have my eye on their bright yellow chesterfield sofa.

What’s next for you?
We’ve just opened a new concession at The Shop at Bluebird, in Chelsea, so that’s keeping me pretty busy. Plus I am hugely excited about our new product range of lighting, which will debut early next year. We also have some fabulous interior design projects we are working on, and I’m dreaming daily about opening a store in New York. 

Thank you, Abigail! I'll definitely be keeping my fingers crossed for a New York location. Good luck! 

All photos courtesy of Abigail Ahern 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bring Back Caban!

Photo by Adam Xavier 

I’m heading out to the Joe Fresh Style show tonight for Toronto’s LG Fashion Week , and while I’m looking forward to seeing what tricks the team has up its collective sleeve (Coco Rocha made a special runway appearance last year), I can't help but let my thoughts linger on Joe Fresh founder Joseph Mimran and his dearly missed lifestyle store, Caban. 

Any design-savvy Canadian worth her House & Home  subscription remembers Caban, an offshoot of Club Monaco that sadly shuttered its doors in 2006. The thoughtfully edited style emporium carried everything from Philippe Starck Louis Ghost chairs to $19 wok sets to waffle-knit bathrobes in every shade of beige you can imagine. It was a gorgeous space in a stunning building, a fabulous place to browse, and the sales were pretty damn fantastic, too. Years after its closing, I’m still gutted that I didn’t take full advantage of all the goodies Caban had to offer, but I was a renter back then, not a homeowner, and hadn’t yet become obsessed with decorating. 

Well, Joe, I’m obsessed now, so if you’re reading this — and we both know you love my blog — please re-open Caban! I’ll do my best to single-handedly support the store the way my mother has been single-handedly keeping The Bay in business for years. Canadians want affordable, stylish things. We need Caban. How about it, Joe? Pretty please? 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Memory Lane: Givenchy vs. Prada

When I first spotted these Givenchy lace-up open-toe ankle boots on Net-a-Porter, I thought they were made of a dreamy dove-grey suede. Imagine my dismay when I discovered they're actually — gasp! —stonewashed denim. I know, I know. I was just as shocked as you are. What a world we live in. 

The weird part is that I still think they're a teeny bit awesome. They remind me of a clunkier version of the kick-ass Prada open-toe booties from S/S 06... 

... but instead of the sexy pink patent or buttery tan leather Prada used, the Givenchy versions look as though some denim left over from the early '90s strolled over and threw up all over them. That's not necessarily a bad thing. 

On a side note, I'm now feeling incredibly nostalgic for that Prada S/S 06 collection. It's one of my all-time favourites, not only for the clothes but for the way the collection transports me to an emotionally  defining period of my life. Perusing those images on really takes me back to that moment in time: I had just moved back home from London, England, where I had spent several amazing years living and studying. I was devastated, frankly, to have been forced to leave the city I passionately loved for the one I was merely stuck with. 

Back in Toronto, I took some small consolation in fashion. I was obsessed with that Prada collection, from the romantic featherweight dresses to the fuchsia lipstick to the shiny, crisscross-strap shoes. Most of all, I was captivated by the grey silk over-the-knee stockings shown with almost every look, slouching prettily down the models' legs. I had to have them, and, worried they wouldn't be carried in the Bloor Street Prada boutique, I asked a total stranger to buy them for me. That kind person was Susie Bubble, who had just started a little blog called Style Bubble and who very generously offered a free shopping/shipping service for us poor suckers overseas. I remember how thrilled I was when the stockings arrived, all wrapped up in tissue paper, the delicate silk shimmering discreetly. They sat in my drawer for ages before I finally found the right moment to wear them — on a date with my new boyfriend, the man who would later become my husband. 

What a collection. Thanks for the stockings, Susie. It might be time to pull them out again.  

Givenchy Fanta denim lace-up boots from Net-a-Porter here
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