Discover CHANEL: Breakfast at CHANEL, Brasserie Gabrielle, and Back to THE Apartment

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*If you are catching up, you can read the first Discover CHANEL installment here

Every season, despite dozens of fashion presentations happening from New York to Tokyo, CHANEL runway show remains one of the most highly-anticipated collections and shows to see. Not only to check out the next masterful/curious/intriguing collection, but also to admire the setting that Karl Lagerfeld and his team dream up season after season (icebergs, demonstrations, supermarkets, oh my!). What I’m trying to say is…CHANEL shows are never ever boring, which is why I was so excited to finally be able to attend one in person.

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Arriving at the Grand Palais early in my “something borrowed” CHANEL outfit, I saw street style photographers milling about, stylish (and not-so-stylish) peacocks walking back and forth, hoping to catch photogs’ eyes, security vans patrolling the perimeter, people handing out promotional breakfast packs to the hungry attendees (Macarons for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do!). Sensory overload, even before I set foot inside the grand venue.

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As part of the Discover CHANEL program, my fellow bloggers and I got to go inside at the same time as the photographers, and before anyone else, so that we could check out the interior as it was intended. Welcoming us into the Brasserie Gabrielle, were impeccably-dressed “waiters”, and as I stepped into Coco Chanel-inspired French brasserie set at the Grand Palais, my jaw practically dropped to the floor – it was overwhelming. Attention to detail was immaculate – Parisian bar stands stocked with all of the usual breakfast accouterments from boiled eggs to Viennoiserie, fully-functioning coffee machines, where I totally ordered a cuppa since I didn’t have time for one before the show, reserved tables for the VIPs (of course, the first thing I did was find Anna Wintour’s table), mosaic-tiled floors…it was all perfect!

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I resisted going to my assigned seat, hanging out around the bar area to people-watch, as one would at an actual brasserie. I spotted Grace Coddington’s red mane, Patrick Demarchelier settling into his booth, Giovanna Battaglia talking to friends excitedly, Carine Roitfeld posing for photographers, Hamish Bowles snapping photos of the bar with his cell phone, I even saw Karl Lagerfeld surrounded by a sea of black suits before the show.

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I also snuck a photo of Anna Wintour mid-interview, hiding behind her signature shades; I felt like a naughty child or a stalker, but if Anna minded, her face didn’t show it. Before I knew it, the ushers were gently, yet firmly asking us to take our seats, and so I did, ready for the main event.

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I found my seat just in time, as models began walking through the revolving doors, entering the brasserie, but after doing the obligatory runway walk around the room, some models would settle in at the bar to grab some OJ, while others would pile into the comfy booths for a chat or a selfie session. It felt fresh and unexpected to see models laugh together, order food, and basically show off the collection in action. As the show came to an end, models did not leave their various perches, but stayed behind for a sort of an installation presentation, where attendees could grab photos of the models up-close, as well as sit down next to them for a minute of make-believe – breakfast with supermodels at Brasserie Gabrielle, anyone?

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As for the collection itself, this was one of my favourite CHANEL collections in a while. Dubbed the “French Collection”, it had all the staples that are expected from CHANEL – emblematic tweed, exquisite little black dresses, to-die-for bags, spectacular coats, but in line with the setting, there were also cheeky plate minaudieres, fork and spoon bags, pencil skirts in a fabric reminiscent of those brasserie mosaic floors, bomber jackets adorned with bows, skirts that looked like they were made out of folded white napkins (surprisingly cool!). While some pieces were very tongue-in-cheek, others were simply chic. Even the kookiest of pieces were still wearable and covetable, and very much in line with the spirit of CHANEL.

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Being able to see many of those pieces up close after the show was a pleasant (and a very welcome) surprise. While Karl jumped behind the bar to serve orange juice and answer questions, many of the attendees (myself included) jumped at the chance to snap close-ups of the stunning collection, admiring both the models and the clothes in front of us. Most of the photos in this post were snapped by me, so you can probably see just how close we got to the models and to the sublime clothes.

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After the show, our chic crew piled into a van to be whisked away to Coco Chanel’s rue Cambon apartment. Having visited the apartment in the past, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be able to go there for the second time! You can read my post about the first visit here. Once again, I could almost feel Coco Chanel’s spirit in the lavish surroundings. The place felt more familiar the second time around, but the visit was just as special as the first time. This time, I took some videos of the apartment, which I’ll be sharing in the original post soon.

Giddy from our visit, the bloggers and I headed back to rue Cambon to do some shopping after lunch, excited for next day’s visit to the CHANEL handbag factory! (to be continued)

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More photos after the jump!
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Oscars 2015: Best Dressed

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If you tuned in to my #YorkdaleOscars live-tweet session, you already know that I thought that this year’s Oscars were a bit of a snoozefest. NPH’s jokes fell flat, the red carpet wasn’t very exciting, and the show felt like it lasted FOREVER. But despite all that, once I started going through my best-dressed picks, I came up with quite a few faves. A little disclaimer…not all of these looks are 100% amazing in my books…but they were the best of the bunch – the most exciting, most beautiful, most elaborate. There were also some bad ones…like Anna Kendrick’s bridesmaid dress, or Karolina Kurkova’s rumpled duvet gown…but we won’t go there. Instead, let’s see who brought their A (and A-) game to Dolby this year.

Marion Cotillard’s Christian Dior Couture was one of the faves…not only because of the unusual construction and exquisite detailing, but because it was Marion who was wearing it. On anyone else this would not have been a win. But she really sold it.

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As I mentioned on Twitter, Laura Dern isn’t usually a fashion girl, but she BROUGHT IT this year in a silver Alberta Ferretti gown. Bow down!

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Julianne Moore was the clear winner this year…not only taking home the coveted Best Actress award, but rocking a custom CHANEL Couture gown like it was made for her…because it was.

More after the jump!
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NYFW Spring 2015: Street Style Hair Trends

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As the latest season of NYFW is coming to a close, I want to revisit some photos I took at the tents last September. As I was shooting, I noticed a trend – fun hair colours! From platinum, to grey, to red, to pastel, to rainbow, people were making loud fashion statements with their hair colour.

Perhaps I was biased and only captured what I wanted to see, since at the time I was freshly platinum, but after shooting for a couple of days and spotting dozens of fun hair shades, I knew I wasn’t imagining it. With spring and summer just around the corner, I thought I’d share these photos in case you needed some hair inspo for those warmer days ahead. Enjoy!

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More after the jump!
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What I Wore: Solange, Coco, and Minnie…Oh My!

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Another WMCFW season has come and gone, and this time I found myself at the tents every single day, and saw more shows than I normally would have. As such, my full fashion week recap is going to be up sometime next week, with my fave new designers, outstanding pieces, and fave collections, as well as the beauty recap from our contributor Aleyda. But for now, here’s a post about all of the fun outfits I wore to the tents last month.

Thanks to a slew of wonderful photographers like Ania Boniecka, Aleyah Solomon, Jenna Marie Wakani, Ryan Emberley and Stefania Yarhi, among others, I was able to document every look from a variety of angles and lenses…candid and not. It’s a bit of an exercise in narcissism, but hey, this is a style blog, what did you expect?! Let’s get to it, shall we?

On day 1, I ran into the lovely Talia Brown, and we were snapped together for FLARE Magazine. I didn’t bother with my outfit on day 1 – mainly because I had a very intense day at the office, so I simply swapped my ankle booties for a pair of ALDO heels, and my work bag for an ela clutch, and that was it.

After the shows, we were treated to a VIP party courtesy of Joe Fresh, with Solange Knowles on turntables. We were literally inches away from this stylish beauty, but I’m still not sure if waiting nearly 3 hours for the privilege was worth it. My feet were crying by the time I got home.

xx, attends the Joe Fresh Cocktail event on Monday, October 20th, 2014.solange-toronto-joe-fresh-style-blog-nelia-belkova

On Day 2, I actually managed to change out of my office clothes, and into a fun faux leather overalls from H&M. Knowing that a Minnie Mouse party was in the cards, I made sure to grab my trusty sequinned Minnie ears, which completed my look that day. To add a bit of Canadian flare to my outfit, I wore one of my fave falconwright clutches to the tents.

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More after the jump! [Read more…]

Toronto Fashion Week: Fall 2014 Roundup

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I suppose it’s not a bad thing that spring is taking its sweet time getting here, because last month’s Toronto Fashion Week Fall 2014 shows feel as relevant as ever. Even if I am getting quite fed up with my winter clothes, I wouldn’t mind wrapping myself in some covet-worthy leather jackets, beautiful printed dresses, and fuzzy mohair sweaters that I saw on the runways in March. This season, thanks to Best Buy Canada and VIVA Beauty from Best BuyI was fully prepared for the craziness of fashion week – my survival kit included a fancy Canon DSLR camera, complete with a brand new SD card, and some beauty goodies to get me through the week looking fresh – it was a lifesaver! This season, I also didn’t attempt being in several places at the same time, but selected a few days and a few designers to support, and I have to say that it really worked out well for me. I didn’t feel as burnt out as usual, and I still got to see and shoot some amazing Canadian designers at work.

One of the highlights of my week was Beaufille. The latest collection from Chloe and Parris Gordon was full of standout pieces worthy of a good catfight. Loose silhouettes, paired with cleverly placed slits and hook-and-eye embellishments, embossed leather and of course the piece that stole my heart – the red moto jacket of my dreams – it was all very wearable, modern, and oozed the cool factor. Definitely my favourite collection from the Canadian sisters. The only thing I hate about this is the fact that I’ll have to wait forever (6-8 months) to get my hands on my fave pieces.

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As usual, the Joe Fresh show was complete and utter mayhem. Even without a top model headliner, the show was packed, with people spilling out of their seats, and for good reason too. Once again, Joe Mimran showed a collection of affordable pieces that still managed to get hearts racing, and that will pretty soon be available not only in Canada and the US, but in 23 other countries worldwide! Not too shabby for a brand that began at a grocery store, non?

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But despite the big expansion news, Joe Fresh Fall 2014 collection was as Canadian as they come, what with a ton of cute jackets (wool, moto, puffers, you name it!), intarsia sweaters, and faux fur dominating most of the looks. But perhaps because winter and I, we are done professionally, my personal faves were the lovely dresses printed with ethereal images of landscapes and nature. Once these hit the stores, be prepared to fight me for them. Elbows up, ladies!

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Pink Tartan Fall 2014 was another collection quite heavily influenced by Canadian winters. While Kim Newport-Mimran stuck to her signature ladylike aesthetic, she mixed in a few unexpected patterns and fabrics, making this one of my favourite Pink Tartan collections ever (with the exception of this one).

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The collection was very “glam cocktail hour at the chalet”, what with cozy intarsia sweaters, black and red buffalo check, fur stoles, and ginormous fur mittens, mixed with full skirts, metallic dresses, and leather pants. Practical and chic? I would like one of each, please and thank you.

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Always a personal favourite, Mackage Fall 2014 show definitely did not disappoint. With scattered faux maple leafs lining the runway, the models rocked some of the best outerwear pieces I’ve seen all week. Clearly, co-creative directors of the brand Elisa Dahan and Eran Elfassy know what Canadians both want and need from their winter wares – style and function, and boy did they deliver!

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Fur trims, quilted leather everything, pops of fuchsia, Black Watch tartan pieces, oh my! It was unfair how good everything looked…and also quite dangerous for my wallet. And don’t even get me started on their bags! Simply put…this collection was the bomb-dot-com.

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More after the jump!

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Styled By Nelia: Dressing for Spring

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It may be March, but it looks like Mother Nature hasn’t gotten the memo just yet. If you live in Toronto, tights and coats are still a sad necessity, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t start adding some fun spring pieces to our wardrobes! And that’s exactly what I did on the latest episode of Styled By Nelia.

Thanks to the beautiful new arrivals from Ted Baker, I was able to show Loretta how she could infuse a few cheerful spring pieces into her wardrobe to wear now, and when the weather finally warms up.

From the classic and oh-so-chic floral full skirts, to colourful ladylike dresses, Ted Baker’s spring collection is full of timeless elegant pieces that can be styled in a multitude of ways. If you’re eager to pack away your winter clothes, and start wearing your new spring pieces instead, all you need to do is throw on some tights (fleece-lined ones are my fave), put on a pair of ankle booties, layer your outfit with a cute cardigan and an even cuter coat, and you’re good to go! And once the temperatures warm up, ditch those cold weather essentials for a pair of pretty pumps, and enjoy the sunshine! It really is that easy.

So tell me, how do you deal with this year’s neverending winter? Do you live in your parka, or are you starting to embrace spring collections? Share in the comments!

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Photos and Video by Max Kopanygin

Ann Taylor Spring 2014 Lookbook

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Sorry for being MIA the last few days. It’s the new year and I’ve been totally and completely uninspired. Truth be told, after taking a holiday break from blogging, I realized that I actually missed being able to spend my evenings doing whatever I want without worrying about the next day’s post and having to write feverishly all night long. Instead, I’ve been cooking a lot, watching a lot of movies, reading, and spending time with my boys (le bf and my cat Pepper). It’s been so nice and refreshing! And while I had a few posts sitting in my drafts for weeks now, seeing this Ann Taylor Spring 2014 Lookbook is what finally made me get off my butt and get on my laptop.

Perhaps it’s because we are pretty much buried in snow at the moment, but getting a tiny peek at spring’s arrivals gave me hope that one day the snow will melt. It will, you guys! It has to! And when it does, I’ll be wearing a lot of these Ann Taylor pieces. Not only is the spring collection perfectly work-appropriate, but it’s also chic as hell. Grid coat? YES, PLEASE! White eyelet skirt? OMG! Zebra print everything? GIMME! And those shoes! Did you pay attention to the amazing footwear? The black pumps with animal print trim are thebombdotcom and I cannot wait to get my feet in them. Thanks, Lisa Axelson!

Anyway, if you are in a Januarut right now, hope this lookbook will help you snap out of it…or at least will give you a sliver of hope. Spring will come! Eventually…

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See the full lookbook after the jump!

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Toronto Fashion Week: Joe Fresh Spring 2014 Collection

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If there’s one thing that is certain during WMCFW is that Joe Fresh show will always draw the biggest crowd. This season was no exception. With a packed front row that included actress Elisha Cuthbert (I miss Happy Endings!) and her beau Dion Phaneuf, his Maple Leafs teammate Joffrey Lupul, Joe Mimran’s designer wife Kimberly Newport-Mimran, among others, and Canadian beauties Alana Zimmer and Heather Marks strutting their stuff on the catwalk to Britney’s latest and super catchy “Work Bitch”, this one was the best show for people-watching. And people-watch I did, from my front row seat…in the photographer’s pit.

I put my new Canon Blogtography skills to good use, and snapped away as models walked down the runway, showing off what seemed like an endless lineup of looks that will be in stores come Spring 2014. While the majority of the collection was heavy on the navy (colour, not naval warfare), my favourite pieces (aka what I’ll be stalking next spring) included the red floral dress with plenty of slits to show off the gams, silver leather (pleather?) two-piece skirt suit, red leather dress and pants, shiny black (but also iridescent) tulip skirt, Japanese-print pajama-like ensemble, and a Chanel-esque black and white jacket.

Denim was also ever-present this season. Far from plain and boring, Joe Fresh Spring 2014 denim looks included lace applique, jumpsuits, frayed hems, acid wash, as well as camo, stripe and floral print. The rest of the collection was more restrained, and delivered what most Joe Fresh customers expect from the brand – classic suiting, and work-appropriate blouses, dresses, and skirts. And while I can’t resist a new pair of simple Joe Fresh slacks each season, I do hope that most of the more intriguing runway pieces make it into production. Fingers crossed!

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More after the jump!

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Zara Woman Fall 2013 Ad Campaign

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Even though I don’t feel like summer has even begun here in Toronto, I can’t help but start thinking about fall clothes. Yesterday, on August 1st (!!!), I even bought a pair of leather leggings and a grey sweatshirt. What’s wrong with me?!

Seeing Zara’s new Fall 2013 ad campaign certainly doesn’t help with my fall cravings. I am in love with everything in the first photo – leather jackets, cami dresses, wide-brimmed hats…I want to buy it all, and wear it exactly as pictured! The rest of the ad campaign is kind of a snoozefest (just me?), but I definitely see a few pieces here and there that I’ll be picking up as soon as the temperatures start to dip…which could be tomorrow.

So what do you think of Zara’s Fall 2013 ad campaign? Are you looking forward to shopping for fall clothes or am I crazy? Share in the comments.

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More after the jump!

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Shopping: Stylish Cat Lady Essentials

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Judging by the multitude of cat Instagram photos, cat videos, and cat-related Buzzfeed links, among a multitude of other cataphernalia, being a cat lady has never been trendier. Every day I see adorable cat pics all over my social media, and you know what? I freaking love it! As a cat lover and part-time owner of an adorable black kitty, I’m all over the cat lady trend. So if like me, you just can’t get enough of cats, and aren’t afraid to show your feline pride, this post is obviously for you. I scoured the internet for some awesome cat lady essentials, and this is what I came up with! Kitty espadrilles, kitty ring, kitty hat, kitty tights…the only warning I have – don’t wear these all at once, unless you are THIS cat lady, in which case…carry on.

1. Moschino Cheap and Chic Kitty Dress
2. ASOS Cat Suspender Tights
3. Brian Lichtenberg Feline T-shirt
4. Eugenia Kim Cat Ears Beret
5. Charlotte Olympia Capri Cats Espadrilles
6. I Like Cats Sweater
7. Black Cat Eye Sunglasses
8. Cat Ring
9. Black Leopard Cuff Bracelet
10. Black Score by Simeon Farrar Black Paw Cat Raglan Tee