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Beauty: 5 Lifesaving Products You Need This Spring

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Spring is kinda/sorta here, and I don’t know about you, but after those long winter months, my skin and hair need some major TLC. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying some cool new beauty products that have already made a major difference in the way my skin and hair look and feel, and I hope you like them too.

got 2b All Star MVP Perfecting Cream
After learning about this product at a recent preview, I was intrigued – a BB cream for hair, could it really work?! Well, it does! This product promises to deliver 10 benefits: shape, smoothness, calmer hair, anti-frizz, suppleness, shine, volume, flawless style, shimmer and fullness. And while I don’t know if I noticed any shimmer, it has definitely helped my bleached hair look smoother without losing its volume. If your hair needs a little something-something after those harsh winter months, I strongly recommend this miracle cream.

Vichy Ideal Body Balm
Just like my hair, my skin gets super thirsty in the winter, so to prep it for those glorious days of bare legs and sleeveless tops, a top-notch moisturizer is key. Vichy Ideal Body Balm is a current fave – not only does it smell divine, it leaves my skin feeling baby-soft! Oh, and it sinks right in. Vichy uses active ingredients traditionally used in face care: Hyaluronic Acid and LHA, combined with 10 fundamental oils to deliver firmer, smoother and more radiant skin. Works like a charm!

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
This daytime antioxidant serum isn’t cheap, but it really delivers! Combined with sunscreen, this powerful serum provides “advanced environmental protection against photoaging by neutralizing free radicals that cause accelerated signs of aging.” I apply a few drops to my face before moisturizer each morning, and after only a couple of weeks have already noticed improvements in my skintone. Granted, I have other skin issues right now, but this serum has not aggravated any of my sensitivities, and I feel more protected now that sunny patio days are just around the corner. If you have sun damage, and want to prevent spots and premature aging, this is one kick-ass serum to invest in.

fresh Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask
This mask is part of my nighttime beauty ritual, and I freaking love it! Winter months literally sap moisture out of my skin, and this is the perfect mask to put life (and moisture) back where it belongs. The difference is pretty dramatic, and you’ll be sure to notice the results almost right away. “Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask works in synch with the skin’s natural nighttime recovery process to achieve a lifted, firmer look by the morning.” I apply this on my face and neck at night as the last step of my beauty routine – the smell and texture of this product are great, and it sinks right into my skin (it’s quite thick, so use sparingly). If your face needs post-winter rehab, I can’t recommend this mask highly enough.

CHANEL UV Essentiel
Last, but not least, we all know that sunscreen is super important all year round, but especially so in the spring and summer months, when we find ourselves outdoors more regularly. And while I’ve tried to be good at shielding my face from the damaging rays, I have to say that due to my sensitive skin, I’ve had a tough time finding sunscreen that worked for me…until I tried CHANEL UV Essentiel. This sunscreen is super lightweight, specifically formulated for the face, which means it won’t clog your pores, and it smells amazing too. I’ve been using it daily, and will continue to do so to protect my face from photo-aging and hyperpigmentation. If you hate the idea of adding another step to your beauty routine, I also highly recommend CHANEL CC Cream, which offers both coverage and SPF30, in addition to moisturizing and soothing benefits. Win-win!

And there you have it – my latest “can’t-live-without” beauty products to stock up on this spring. Share your must-haves in the comments!

What I Wore: Jardin Majorelle

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After months of dreaming about visiting the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech, le bf and I have finally made it! With shocks of saturated blue, yellow, and orange all around us, fountains, birds, and all kinds of cacti on display, the botanical garden was even more beautiful in real life than I’d imagined. Owned by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé since 1980 (memorial erected in his memory can be found at the garden), Jardin Majorelle was teeming with tourists, but even with a line-up to get inside, we still had a lovely time exploring the grounds.

For fans of Yves Saint Laurent, the Love Gallery is a must-visit. The designer created the colourful “LOVE” posters, which he sent every year as New Year’s greetings to his friends and clients of his fashion house. At the gift shop, I was trying not to go crazy, but the “LOVE” postcards were so beautiful…I probably got way too many, intending to one day frame my faves.

After an hour or so at the garden, we jumped into a cab to go back to our riad…we chose a freezing day to visit the garden, and were definitely not dressed appropriately for the chilly weather. But even with my teeth chattering…I had a tough time leaving this enchanting and peaceful place behind. I’ll always have these photos to remind me of its beauty…and hopefully will have a chance to visit again.

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Shopping: COS To Open Canadian Stores in Toronto and Montreal in Fall 2015!

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After a few days of speculation it’s been finally confirmed – COS (Collection of Style) is set to open 2 stores in Canada this fall, one in Toronto and one in Montreal. And while initially, I was 99% sure the Toronto store was going to be at Yorkdale like all the other new arrivals to Canada, it seems Toronto’s mink mile has won this round. Slated to spread out across three floors at 85 Bloor St W (formerly a Tiffany and Co location), COS will be in good company with neighbours like CHANEL, Dolce and Gabbana, and J.Crew in the vicinity. In Montreal, the store will find a new home at 1310 Saint Catherine West, with a one level boutique.

Oftentimes referred to as H&M’s more upscale sibling, I am pretty sure COS will find its niche here in Canada, what with their stylish, yet timeless wares, and a cult-following in Europe and North America.

How do you feel about the news? Share in the comments!

Photo Credits: COS

Style Fille: Olivia Wilde in H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection

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H&M’s latest Conscious Exclusive collection hits the stores today, and while I already got to shop it yesterday at the brand’s pre-shop in Toronto, I wish this cream cape blazer that Olivia Wilde is wearing here was available too. I ended up picking up the black version, which is also pretty amazing…but I was really hoping to steal this entire look, seeing how I already own a similar Led Zeppelin tee. Oh well, I guess I’ll settle for the black blazer with a white tee instead…should be just as good.

Are you planning on shopping this collection today? Check out the lookbook and be prepared for crowds! Let me know which pieces you picked up, and whether you love Olivia’s look as much as I do.

Photo Credits: Lainey Gossip

What I Wore: Beautiful Marrakech

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Last month, after the whirlwind Discover CHANEL program in Paris, le bf and I took some time off to travel to Morocco. I’ve always been intrigued by this North African country, hearing stories of delicious food, beautiful crafts, and breathtaking locales, so the excitement factor was high. Since our schedules were pretty tight, we decided to spend our time in Marrakech, Fez, Chefchaouen, and Casablanca. And while I’ll be sure to share my faves from each city later on, today, I wanted to focus on what I ended up wearing.

While planning our trip, I was googling anything and everything I could find about Morocco and the appropriate way to dress there. As a predominantly Muslim country, yet time and time again described as “not so conservative”, Morocco was a mystery to me…as was the “dress code”. I knew that local women mostly covered up head-to-wrist-to-ankle, but that tourists were technically allowed to wear whatever…though wearing things that expose too much could lead to potential harassment.

My goal on this trip was to be respectful of local customs, while looking cute, and staying comfortable. There’s no way I was going to cover up wrist to ankle in 30-degree weather, but shorts and strappy dresses were out too…or were they? To stay true to my style, I ended up packing my fave slip dresses, but brought a few printed caftans to throw on top, creating somewhat modest-looking outfits. I also packed a few midi and maxi dresses, ones I could wear with a leather jacket on cooler days, or with a scarf draped around my shoulders and cleavage. For train rides, I made sure to bring a few pairs of comfy, loose-fitting pants and tees. I also brought my wool fedora, both to cover up my hair, and to shield my face from the sun.

Another thing I was grateful to have read about before my trip is footwear. Word of advice – don’t bring open-toe sandals to Morocco, unless you plan on spending time poolside or on the beach. Don’t bring your fancy shoes either, because if you plan on wearing those in the medina, you may end up ruining both your shoes and your feet. Most streets in old towns of Marrakech and Fez are paved with slippery cobblestones, and with streams of people everywhere, there’s a good chance your feet will be stepped on, and if that’s not reason enough, I have two words for you – donkey droppings. I brought an old pair of comfy ALDO shoes that were pretty worn out, and on our last day in Fez, after they’ve served their purpose, I threw them out. Highly recommended.

In the end, our trip was lovely. I avoided the harassment that I’ve read so much about, and felt comfortable and confident throughout. I did see tourists in short-shorts, strappy camisoles, and skimpy dresses, but was happy that I chose the more modest route. At the end of the day, I think Morocco is progressive enough for you to wear whatever you like, so it really is up to you and what you’re comfortable with. I’ll be posting more looks from my Moroccan adventures throughout the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

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Toronto Fashion Week: Best Beauty Looks from Fall 2015 Shows

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Another season of World MasterCard Fashion Week has ended and as always, I am here to give you a quick recap on my favourite beauty looks from Fall 2015 shows and how to achieve them, so let’s get to it!

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Hayley Elsaesser was the belle of the ball last season with her bright and quirky spring collection. And her “Midnight Cowboy” fall line was just as good – a combination of 70’s glamour with a touch of Uma Thurman from Kill Bill.

Grace Lee the Head Makeup Artist for Maybelline started her beauty look with a sheer natural palette using Dream Wonder Liquid Touch Foundation and Face Studio Master Prime in Blur + Illuminate all over the face. She then created a translucent smoky eye look using a mix of molten brown shades (Plum Fusion and Taupe Crazy) and added a highlight in the form of Color Tattoo’s Tenacious Teal to the center of the lower lid. The eyes were then finished off with Brow Drama and Lash Sensational Mascara. For the two-toned lips, Grace used Color Sensational Lipstick in Rebel Bloom first as the base and then Vivid Rose on the center of the lips to create an ombre effect.

Redken’s Head Stylist Jorge Joao decided to incorporate blocks of color to the hair to reflect Hayley’s vibrant style. Hair was primed with Pillow Proof and then flat ironed to sleek perfection. He then made two tight braids on each side, which were then wrapped around to created 2 side buns. The ends of the braids were left sticking upwards, creating an almost bird-like effect. The look was sealed with a healthy dose of Control Addict 28 to keep stray hair in place.

Essie’s Lead Nail Artist Rita Remark was inspired by the animal print Hayley had in her collection and decided to recreate it on models’ nails. By blotting one color on top of another she was able to create a fun yet versatile look. Rita used Naughty Nautical, Meet Me at Sunset, Butler Please and Mod Square to achieve this exciting combo.

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Discover CHANEL: CHANEL Handbag Factory

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On the final day of the Discover CHANEL program, my fellow bloggers and I were whisked away to a super-duper secret location outside of Paris to visit the CHANEL Handbag Workshop…aka the place where the brand produces their timeless bags. It was the very first time that CHANEL had invited bloggers to visit this workshop, and I can’t explain just how lucky and grateful I felt to be able to see and experience the step-by-step process from development to quality control.

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After being greeted by a giant CHANEL bag installation in the lobby, we were ushered into the room where the development phase takes place. With prototype bags lining the walls, sketches and photographs strewn across a table, we were told that this was the first step in creating a bag. Sketches come to life as prototype bags, before it’s decided whether they’ll actually be produced. With 6 collections per year, this is a busy place, where a bag can go from sketch to production in days.

Moving on, we stopped by the raw materials and hardware rooms. One was full of various skins, leather, and signature chains, while the other had trays of iconic CHANEL bag closures that are put through stringent testing, along with chains and leather, to ensure the highest quality and durability. Being in the raw materials room was so tempting…I was dying to create my own bag out of all the components on hand.

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Next, we popped into a room where leathers like lambskin, calfskin, and others are carefully inspected under special lights that mimic daylight. Each piece has to look and feel perfect before it’s allowed to continue on to production. There’s zero tolerance for imperfections, as expected.

After the hardware and the leather have been thoroughly checked and tested, the next stage of production is cutting. There are three different ways that CHANEL bag patterns are cut: by hand, digitally, or using special metal plates. We watched various methods at work, fascinated by the amount of accuracy it takes to cut those patterns. When dealing with hand-cut exotic skins, precision is even more important, to ensure a symmetric end result, and zero imperfections.

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The most fascinating room of all was the assembly/production room, where CHANEL craftspeople split leather (to make it thinner and smoother), assembled bags, stitched and hammered. It takes 4 to 5 years for each specialist on the site to learn how to perfectly master the techniques necessary for the manufacture. Those working with exotic skins wear masks and gloves to ensure that no droplets mark the delicate surface, even going so far as to use plastic wrap on top of skins to protect them further.

What I learned in the assembly room is that CHANEL bags are actually put together using one of two methods: inside-out, and molded techniques. Most iconic bags are made using the inside-out method, where all of the components of the bag are stitched inside-out like a Ready-to-Wear piece, so that the stitches are on the inside when the bag is turned the right side out. The body and base are brought together with the “bag in bag” technique: the interior bag is mounted inside the exterior bag, assembled by hand, and ensuring a luxurious finish inside and out.

When working with more delicate materials like alligator, and turning the bag inside-out is not an option, the moulding method is used. The outer part of a bag is put together around a mould, and hand-stitched, before the inner flap can be dropped in and stitched together with the outer flap.

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All in all, it takes over 180 manufacturing operations to create one iconic bag, with 80% of the total production time spent on the assembly table. Once the bag is finished, it is then sent to the quality control room, where a team of testers painstakingly check each bag by hand. But thanks to the attention paid in all the other parts of the manufacturing process, the success rate is very high, and most bags that reach this phase of production meet the CHANEL standard.

This room was amazing, as we were faced with rows upon rows of finished CHANEL handbags everywhere – what fashion dreams are made of! And just like that, our magical tour was over. Talking to the passionate craftspeople, seeing the extensive step-by-step process, and learning just how much work and intricacy goes into each and every CHANEL bag made me appreciate the few bags that I do own that much more…and fuelled my desire to run to the nearest CHANEL boutique right after our visit. These bags are truly investment pieces that never go out of style, and knowing that they are made with so much love and attention to detail makes them that much more special.

This was the last day of the Discover CHANEL program – three unforgettable days spent with my favourite luxury brand in my favourite city. From the fitting at ave Montaigne, to the breakfast at Brasserie Gabrielle, to Mademoiselle’s apartment, to the CHANEL handbag factory outside of Paris…it’s definitely one experience I will never forget. And I truly hope that my recaps of the program gave you a fun little glimpse into the beautiful world of CHANEL, so that you could discover it along with me. Thanks for reading, and share your thoughts in the comments!

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You Are Invited: Hermès Canada Charity Silk Sale in Toronto

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Amazing news, guys! Hermès Charity Silk Sale is coming to Toronto on April 23rd, and if you’re a fan of the brand, you won’t want to miss it! In the past, merchandise included scarves, ties, bracelets, and small leather goods, with really good discounts offered. The sale will be held in support of Multiple Sclerosis Research at St. Michael’s Hospital, so it’s for a good cause too. Not much else to say, except…see you in line?

WHEN: April 23, 2015 8am-7pm
WHERE: Metro Convention Centre
255 Front St West
North Building, Room 201
ALL SALES ARE FINAL

Karl Lagerfeld Visits Art Shoppe Lofts + Condos in Toronto

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Last week, Karl Lagerfeld graced Toronto with his presence, and EVERYONE at the party went crazy over the famously outspoken designer…yours truly included. Trying to score a moment with Karl, people pushed shoved, and screamed, with Kaiser’s security team barely able to control the mob. The reason for Karl’s first visit to Canada – a collaboration to design the lobbies of the newest Yonge and Eglinton condo development Art Shoppe Lofts + Condos – his first real estate project in North America!

“It’s interesting to design public spaces in a big building like this. It’s a vision – you can use modern furniture, modern architecture – things I’m really interested in. It’s up to me to find an idea of what will make this building different from the other buildings. The minute you enter, you have to feel that you’re in a place that’s special.” Karl Lagerfeld.

With DJ Leigh Lezark of the Misshapes at the turntables, and guests like Suzanne Rogers, gossip queen Lainey Lui, and every Canadian fashion magazine editor in town, the room was abuzz with excitement, and once Karl actually showed up, the excitement went through the roof, with even the coolest industry folks turned into gushing fanboys (and girls).

To my amazement Karl was actually quite lovely…he doled out small smiles, handshakes, and obliged to take photos with the bravest attendees. After snapping out of my stupor, I fought my way through the crowd, and asked the designer to autograph my brooch, while my friend Sharon asked him to sign her CHANEL bag. Shockingly he not only signed our things, but smiled at us as well. After shaking his begloved hand, I was basically the happiest ever. Love him or hate him, Karl Lagerfeld’s unique vision has transformed brands, and made him one of the most iconic personalities of our time. And while his $4-million dollar cat Choupette was in town too, sadly she did not make an appearance. Rumour has it, she was resting her paws at the Four Seasons Toronto after a couple of busy days in NYC.

If you are wondering whether Karl’s demands were diva-sized, they really weren’t – a plate of sliced mangoes, another plate of salmon sashimi, and Diet Coke is all he’d reportedly asked for, and what we actually saw served at the roped-off VIP area.

And while I wasn’t one of the lucky few that scored actual one-on-one interview time with the designer, the few interviews that he did give are MUST READ material – Karl’s answers are never boring. Sharon and I even made it into one!

If you’re curious about the project that enticed Karl Lagerfeld to attach his name to it, on April 25th, the public is invited to visit the Art Shoppe Lofts + Condos for the grand opening of the presentation centre at 2131 Yonge Street in Toronto.

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What I Wore: Design Lab

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It’s officially spring, and with any luck, pretty soon we’ll be able to put away our winter coats and boots, shed those opaque tights, and finally wear pretty clothes and shoes. I can’t wait! Recently, I got to preview Hudson’s Bay’s new Design Lab collection, chock-full of boho caftans, eyelet two-pieces in pretty pastel shades, faux suede, crochet, fringe, and lace…oh my! Checking out the collection made me feel even antsier about warmer temps – so many cute pieces to add to my closet!

I was lucky enough to pick my faves and take them out for a spin at Toronto’s Allan Gardens Conservatory – a place where it’s summer all year long. I chose this sassy floral twopiece, so stretchy and comfy, that it works even on a curvier girl like me. With an athletic-inspired lace bomber jacket, this is the perfect outfit for those warm spring days…brunch, date, whatever. And those blue flowers –instant pick-me-up!

Check out Hudson’s Bay’s Design Lab collection here and let me know which pieces you love!

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What I Wore: Top, Skirt, Jacket – Design Lab (Hudson’s Bay); Bag – CHANEL; Shoes – Alexander Wang

This post was sponsored by Hudson’s Bay, all opinions are my own.

Photo Credits: Max Kopanygin