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

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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More photos after the jump!
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Foodie: Easter-Inspired High Tea at Shangri-La Hotel Toronto

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Last weekend, I took my mom to the Shangri-La Toronto to try the hotel’s latest Easter-inspired High Tea menu. Having already experienced the regular High Tea at Shangri-La last June, I had high expectations for the revamped menu. As we arrived at the Lobby Lounge, live piano music playing softly in the background, we settled into the comfy couch overlooking a fireplace, and took our time selecting our teas. Once our tea selections were made, we impatiently waited for the delicious tower to arrive. The menu promised a selection of the usual mouthwatering staples like Atlantic lobster brioche roll, honey baked ham with caramelized onion on sourdough bread, Pacific smoked salmon on dark rye, and warm English scones, with Easter-inspired additions of spiced hot cross buns, tropical Easter egg (coconut cream, mango curd and crispy meringue), and the religieuse profiterole (baked choux pastry with white chocolate orange blossom cream and lemon glaze). It all sounded and looked amazing.

I let my mom judge each plate, her enthusiasm growing with each bite. It was her first time experiencing the Shangri-La High Tea, and she was loving every minute of it. With our scones, we were served caramelized white chocolate jam, strawberry preserves and Cornish clotted cream, and I have to tell you that caramelized white chocolate jam was divine. I am not even embarrassed to share that we totally polished off the entire ramekin…with a spoon. Delicious!

By the time we got to the last plate – the prettiest of them all, we were almost hesitant to cut into the exquisite-looking desserts…almost! Of the four desserts, my favourite was the tropical Easter egg, which looked like a fried egg, but was instead a combination of delicate coconut cream, tangy mango curd, and crispy meringue. It was so good! Obviously the milk chocolate and raspberry verrine, Simnel fruit cake, and the religieuse profiterole were delicious as well. With the last dessert finished, we settled back into our comfy couch, chatting, sipping our White Rose tea, and enjoying the rest of our perfect afternoon at Shangri-La.

If you would like to try some of the limited-time offerings served at the Easter-inspired High Tea, it will be available until April 6 and is priced at CAD$42 per person or CAD$25 per child, served daily from 2-5 p.m. in the Lobby Lounge. And if that’s not enough, with the purchase of a chocolate Easter Egg ( the “Golden Egg” or “Toy Egg”) or the Easter-inspired High Tea, guests will receive a complimentary petite milk chocolate egg with the chance of receiving one of five winning ”red tickets” placed among the petite milk chocolate eggs. One winning petite chocolate egg will be revealed every other day throughout the Easter promotion period from 28 March to 6 April, 2015. “Red tickets” will signify that the person who received the petite egg has won the prize. The prize includes a tour of the pastry kitchen at Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto with pastry chef Kate Seigel for one person (the prize winner) and complimentary High Tea for a year in the Lobby Lounge of Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto for the winner and a guest (two people) once a month for twelve months (May 2015 – April 2016). Free High Tea for a year?! May the odds be ever in your favour!

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More after the jump!
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What I Wore: Toronto Tourism Magazine

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Last September, when I first went platinum, I had an amazing opportunity to participate in a photoshoot for Toronto Tourism Magazine. Alongside 3 other stylish Torontonians, I was invited to wear one of my fave outfits and talk about my style…and so I did.

Now, nearly 6 months after the shoot, the magazine is finally out, and it feels a little surreal. The mag is available for an entire year at various Toronto locations, and I take up a full page! Sorry for bragging, but this is kind of amazing. You can see the virtual copy of the magazine HERE, and check out the other stylish Torontonians featured.

I Wore: Dress – Lanvin; Clutch – Prada; Cuff – H&M

Photo Credits: Angela Lewis

Beauty: Garnier Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream Review

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What is the secret to beautiful youthful skin? Good news: the answer is fairly simple – sleep. In Asia, people believe that the optimal sleeping time aka “Golden Time” (the hours between 11pm and 2am) is the most important for skin regeneration, and a good night’s sleep is synonymous with good health and beauty. Bad news: studies have shown that women all over the world are sleeping less, while leading exceedingly stressful lifestyles. And since our skin naturally regenerates itself while we snooze, lack of sleep leads to weaker regeneration overtime. So what’s a girl to do if more zzzs is simply not an option?

Garnier to the rescue! The brand’s latest Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream, inspired by sleeping packs from Asia, has 7 Active Ingredients that promise to help regenerate those skin cells quicker, hydrate the skin, and combat signs of fatigue and aging. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Well, I put those claims to a test.

Along with a few other Canadian beauty bloggers, I was invited to use the Garnier Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream for 28 days, and I must admit that I was a little hesitant at first. With oily, acne-prone (very sensitive) skin, I am always extra cautious when it comes to trying new products that could cause me to break out, but the cream sounded too miraculous not to give it a whirl, and so I accepted the challenge.

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The cream itself has a thick, lush texture which literally melts into skin, absorbing quickly, while leaving it feeling hydrated. When I woke up the next morning I was relieved to see that my skin did not break out and in fact felt velvety and hydrated. After doing a little research I noticed that one of the key active ingredients is LHA, which acts like salicylic acid to combat bacteria and boost radiance. For acne-prone skin this is a definite plus!

Over the next few weeks I used my “Sleeping Cream” diligently, noticing major improvements just two weeks in! Lucky for me, wrinkles aren’t a real concern just yet, but I did feel like the hydration the cream provided was giving extra bounce to my skin, because it looked brighter and smoother each morning. I was very happy with the results, since I have never been able to use a night cream for fear of causing overproduction of oil in my skin. Not so with this product!

Along with the sleeping cream, I also got to try the Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream Eye Cream. This smooth gel helps combat tired eyes by hydrating and smoothing the eye area while fighting dark circles. It’s the perfect pairing to the Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream and will guarantee that you wake up looking rested! I really loved the texture of this eye cream, and the fact that it actually firmed my eye contour – it’s a keeper.

More after the jump!
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Travel: Overnight Stay with Hotel Tonight

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Last month, a small group of Toronto media members gathered at Toronto’s DaiLo restaurant to nibble on Big Mac baos and learn all about a cool app called Hotel Tonight from the company’s COO Jared Simon. As someone who travels quite a bit, this was an awesome new discovery – an app that lets one find a last-minute discounted hotel room for a night.

This easy to use app allows users to search for hotels in over 500 cities in North America and Europe, as well as in Mexico. All hotels are vetted to ensure the highest level of  satisfaction, and users can post photos and reviews of the hotel after their stay. To test it out, we were all given promo codes to book our own rooms using Hotel Tonight. Le bf and I chose Thompson Hotel, and after a couple of swipes, a few taps, and tracing the Hotel Tonight logo to confirm, we were all booked! You know we love our staycations, and this one was great! We had dinner at Buca, enjoyed a romantic stroll along King St West, sipped drinks on Thompson’s roof, and the next morning had a leisurely swim in their rooftop pool, before grabbing delicious pastries from Colette. So relaxing!

So next time I’m downtown and too tired to schlep myself home during Toronto Fashion Week, or after a super long dinner with friends, I will know to check Hotel Tonight’s rates – it may be worth it to just stay downtown once in a while. And if you’re curious about the app – here’s a little incentive to check it out – if you use promo code NBELKOVA, you’ll get $25 credit on sign-up, making your stay even more affordable!

So tell me, have you ever used Hotel Tonight to book a hotel room? Share you stories in the comments!

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*Hotel stay was complimentary. All reviews and opinions are mine.

What They Wore: Toronto Life’s Most Stylish Party

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The last week and a half has been a whirlwind of parties, celeb sightings, TIFF lounges, and more parties. It all got kicked off with a bang and an oyster bar at the Toronto Life’s Most Stylish soiree at the Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville, celebrating this city’s most stylish denizens, featured in the latest issue of the Toronto Life Stylebook. Star-studded guest list included my fave gossip maven Lainey Lui (one of the 25 most stylish), brothers Dean and Dan Caten of DSQUARED2, Elisha Cuthbert with hockey hubby Dion Phaneuf, one half of the Property Brothers, model Stacey McKenzie, Suzanne and Chloe Rogers, Kimberly Newport Mimran, Joe Mimran, among many others.

After a bit of exploring, my buddies Sharon and Tara Ng and I parked ourselves next to the seafood bar, loading up on crab, shrimp, and oysters, before walking over to explore the charcuterie station. Needless to say, the food was terrific. The beautifully-decorated ballroom was buzzing with excitement and Toronto’s most stylish partying under one roof made for some great people-watching.

This city is such a vibrant place to live, and every time I go away for a bit, I return a little more grateful for all it has to offer, so it is truly amazing to see a publication celebrating its own stylish peeps, instead of focusing on the usual suspects from other countries and cities. I already can’t wait to see who’ll be featured next year! Who would you nominate? Share in the comments.

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More photos after the jump!

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Giveaway: 25 Years of Front Of The Line With Amex Canada

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To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Amex Canada’s Front Of The Line program, the lovely Canadian team hosted a little soiree under the sunny Toronto sky, with a little Barque brisket, and a lot of John Legend swooning. Molson Amphitheatre served as the perfect backdrop for a warm summer evening of great music and mingling with some of my fave Toronto people. This was my first time seeing John Legend perform live – and it was eye-opening. I knew that the man could sing…but…the man can really sing! Between sharing the cute tidbits from his life (did you know that he used to work as a management consultant?!), Legend played the piano, while singing some of the most romantic ballads ever. No wonder why Molson Amphitheatre was packed with couples, enjoying a perfect date night under the stars.

Our little soiree was, of course, to toast to 25 years of Front Of The Line program making Amex Canada’s Cardmembers’ dreams come true. If you love to be entertained…and I don’t mean just concerts – musicals, theatre productions, dining experiences, movie premieres are all part of the program too – then you should absolutely be taking advantage of everything Front Of The Line has to offer.

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Started in Toronto in 1989 with a pre-sale for Phantom of the Opera, Front Of The Line is now recognized worldwide for its strong partnerships with organizations like LiveNation, Mirvish, and Massey Hall, and for providing unparalleled access to unique events and experiences. Some of the cool benefits of Front Of The Line include:

–  pre-sales and advanced ticket access before they go on sale to the general public
–  reserved allotment to some of the hottest sold out shows
–  special experiences at great Toronto venues (Cardmember Lounges at Molson Amphitheatre, Roy Thompson Hall, and Princess of Wales; Cardmember Express Bar at Massey Hall; exclusive line for Cardmembers at Molson Amphitheatre)

Amex has recently launched a global program called Invites, an evolution of the successful Front Of The Line program, which offers Cardmembers even more access and incentives, available worldwide. Le bf and I have experienced some Front Of The Line perks in the past, but even we didn’t know how many other cool things we could’ve taken advantage of just by being Cardmembers. Now we know!

But that’s not all! To celebrate this milestone, Amex Canada wants to share the love via daily Twitter giveaways that will run until September 1st. Up for grabs are hottest tickets to concerts, theatre, and dining experiences happening across Canada. 25 pairs of tickets will be given away daily. That’s a lot of free tickets! And all you need to do to enter is to follow @AmexCanada on Twitter and reply to their daily contest question using the hashtag #FOTL25 and the @AmexCanada Twitter handle. So, come and celebrate a quarter of a century of Front Of The Line experiences by scoring some free tickets, and sharing your fave Front Of The Line perks that you or your friends enjoyed in the past. With millions of tickets sold through the program over the years, it may just be Canada’s best worst kept secret.

This post was sponsored by Amex Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.

Photos after the jump!

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Giveaway: Aveda Smooth Infusion Naturally Straight

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As someone with naturally wavy/frizzy hair, I am always on the hunt for hair products that will make my unruly hair look and feel more manageable. So when I was offered the opportunity to try the new Aveda Smooth Infusion Naturally Straight styling creme, I didn’t have to think twice. I was in!

After my first time using the Aveda Smooth Infusion shampoo, conditioner, and styling creme, I was hooked! Even after one application, the three easy-to-use products left my hair feeling softer, shinier, and yes, smoother. And two weeks later, my natural wave was practically gone. Don’t get me wrong, I still had to use a hair straightener to achieve the truly straight and smooth look, but most of my work was already done for me by the hair products I was using. And the best part was that even on hot, humid days, my hair stayed straight and frizz-free!

Aveda Smooth Infusion Naturally Straight styling creme promises to progressively straighten curls with every use, and it definitely delivers. Organic cassava root helps form a barrier against intense humidity to help you battle frizz, while the  plant-derived fibers help create a locking layer to help you keep your hair straight longer.

After about 2 months of using Aveda Smooth Infusion line on my hair, I took part in a little photoshoot, showcasing my smooth, straight locks, among other curly-haired Torontonians. You can check out everyone’s incredible results below.

But that’s not all! If like me, you need a little help with your frizzy locks, make sure to enter our Aveda Smooth Infusion giveaway below. You could win a three-month supply of Aveda Smooth Infusion Naturally Straight styling creme – that’s enough to get you through the hottest and the most humid of summer days. Sounds good? Enter after the jump!

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Travel: Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto Staycation

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The month of May was more than a little crazy. Apart from helping organize the Blogger Bazaar event, last month I also finished a quarter-end at work, filmed not one, but two Styled By Nelia videos, hosted an ALDO A-List party, participated in an Aveda photoshoot and photo exhibit, all the while preparing for yet another month-end. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun doing these things, but doing them on top of my 9-5 job made me feel more than a little stressed. Knowing that yet another month-end was staring me square in the face, I knew that a staycation was in order. So last Sunday, le bf and I packed our bags, and took the 15-minute Car2Go ride to Toronto’s Shangri-La hotel, where we had a room booked for one night of fun and relaxation.

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ROOM

Shangri-La is one of the most prestigious hotel brands in the world. Synonymous with paradise, Shangri-La is all about providing sophisticated luxury, transporting you to a place of deepest calm and relaxation. The moment we walked into our suite, we were wowed by the size and design of our room. With a spacious living room, two stunning bathrooms, welcoming bedroom, plush robes, marble and velvet finishes, two closets, and a Nespresso machine, our suite felt more like a sleek condo in the city than a hotel room. There were labelled buttons everywhere, to make turning on the lights, as well as opening and closing the sheers and drapes a breeze, a built-in TV in the master bathroom vanity, and an in-room iPad for our room-service ordering ease. In one word – impressive!

After checking out our room, we dropped off our things, and took the elevator down to the lobby for the first stop on our staycation itinerary! Shangri-La’s afternoon high tea!

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HIGH TEA

Having heard great things about high tea at Shangri-La, our expectations were pretty high. When we arrived, our VAWK-clad hostess handed us a tea menu and asked us to choose our favourites from the 68 varieties on hand at the hotel. After taking our time to peruse the tea library (68 teas is no joke!),  we settled on Sunrise Serenade flowering tea. While we waited for our tea service, we had a chance to fully take in our surroundings. While the high tea service is held in Shangri-La’s Lobby Lounge, nothing about it felt “lobby-like”. We were seated on a comfortable sofa overlooking a large fireplace, and while the lounge was full of people, our high-tea experience felt very intimate.

When the tower arrived, I didn’t hear a single thing our hostess told us about it (I asked her to repeat it for me later), because I was ready to dig in and everything looked amazing. We started at the bottom, and tucked into lobster and chive rolls, cucumber apple and cream cheese, roasted chicken with grain mustard, and egg and watercress sandwiches with crispy Serrano ham on top. De-li-cious! Next up, we spread some creamy Devonshire cream and jam on warm, flaky chamomile scones, and they were gone in a flash. I am not usually a fan of scones, but these were divine. We moved on to the much-anticipated dessert plate, which consisted of a chocolate ganache cake with raspberry compote, passion fruit ball, berries and citrus pastry, and a pineapple verrine. Once again, everything was delectable, bursting with flavours. Even half of each rich pastry was enough to satisfy me and my sweet tooth. Once the tower was polished off, we sat back, sipping our fragrant tea, more intense with each cup, looking at the fireplace, and enjoying the soft piano music playing in the background.

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SPA

After our delightful high tea experience, we went back to our room, put on our bathing suits, and headed to the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie Paris. Having visited the spa a few times before, I already knew what to expect – pure relaxation. We chose Hammam and Gommage for couples – 15 minutes in a high-intensity steam room to detox, followed by a full-body scrub. Hammam and Gommage is a great intimate treatment to share with a loved one, and I am really glad I finally brought le bf to experience it with me. The 15 minutes inside the steam room are very peaceful, and let you be alone together, breathing in and out, letting your pores open up, and rid your body of toxins. While the scrub treatment just feels incredibly nice, and can be as intense as you’d like.

Post-gommage, we marveled at our smooth, baby-soft skin, and relaxed some more in the little outdoor oasis on the patio of the spa, refreshed with some grapes, sweet Moroccan mint tea, and baklava. We probably could’ve stayed there all day, but we chose to pay a visit to the hotel pool instead. Private cabanas equipped with personal TVs, and stunning views of Toronto all around, made for a cool and refreshing post-spa visit – simply blissful.

More after the jump!

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