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An Insider’s Experience to Montreal with the W Montreal

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Being so close to Toronto, Montreal is a city I’ve spent a lot of time in over the last decade but my most recent visit has probably been my most memorable to date. The W Hotel’s only Canadian property turns 10 this year and to celebrate it’s decade milestone, it’s 152 guest rooms and suites got a sleek new re-design by Martin Ablaza, Associate Design Director of Global Brand Design. To show off their newly designed digs, the W Montreal invited a group of North American media to La Belle Province to an exclusive weekend of design, fashion, art and music – which ironically are all elements that influence the W Hotel properties.

W Montreal

W Montreal

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Having stayed with W Hotel’s in the past, I have an appreciation with the thought that the brand put’s into their hotels. They each take inspiration from their surroundings and you can find nods to their respective cities in even the smallest design details. Situated between Montreal’s financial district and historic Old Montreal, the new renovation is a direct reflection of the duality of both old and new. The city’s European influence is apparent with the French classical elements such as; the chevron patters which can be found in both the carpets and in subdued patterns in brass and walnut tables – however the city’s new wave culture is a also a thread throughout the property. When you enter any of the guest rooms, the first thing you notice is the beautiful mural that occupy’s an entire wall and closely resembles the architecture of buildings found in the Old Port. Huge windows allows for all of the rooms to be drenched in sunlight. What is normally an oversight by most of the W Hotel’s competitors, even the smallest of guest rooms creates an environment that promotes in-room entertaining equipped with a chic bar cart in the “cocktail corner” just perfect for any savvy traveler that wants to pre-drink with friends before a night out on the town. My personal faves from my suite are the modern elements – the open concept bathroom (quite large for hotel standards), the oversized work station and the mirrored wardrobe doors that open up to become a tri-fold dressing mirror.

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W Montreal

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All of the W Hotel properties worldwide employs a “W Insider” whose sole purpose is connect guests to the latest and most exclusive experiences, both in and outside of the hotel. This unique “Whatever/Whenever” service is not to be mistaken for a personal concierge – it’s much more than that. Whether you want a last minute reservation to a Michelin star restaurant at 10pm or tickets to a sold out concert, the “W Insider” on site can make that happen. Sticking to the W brand’s ethos of  design, fashion, art and music, Caroline Khangi, the W Montreal’s Insider, curated an exclusive tour for us combining these elements and all within walking distance from the hotel.

W Montreal
W Montreal

W Montreal

W Montreal

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I am not kidding when I say I can live off fashion. Like I am serious, I would feel more satisfied buying an outfit than groceries. Montreal has some amazing designers that I adore so I was thrilled to find out that Caroline had planned a very special atelier tour to visit Denis Gagnon, Rad Hourani, and Travis Taddeo. I fell head over heels in love with a black gown from Gagnon’s FW15 Collection and a coat designed by famed unisex designer Hourani, whose designs can be worn by either a guy or a girl. Stepping into Travis’ studio blew everyone away. Drenched in sunlight and with every square inch of the showroom covered in green plants, it just radiated good energy. Plus, he’s basically every cool Canadian girl’s favourite designer. It was also surprising to discover that all of these designers produce their clothing here in Canada.

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We stopped into Tommy Cafe + Apero to recharge our bodies and iPhones over a much welcomed lunch break. The food, coffee, and vibes were just the thing we needed before pressing on to check out Phillippe Dubuc and the carefully curated Espace Pepin Home. Filled with the most amazing furniture, household accessories, art and even a tiny vegan cafe in the back, Espace Pepin took me by surprise. Unique in it’s design and layout, Dubuc’s store was filled with the most amazing murals created by famous street artist Zilon. Every single corner of the boutique had something completely different to observe and take in.

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Entertaining is one thing W Hotels knows how to do well. On our last night in the city, we were invited to the hotel’s ultra exclusive VIP reception and after party to kick off the official re-design launch.  The entire 10th floor was shut down to host the ultimate hallway party with each guest room having a different theme, which you may have caught on my snapchat. There were girls having slumber parties and models dressed in designs from Montreal’s top designers. Everyone in the fashion and art scene in Montreal was in attendance and I even spotted some of the guys from Highsnobiety there shooting images and video. The after party was held downstairs on the second floor bar, Plateau, where we danced the evening away to tracks by Diplo and watched a live performance by the hottest group in Montreal right now, Milk & Bone.

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I recovered (just barely) the morning after the party with a quick brekkie with the team before heading out with Caroline and Montreal radio personality Phillippe Fehmiu, to check out the city’s street art that has become so popular on St. Laurent. We also paid a visit to Station 16 Gallerie D’Art Urbaine, which is a must see if you are into art and conveniently located in the art MURAL district. The gallery exhibits work by international artists who are influenced by design, illustration, pop culture, graffiti and street art.

W Double Take

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WDoubleTakePhotography by Melissa Gariepy, W Montreal and my personal Instagram

There was only so much I could cover in under 72 hours in Montreal but I made sure to squeeze in a massage in the hotel’s AWAY Spa before heading back to Toronto. Thank you W Montreal, Starwood Group, Nathalie Marchand and Caroline Khangi for an unbelievable experience that I will not soon forget. I left your Montreal with new friendships and a new appreciation for the city you call home! Want to learn more about the W Insider program and more of Caroline’s fave spots in the city? Check out the video below. Click here for more information on the W Montreal

Alexander Wang Debut’s Limited Edition Furniture Collection

Alexander Wang Poltrona Frau

Taking over the creative direction at Balenciaga, managing the design of his namesake label, while also collaborating last year with H&M on arguably their most successful designer capsule collection to date, it is shocking that Alexander Wang has time to do anything else. When I heard rumours late last year that he was planning on getting into furniture design I immediately imagined it to resemble his personal aesthetic; comfortable, cool and black.

Alexander Wang Poltrona FrauTurns out, I was not far off at all. Intelligently partnering with the 101 year old Italian label Poltrona Frau, the three piece collection is quintessential Wang and is a minimalist dream. “Poltrona Frau is very classic and traditional” Wang says. “It’s all about the quality and the precision, and I really wanted to bring some friction to it, and I think about how to challenge this idea working within their structure and with what they’re used to doing.”

Alexander Wang Poltrona Frau Leather Bean Bag

Alexander Wang Bean Bag Chair

Alexander Wang Shearling Bean Bag Chair

The ultra luxe bean bag chair comes in two variations; one with sports car-esque leather  upholstery and the other featuring shearling upholstery – both with chic brass footing. The trunk bar is the epitome of a piece de resistance. With a pebbled finish and gold accents in it’s interior, it’s the perfect spot to store prestigious liquors.

Alexander Wang Poltrona Frau Trunk Case

Alexander Wang Trunk Bar

Although designed with simplicity in mind, these pieces are definitely not for the novice furniture collector. The highly covetable bean bag chair is priced at $8,800, with the the trunk coming in at a mere $18,500. I am secretly hoping Wang considers creating a more moderately priced collection for the masses to acquire…but I’m not holding my breath.

My Winter Weekend With Mogo

Art Gallery of Ontario Suzy Lake Exhibit

It’s January so essentially this means two things; 1) we are in the midst of a deep freeze here in Toronto and 2) it’s the start of a new year and time to set new goals for 2015. I don’t necessarily believe in New Year’s resolutions, which simply means I never wait for January 1st to put my plans into action. This year I want to be more fiscally responsible and make better decisions because debt is really not cute. With the winter elements in full effect, I spent the day with Mogo.ca hitting up some of the spots I like to frequent on the weekends. My Mogo Prepaid Visa® Card made it easy to treat myself and my crew. With no monthly fees and over 40 unique card designs to choose from, Mogo’s Prepaid Visa® Card helps you control your spending (I mean, we can all do with a little help in that department, right?) and avoid the aftershock of credit card debt.

Brunch at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen – 85 Hanna Avenue (Shops at King Liberty) Toronto 416-588-5695 Neighbourhood: Liberty Village

Mildred's

Mildred's Temple Kitchen PancakesMrs. Biederhof’s Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

We Torontonians take brunching very seriously and Mildred’s Temple Kitchen in Liberty Village is one of my go-to spots to indulge on a weekend in the city. MTK is the offshoot of cult fave Mildred Pierce where local foodies happily noshed brunch fare for 17 years on Sudbury Street. The sleek and airy interior is perfect for a third date or family brekkie with food items that are sure to satisfy even the pickiest of palettes. Brunch is served Saturday & Sunday from 10-3pm. I hit up Mildred’s with my parents around 10:30 to arrive before the hungover crowd stumbled in for brunch and “hair of the dog”. What you should order… The fresh baked scones & biscuits are to die for, the Manhandler is a great option for meat lovers, their delish rosemary bacon which is cured in-house is always a treat. Everyone and I mean everyone, heads to this spot for Mrs. Biederhof’s legendary light & fluffy blueberry buttermilk pancakes. Click here to check out the full menu.

The Art Gallery of Ontario – 317 Dundas Street West Toronto 416-979-6648 Neighbourhood: Chinatown

Art Gallery of Ontario

424 Fifth Fur Vest

424 Fifth

Art Gallery of Ontario Suzy Lake ExhibitPhotography by Nathalia Allen AMillionMinds.ca (@amillionminds)

If you’ve visited Toronto or even worse, live in Toronto and have not been to the Art Gallery of Ontario, in my opinion you should be punished. If I could, I would come here daily to take in the phenomenal exhibits, dine at Frank (the gallery’s famed resto) and just people watch. There is so much goodness currently happening in side. Plus, the common spaces designed by world renown and Toronto born architect Frank Gehry makes phenomenal backdrops for photos. Type in the hashtag #ArtGalleryOfOntario on Instagram and you are bound to find tons of inspiring and artistic photos and selfies. The Michelangelo: Quest for Genius exhibit just ended on January 11th but for those interested in conceptual photography, “Introducing Suzy Lake is a photo retrospective by the artist that is not to be missed. If you happen to be a die-hard Jean-Michel Basiquat fan like myself then buckle up.  From February 7 – May 10 2015, the AGO will be the home to an exclusive showcase which will be the first thematic examination of the artist’s work; guest curated by Austrian historian and Curator Dieter Buchhart. The opening night party, which is the hottest ticket in town right now, is already sold out. Tickets for general exhibition are currently on sale for AGO members and public tickets go on sale January 23, 2015. Click here for more info on AGO current exhibitions, membership/tickets prices, location and hours.

Her Majesty’s Pleasure – 556 King Street West (inside Fashion House) Toronto 416-546-4991 Neighbourhood: King West

Her Majesty's Pleasure

I honestly couldn’t have thought up a  more brilliant idea myself. Her Majesty’s Pleasure on King St West will forever change the way you get your mani/pedi. When I heard rumours of a spot in the city late last year where one could get their nails, hair and a facial done, but also acts as a cocktail bar, cafe and retail boutique all rolled up in one, I had to see it for myself. I popped in for a few hours early in the evening after my trip to the AGO with my friend/photographer/unicorn Nathalia for manis, eats and cocktails (fresh pressed juices for me). My instagram followers are fully aware of my obsession with pretty floor tiling and the tile design at HMP didn’t disappoint. With ultra high ceilings, white walls, carrara marble topped tables/bars and eccentric furnishings, every single square foot of space in there is instagrammable. Naturally, we found ourselves lingering long after our food was finished and nails were dry. Ladies, this is the PERFECT spot for a girls night out or bridal party. Make sure to call ahead to book an appointment to avoid disappointment.

Her Majestys Pleasure

Her Majesty's Pleasure

Her Majesty's Pleasure

Her Majestys PleasureImages of Her Majesty’s Pleasure via +TongTong and Instagram (@sashaexeter)

What I’m Wearing: Fur Vest c/o 424 Fifth // Hat (vintage) // Dress  c/o Forever 21 // Shirt (vintage) // Leather Moto Jacket c/0 Aritzia // Shoes by Zara

Accepted anywhere Visa cards are accepted, I was able to use my Mogo Prepaid Visa® Card at all of these spots in Toronto. Card holders benefit from unlimited free transactions, no monthly fees, and can receive free text balance updates to a mobile device. For more information head to Mogo.ca

EVENT ALERT: Motif “Art of Expression” Exhibit & Reception

Motif Art of Expression

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an art aficionado by any means but I can certainly appreciate great work when I see it and like most others in my age demographic, pop and abstract art are the genres I tend to gravitate to the most. Most likely because of the use of identifiable imagery drawn from either mass media and pop culture which was part of an international phenomenon started by the likes of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

Motif Art of Expression

Prior to making my first purchase, I had been under the assumption that purchasing beautiful pieces for my home would require a large financial investment, but learned over the past couple years that’s not necessarily true. And since discovering that, I’m always looking for dope new artists and work to add to my growing collection. I recently stumbled upon two young and exceptionally gifted artists who hail from Habana, Cuba and immediately fell in love. Jean Pierre, a self trained portrait artist who paints the “dance of faces” and Jorge Arriaza Gonzalez, an abstract painter inspired by his newly found freedom who describes his work as “an expression of spontaneity“.

Motif Art of Expression

Motif Art of Expression

Motif Art of Expression

Motif Art of Expression

With popularity of Cuban art quickly gaining in Europe, the trend is beginning to filter into Canada. After successfully showing here in Toronto earlier this year, Pierre and Gonzalez will be showing their work once again for one day only this weekend at the MOTIF “Art of Expression” exhibit and reception. These truly unique pieces will be on display and available for sale; prices will range between $150-$1,000. In the market for something personalized? Attendees can commission custom pieces based on any photos, colour schemes based on personal style and landscapes, while enjoying live music and refreshments. A portion of the proceeds will go to help support “Move to Learn Therapy” an organization that helps transform the lives of children with special needs through physiotherapy.

Motif Art of Expression

Tiffany & Co’s Google+ Hangout #ShopTheHangout

Tiffany Google+ Hangout

Google+ hangouts are becoming really popular these days, especially in the fashion and beauty industry. It’s an amazing way for brands to connect, engage and interact with the consumer. Today I am happy to announce that Tiffany & Co will be holding a very special “digital hangout” hosted by their Design Director Francesca Amfitheatrof, model Coco Rocha, Aimee Song of “Song of Style” and Anne Slowey, Elle magazine’s Fashion News Director. These four ladies will be chatting all things fashion and design in addition to sharing their respective experiences in media at noon. Grab some take-out, a fresh pressed juice and hang with these inspiring ladies today as you nosh on your lunch!

When: Tuesday October 21st, 2014 at 12pm EST (9am PST)

Where:  http://bit.ly/TiffanyHangout

Marble MacBook by Nuvango

Marble MacBook Cover

My love of interior design and Pinterest has fuelled my obsession with Carrera marble in recent months. Growing up my family’s homes over the years have always had beautiful stone work (granite and marble) because my Father has been in the business for 35 years, but there is something about classic Carrera that I will always gravitate to. During one of my late night Pinterest creeping sessions, I stumbled upon a DIY marble MacBook cover and spent that entire weekend trying to locate marble contact paper for a DIY post for the blog – to no avail. Luckily, a little birdie on social media told me about Nuvango (formerly known as Gelaskins). If love art, either buying or creating, then you need to check out their site immediately.

Nuvango

The  site allows you to upload your own photos, customize artwork, or logos and turn them into framed prints, stretched canvases, cases and skins for all your favourite devices. And that’s not all…you can also create an artist profile and sell your art to the world. How dope is that? As you can probably guess, I wasted absolutely no time in finding Carrera marble artwork on the site and ordering a cover and skin for my iPhone and MacBook, which I received just two days after ordering!

Marble MacBook Cover

If you are interested in creating customized art for your device click here. I have received so many compliments on my laptop over the last few weeks it’s insane. To get this exact one, click here to create your Carrera marble skin for any of your Apple, Samsung or Blackberry devices.

 

This Is Not A Toy Exhibition – Guest Curated By Pharrell Williams at Design Exchange

It's Not A Toy ExhibitionIf it’s not a toy, then you are probably thinking, “Well then what are they?” just like I did when I received the announcement and press release in my inbox as few weeks ago. Although I was flummoxed, the minute I read that Producer, Singer, Songwriter and avid art collector Pharrell Williams was a part of this project, I knew it was something I was not going to miss. The exhibit’s title was inspired by the universal disclaimer often found on product packaging and gives patrons a glimpse into the world of the designer toy trend which unbeknownst to me, these items made out of plastic, plush and vinyl have been a hot commodity in the art circles since the early 90’s.

It's Not A Toy ExhibitionIt's Not A Toy ExhibitionIt's Not A Toy ExhibitionBe@rbrick designed Daft Punk representations from Pharrell Williams personal art collection

As a long time supporter of many of the artists showcased such as; KAWS, Takashi Murakami, FriendsWithYou and MediCom, it seemed like a natural choice for the DX museum to have Pharrell play such an integral role in the project. Fashion, art, and music have always gone together so it came as no surprise that these key elements were found amongst the collection. Fashion designers Anna Sui and Vivienne Westwood both had pieces on display and Fashion Journalist Jeanne Beker donated pieces from her personal collection – one which will undeniably become the favourite of every female attendee; the Chanel Be@rbrick toy doll designed by Karl Lagerfeld himself. Although impressive, what is most likely to catch the attention of the guests is the exhibition’s most pricey piece: The Simple Things co-designed by Pharrell, Takashi Murakami and NYC based jewelery designer Jacob Arabo. A ginormous grinning  head with miniature diamond encrusted version’s of the Grammy award winning artist’s favourite things, which first unveiled during Miami Art Basel in 2009 before making it’s rounds to Chateau de Versailles in Paris and London’s Tate Museum.

It's Not A Toy Exhibition1Chanel Be@rbrick toy designed by Karl Lagerfeld from Jeanne Beker’s personal art collection

It's Not A Toy ExhibitionRainbow Vortex by FriendsWithYou

It's Not A Toy ExhibitionThe Simple Things: Co-Designed by Pharrell Williams, Takashi Murakami and Jacob Arabo

“This Is Not A Toy” will be on at Canada’s National Design Museum, Design Exchange from now until May 19th, 2014. For more information or to purchase tickets online head to www. dx.org

Inspiring Interiors: The House of Patrick Gilles and Dorothee Boissier

Gilles & Boissier's Parisian Apartment

One of my all time favourite design duos Patrick Gilles and Dorothee Boissier of Gilles et Boissier have very different views on design, which is probably why they have such a unique aesthetic – neither minimalist or decorative. Known for their outstanding interior design work at the Michelin star Hakkasan restaurant properties, Baccarat Hotel & Residences NYC, the Mandarin Oriental hotel properties, and commercial, retail, and residential spaces all over the world, design lovers waited with baited breath when the news broke of the couple’s newly renovated digs.  The pair recently converted a 19th century apartment, located on Boulevard Malesherbes in Paris, into a beautifully curated space blending both contemporary and classic design with oversized rooms, high ceilings, french windows, and original timber paneling… creating the perfect backdrop for the couple’s art collection and custom furniture; designed by themselves of course!

Gilles & Boissier Parisian Apartment

Gilles & Boissier Parisian Apartment

Gilles & Boissier Parisian Apartment

The Versailles parquet floors were carefully restored along with the 19th century console table designed by Patrick and chair by Christian Astuguevielle. In the hallway they have placed an enormous lighting fixture on the ground adjacent to a horse photograph by Steven Klein. All the photography in the apartment is from Acte2Galerie, which is owned by a close friend of the couple. I am obsessed with how Europeans strategically place artwork and photographs on the floor instead of hanging them, leaving the walls bare. It is so chic and effortless, like everything they do, but my Father, with is design background informed me that decor style is out of necessity. Having concrete walls, instead of dry wall, prohibits homeowners from placing artwork on the walls.

Gilles & Boissier Parisian Apartment

Gilles & Boissier Parisian Apartment

The kitchen and bathroom is a prime example of contemporary living with ideal juxtaposition. The dine-in kitchen has a beautiful combo of three woods in different colours and textures with stark white carerra marble backsplashes and countertops. The Gilles & Boissier designed dining table, also with carerra marble top, ties in perfectly in the space. And the bathroom is minimalist heaven tying in similar elements from the kitchen and drowning in light from the enormous floor to ceiling windows.

Gilles & Boissier Parisian Apartment

Gilles & Boissier Parisian Apartment

Gilles & Boissier Parisian Apartment

Gilles & Boissier Parisian Apartment

Gilles & Boissier Parisian Apartment

Gilles & Boissier

Photography by Birgita Wolfgang Drejer / Sister Agency

If I had my way, I would be waking up every morning in this master bedroom and lounge in the tuffted chaise in front of the fireplace drinking lattes and eating macarons. For more information on Patrick and Dorothee’s interior design projects, furniture and biography head to GillesEtBoissier.com

Elie Saab x Evian 2014 Limited Edition Bottle

evian

Evian has finally unveiled the images for it’s 2014 limited edition glass bottle, designed by Lebanese Fashion Designer Elie Saab, which is a joint celebration in both brand’s pursuit of purity in design. For the last six years I’ve collected every single bottle Evian has produced in conjunction with international fashion brands like a crazy lady and this bottle will be no exception . Previous collaborative bottles include; Christian Lacroix, Jean-Paul Gauthier (my fave to date), Paul Smith, Issey Miyake, Courreges, and Diane Von Furstenberg.

 

evian designer bottles

The attention to detail is remarkable in which the bottles design has been adorned with the signature Elie Saab lace pattern that is a prominent feature in the designer’s collections – resulting in a beautifully crafted bottle that exudes the sophistication both Evian and Elie Saab are known for, “Evian approached me with the theme of purity. We are known for the embroidery, but we are also known as well for the clean cut, very pure designs. I wanted to respect Evian as well as having my signature on the bottle, so I decided to make the design very transparent, so that you can see through to the purity of the water.” Saab recently stated. “Lace is a very noteable thing, and the transparency of the lace reflects the transparency of the water,” the designer added.

evian

Intricate lace design from the world renowned designer Elie Saab

evian limited edition bottle

The 2014 limited edition bottle will be available for purchase at select restaurants and hotels, in addition to shop.evian.us

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