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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

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

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.

 

Veuve Cliquot’s YELLOWEEK Comes to Toronto

Veuve Cliquot Yelloweek

Veuve Cliquot, known globally for it’s premium bubbly and synonymous with celebrations and luxurious festivities, has launched YELLOWEEK across Canada; a festival-style “tribute to creativity” showcasing the arts, gastronomy, fashion and lifestyle.  After successfully launching in Montreal last year, the heritage brand will be taking over Toronto May 5th-11th, Calgary & Edmonton May 19th-21st and Vancouver May 22nd-24th.

Toronto Yelloweek kicks of this Monday, May 5th with an exclusive event at the swanky French bistro La Societe where lucky guests will get to preview pieces from Greta Constantine’s collection during Yellow FASHION followed by a series of  events open to the public across the downtown core where you can dine with expertly paired glasses of champers, party at an infamous Kleen Media event with sampling opportunities, celebrate Mother’s Day with a glass of bubbly with your Brassaii brunch, take in artwork inspired by the Cliquot brand or even enjoy your fave spa treatments with a glass of Veuve… Here’s a detailed look at what you can expect during Toronto’s YELLOWEEK

Yelloweek TorontoHappy #YELLOWEEK everyone and be sure to drink responsibly

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

Inspiring Interiors: Fashionable Interior Design Surfaces by Caesarstone

5110  Alpine Mist Kitchen

Whenever someone says that fashion is such a shallow industry and it has little relevance or importance in “real life” I laugh for two reasons; 1) the person making this statement usually is not very fashion/style savvy  and 2) It is a ludicrous comment because  I know how much fashion influences art, music, film and even interior design. As we approach World Mastercard Fashion Week here in Toronto, I recall when Caesarstone Quartz Surfaces teamed up with the Canadian designers behind the cult leather line Mackage to create custom accessories made of quartz for the brand’s SS/13 runway show. During this runway presentation, model’s were adorned with hair pieces, bracelets and rings in geometric and asymmetrical shapes made of the man-made stone.

Caesarstone Mackage

With the success and positive feedback from this collaboration, Caesarstone, who is the global leading supplier of fine quartz surfaces, has made the intelligent decision to use the fashion industry as an inspiration and to incorporate runway trends into their upcoming product lines. For the company’s latest collection for 2014 titled, Classico, the company really paid close attention to the colour trends they saw on the runways during the fashion week circuit in NYC, London and Milan – and implemented the warm, earthy tones into the line’s six new offerings; Clamshell, Summer Rye, Vanilla Noir, Coastal Grey, Biano Drift and Alpine Mist.

Caesarstone Classico 2014

Caesarstone Classico 2014

Caesarstone Classico 2014

Caesarstone Classico 2014

Caesarstone Classico 2014

Caesarstone Classico 2014

After being exposed to the tile industry my entire life with my Father’s career in the stone business and interior design, I’ve seen a significant increase in the sales of quartz (which now constitutes roughly 50% of stone sales in Canada) and a decrease in granite and marble, which ruled during the 80’s and 90’s. Why the change? Although its price point is higher than natural stone, quartz has many phenomenal benefits that makes it more suitable in homes and condos, especially those with children. It’s non-porous, stain resistant and extremely difficult to scratch, meaning its virtually maintenance free. This clearly makes it the ideal choice for kitchen/bathroom countertops and and backsplashes. The Classico collection is cutting edge and these new options actually now replicate the visual and flow of granite’s aesthetic, which used to only be found in natural stone. With it’s increase in popularity and the tie-in with fashion, it will be interesting to see what Caesarstone does next – however, I am secretly hoping that we get to see more fashion collaborations on the runway.

CAFA – Canada’s First National Arts and Fashion Industry Awards Gala

cafa logo TM

Kind of hard to believe that until now my great country of Canada was not formally recognizing and celebrating the achievements of our great talent in the fashion and arts community. But last week CAFA (the Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards) announced that there will be an inaugural gala which will take place in the historic Fairmont Royal York Hotel in T.O. early next year. Gearing up to the awards presentation – which will also include a gala dinner and uber exclusive after-party scheduled to be held on Feb. 1, 2014, there will be a handful of CAFA evens scattered across the country in order to help hype up the event and shine some light on the selected nominees.

Besides Dean & Dan Caten from D Squared, there are successful designers who have made their mark in the international world of fashion, yet many might be unaware of their Canadian roots; Erdem Moraliioglu – creator of eponymous label with unique prints Erdem, Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe the designers of cult fave jacket line Smythe, and Jason Wu just as an example. But like myself, I guess Canada’s fashion community thought about what can be done to assist the designers who are less known on the global fashion stage or just emerging in the Canadian market such as; Lucien Matis, Pink Tartan, Caitlin Power, Christopher Bates, Line Knitwear, Rudsak, DUY…and I could go on. Perhaps with this new organization, Canadian design talent will finally get the recognition, spotlight and encouragement they deserve.

CAFA Award

Lucky winners will receive this original designed awards by Canadian industrial designer Karim Rashid

Thankfully we won’t have to wait to long to her the list of nominees…they will be announced early this Fall in October, who will be competing to win top prize in these 10 categories. The list of CAFA jury members reads as the who’s who in Canadian fashion, as one would imagine; Jeanne Beker, Suzanne Rogers, Lisa Tant (VP Fashion Editor Holt Renfew), Noreen Flanagan (E.I.C. Elle Magazine), Bernadette Mora (E.I.C. Fashion Magazine), Tiyana Grulovic (Fashion Director of Flare Magazine), Robert Ott (Chair of School of Fashion at Ryerson University), Susan Langdon (Executive Director at TFI), Dr. Sara Diamond (President of OCAD U), Glex Baxter (Canadian television journalist and emerging photog), Carolyn Quinn (Head of IMG World Canada), Bronwyn Cosgrave (Luxury Brand Consultant and author), Hands Koechling (Fashion show producer and Creative Director of “The Image Is”), Angela Campagnoni (Diretor of Atlantic Fashion Week), Tyler Udall (Photographic Artist & Fashion Director Blanche MacDonald Centre), and Jean-Francois Daviau (Producer of Montreal Fashion Week).

Think it’s safe to say that this gala and dinner will be one HOT ticket come February that every fashionphile will be wishing and hoping to get access to. For more information on CAFA and to stay abreast of the list nominees list later this year, head to www.cafawards.ca.

XOX,
Sash

Poppin’ Bottles: Dom Pérignon x Jeff Koons Unique Collaboration

DomPerignon x Jeff Koons

If you’re an appreciator of art or like me, have a slight addiction to champers, you may have already heard about the limited edition bottle that has been created for the release of Dom Pérignon’s Vintage Rosé and Vintage 2004. The brand of vintage bubbly, produced by Champagne house Moët & Chandon and who had once worked with Andy Warhol in the past, has now teamed up with Pop Artist du jour, Jeff Koons – one of the most recognized and solicited contemporary artists out there, who has earned worldwide acclaim with his large-scale sculptures.

DomPerignon x Jeff Koons

For the packaging, the artist chose to create a miniature replica of his fushia balloon Venus of  Willendorf, that’s now on view at the Gagosian, which serves as an elaborate protective case for the bottle. If you happen to be privileged enough to get your hands on one of these beauties, you will not be disappointed with the taste of these two vintages, “To be honest, this particular vintage, specifically the vintage Rosé 2003, will remain historic. It’s about as bold, as provocative, as full bodied, intense and sensuous as can be.” claims Dom Pérignon’s Chef de cave Richard Geoffroy. The same actually rings true for Mr. Koons current show at the Gagaosian Gallery in NYC.

The ridiculous price tag of $20,000 US will no doubt make this project far more pricey than the brand’s previous collabos with Andy Warhol and David Lynch.  Sales start Tuesday September 10th, 2013 and will be sold in very limited quantities, natch! If for any reason at all any of you get your hands on a bottle, you know where to find me! 😉
XOX,
S

Art Meets Fashion | Calvin Klein Collection’s Special Collabo with Francisco Costa & Artist Ellsworth Kelly

Calvin Klein & Ellsworth Kelly

It’s no secret that fashion and art are dear to my heart so I was thrilled when I heard the two were going to collide when Calvin Klein Collection announced this week it’s Creative Director Francisco Costa has teamed up with world renown artist Ellsworth Kelly for a one-of-a-kind, unique museum collabo in honor of Mr. Kelly’s milestone 90th birthday.

CALVIN KLEIN COLLECTION & HRC Host Special Event to Support AMERICANS FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY CAMPAIGN

Photo courtesy of Billy Farrell BFANYC.com

This is one special dress…the artist originally designed the minimal, colour blocked number back in the Spring of 1952 while in the South of France and with some guidance, hand selected Costa to modernize and recreate his design to give it a more updated look.  It was inspired by Mr. Kelly’s  “Red Yellow Blue White” (1952) piece and consisted of 25 coloured fabric panels, which were divided into five columns of five panels each. I am loving the simplicity and lines that make up this classic shift, the bold contrasting colours and the use of cotton/stretch fabrics and zipper detailing on the shoulders. When Ellsworth decided he wanted to recreate the dress he designed nearly 60 years ago, he first spoke with Harold Koda, who is the Met’s/Costume Institute’s “Curator in Charge”, who had the brilliant idea of introducing him to Mr. Costa. Seriously, couldn’t have thought of a better pairing…their designs are both so classic and minimal. Hoda’s take on the collaboration:

“The intersection of art and fashion has been seen before, but a garment by an artist that originates at the same time as the development in his work of a radically new creative strategy is unprecedented. I cannot think of another example where fashion and art share their DNA so completely. Ellsworth Kelly with the collaboration of Francisco Costa has recreated his 1952 dress for the historical record but more importantly, as the earlier work had not been made to his specification, has realized with Costa’s technical virtuosity a re-visiting of the design that now confirms, authentically, to his original concept.”

calvin-klein-collection-francisco-costa-for-ellsworth-kelly-SKETCH-041813

Calvin Klein Collection

The artist and designer’s sketch drawing and the recreated dress in Calvin Klein’s Madison Ave Flagship

Photo courtesy of James Lattazio

The dress will be recreated in a limited quantity- of course and will also be donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the latter owns the artwork which inspired the creation of the original dress. In order to commemorate the collaboration, the limited edition dress is currently being displayed prominently in the Calvin Klein Collection Global Flagship store at 654 Madison Ave in NYC. For you artsy heads, the dress will be in the company of several limited edition lithographs by Mr. Kelly in both the window and entrance until May 15th.

For all my NYC based readers who LOVE art, next month the Museum of Modern Art celebrates Mr. Kelly’s 90th with an exhibition of the first series of paintings he made after leaving NYC in 1970 titled, “Ellsworth Kelly: The Chatham Series”. On view from May 25-September 9th 2013.

XO,

S

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