Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vivienne Tam Teams Up With HP On New Laptop

HP and New York City-based fashion designer Vivienne Tam have partnered to create a new laptop—the HP Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam Edition—which was released in January. In a press release from HP, this stylish piece of technology—designed specially for the modern woman on the go—is described as "the world's first 'digital clutch'". This collaboration represents the first time a computer company has teamed up with a celebrated fashion designer. With Tam's design on the exterior and HP's hardware on the inside, the laptop encompasses both the portability of a mini computer and the appearance of a fashion accessory.

The top of the HP Vivienne Tam Special Edition notebook features purple and pink peony flowers on a deep red background. The design is carried over inside the laptop, underneath the keypad. An embroidered storage sleeve was also created to complement the computer, protecting it while it is being carried as a clutch. Tam's design—inspired by her signature "China Chic" style—blends Asian and Western cultures, antiquity and modernity, technology and fashion. The designer's goal was to come up with a design scheme that would evoke the feeling of peace and tranquility of a garden. The peony is a symbol of prosperity, good fortune and happiness in Chinese culture. Tam also chose the peony because of its beauty and the fact that it has many layers of unfolding blossoms, paralleling the multiple layers of a woman's life. Her concept is further represented by the Chinese symbol for double happiness, which is imprinted upon the enter key on the laptop's keyboard. Now that's attention to detail!

To promote the new product, in September HP partnered with to launch a fully integrated virtual experience to inspire fashionable women around the world to discover design inspiration online. The interactive campaign—available at—includes a virtual catwalk, a designer tour hosted by Tam, and a "design bot" gadget that encourages users to adorn their own computers with wallpaper, icons and a screensaver, all designed by Tam.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Róisín Murphy at the V&A Opening of 'Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones'

Once again my love for fantastic music and fashion have collided with the Victoria and Albert Museum's recent exhibit "Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones"—the V&A website features videos of various personages at the event including the one and only Róisín Murphy. I'm a big fan of her music (both solo and with the now-defunct Moloko) as well as her eccentric sense of style—you'll remember I wrote about her cover of Bryan Ferry's "Slave To Love" and the costumes in her live show last month. Unfortunately she is not wearing a hat in her appearance, but does claim she made an effort to create a sense of one with her hair.

And of course it wouldn't be a fabulous hat-themed event without an appearance by famed milliner Philip Treacy.

Róisín asks a good question: "Why do people not wear more hats? It finishes an outfit off." Hats aren't as widely worn today as they were in the 1950s and before—if you watch old movies as much as I do, especially those from the Classical Hollywood era of the late 1920s to the late 1950s, you'll notice men are rarely seen without a topper and women frequently don a variety of fantastic hats. The covering of ones head was a proper sartorial rule back then. And who doesn't have a strange love of ladies' miniature hats, placed at a jaunty angle, from the late 1930s and early '40s? See the 1940 film "His Girl Friday" for a fantastic one worn by Rosalind Russell.

Whether for fashion or protection from the elements, hats are making a definite comeback, for both men and women. I myself own quite a few in a variety of fabrics to suit every season. This summer I'll be wearing a wide brimmed tan and gold straw sunhat and a beige straw fedora, both by Joe Fresh Style. I only wish someone could do something to solve the oft-lamented problem of hat-hair...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Banana Republic Canada (Not So) Secret Sale

Banana Republic sent around a coupon early this morning for a three-day-only secret sale. Although the ad specifies it is for their "best customers only," it can surely be used by just about anyone! Since I love sharing a great deal, be sure to print out the coupon below to receive 30% off your entire instore purchase (including sale items) at any of Banana Republic's Canadian locations from April 24 to 26, 2009.

The fine print
*Offer valid April 24 - 26, 2009 at Banana Republic Stores in Canada only. Not valid online or at Banana Republic Factory Stores. Qualifying amount applies to merchandise only, not value of Giftcards purchased, alterations, applicable taxes, or shipping and handling charges. No adjustments on previous purchases. Not valid for cash or cash equivalent. Cannot be combined with other offers or discounts, including Gap Inc. employee discount. Reproductions or photocopies will not be accepted. Gap Inc. is not responsible for lost or stolen offer.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lisa's Cosmetics & Fragrances Warehouse Sale

The spring warehouse sale for Lisa's Cosmetics/Fragrances Inc. is only a couple of weeks away. I go to this sale every so often when I need to replenish my perfume supply—the savings are just amazing: up to 80% off!

There you'll find make-up and skin products from Elizabeth Arden, Smashbox and Red Earth Cosmetics. There's also health and beauty products from Neutrogena, Aveeno, Dove, Pantene, L'Oreal, Sunsilk, Johnson & Johnson, Olay and Jergens. As for fragrances, there are too many designers to name here, but to give you an idea of what they stock: Armani, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Escada, Givenchy, Guerlain, Lancome, Oscar de la Renta, Yves St. Laurent and so many more. My personal favourite is L'Eau d'Issey by Issey Miyake. All designer items are authentic (though watch out for the obvious lower end imitations that they sometimes sell) and they even have great gift sets.

The Lisa's Cosmetics sale is taking place at 1380 Rodick Road in Markham, Ontario from May 2 to 5, 8 to 9 and 15 to 18. Hours: Saturday 9:00am to 6:00pm; Sunday 10:00am to 6:00pm; Monday, Tuesday and Friday 10:00am to 8:00pm. Cash, credit (MasterCard & VISA) and Interac accepted.

For more information, check out

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Monday, April 13, 2009

2009 CONTACT Toronto Photography Festival

The website for the 2009 CONTACT Toronto Photography Festival—taking place throughout the month of May—is now live: This year's theme is STILL REVOLUTION. According to the festival website, "CONTACT 2009 examines how each significant innovation in photography’s evolution has radically altered the creation and consumption of images, irrevocably changing the history of visual representation."

CONTACT features a variety of photography shows—featured exhibitions and open exhibitions—at a number of venues, including the Stephen Bulger Gallery, the Drake Hotel, the Nicholas Metivier Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Gladstone Hotel and many others. It also encompasses public installations at places like Harbourfront Centre, Toronto Pearson International Airport, the Royal Ontario Museum, and various TTC Subway Stations. Moreover the festival is hosting film screenings on Saturday afternoon and films on photography are being aired by TVO, including documentaries on Edward Burtynsky ("Manufactured Landscapes"), Annie Leibovitz ("Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens") and Helmut Newton ("Stars by Helmut Newton"). There are also series of lectures, a photography workshop, and other events.

The launch party and opening of the festival's primary exhibition is being held from 7:00pm to 10:00pm on Friday, May 1 at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA), 952 Queen Street West.

The 2009 Toronto Jewish Film Festival Launches This Weekend

The Toronto Jewish Film Festival launches its 17th edition this weekend, running from April 18 to 26, 2009. A full schedule of screenings and events as well as ticket information is available on the festival website: There is a wide variety of films being screened, from documentaries like the two-part "Being Jewish in France (Comme un Juif en France)" to comedies including "Bart Got a Room" featuring William H. Macy, and dramas such as the Hungarian and Romanian co-production "Gruber's Journey". There are even some Classical Hollywood musicals—"Bells Are Ringing," starring Judy Holliday and Dean Martin, and "The Band Wagon," featuring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, both directed by Vincente Minelli.

On the festival website, Executive Director Helen Zukerman explains that due to economic concerns, they have tried to make the festival affordable and accessible by keeping prices in line, offering some free programmes, and expanding its reach into Richmond Hill with two screenings. Chair Aviva Zukerman Schure also describes the festival's initiative FilmMatters, a Trillium-supported project that seeks to attract students of all denominations to free screenings throughout the year and at the festival. These films address contemporary issues arising from the multicultural nature of the city, including topics of diversity, stereotyping and racism.

Brian Eno Creates Generative Music App for iPhone

Former Roxy Music member and ambient music pioneer Brian Eno has collaborated with musician and software designer Peter Chilvers to create a generative music application called Bloom for the iPhone and iPod touch. It was released in October and is available through iTunes.

The Bloom website describes it as "part instrument, part composition and part artwork," as the application allows the user to create intricate patterns and unique melodies. When idle, a generative music player activates, producing an infinite number of compositions and corresponding visualisations.

According to Eno, "Bloom is an endless music machine, a music box for the 21st century. You can play it, and you can watch it play itself."

View a demonstration from an iPhone user below via YouTube.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

NYU Student Creates Social Art Experiment Featuring Cute Robot

Gizmodo, the Gadget Blog, reported yesterday on an art experiment conducted by an NYU student involving an adorable little cardboard-covered, smiley-faced robot. Starting in the Northeast Corner of Washington Square Park, the "tweenbot" has its intended destination—the Southwest corner of the park—displayed on a flag. Since it is only able to move forward in a straight line—it cannot move sideways, backwards or turn around—the robot is dependent on the kindness of strangers to help it around obstacles and direct it so that it may reach its goal.

The project explores social interactions and connections as well as human relationships to public spaces and things encountered within them. On her website, Kacie Kinzer—The Tisch School of the Arts student who created the art experiment—explains her concept and motivation: "In New York, we are very occupied with getting from one place to another. I wondered: could a human-like object traverse sidewalks and streets along with us, and in so doing, create a narrative about our relationship to space and our willingness to interact with what we find in it? More importantly, how could our actions be seen within a larger context of human connection that emerges from the complexity of the city itself? To answer these questions, I built robots."

The robot was able to complete its journey in 42 minutes, thanks to a total of 29 pedestrians who intervened to help the bot along the way—when it became stuck in a crevice or pothole or trapped against a curb—and aim it in the right direction.

As for Kinzer's reactions to the results of her experiment: "The Tweenbot’s unexpected presence in the city created an unfolding narrative that spoke not simply to the vastness of city space and to the journey of a human-assisted robot, but also to the power of a simple technological object to create a complex network powered by human intelligence and asynchronous interactions. But of more interest to me was the fact that this ad-hoc crowdsourcing was driven primarily by human empathy for an anthropomorphized object... a creature that mirrors human characteristics of vulnerability, of being lost.. As each encounter with a helpful pedestrian takes the robot one step closer to attaining it's destination, the significance of our random discoveries and individual actions accumulates into a story about a vast space made small by an even smaller robot."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

From The Journeys of Röyksopp

As mentioned in a previous post, Norwegian electronic music duo Röyksopp released a new album recently entitled "Junior" along with first single "Happy Up Here." The second single "The Girl and the Robot," featuring Swedish pop singer Robyn, will be released May 25. Now on their website (and embedded below) you can view a quirky promotional video featuring clips from the album and an interview with the duo—Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge—directed by Andreas Nilsson entitled "From The Journeys of Röyksopp." The video is accompanied by the caption:

A friend of mine, a wise man from Sweden, once said to me:
“Sometimes 1+1=3. Or 12. Or perhaps not even a number.
Sometimes 1+1 could equal a horse.”
Even more confused?
Then check this out…

At the very end of the video is a special (and surprisingly catchy) marching band version of "Happy Up Here"!

TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival Line-Up Announced

The TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival has made available a schedule of concerts and ticket information for this year's events on its website The 23rd edition of the festival will take place this summer, running from June 26 to July 5, 2009. Featured artists include jazz greats Dave Brubeck, Sonny Rollins, Pat Metheny and Branford Marsalis, avant-garde group Medeski, Martin & Wood, jazz-influenced pop-rock group The Sea and Cake, legendary crooner Tony Bennett and many, many more at various venues around the city including the Canon Theatre, the Four Seasons Centre, Nathan Phillips Square, the Opera House, the Danforth Music Hall, The Supermarket, The Pilot and Harbourfront Centre.

According to the Toronto Star, the announcement of the festival lineup comes about two weeks earlier than usual in consideration of the impact of a weak economy on the entertainment funds of consumers. As Executive Producer Pat Taylor, explained, "We need a longer lead time to sell tickets." While last week's news conference revealed many acts, the full schedule of opening acts, club listings and possibly another major headliner or two will be finalized before the program is officially printed in early May.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sun Life Financial & The Toronto Public Library Team Up For The Museum and Arts Pass

Strategy Magazine recently announced the March 7 launch of the Museum and Arts Pass (MAP)
expansion. Sponsored by Sun Life Financial as part of the company's Making the Arts More Accessible program, the extension is geared toward improving community access to culture and the arts in a time when the recession has eaten into many a pocketbook.

The MAP program—which originated in July 2007—provides free passes to a host of Toronto's major cultural institutions. Now available at all 99 library locations, a MAP can be borrowed from a Toronto Public Library branch using a valid adult Toronto library card much like a book and used to gain entry for one family into places like the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Casa Loma, the Museum of Inuit Art, the Bata Shoe Museum and the Ontario Science Centre, among many others.

Linda Hazzan, director of marketing and communications at the Toronto Public Library, explains: "We circulated over 21,000 passes in 2008," due to increased demand as well as the library's focus on "free universal access to culture."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Joe Fresh Mobile Beauty Box Tour

I previously announced the launch of Joe Fresh Style's make-up line and its new website here.

Now to promote the new cosmetics collection, Joe Fresh Beauty is taking to Canada's streets with their Mobile Beauty Box Tour. Visiting major cities across the country, the portable cosmetics studio will have two make-up artists on hand offering free makeovers and with them, a complimentary $5 Joe Fresh Beauty Gift Card that you can use against your next purchase from the make-up collection carried at Loblaws Superstores.

Joe Fresh Beauty has been using social networking to generate buzz—Joe Fresh Style has been advertising via Twitter and the company also created event pages on Facebook to invite consumers to sign up and attend. In the Greater Toronto Area, the Mobile Beauty Team will be hitting Yonge and Dundas Square on April 30, The St. Lawrence Market area on May 1, Queen Street West at Soho Street on May 2, and Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre on May 3.

For events around British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, check out the Joe Fresh Mobile Beauty Box Facebook events listings.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Opera For A New Age

Since September 2007, Toronto's Canadian Opera Company has been offering a promotion for those between the ages of 16 and 29 through the Opera for a New Age program presented by TD Bank Financial Group. With valid photo identification, those under 30 years of age can purchase opera tickets for just $20.00! You can purchase online at the Canadian Opera Company's website using the promotional code "DEAL", over the phone at (416) 363-8231 (or 1-800-250-4653) or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts at 145 Queen Street West.

Approximately 150 seats are reserved in sections 3D, 4C and 5B for each performance under this price. That sounds like a lot but they sell out fast! Unfortunately there is a limit of two tickets per person per opera, so that complicates group outings slightly, but it's still a great promotion geared to attract a younger generation that may not be as enthusiastic about the opera (not to mention the normally pricey tickets).

Opera for a New Age tickets went on sale this morning for the Spring 2009 season, which features three operas: Verdi's "Simon Boccanegra," Puccini's "La Boheme" and Britten's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." I'm hoping to see the latter two operas; Shakespeare is always a good bet and I'm looking forward to seeing the opera that inspired the modern-day adaptation, RENT.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Diane Von Furstenberg Designs Eyewear

According to Women's Wear Daily, fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg is adding eyewear to her sartorial repertoire. She has teamed with Marchon Eyewear to develop and distribute a line of sunglasses and prescription lenses, which will reflect DVF's brand identity of independent spirit and timeless design.

On the subject of the collaboration, Al Berg, president and CEO of Marchon, told WWD: “Diane von Furstenberg has created classic and confident designs that we look forward to translating into both sun and optical collections. Her ability to make fashion effortless and easy for all women is a coveted position in the fashion industry, and it is a great honor to bring the global brand to our ever expanding group of designers." Diane Von Furstenberg explained, “Glasses are necessity, protection and glamour. You need a company that knows how to balance the technical with the fashion—no one does this better than Marchon.”

The DVF eyewear collection will have its retail launch in January 2010, selling in DVF shops internationally as well as in department stores and select specialty boutiques.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rufus Wainwright's Opera To Get North American Debut at 2010 Luminato

According to the Globe and Mail, Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright's new opera "Prima Donna" will have its North American premiere at Toronto's Luminato Festival in 2010 and its world premiere in Manchester in July. The opera—for which Wainwright wrote the score and a French-language libretto—is set in Paris in 1970 and tells the story of an aging opera singer who strives to regain her international status as a top soprano. The work was co-commissioned by Luminato, the Manchester International Festival and the Melbourne International Arts Festival. In a statement yesterday, Wainwright related his feelings that his composition of the opera was a "daring and risky" venture and thanked Toronto "for having the guts to make it happen."

This month, Wainwright is set to premiere in Berlin his musical adaptation of William Shakespeare's sonnets, which he composed along with the Berliner Ensemble.

The 2009 Luminato Festival runs from June 5 to 15 and takes place in various locations around the city.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

French Connection Warehouse Sale in Toronto

French Connection is having their spring/summer clearance event this April! The warehouse sale is taking place at 14 Advance Road in Etobicoke (the west end of the Greater Toronto Area) from Wednesday, April 8 to Saturday, April 11 and continuing from Wednesday, April 15 until Sunday, April 19. The hours are as follows: Monday to Friday, 10:00AM-7:00PM and Saturday to Sunday, 10:00AM-6:00PM.

If you are driving, your best bet is to take the Gardiner Expressway. If you're taking public transit, Kipling Station on the Bloor-Danforth subway line is not too far away, about a 15 minute walk south. Etobicoke is a bit of a trek but you never know what gems you might find, for example, the perfect spring dress for the improving weather!

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Cronenberg Plans Sequel to Eastern Promises

It's difficult to report on April Fool's Day for obvious reasons, but this rumour is true. The National Post reports that MTV News announced yesterday David Cronenberg's plans to make a sequel to Eastern Promises, the award-winning film released to acclaim in 2007 at the Toronto International Film Festival. Cronenberg revealed that he is working on a follow-up film along with the actor Viggo Mortensen, the screenwriter Steven Knight, the producer Paul Webster and Focus Features. If and when the film is finalized, it would mark the third collaboration between the Canadian director and Mortensen, who starred in both Eastern Promises and Cronenberg's 2005 film A History of Violence.

Cronenberg told MTV, "We are moving forward with it. We all are excited about the idea of doing a sequel... We are going to have a meeting very soon between me, Steve Knight and Paul Webster to discuss what the script would be. I have some very strong ideas about what I would like to see, but I would like to hear what they have to say as well. And then after that, if all goes well, Steve goes away and writes a great script. If we all like it, we make it." Cronenberg admitted that although he has never before felt the inclination to revisit his work, "It’s the first time I’ve ever been in a situation where I actually want to do a sequel to something. I’ve never had the desire to do that before. But in this case, I thought we had unfinished business with those characters. I didn’t feel that we had finished with Nikolai and we had done a lot of research that was more than we could stuff into that one movie."

The conclusion of Eastern Promises certainly did impart a sense of unfinished business, seemingly leaving itself open to the possibility of a sequel. The film ended with the revelation—one which gave rise to as many questions as it answered—that Mortensen's character, a Russian gangster named Nikolai, is working undercover for a British intelligence service. While Nikolai will most likely be the focus of the forthcoming film, so far there are no conclusive reports as to the appearance of other central characters or the participation of actors, most notably the British midwife Anna played by the actress Naomi Watts and the Russian gangster Kirill played by the actor Vincent Cassel.

The Toronto Star also reports that Cronenberg is being honoured by the government of France with the Légion d'Honneur at a private ceremony in Toronto. Cronenberg is slated to begin shooting his first blockbuster in September and he wants the production to be based in the city. The $150 million thriller for MGM—based on the 1979 novel The Matarese Circle by Robert Ludlum—will star Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington as rival spies who join forces.