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TIFF Party: Julie Benz contemplates a permanent move to Toronto at the One X One charity bash at AMC Storeys

Patricia Arquette and Joey Adler (Image: George Pimentel Photography)

A slew of Hollywood stars and Toronto socialites headed to AMC Storys this weekend for a gala benefitting One X One, a charity that seeks to improve children’s quality of life. Tom Felton (a.k.a. Draco Malfoy), Patricia Arquette, Julie Benz and society queens Jenna Bitove and Suzanne Rogers all took in a concert by rapper Kardinal Offishall, (although Felton, seeking some quiet near the end of the evening, took his burgundy-suited self to the outdoor smoking section).

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The Goods

Designers

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Toronto Fashion Week: socialites and Parisian cool at Joe Fresh fall 2013

Toronto Fashion Week: Parisian cool and socialites at Joe Fresh fall 2013

Toronto Fashion Week runs from March 18-22, in a large—and stylishly appointed—tent at David Pecaut Square. We’re posting full galleries from the buzziest runways. Here’s what trendsetters will be wearing in fall 2013.

DESIGNER
Joe Fresh by Joe Mimran

IN A SENTENCE
Mimran’s Loblaw-owned mass market label is exceedingly popular with most Canadians (and a good number of Americans), and his semi-annual runway show has become one of Fashion Week’s biggest parties.

THE SCENE
As the Pink Tartan show proved earlier this week, the society set comes out in droves for everything Mimran. We spotted Suzanne Cohon with CFL commissioner husband Mark, Dragon’s Den star Arlene Dickinson, Galen Weston, David Nugent flying solo (his wife Catherine had to cancel last minute), Bruce C. Bailey, CBC News’s Amanda Lang, Big Brother Canada host Arissa Cox and of course, Joe’s loving wife Kim (who jumped to give a rousing standing ovation.) Afterwards, the party decamped to nearby Storys where even models from the show had a tough time getting in (they eventually did) and Bailey cut a rug. Even Mr. Fresh himself made an appearance.

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The Goods

Designers

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Toronto Fashion Week: an ode to ‘90s grunge at Chloé Comme Parris fall 2013

Toronto Fashion Week: Chloé Comme Parris fall 2013

Toronto Fashion Week runs from March 18-22, in a large—and stylishly appointed—tent at David Pecaut Square. We’re posting full galleries from the buzziest runways. Here’s what trendsetters will be wearing in fall 2013.

DESIGNER
Chloé Comme Parris, by sisters Chloé and Parris Gordon

IN A SENTENCE
After going rogue with their show last season, the Toronto-based sister duo brought their artsy, downtown aesthetic back to the tents at Toronto Fashion Week.

THE SCENE
The show had a decidedly rock-and-roll vibe right down to the amps placed on the runway, which one poor guest stumbled on on the way out. We spotted shop owner Jaclyn Genovese and jewellery designer Jaime Sin in the crowd, as well as Fashion Week fixtures Jeanne Beker and Robin Kay (who snuck into her seat after several models had already walked the catwalk). The show likely won the award for best swag of the week—front row guests were all greeted with Kobo e-readers on their seats.

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The Goods

Designers

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Toronto Fashion Week: Pink Tartan shows retro luxury and fake blond hair for fall 2013

Toronto Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2013: Pink Tartan

Toronto Fashion Week runs from March 18-22 in a large—and stylishly appointed—tent at David Pecaut Square. We’re posting full galleries from the buzziest runways. Here’s what trendsetters will be wearing in fall 2013.

DESIGNER
Pink Tartan by Kimberley Newport-Mimran

IN A SENTENCE
Every season, Newport-Mimran rethinks classics shapes to create her sophisticated separates, and every season, her show is one of Toronto Fashion Week’s hottest tickets.

THE SCENE
Newport-Mimran always draws a lot of high-profile guests (her husband Joe Mimran’s Joe Fresh presentation tomorrow will almost certainly pull just as many boldface names). Last night, we spotted Tie Domi with his daughter (who, though young, is already a fashion show veteran), Luminato’s Jorn Weisbrodt, PR gals/socialites Suzanne Cohon and Amy Burstyn-Fritz, and Zoomer editor Suzanne Boyd, who dressed for the weather in an enormous parka (though she still teetered in sky-high heels).

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The Informer

Features

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Conrad Black, Party Hopper: the baron’s packed social calendar and famous friends

The New Black

It was an audacious move, swapping his Canadian citizenship for a British peerage. It didn’t go as planned. In London, he was just another long-winded lord in a long line of them, and his après-incarceration media rounds in the U.K., where he was verbally assaulted by one TV presenter after another, were a bust. London, it appeared, was over Lord Black.

Toronto was different. Black adores being seen and heard—who else blogs from prison?—and Torontonians seem happy to oblige. He recently signed a deal with ZoomerMedia to host his own weekly talk show on Vision TV. He is, after all, our best-known baron, most outrageous personality and most entertaining villain. Upon his return in May, Black was quickly re-embraced by a coterie of Toronto elites who, it turned out, were keeping his seat warm. The festivities began on May 9 with a rollicking welcome-home dinner at Massey College hosted by John Fraser and attended by Hal Jackman and at least one tipsy former prime minister. The party hasn’t stopped since. Here’s proof.

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The Goods

Shopping

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A roundup of socialite Jenna Bitove’s most eye-popping fashion statements

Jenna Bitove

If you’ve mingled with high society lately, you’ve noticed Jenna Bitove. It’s hard not to. With Kardashian curves, dresses whose price tags would make your eyes water and a standing invite to just about every boldface bash in town, Bitove has dominated as many conversations in the past year as the mayor’s driving habits. As the granddaughter of catering kingpin John Bitove Sr., daughter of family foundation head Vonna and niece of Raptors founder John, she’s born to the manor, but she’s no woman of leisure. By day, she’s a stylist at The Room, The Bay’s couture-focused shopping nook. Pedigree and sartorial connections—that’s a potent combo. Here, seven reasons fashion’s newest darling deserves the buzz.

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The Goods

Designers

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THE SCENE: the hijinks (and outfits) of the front row VIPs at Toronto Fashion Week

THE SCENE: fashion week’s front row

Perusing the designs on the runway is Toronto Fashion Week’s raison d’être—but ogling the socialites and celebs in the front row is often a lot more fun. This year, we rubbed shoulders with Suzanne Rogers and like-named social butterfly Suzanne Boyd, television personality Dan Levy, socialite Ainsley Kerr and a host of other actors, television personalities, fashion insiders and beautiful people. See them all in our gallery of the Fashion Week elite, spanning from early in the week (when everyone still had pep in their step) to the very last show on Friday night.

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The Informer

People

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Toronto’s glitziest society ladies get blinged out at the second Great Jewellery Heist luncheon

Bling, baubles and babes dominated Arcadian Court on Tuesday at the second annual Great Jewellery Heist in support of Bridgepoint Health. Fashion gals and society dames faced off in an auction, bidding on jewellery by designers like Jenny Bird and Chloe Comme Parris as well as some vintage pieces and flashy fine jewels. The likes of Kimberley Newport-Mimran, Shay Lowe, Ainsley Kerr, Jeanne Beker and Bernadette Morra circulated the room, emitting the obligatory oohs and ahhs at the baubles on display. Not that many didn’t come with jewels of their own—Catherine Nugent whipped off her oversized shawl to reveal an Alan Anderson statement necklace and matching bracelet.

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The Goods

Designers

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Chloé Comme Parris’s feminine spring/summer 2013 collection makes us ponder leather short shorts

Chloé Comme Parris’s feminine spring/summer 2013 collection makes us ponder leather short shortsEvery year during Rogue Fashion Week, emerging talents and established designers alike opt out of the Toronto Fashion Week melee to show their collections in the days leading up to the official event instead. We’re posting full galleries from the buzziest runways. It’s time to forget about the chilly weather and imagine what life (or at least fashion) will be like in spring/summer 2013.

DESIGNER
Chloé Comme Parris, by sisters Chloé and Parris Gordon

IN A SENTENCE
The Toronto-born sisters are known for their avant-garde style and use of hardware, which make them a favourite among the city’s new crop of socialites-in-training.

THE SCENE
We spotted JacFlash owner Jaclyn Genovese chatting with scenester Biko Beauttah before the show, and models slipping—but not tripping—on the rough-hewn hardwood (six-inch heels and 100-year-old floors don’t mix well).

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The Informer

Features

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A look back at the Brazilian Ball, the annual black-tie extravaganza that taught Toronto to party

During its heyday, the Brazilian Ball was where you’d find drunken CEOs and socialites in a conga line with nearly naked carnival dancers

The Last Hurrah

(Image: Courtesy of Brazilian Carnival Ball)

Toronto, unlike Rio or Montreal, never had a reputation as a party town. The late society figure Anna Maria de Souza worked harder than anyone else to change that. Her annual bash, the Brazilian Ball, was, at its peak, the biggest of the big-ticket charity events. Everyone who was anyone in the world of politics, business or media attended. The Braz, as it was known to regulars, was that rare combination: an obligatory social event that was also a blast.

De Souza threw her first carnival-themed party in 1966. Born in Brazil to a wealthy family that owned and operated a coffee plantation, she’d married John Marston, a Canadian importer of orange juice, and moved to Toronto in 1965. Although the city’s social circuit embraced her as a vivacious, exotic beauty, she grew homesick. Her solution: throw a dance in the basement of St. Ines Church at Dundas and Grace Street. The party, like its hostess, was a novelty in staid Toronto.

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The Informer

Features

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Gregory Burke pulled the Power Plant out of debt and enhanced its international reputation. Then, he quit.

Gregory Burke with Sarah Bywater, the former Power Plant head fundraiser, at the 2009 Power Ball (Image: George Pimentel)

The Power Plant’s first board meeting of the year was held at noon on Monday, February 7. The gallery, situated on prime waterfront property, is a magnet for the city’s wealthy society figures. The clubby board of governors reflects that. Trinity Jackman, an archaeologist and the daughter of Hal Jackman, is the vice-president. The Drake Hotel owner Jeff Stober is a member, as are Rosedale hostess and arts patron Elisa Nuyten and the entertainment lawyer Paul Bain. The board’s president is Shanitha Kachan, an art collector and the wife of investment guru Gerald Sheff. Kachan called to order what should have been a routine, low-key meeting. Then came the big revelation.

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The Informer

Culture

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Dream-casting The Real Housewives of Toronto: seven ideal stars for the Canada-bound reality show

We learned recently that the Real Housewives franchise is officially looking into a Canadian spinoff. No word for sure on which major city will get the nod, but Toronto seems like an obvious choice. According to the Post’s Shinan Govani, our top duelling divas Stacey Kimmel and Suzanne Rogers have already declined offers to participate. Meanwhile, the city’s original glitter girl Catherine Nugent told ET Canada that she “wouldn’t even consider” an offer.

Luckily, not all Toronto socialites have such resolve. Govani reported that Jessica Mulroney, wife to Ben and new mom to the couple’s new chinny-chin twins, is “in talks” (though her hubby later recanted on her behalf). Ainsley Kerr, the best local example of the famous-for-being-famous phenomenon, played coy when asked about her involvement. We thought you had to be married or divorced to be qualify as a Housewife, but maybe not.

Depending on your feelings about trash television, this is either the best news since So You Think You Can Dance Canada, or a sign of the cultural apocalypse. Personally, we think a show like this would be must-see TV. Torontonians are so stiff and serious—a little mudslinging might do us some good. And so—with our fingers crossed and our PVRs primed—we set about coming up with the ultimate cast list for The Real Housewives of Toronto. Our picks, after the jump.

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The Goods

Homes

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Great Spaces: inside the home of Victoria Jackman and Bruce Kuwabara

What happens when a preservation-minded art lover marries a professional minimalist

Great Spaces
By 2008, Victoria Jackman and Bruce Kuwabara, Toronto’s artsiest power couple, decided their family of four had outgrown their Admiral Road Victorian. Neither Jackman, executive director of the Hal Jackman Foundation, nor Kuwabara, the architect and co-founder of KPMB, wanted to leave the Annex, but Kuwabara wasn’t wild about renovating another Victorian—the predominant architectural style in the neighbourhood.

Then they saw this Lowther Avenue house built in 1893 by Edmund Burke, the same architect who designed the Bloor Viaduct and The Bay on Queen (back when it was Simpson’s). The 5,500-square-foot house had been converted into a warren of lawyer’s offices, but once Kuwabara got his hands on the 100-year-old blueprints, he was impressed by the building’s great bones. It wasn’t far from the Av and Dav flower stores Jackman loves, and Kuwabara, who refuses to get a driver’s licence, likes that they can still walk to their favourite restaurants (Sotto Sotto and Joso’s) and to such cultural institutions as the ROM and the Gardiner. They decided to buy the place and gut it.

The couple wanted an open, bright and calming space.

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The Informer

People

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The sartorial highlights of last night’s George Pimentel party

There’s nothing Toronto society loves more than looking at a bunch of pictures of themselves. Or so we’re left to assume after the socialite-studded turnout at last night’s Absolut George photo exhibit, a vodka-drenched soirée in celebration of Toronto’s celebrity shutterbug George Pimentel. It’s not often that so many of the city’s fashion plates are gathered under the same roof. See who sizzled and who fizzled in our slide show.

View the photos now >>

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The Goods

Shopping

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The Bay vs. Holts: the Bay’s scheme to steal the fashion crown from Holts

The sensible shoes and twin–sets are gone, replaced by stilettos and crystal-encrusted gowns. There’s valet parking and personal shoppers, and they’re serving champagne up on three. It’s all part of the Bay’s scheme to win the loyalty of society shopaholics—and steal the fashion crown from Holts

(Image: George Pimentel)

One evening last March, Toronto’s stylish set put on their best frocks and headed to a retail baptism. Sarah Jessica Parker, celebrity high priestess of fashion, was in town to launch the Halston Heritage label at The Bay. The party, which reportedly cost over $200,000, was meant to establish Canada’s oldest department store as a major player in high-end womenswear. If retailers can be born again, this was The Bay’s moment to lean back and dip its head into the holy water.

Fashion media and socialites were ushered into the Queen Street flagship store and up the escalator to sip champagne on the third floor. That’s where The Room is located. The upscale designer dress salon was renovated a year ago for approximately $4.4 million in a high modernist style by the designers Yabu Pushelberg. The result is a treasure trove of conversation piece baubles, heels, flirty cocktail dresses and gowns by some of the most prestigious designers in the business. It’s the beating heart of the new Bay.

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