Is this ‘screwed up’ beauty startup Canada’s next M.A.C Cosmetics?



One of the top-selling face creams in Europe is manufactured by a Canadian brand you’ve probably never heard of. In fact, it isn’t even a face cream: It’s an anti-aging hand cream called Hand Chemistry that is so popular women buy it in bulk and slather it on their faces.

Within two weeks of hitting shelves, Hand Chemistry became the No. 1 hand and body product at Boots (the U.K.’s version of Shoppers Drug Mart). But in Canada, outside of a small cult of dedicated beauty geeks, Hand Chemistry remains relatively unknown.

“Canadians don’t like Canadian brands. They don’t think they’re sophisticated,” says Brandon Truaxe, the eccentric founder of Deciem, an umbrella company that owns Hand Chemistry and nine other beauty brands the company manufactures in Toronto’s east end. “Yes, M.A.C came from here, but in a global context no one thinks of Canada as a beauty powerhouse. But it just takes a few [success stories] for all of that to change, and hopefully we can be one of them.”


8 places to find vintage eyewear in Toronto


Vintage eyewear in Toronto is a community of enthusiasts, collectors, and connoisseurs. Sure, almost every store in the city sells eyewear in some shape or form, but there’s no need to buy mass-market shades when rare vintage finds are so plentiful. New or used specs that originate from eras past are available in just about every price range, and are one of the best ways to top off a look with some personality. Here are a few places I like to buy frames that don’t make my face look like everyone else’s.

Gafas Optical Shop
Gafas is the only Toronto home to Kings of Past, a purveyor of unused, branded vintage eyewear that’s hard to match. Storeowner Tony will gladly share the history behind each piece (I could listen to him for hours– the man is a true connoisseur). One of my favourite vintage collections here is the Paloma Picasso line, designed by the youngest daughter of that Picasso. They even have vintage motorcycle goggles. I’d look like the Hamburgler in them, but kudos to someone much more badass than I who can pull them off. Glasses here are at least $100, often more.

F As In Frank
No vintage clothing shop would be complete without vintage eyewear. This one boasts a handpicked collection of over fifty frames from Playboy to Cazal, ranging from $250 to $750. Their stock of shades was recently replenished, so now’s the time to visit.

Another destination for unworn, branded vintage frames, Spectacle exclusively carries the Oliver Peoples Vintage Collection that celebrates the twenty-year legacy of one of the most influential eyewear companies in the world. They also regularly showcase rare collector items, like Michael Jackson’s tour glasses of the eighties. You can’t actually buy these sorts of pieces, but they’re still fun to look at. Frames don’t leave this store for anything less than a few hundred bucks.

Ontario Specialty Co.
This store dates back to 1939, practically making it vintage itself. It may look like Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium from the outside, but inside, tucked between the rubber chickens, marbles (so that’s where they went!), and other fantastical novelties, is a collection of vintage sunglasses in just about every shape and colour for under $100 (sometimes as cheap as $10). Rumour has it that Danny Masterson (Hyde from That ’70s show) once bought 48 pairs here.

Read the rest of my post on blogTO…


8 places to get a custom cocktail dress in Toronto


Every woman should have the luxury of owning a custom cocktail dress; one that makes her feel like the only girl in the world (or at least the hottest in the room). I find the most surefire way to achieve that deep level of sartorial satisfaction is to order a custom dress– one that’s made to measure and one of a kind.

A good custom dress will suit your personal style, be event-appropriate, and fit like a teenage dream. Although custom work can be more expensive than buying off-the-rack, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Select stores and designers around town offer this fantasy-to-frock service. Here are some of my favourites:

Breeyn McCarney
A master of embroidery, knitting, leathercraft, and roasting the Fords on Twitter, Breeyn designs whimsical frocks that dare to flatter the female form– just don’t call them “fairy-style prom dresses.” Seriously. She hates that. With a focus on ethical and eco fashion, her custom dresses (between $150 and $300) are easy on the conscience and wallet. Turnaround time is typically three to four weeks.

Peach Beserk
A little punk rock princess and a little 50’s pinup, Peach Beserk is full of tulle temptations and sassy silkscreen prints with names like “I’m a Natural Woman,” “Ick,” and “What Would Jesus Print.” Colour options include “Commie Red,” “Crusin for a Brusin,” and “Dirty New York Taxi.” Full of funk and flirt, their custom work is the same price as buying off-the-rack (around $500). Up the creative ante by designing your own silkscreen.

Read the rest of my post on blogTO…

Adrian Wu wide

Review: In Defense of Smart Fashion and Adrian Wu S/S 2012


Last Friday 21-year-old designer Adrian Wu showed his first collection at LG Fashion Week. It was ingenious and I gave him a standing ovation (very unlike me). Was the collection perfect? No. But it was a damn fantastic example of what we’re missing in Canadian fashion.

Unfortunately there’s a large contingent of fashion ‘media’ (by trade or hobby) in this city who don’t like to think. That’s why press releases are regurgitated so carelessly and rave reviews are printed when the Mimran Collective whispers sweet orange nothings with their sponsorship dollars. So understandably, a collection based on physics might’ve been a bit too aspirational for some people’s liking. And Adrian suffered for it.

First came the Commes Des Garçons copycat accusations. Let’s remember Adrian wasn’t even a decade old when ‘lumps and bumps’ came down the runway. Just because he’s an aspiring designer doesn’t mean he’s got the last quarter-century of fashion memorized. Remember when Brandon R. Dwyer didn’t know who YSL was on Project Runway?  If you look back at Adrian’s previous collections, you’d see 3D fashion has always been his M.O.

Are we so used to Canadian designers stocking their grocery/department stores with major label look-a-likes, that we can’t fathom the notion of something original showing at LGFW? The comparison between CDG and Adrian is a stretch, anyways. CDG’s lumps were deformations of the physique and barely noticeable when put side-by-side with Adrian’s. This was a show of monster photon-protrusions. Please tell me we’re more sophisticated than “all bumps look alike.” Plus, Adrian’s dresses had ruffled waves a lot of reviewers forgot about… probably because “phallic” is a lot more fun to write than “wave.”

Next critique: “But I couldn’t see the dresses clearly!” Um, that was probably the point. In the double slit experiment (that Adrian’s show was inspired by), mere observation can affect the outcome of macroscopic events. This means particles somehow ‘know’ they’re being watched and misbehave and do unpredictable things. It’s wacky, yes. But it sparked some pretty interesting scientific theories and Adrian’s dresses took on the same unpredictable waves and bumps when we watched them. Want to see RTW? Go to the showroom. Runway is about inspiration.

Then there were the half-zipped zippers and unfinished hems. The major conclusion of the double slit experiment was, despite all our advanced science, we don’t know very much about this universe. Our understanding is unfinished, and likely always will be. Adrian is much too meticulous to forget to zip-up a model or sew a hem. This guy taught himself quantum physics—he’s not about to miss a few stitches. These ‘unfinished’ touches were symbolic. This should’ve been obvious in combination with the paint splatters and imperfect material choices.

The sexuality of Adrian’s collection, overt and unabashed with dresses named “The First Period” and “Blue Balls,” is likely a continuation of his interest in Freud’s theories on human sexuality (the inspiration behind his F/W 2011). Again, there’s a tie-in here. The double slit theory is a perversion of science; it’s something unpredictable and contrary to logic. Freud is also all about perversion. And Adrian showed a collection of perverted dresses—two of them on men. His dresses were named after progressive stages of sexuality and all the confusion and chaos that comes with them. This exploration was supposed to be meaningful, not criticized with the maturity of a 12-year-old learning about menstruation for the first time.

The bottom line of Adrian’s collection—scientific, sexual, or otherwise—was chaos. It was gutsy, original, and beautiful. Please keep it up, Adrian. Canadian fashion needs you to spark our imagination and fuel our desire to be more than just ‘wearable.’ Plus, next season you’ll be a sophomore, and we only make the rookies explain themselves here.

Photos courtesy of the FDCC

juma group

Review : JUMA S/S 2012


I walked into the JUMA runway room and was instantly blinded. The studio was filled with piercing blue light set at a frequency to kill fungi and fashionistas’ eyeballs alike. Luckily, it was all uphill from there…  and my eyeballs recovered in time to be assaulted all over again at the Joe Fresh collection tonight.

Glitter-geeks marched down the runway in a strong and cohesive collection. Models looked awkwardly awesome with shimmer-slicked hair and reading glasses– a weirdly harmonious mix of Tavi Gevinson and Ke$ha. Most importantly, the aesthetic was unique (a rarer-than-it-should-be thing in Canadian fashion).

As usual, JUMA’s signature digital prints made the pieces. Shades bled beautifully through peacock and reptilian patterns, creating a whimsical tie-dye-esque effect. The garments’ sheer, flowing silk only accentuated the flowing prints.

The show evolved like a box of pencil crayons; starting in greyscale and reaching its peak with bright red, orange, and purple shades. The perfect splash of color was oh-so-refreshing after collections and collections of color blocking from other designers.

Some of the menswear was a little too hipster-pixie for me at first, but is actually growing on me the more I look at photos. I like to consider their more ‘progressive’ menswear as inspirational pieces rather than ready-to-wear.

I loved this collection because it proves Canadian designers can be dramatic and wearable– not either/or. Hopefully it inspires others to be more original.

Peacock Parade has exclusive rights to sell six pieces from JUMA’s runway collection until October 25. Check it out.

Photos courtesy of the FDCC.

ford signs

The Ford Network


Toronto is feeling recessed.

Rob Ford added running for Mayor to Activities.

Rob Ford removed Carleton University from Education.

The Toronto Star is feeling confused.

Rob Ford is feeling sweaty.

Etobicoke sent Toronto a gift: “Conservative Mayor.”

Suburbs like this.

Central Toronto dislikes this.

Rob Ford invited Don Cherry to an event: “Inauguration.”

Toronto joined the Self-Sabotaging Cities network.

Rob Ford harvested 200 butter tarts on Tim Hortonsville.

NOW tagged Rob Ford in a photo.

Rob Ford removed freedom of expression from Interests.

Inner Circle took a quiz: “Are you a crony, reformer or creep?”