Browsing Category


Q&A | Holly Peterson, author of The Idea of Him

Holly Peterson, the New York Times bestselling author of THE MANNY, is launching a new book, The Idea of Him, this month. In this Q&A she shares the greatest mistake she made as a journalist, how money can make you insane and why she didn’t want to end her book with a kiss from Colin Firth.
Why did you write this book?

I wanted to write about the phenomenon of falling in love with the “idea” of someone versus the reality of the actual person across the dinner table from us. I think it’s something we all have done. Once we are in a relationship, sometimes we delude ourselves into being happy, yet something doesn’t feel quite right. When reality hits, we must confront our fears of being on our own, and that can be frightening. Our fears of being on our own often propel us into staying with the wrong person.

I know I’ve personally fallen for the “idea” of someone numerous times because I have an idea in my head of what I want that person to be and how I’ll feel with him: the cool guy with the long hair will make me cool, the stable, appropriate guy will make me feel safe…I even fell for a Frenchman over how his cashmere blazer felt on my cheek! All that stuff doesn’t count in the end: the only thing that matters in my mind when it comes to love is an accompanying true friendship and deep intimacy.

Continue Reading

Interview | Dave Alexander, Editor-in-Chief of Rue Morgue Magazine

Want to expand your scary movie repertoire beyond Ghostbusters? Me too. So I posed a few questions to Dave Alexander, editor-in-chief of horror-happy Rue Morgue Magazine, who curated a list of terrifically terrifying films available on Netflix Canada. Here, he shares his thoughts on zombies, psychos and friendly Frankensteins.

Plus, we’re giving away a six-month subscription to Netflix Canada so you can stream and scream to your heart’s content. Details at the bottom of the interview!

I’m a huge wimp. A cover-my-eyes-and-ears kind of wimp. But I love scary movies. Why are they so irresistible?

It seems to be illogical that we’d indulge in things that induce feelings of terror, revulsion and horror, but there are actually a bunch of reasons we seek out dark art. First and foremost, we love to be thrilled — get the physical sensation of an adrenaline rush — without ever being in real danger. This is why people skydive, ride roller coasters, drive fast, etc. While those activities could actually result in your bones breaking, horror films are very safe way to get your pulse racing. Some horror fans simply love special effects and to revel in how far the medium can go in trying to trick us. A good example would be the jaw-dropping monster makeup in David Cronenberg’s The Fly, or the outrageous gore gags in The Walking Dead, which are very realistic, creative and even morbidly funny sometimes.

Horror stories also allow us to engage with larger real-world fears in a safe forum. This is why apocalypse films are so popular right now. Anxieties over disease, war and environmental destruction are played out in shows such as The Walking Dead or, more realistically, in movies such as Contagion. Ever notice how these kinds of stories often spark what-would-you-do-in-that-situation discussions? We watch and think about our own survival and how to deal with emergencies, which is ingrained in us thanks to evolution — those who thought more about self-preservation and prepared for bad things, survived more often than those who said, “Ah, I’ll worry about it when the time comes… .”

Which movies from your Stream and Scream list are best for scaredy cats?

There are some picks on there to appeal to the fainter of heart, for sure. Hitchcock is a whimsical sort of drama with a ghoulish touch about the Master of Horror and his struggles to make his horror masterpiece, Psycho. Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren are in top form and it doesn’t get any darker than some fun day dream scenes in which the filmmaker chats with his imagination’s version of Ed Gein, the real-life grave robber and murdered who first inspired the story.

The BBC show Being Human certainly has its frightening and violent elements but offers some great comic relief, too, within its premise of a vampire, werewolf and ghost who share a flat. And, of course, everyone can enjoy Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, a hilarious send-up of the classic Universal Monster movies. Goofy fun with a cast of comic legends, including Gene Wilder, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman and Madeline Khan.

Hitchcock, which tells the story of the making of Psycho, was one of your picks. How have scary films changed since Hitchcock’s time?

Hitchcock himself ushered in the modern horror film with Psycho, which evolved the genre in the way that you longer had to worry about supernatural monsters in Gothic European castles; the biggest threat was the boy next door with severe psychological problems. There’s a direct line from Norman Bates to Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs, and the body-defiling hillbillies of The Devil’s Rejects. And we just can’t get enough of Psycho, as proven by the popularity of the new Bates Motel series. Take that, or something like Dexter, and the “psycho” is now the hero. Now, that’s a huge turnaround!

What are the key ingredients in a good horror film?

It depends on the type of horror film, but it all begins with strong characters that the audience will care about when they’re put in grave danger and must fight against monsters or other evil forces. You need to respect your audience; most genre fans are very savvy and are tired of horror cliches. For example, if your group of campers decides to split up to search the woods, they’d better have a damn good excuse.

Try to apply real-world logic if you’re making a serious horror movie. For cartoonish horror-comedies, you can be a lot looser with that, however. And if you’re making a movie that relies a lot on special effects don’t be half-assed about it. Use organic, non-computer-animated, effects when possible — everyone is tired of bad CGI. And please, avoid cheap jump-scares. It’s easy to rattle someone with a loud noise, but it’s cheap and irritating when done more than once or twice in a movie. Lastly, just because it’s a horror film doesn’t mean it needs a pounding, aggressive hard rock soundtrack. Toss that uncreative cheese.

The Walking Dead is one of your picks. Zombies are huge right now and vampires were big before them. What’s next?

Our appetite for apocalypse stories seems to be very strong, whether they involve zombies or not. We’ve definitely been seeing a surge in environmental horror-themed films, which I think we’ll see more and more of as global warming anxieties grow with the shrinking of the ice caps.

Recent examples of these films include The Thaw, a 2009 Canadian title about an unfrozen mammoth carcass that’s full of some nasty parasites; The Last Winter, Larry Fessenden’s 2006 movie about thawing ice unleashing angry spirits; a German flick called Hell, from 2011, which set in an apocalyptic sun-scorched wasteland created by global warming; and an upcoming Austrian film called The Station, about a deadly life form that is resurrected from a melting glacier.

Dave Alexander’s full Stream and Scream picks available on Netflix Canada: The Loved Ones, Pan’s Labyrinth, Walking Dead, Session 9, Hemlock Grove, Young Frankenstein, The Omen, The Legend of Hell House, Event Horizon, Would You Rather, Insidious, The Reef, Blair Witch Project, Hitchcock, Child’s Play, Being Human (UK), Pumpkinhead and The Fly.

Want to win a six-month subscription to Netflix Canada? Email to enter.
[Contest closed: Congratulations Sonja!]

[Film still of Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh in Hitchcock, Michael C. Hall in Dexter, and a film still from Pan’s Labyrinth]

Interview | Kim Izzo and David Cormican of The Jane Austen Marriage Manual

Between getting her own pound note and celebrating the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen is having a big year. The Jane Austen Marriage Manual is too. The book by best-selling author Kim Izzo is going to be made into a film (isn’t that every author’s dream?!). I caught up with the author and producer David Cormican to talk speed dating, Frankenstein, that diner scene from When Harry Met Sally and other things that would make Ms. Austen blush.

David, what attracted you to this novel and why did you think it would make a great film?
I know you’re never supposed to do this, but I always buy wine based on its label and a book is no different. The cover was really clever and inviting. Once I started reading it, I felt like I was reading a screenplay. The characters just leapt off the page and I could see the whole movie lay out before me. Kim’s writing is very cinematic and theatrical and the more I read, the more I wanted to explore and share this world with other people.

What did Kate learn from Jane Austen that we should all take note of?

Kim: She learned, to paraphrase Elizabeth Bennet, that only the most ardent love would and should entice her, and any woman, into matrimony.

David: I’m not sure if this is what Kate learns, or if I did as a reader through her eyes… but that romantic love is a privilege that most people never earn and we can only hope that we all have the foresight and courage to see it (and even more importantly accept and embrace it) when it is right in front of us!

If Jane Austen were to have actually written a marriage manual, what would she say to those navigating today’s speed-dating, “chivalry is dead” world?

Kim: Run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit.

David: Be discriminating. An attractive flirt is not necessarily the best relationship material. Take the time to see how compatible you are and don’t give in to desperation. Be brave enough to hold out for someone you can really love — and that also holds the door for you.

Some of the most brilliant, career-driven women I know (like Kate) are big Jane Austen fans. Why do you think her tales of unmarried sisters with inheritance anxiety endure?

Kim: I’m not sure its the anxiety bit that endures, but the romance. Austen’s novels are gorgeous romances filled to the brim with rogues and dark and brooding strangers. Most women are suckers for it. But, there is also a part of all of us, that wish for a home to call our own, and some security. The world is increasingly a harsh, cold place, having some protection from the “elements” is more than an Austen fantasy, it is a necessity.

David: I feel like I should step back and let Kim answer this one. But if I was forced to answer, I’d say because it is brilliant story telling that speaks to the human condition. Much the same that Shakespeare has endured the test of time.

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual has been called a great beach read. What’s in your beach bag?

Kim: I seem to be a year behind! I finally just read The American Heiress and The Chaperone, two of last summer’s big reads, and adored them. But I’ve got my hands on a copy of The Other Typist and can’t wait to dive into it next.

David: Right now, I’m reading High, by Brian O’Dea. It’s nothing short of gripping. Brian tells all about his life as one of the world’s largest drug smugglers. Once I finish those pages, I’ll be reading Julius Winsome by Gerard Donovan. It was passed on to me by my producing friend in Vienna (Austria).

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual movie has romantic comedy written all over it. If you could Frankenstein your favourite rom coms together, which films would you get the pieces from?

Kim: Good question. The overall tone would be Notting Hill meets Bridget Jones’ Diary, with costumes from The Tourist (yes, seriously, check out Angelina in those clothes!).

David: Oh boy! This is a fun exercise. I’m not sure what any movie would end up looking like with all these franken-elements, but here goes: I’ve always loved The soundtrack from High Fidelity, the cast from Bridget Jones’s Diary, the costumes from Moulin Rouge, the lesson learned in Click the muppets and marketing campaign of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the performances from Hitch, the dialogue and dance sequence from Silver Linings Playbook, the heartbreak from (500) Days of Summer, the honesty of Knocked Up, the evergreen nature of Love Actually, the playfulness of Pretty Woman, the design of Moonrise Kingdom, the quotability of The Princess Bride, the saturation of Amelie and the desserts/diner scene from When Harry Met Sally!

P.S. Follow @KimIzzo, @C0rmican and @TheAnthology on Twitter.

Style | Rebecca Bree Boutique

Rebecca Rawlinson is a ray of sunshine. And not just because of her sunny blonde hair or her Reese Witherspoon-esque enthusiasm for just about everything. Scratch that. It’s entirely because of her Reese Witherspoon-esque enthusiasm for just about everything. Especially fashion.

After years of dreaming and planning and what felt like years of renovating, she opened the boutique Rebecca Bree, which is such a reflection of her personality and tastes, those close to her have said it is “like walking into her brain.” So I decided to pick that brain…

On her first thoughts

I wanted my own business for about a decade, since I started working retail. I’m never going to be happy working for someone else. I thought Okay, I’m going to start an online store. But that quickly changed because I thought about my daily life and it would be in a warehouse without one-on-one interaction with people and I was like That is not going to work for me. I love people. I love to be surrounded by people, I love to talk to people, I love to style them.

[The Sleep Shirt is by my friend and fellow Vitamin Daily editor Alexandra Suhner Isenberg.]

On darkness and light

I’ve been to a lot of store openings and the décor never really spoke to me. Too much cement, too much glass, not enough décor, not enough colour. I never felt comfortable and cozy, I always felt cold, like I was in a museum.

Vancouver’s a very dark city so I wanted a bright, inviting store when it’s raining. The lighting had to be bright, the paint had to be white.

On learning to let go

This was a huge risk because I’ve been in retail, I’ve been in management but I haven’t been in business.

Before I was like I have to do it all, no one’s going to do it the way I want it done. But now, if I communicate effectively then other people can help me build the store and help me get to where I am. I mean, I remember telling Cynthia how to fold the hand towels in the bathroom.

On Rebecca Bree’s tucked-away location on Fourth Avenue

After three months of searching my realtor sent me this place and I was like No. The windows are too small, I don’t like it. I was very negative about it at first.

But then my boyfriend and I came to visit it and we parked two blocks away and we walked past Aphrodites and Banyen Books and Bioethique, and saw La Quercia across the street. We walked in and it was a blank canvas. There was nothing in here.

My boyfriend and I looked at each other and we were like This is it.

P.S. Follow The Anthology on Facebook and Twitter and you’ll be the first to see behind-the-scenes photos.

P.P.S. You’ll find all The Anthology’s interviews with the likes of designer Rachel Roy, J.Crew’s design directors Tom Mora and Frank Muytjens, and Topshop’s top people right here.

Style | Inside TOPSHOP Vancouver, the brand’s biggest international store

Topshop’s biggest store outside the UK — all 33,000 square feet of it — opens today in The Bay on Granville Street in Vancouver.

“I’m still getting lost in it, I can assure you,” said managing director Mary Homer when I stopped by yesterday to get a first look at the space, which houses Topshop’s specialty boutique, a petite section, tall section, maternity wear section and gigantic shoe section. Plus, a personal shopping suite.

After my tour I sat down with a few of Topshop’s top people and here’s what they had to say…

Mary Homer on the pre-opening jitters 

It gives us such a sense of pride that people are excited for Topshop. You hope that people are going to love Topshop but until people actually come through the door and buy, I’m always a little nervous about the reception.

Mary Homer on how the web’s changed the game

You’ve got an online business and it’s brilliant, but the stores have to be even better now. Our customer is quite interesting because she will go online and look and then she’ll visit the store and buy.

Talk to teenagers and ask them if they’re going to shop online and they say “Oh no. I want to go shopping, I want to have lunch, I want to try things on.”

Topman creative director Gordon Richardson on women shopping the men’s section

You shop Topman? Please say yes. [Well I will now that I’ve seen the sweaters – Kelsey]

A lot of women shop Topman because it’s just good, great clothes, it’s like weekend clothes. Put on a sweater or a big blanket-looking shirt with a boy blazer or a boy jean and it kind of works.

Gordon Richardson on evolving men’s fashion

I think men just haven’t been let free yet to explore. We were just talking earlier that it’s taken us 10, 12 years to build brand credibility within Topman. We needed to make it a cool brand and we needed to improve the product, which I think we’ve done and we’re now at this point where we’re a fashion-led brand every bit as good as Topshop is for women.

Gordon Richardson on what it’s like being creative director

It’s about the creative brushstroke that I have across everything, which is a great role but quite exhausting sometimes.

The stakes are higher, the pressure is there to get it right. There are some things that don’t work as well but you can’t run a fashion business on everything being right. Fashion is about creativity and constant change so you have to run with that.

Gordon Richardson on the big picture

You have to think globally now as well because we’re such an international brand although we’re very British-focused, a lot of our imagery and our look is British. Obviously we’re now going to have now consider international markets.

It has a very British slant this season with all the fabrics and tweeds. The tweed is actual Harris Tweed and I don’t think there are any other brands at our level working with it. It’s woven in the outer Hebrides, north of England. It’s proper traditional cloth gentlemen used to wear to hunt, and shoot and fish.

London calling? Put it on hold and head to Topshop Vancouver instead.

P.S. Follow The Anthology on Facebook and Twitter and you’ll be the first to see behind-the-scenes photos.

P.P.S. You’ll find all The Anthology’s interviews with the likes of designer Rachel Roy, J.Crew’s design directors Tom Mora and Frank Muytjens, and New York-based artist Jason Young right here.

Workspace | Erica Lam of The Style Spy

The Anthology’s Workspace column takes us inside the creative spaces of some very creative people.

If you follow style blogs in Canada you’re very familiar with The Style Spy. Founded by the lovely (seriously, she’s a doll) and talented Erica Lam, it chronicles fashion trends, features interviews with industry insiders and highlights “Girls of the Week” (one of whom you might recognize).

In her own words, Erica takes us through all the shoes and books and nail polishes that fill her workspace…

1. I recently moved to Montreal and this is my current set-up at the apartment I’m subletting. I must confess, I’m typically messier than this, but moving cross-country has forced me to streamline. It’s a good feeling not to have piles and piles of stuff sitting on your desk.

2. There’s usually a rotation of magazines – it’s either fashion magazines like the ones you see or business magazines like Fast Company or INC.

3. The book Creative, Inc. is a guide to running a freelance business. It was actually recommended to me by The Anthology’s Kelsey herself [Glad you like it! – Kelsey]. I left my advertising agency job as a social media strategist in Vancouver and am now working with clients on a freelance basis.

4. The Holstee Manifesto poster sits right above my desk. It’s a great daily reminder to really go after what you want in life.

5. Brands regularly send over products for me to try, the red suede booties are from Call It Spring’s fall collection and the nail polishes are from Essie’s winter line.

6. Don’t you love checking stuff off lists? I do. Hence the weekly things to do notepad from Chapters. I always have a Moleskine notebook next to me where I jot down all my ideas.

7. Attending events and networking are part of the job. The invitation on the desk is to Aldo Shoes’ 4oth anniversary, they’re hosting special pop-up exhibit at the Aldo Flagship store in Montreal.

P.S. Click your way to The Style Spy to see the fruits of Erica’s workspace.

P.P.S. Check out the first post in The Anthology’s Workspace column and find out how Niki Blasina of A Haute Mess smells when she blogs. Click through the second post to find out where Anya Georgijevic of I’m the It Girl started her footwear obsession. Find out how Kumiko Ide of Tribal DDB keeps her workspace fresh to death. Take a look at jewelry designer Justine Brooks’ works in progress and her favourite places to work very, very remotely. Take a look at Lisa Wong of Solo Lisa’s cat-decorated desk and Anna Cohen’s converted stable in Denmark. And Alicia Quan’s yellow suitcase desk storage is definitely an idea worth stealing.

Style | Heidi Merrick’s Endless Summer

When California-based designer Heidi Merrick stopped by Oliver & Lilly’s in Vancouver (where her line is available) I chatted with her about the 1980s, her surfing pedigree, and her first kiss.

From left to right: Heidi Merrick, Oliver and Lilly’s owner Leighann Boquist and yours truly.

You and your designs are pure California. What were you referencing in this collection?

I always say it’s high glam — like surf 80s glam — and my small town beach town, but truthfully it’s about this surfer Tom Curren, the best surfer in the world of all time. He was living at our house when I was young, he was my dad’s protégé [her dad is surf legend Al Merrick]. When he was going on world tour, he kissed me goodbye in the driveway. I think I was about 8 or 9 and it was my first kiss.

I was looking at a book on 1980s surfing and I saw a picture of Tom and it brought it all back and I thought I’m going to do something inspired by strong emotional feeling so I tried to make the colours super glamourous and the seersucker and the gauze and the scarves were kind of that little girl left in Carpinteria [where she grew up]– dressed down, beach town, bleached out.

I remember imagining him going on world tour – and I’m sure it’s the most miserable experience in the world to be a surfer on the world tour – but in my mind it was the most glamourous thing in the world so I tried to put it together: the little girl left in Carpinteria and the glamour of the surf world.

You’re now about as far north, in terms of big cities, as it gets on the west coast so how does your Southern California surf-inspired collection fit in in Vancouver?

I can’t believe how cool everyone is who’s walking in the door and how like-minded it feels. Maybe yeah, they’re here for an event for me, but I couldn’t imagine a better group of friends. Take the designer Dace, for example, we met in New York and we just had this immediate connection.

There’s a real California/Canadian vibe.

From Heidi Merrick F/W12: Savile skirtJeffrey’s coat, and Savvy dress.

For your fall collection you’ve gone in a slightly more polished direction. What’s the story behind it?

For that I was trying to do a gentleman surfer. Spring in retrospect is more bohemian than I need in my closet and so I wanted to dress it up a little bit. I modelled it after this one photograph of this dude I know surfing in a toque in a yellow top and turquoise shorts and the entire colour palette is taken from that one photograph.

[Second image found here.]

P.S. You’ll find all The Anthology’s interviews with the likes of designer Rachel Roy, J.Crew’s design directors Tom Mora and Frank Muytjens, and New York-based artist Jason Young right here.

Style | The Name is Rachel. Rachel Roy.

If you had 15 minutes to ask Rachel Roy anything you wanted, what would you ask? When I sat down with the New York-based designer before her appearance at The Bay in honour of her fall collection, I asked her about Oprah, interning and time travel…

You have described RACHEL Rachel Roy as the younger sister of your designer line. What do you love most about designing it?

Because I was that girl growing up, I have a very kindred spirit to her. I really respect her. I understand that just because she might not be able to pay $500 for a dress she wants fashion and she wants what she sees in Vogue or the magazines that she reads. She wants better options so it’s really important to me to respect that and give the options that I am able to give within a certain price point.

What if you could speak to yourself when you were “That girl?” If you could travel back in time to give yourself a piece of advice when you began your career as an intern at Rocawear, what would you say?

I would say, “Good choice. I’m proud of you. You’re confident enough, thankful enough and capable enough to work for free simply to be in an industry that you’ve been dying to be in.”

Advice I would give to myself would be to have a point of view and stick to it. I definitely do that now and I think I’ve done that since my 30s but sometimes in your 20s you learn it if you’re not taught it right away. Having a point of view that you truly believe in – and sticking to it no matter who’s doing what in your personal life or your professional life – the world at large will have more respect for you if you actually have a story that you live.

In addition to your success as a designer, you’ve become a staple in pop culture with appearances on Oprah and Project Runway and celebrity clients like the first lady. What is it that most amazes you about what you’ve accomplished?

I’m just doing what I’m good at. I’m not good at a lot of things, but I think that everyone is good at something. When you’re good in the arts, it’s not something that – when you go through the public school system in the United States at least — it’s not something that you’re taught. So you can think “What the hell am I good at? What’s my gift?” And a lot of times you don’t learn that until you’re much older.

For me, that was knowing my gift was being able to take my surroundings and make them, to the best of my ability, visually as stimulating or comforting or pleasing as possible. That would be even with homes – I would go into friends’ places and help them shift stuff. In college I would be the girl that my friends would ask to come clean out their closets. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I say that to say we’re all good at something and when you can figure that out great, and it really doesn’t matter what you’re getting paid because your soul is happy.

[My dress c/o RACHEL Rachel Roy, my purse and necklace are both vintage.]