SHOP TALK: Arrive in style with lightweight layers and colourful accessories


Photo by Marc Fowler.

Photo by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio/


Panama via Oahu
Keep cool and stylish this summer with a deLux Panama hat ($44.50). Made with eco-friendly ethically sourced materials, it’s a timeless topper (that happens to be on trend right now). Stand out while you sit back: this RJC Hawaiian shirt ($69.50) was made on the island of Oahu and promises a touch of aloha.
Fab Gear, 1112 Wellington St. W., 613-725-1964.

On Deck
A modern update on the classic deck shoe, the Ecco Eisner ($195) features a flexible sole and breathable lining that absorbs moisture — say bon voyage to sweaty feet! Rich leather uppers make it a perfectly acceptable choice for almost every summer outing.
Letellier Shoes, 146 Rideau St., 613-241-6557.

In Vest
This long sleeveless vest is a simple and avant-garde way to add a splash of colour to an outfit, making it a hot commodity for jet-setters. Made of Egyptian mako cotton, the Toni ($295) is substantial without restricting movement — in short, a perfect layering piece.
Ça va de soi, 459 Sussex Dr., 613-789-2828.

Take Note
Inspired by rare finds in the American Museum of Natural History Library, this Natural Histories journal ($15.95) is sure to make writing that next poem (or to-do list) an act of grace. In addition to the eye-catching owl cover, the diary features 192 ruled pages and a ribbon bookmark.
Paper Papier, 18 Clarence St., 613-241-1212.

In Bloom
This colourful Silk Route scarf ($128) is a light wrap that’s sure to brighten up any outfit. Printed with flowers and butterflies, as well as the season’s ubiquitous black-and-white stripes, it’s a versatile accessory that protects shoulders from the sun on hot days and offers practical warmth on chilly evenings.
Clothes by Muriel Dombret, 1258 Wellington St. W., 613-798-0167.


MALL MADNESS! The details behind Rideau, Bayshore, and St. Laurent renovations

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.

With the opening of the Rideau Centre food court Dining Hall later this month, and the excitement buzzing around such openings as Express and Victoria’s Secret at Bayshore, SHOP TALK surveys the big players — and fine details — in Ottawa’s mall scene.

Rideau Centre - Exterior

Rideau Centre

How much will the renovation cost:
Total value of the redevelopment project is $360 million, including Nordstrom (opening March 2015), the new Dining Hall (opening August 2014), interior and exterior renovation, and the expansion area that is due to open August 2016.

Size of redevelopment in sq. ft:
Adding 230,000 sq.ft. of new leasable area in the expansion

What big brands will you be bringing in:
Simons, Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom, J.Crew, Zara Kids and Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, Express, Purdy’s

What’s cooking in the new food court? 
Dining Hall will feature 16 units and 850 seats, as well as a new design. Environmentally friendly features include reusable dishware, cutlery, and glasses, and full recycling facilities, including organics.

Fancy details:
All new Italian quartz flooring in the common area. Tile imported from Verona, Italy

Any environmentally friendly aspects to the new building?
In addition to the Dining Hall features mentioned above, the expansion will be LEED Certified

Things you won’t find anywhere else:
9,000 sq.ft. of original artwork commissioned for the building exterior, installed on three facades and illuminated at night

Any new parking spots?
Approximately 550 new underground parking spaces below the expansion

SHOP TALK: Pink Palladium shoes for summer

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.


Love this look! Check out more Flex Collection stylings at

Let me say off the top that I’ve always been wary of colourful shoes. While I have yet to do the Middleton nude pumps, I always figured that black, brown, or metallic shoes offered more bang for your buck. At my desk I keep my “work shoes” — right now I’m looking at three brown heels and one pair of black flats. (Can you say bo-ring?)

Flex Lace Palladium shoes in Pink Lemonade

Flex Lace Palladium shoes in Pink Lemonade

So when the kind people at ZOI agency offered to send me a pair of the new summer canvas kicks from Palladium, I balked at the colour choices. I admire people who have the guts to embrace colour, I just question how to wear colourful shoes. Do you try to match? Do you make them the highlight of an outfit? It’s the kind of wardrobe detail that makes one late for work! So I put them aside.

That was, until I broke my toenail. I won’t bore you with the details except to say it didn’t happen in any cool way and I swore a lot. But the darn thing didn’t fall off, and I’m not one for self-inflicted pain (unless, perhaps, there’s a prize to be won). So I bandage and soak — and walk carefully to prevent the whole thing from falling off.

Pink and green feels like spring!

Pink and green feels like spring! Photo by Sarah Fischer

In this case, physical pain overrides wardrobe anxiety and I looked to my pink Flex Lace Palladiums. With a nice big toe box I was even able to do some lunges without bashing that tender big toe, and they put a smile on my face. (In truth, having  a little girl to dress has endeared me to pink.)

And, as often happens when we’re forced out of our comfort zone, I found these shoes added a skip to my (albeit cautious) steps. They made me feel like a kid again — I grew up at a time when canvas shoes were the thing to wear in those perfect last weeks of school. And most of all, I found they went with everything from girly summer dresses to jeans to shorts. Sure, I take a moment to colour-check, but mostly I’m having fun pushing the envelope with these fun flats.

See how my pink shoes match so nicely with my kid's hoodie-dress? She's wearing off on me.

See how my pink shoes match so nicely with my kid’s hoodie-dress? She’s wearing off on me.

SHOP TALK: Worn Journal celebrates release of first book at Victoire

 Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.
I won’t claim to have read every issue of Worn, the alt-fashion bi-annual publication that mixes pop culture and personal essays, feminist theory with straight up quirk. But I have seen it, and right away something resonated. Then, years later when it went from a zine to a more polished book, and the accolades starting pouring in, I started to look for it. (Not the kind of mag you find at the grocery store, but that’s part of the fun. A search for Worn will take you to all sorts of fun shops.)

Images from The WORN Archive courtesy Drawn & Quarterly

Images from The WORN Archive courtesy Drawn & Quarterly

And when I heard it was releasing a book of highlights from the past few years at Victoire, well, I needed to know more/spread the word/get the book.
Herewith, a glimpse of The Worn Archive, which editor Serah-Marie McMahon describes as “a 400+ page manifesto” comprised of chapters that focus on various aspects of fashion — its fun side; fashion as art, identity, politics; and most of all, that fashion is a personal medium for self-expression.
To pick up a copy — and meet other “Wornettes” — swing by Victoire this Saturday.

Vintage Tunes & Stiff Drinks: a cocktail and vintage record listening party 
Victoire Boutique, 246 Dalhousie St.
Saturday, May 24
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

And for a sneak peek inside the book, click on the thumbnails below.


SLIDESHOW: The life cycle of a road trip

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.


The life cycle of a road trip from Ottawa Magazine’s April 2014 issue (Photo: Christian Lalonde/Photolux Studios)

If you haven’t yet seen the April issue of Ottawa Magazine, it might be too late — May is here! But we had to share our no-holds-barred Shop Talk feature, which looked at how the automobile — and the people and stuff that goes in it — changes as we move through life.

A cheeky nod to our Sex Issue content, this was a fun and creative project for everyone involved. It made us ask such questions as, “at what stage of life does one use the WeVibe?” and “how do you strap a (borrowed) stand-up paddleboard to the top of a car?”

Finally, a shout-out to the crew at the EY Centre who let us to take over a corner of their well-heated, well-lit space in the dead of winter!

STORE PROFILE: Curiosity shop Wunderkammer expands to feature more home decor, jewellery, and other quirky treasures

This week Shop Talk welcomes guest blogger Ashleigh VanHouten

A 16-foot yellow canoe in the front window (also for sale) beckons shoppers.

A 16-foot yellow canoe in the front window (also for sale) beckons shoppers.

Heard of Wunderkammer? It’s a hidden gem of a place, though not so hidden anymore — the curiosity shop recently re-opened in a bigger and better spot just down the block from their original space on Dalhousie Street.

Tamara Steinborn and Nathan Dubo, partners in life and work, moved from Montreal  a few years ago to open their Lowertown shop and are already enjoying  steady success — to the point where their intimate store could no longer contain the volume of jewelry, home decor, and vintage finds that their customers were asking for.

Wunderkammer’s new spot has the same warm, well-curated vibe as the original, just with a bit more breathing room — and a lot more baubles. The new and improved store houses much more in the way of home decor and accents, including bigger pieces like wardrobes and wall art.

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SHOP TALK: Elite Draperies features gorgeous fabrics, high-tech gadgets, and Sarah Richardson!

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven 

Working on the annual Interiors issue is always great for home inspiration. It’s mostly pipe dreams, but once in a while an idea resonates all the way to my to-do list. And this year that idea was floor-to-ceiling curtains as a way to add warmth to a room.

I’d make them myself, of course. My MIL made beautiful drapes for my daughter’s room, just as my mother had for my childhood room. A tradition!

This cute sofa

This cute sofa was reupholstered by Elite Draperies’ expert staff in a multitude of fabrics.

I found some nice fabric — deeply discounted, no less, so I got a lot — at the end of November and set about making the curtains.

Grommet-style seemed the easiest option. Just measuring and cutting took about a week. There was the possibility that they would be ready by the end of 2013, but no luck. Our bungalow and general clutter-filled/ toddler-led lives meant that I could carve about an hour or two, twice a week, for this project.

Then the bathroom reno started … and kept going … and it was all I could not to stew about the lingering dust/logistics/lack of shower. I wasn’t spending my evening at a sewing machine!

Meanwhile, I was hearing great things about Elite Draperies new place. In 2012 they moved out of their cramped Bank Street quarters and took over two units on Colonade Road, an area burgeoning with home reno showrooms. I was curious to see how the pros do it, so I paid Greg Birtch a visit.

I was greeted by a striking modern-industrial showroom with lots of cool re-upholstered furniture, bookshelves of fabric swatches, and a very chatty co-owner. I soon learned that Greg left his job as a firefighter to help his wife, Mary, build their store into the go-to place for custom curtains.


Greg Birtch of Elite Draperies

One of the coolest things I saw was their custom solar-powered blinds. My dream home fantasy includes a few key remote control items — like blinds. Who hasn’t entered a room in their PJs only to realize the across-the-street neighbours are staring out their window, coffee in hand, watching the parade of life go by? (My neighbour doesn’t even have curtains. He’s what we call a Neighbourhood Watch-er.) I always figured that kind of thing meant rewiring, but Elite makes their own solar-powered units, which means they are not only easy to install, but they’re easy on the energy bill.

Also, their new place provides their in-house seamstresses with a bright, spacious workshop. It’s a mix of old faithful sewing machines and state-of-the-art setups that allow their staff to work more efficiently. When I visited the area was abuzz with activity, cool textiles abounding.

More than anything else, Greg’s enthusiasm made me realize that curtains (or drapes, or blinds) are one of those important but oft-forgotten elements of interior decor. Unlike funky accessories and cool chairs, they aren’t very photogenic on their own.

Since visiting Elite Draperies I still haven’t finished those curtains (bobbins?!). Meanwhile, Greg and Mary have organized a fundraising event with Sarah Richardson about home decor for spring. Not sure there are still tickets, but do check out Elite’s showroom if you’re looking for some home decor inspiration — or someone to rescue you from your own DIY nightmare ;)


SHOP TALK: Textile hub + training centre EcoEquitable opens sparkling new space in Vanier

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven 

Since becoming involved with  EcoEquitable, Anouk Bertner looks at frogs in a whole new light. And by frogs I mean the current exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

“Every time I see that banner I think, ‘where’s it going?’ I want that vinyl!” she laughs.

Eco Equitable ... photo by

The EcoEquitable Boutique sells recycled fabrics and upcycled fashion accessories including totem bags and infinity scarves.

It’s one of the many ways that EcoEquitable transforms the way we think about clothing, consumption, and community.

EcoEquitable started in 2002 as an organization focused on helping immigrant women learn to sew. Informal groups honed skills on theatre costumes and children’s clothing. Four years ago, EcoEquitable launched a five-month course that provided new Canadians with skills that would equip them to work at an industrial textile facility, or as tailors, or even designers who create their own labels. Classes not only covered hemming and pleats, but also job hunting tools and basic literacy. 

But more than that, EcoEquitable opened up a space for women who spend much of their time alone — or with only young children. It created a community space through potlucks and a jovial, productive atmosphere.

That atmosphere, however, was a bit cramped and quite dark. Located in the basement of community centre on Chapel Street, it was tough to find and — despite all the laughter that was going on when I visited the space in 2010 — didn’t do justice to the great things that were happening.

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DRESSES! Rent Frock Repeat pop-up shop open until March 30

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven Sarah Fischer. 

A few years ago, we wrote about Rent Frock Repeat, a company that allows users to rent designers dresses for important events. It struck us as a cool idea and a fun way to have a never-ending supply of amazing dresses.


One of my favourites, an Emogene Couture sheath, retails for $600 and rents for $90.

Then we heard of their expansion to Ottawa! Okay, for now it’s a pop-up shop in Gatineau, open until March 30. But when we heard they were bringing hundreds of couture dresses to a funky chalet across the river, well, we had to investigate.

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SHOP TALK: Oscar night style with Erica Wark

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven Sarah Fischer. 

From left: Lupita Nyong’o in Ralph Lauren Collection; Olivia Wilde in Gucci; Naomi Watts in Tom Ford; Cate Blanchett in Armani Privé; Robin Wright in Reem Acra; Zoe Saldana in Prabal Gurung; and Margot Robbie in Gucci at the 2014 Golden Globes.

Ahead of Oscar night this Sunday, SHOP TALK catches up with Erica Wark on what (and who!) is standing out on the red carpet. If you haven’t seen her on the side of a bus or on the OFW runway, Erica is the resident fashion expert on The Social, a fashion contributor on Marilyn Denis, and a regular fashion expert on eTalk.

SHOP TALK: Who are you most excited to see on the red carpet and what do you think she will wear?
ERICA WARK: That’s a toughey. I’d have to say Lupita Nyong’o, Cate Blanchett, and the ever-glamorous Sandra Bullock! I’m hoping Lupita will continue to knock our fashion socks off and rock something big, bold, and beautiful! She’s been wearing colour like nobody else … let’s hope this colour train continues. As for Cate? Well, she’s got haute couture down pat. But she’s a major risk taker, where the risk is ALWAYS worth the reward. I’m hoping she’ll wow us in something from Balenciaga, Lanvin, or Prada. Sandra is a wild card. Her normal “classic” sophistication has been thrown out the window. She’s been far more daring and a lot more fun – maybe a Prabal Gurung or Marchesa?

Jennifer Lawrence in a ho-hum strapless Dior gown.

Jennifer Lawrence in a ho-hum strapless Dior gown.

ST: Who has been the biggest disappointment on the red carpet so far?
EW: Hands down Jennifer Lawrence in Dior, Dior, Dior. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fashion house and I understand she’s under contract, but I’m so sick of the strapless boring dress they keep putting her in! She’s so young and has such a bold personality; it would be nice if her Oscar gown emulates that.

ST: Which man’s style will stand out the most on the red carpet?
EW: It’s a tie between Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. They’ve not only been cleaning up the awards for both best and best supporting actor, they’ve also been nailing the red carpet scene. Looking forward to seeing what they pull off on Sunday night.

ST: If you could dress any celebrity, who would it be and what would you put them in?
EW: Ha ha! Wow… I don’t know, there are sooo many. I’m a huge fan of Diane Kruger – she’s a fashion maven. I also love Gwyneth’s style — and Lupita! She’s been a star this award season. I can’t wait to see how her style evolves.

ST: Who’s your favourite designer for red carpet attire?
EW: Can’t say a favourite, but I’m obsessed with the fresh designers out there like Prabal Gurung, Peter Pilloto, and Mary Katrazou. But I also love the classics like McQueen, Gucci, and Armani Privé.

ST: Who is the most daring celebrity on the red carpet scene and do you like the risks she is taking?
EW: I’d say it’s definitely Cate Blanchette. You can tell she dresses for herself and herself only. She oozes confidence and grace like no one else; and she’s always wearing something spectacular.