Articles Tagged ‘Shopping’

SHOP TALK: Holts out, J.Crew in as downtown shopping scene continues to evolve

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

Coveted handbags are a big draw at Holt Renfrew.

Coveted handbags are a big draw at Holt Renfrew.

Shopaholics were aghast at the news that high-end retailer Holt Renfrew would close its Ottawa location in early 2015. And while it’s always been one of those “aspirational” destinations, here at SHOP TALK we were pretty bummed. If shopping can be compared to art, then a visit to Holts was akin to stepping into the National Gallery — it wasn’t so much about filling gaps in our wardrobe as it was about stimulating our fashion senses. And for that, Holts will surely be missed.

That, and the stellar work they did with their window displays! I don’t know who is going into that retail space, but it’s safe to say that corner of Queen Street will never be the same.

From J. Crew's Spring/Summer 2015 ready to wear collection

From J. Crew’s Spring/Summer 2015 ready to wear collection

We reached out to our contacts at Holt Renfrew — ICYMI, Prada pumps featured in our September 2013 issue — and learned that the Sparks Street store that housed Holt Renfrew for 78 years was actually too small to accommodate it long-term. And so we say adieu to Holt Renfrew…

And allo! to J. Crew. One week later, On September 3, J. Crew opened its doors in the Rideau Centre. SHOP TALK attended the breakfast opening and got a better understanding of the brand we’ve heard so much about. And though it’s doubtful we’ll ever get to shop the pieces from that J.Crew showed earlier this week at New York Fashion Week, or even from it’s beautiful ready to wear collection (see left) we were excited to see the diversity of offerings — I had seen it as a preppy brand (no objections there!) but was happy to see some more casual pieces as well.

Sarah Fischer, who has shopped J. Crew before in the U.S., was excited about the fun prints. The Tick Tock blouse, which we spotted on a few staff, spoke to her love of classic pieces — that don’t take themselves too seriously!

Love this blazer!

Love this blazer!

And we loved this blazer — good to see camel staying strong for fall, it’s such a versatile and classic colour.




SHOP TALK: ByWard Market gets a boost with the opening of two hip stores

This week, SHOP TALK welcomes guest blogger Ashleigh VanHouten. Ashleigh is a freelance writer and editor, as well as the force behind lifestyle magazine, milieu.
Drake General Store.

Drake General Store.

Beautiful, bustling, and full of eclectic local shops, the ByWard Market also has the reputations among locals as a bit of a tourist trap. We get it — it’s easy to ignore some of the more charming offerings in the area when you’re stuck behind the crowds at the Beaver Tails stand. But two new boutiques opened recently that will give visitors and locals alike a reason to revisit the area.

Canadiana items like this blanket are sold at Drake General Store.

Canadiana items like this blanket are sold at Drake General Store.

The Opening: Drake General Store
The first non-Toronto outpost of the uber-Canadian Drake General Store is located in the back of the main floor of Hudson’s Bay. It’s a big, beautiful space, chock-full of Canadiana finds from lifestyle brands like Arborist, Held In Common, and Malin & Goetz. The shop has that hipster-welcoming mix of high-end modern and rustic-chic design, and its offerings reflect the same tongue-in-cheek style: baconaise, maple-scented candles, and novelty mugs sit alongside luxury skincare and high-end sweatshirts. Tourists can pack bags full of Ottawa-themed t-shirts, gourmet Drake-branded granola, and toffees, while locals will find great gifts in handmade jewelry, coffee table books, and cocktail accoutrement.

The Backstory: The original Drake General Store opened in 2008 as a gift shop in Toronto’s hip Drake Hotel. Founders Joyce Lo and Carlo Colacci began collaborating with the Bay after selling the retailer their now-popular Caribou throws featuring the iconic Hudson Bay stripes, and the Ottawa shop is their second retail space in the Canadian department store (they’re also in the Bay’s Yonge Street location). 

Isabelle on Dalhousie sells

Isabelle on Dalhousie sells

The Opening: Isabelle
At 238 Dalhousie St., in the former Wunderkammer space, visual artist and all-around renaissance woman Isabelle Gauvreau has opened a luxury women’s boutique featuring classic, feminine clothing and jewellery from Italian designer Sarah Pacini and French clothing outfit Saint James. She’s making the most of the small, cozy space, opening it up for an almost gallery-like feel with clean white walls and black highlights. Isabelle is decorated with Gauvreau’s own paintings; the gorgeous, textural pieces made with ink, charcoal, and gold leaf often explore the female form.

The Backstory: Gauvreau is excited to be in the ByWard Market, saying it’s where she likes to spend off time with her family and that she enjoys the eclectic mix of visitors. She’s confident that Ottawa is a good market for her decidedly European sense of style: “People in Ottawa are very international. They’re well-travelled. I’m excited to introduce even more people to these quality designers.” A personal stylist as well as an artist, Gauvreau hopes to introduce more young women to higher-quality clothing, as well.

Gauvreau says customer response has been wonderful so far, and hints at more to come: a German clothing brand next spring and more jewellery, as well as special events like wine tastings, charity jewelry sales and art shows starting this fall.


SHOP TALK: Etsy Roadtrip comes to LeBreton Flats

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

Photo courtesy FASHION Magazine.

Photo courtesy FASHION Magazine.

Cascais dress by Tangente. The local eco-friendly designer Tangente will be at the Etsy event on Monday, Aug. 4.

Cascais dress by Tangente. The local eco-friendly designer Tangente will be at the Etsy event on Monday, Aug. 4.


We’ve been hearing a lot about the revitalization of LeBreton Flats, but other than Bluesfest the area still seems like a bit of a dead zone. But what’s this … the Etsy Roadtrip is coming to town, and setting up shop at the Flats? And since we also hear that the online shopping site is planning world domination, perhaps the time has come for this storied part of the city to shine.

With The Merry Dairy, Streetside Curry, and Bridgehead on board, it’s certainly worth checking out. Another nod to the event is the involvement of Campy Home — that’s the new endeavour by Handmade Harvest co-founder Emily Arbour. Cute candles, nice packaging — seems like a good hostess gift for that next barbecue!

And there’s music! Kelly Sloan and the Claytones. We’re just getting wind of this event now, so not sure about the schedule of events, but it seems like a reason to take a bike through that part of the Ottawa River pathway.

Read more about the tour from our sister mag, FASHION.

Etsy Roadtrip pop-up shop. Monday, August 4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Lebreton Flats






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

ANNE’S PICKS: Gianduja at A Thing for Chocolate



Chocolate-hazelnut spread, otherwise known as gianduja , is made from scratch at A Thing for Chocolate. Photo by Anne DesBrisay.

Chocolate is having its day. Dark is best, and pure is super-best and a square (or three) of the dark pure stuff every day means you’ll live long and prosper. Or at least you’ll live what you’ll live but you’ll live it much happier.

There’s a new — to me — chocolate shop on Wellington West. I popped in to A Thing for Chocolate (such a clever name) for breakfast the other day. Had the bacon and egg made-to-order crepe, which was really very nice, though I’d have preferred it be served with fruit than greens (drizzled with what tasted like bottled balsamic), it being morning and all. But what really turned my crank was the stuff on the end of the spoon I was handed.

“Try this,” the charmer holding the handle said. The first taste was of rich, clean, creamy chocolate. And then the hazelnut hit me and my spirits instantly dropped, only to be lifted again once the purity of flavour sank in.

Generally speaking, I am not a fan of gianduja. Which does, I agree, make me a bit of a freak, but there you go. I like chocolate. I like hazelnuts, I just don’t like them together. Too many cheap gianduja fillings perhaps, with added sugar and emulsifiers and so forth, are to blame, but man oh man, I liked this stuff — really liked this stuff — which is, I believe, a tribute to its quality. It was so fresh, so pure, and so clean.

Chocolatier Omar Fares uses only quality organic hazelnuts and toasts them until they’re golden and fragrant. There’s a bit of cream in there, as well as chocolate and puréed nuts, so don’t forget to keep it in the fridge. Once mixed, the smooth brown goo is jarred with a fetching green rubber ringed lid. So you won’t get lost in the fridge. My jar has a small spoon imbedded in it. To facilitate the quest to live long and prosper.

Gianduja spread, $8.99; breakfast special $6.99

A Thing for Chocolate, 1626 Wellington St. W., 613-695-3533 


Looking for more ways to enjoy chocolate?



Click here to learn more about pairing chocolate with beer!

Learn about Dick’s triple-chocolate hand-dipped milkshake !



Find more OTTAWA MAGAZINE  chocolate listings here 


MOST WANTED: The Ottawa Fluevog

Photo by Luther Caverly

The Ottawa Fluevog. Photo by Luther Caverly

When celebrated Canadian shoe designer John Fluevog opens his first boutique in the national capital, one style is sure to sell out fast. The Ottawa shoe (above) is sensible and sophisticated, with an ankle strap and a short heel. Only 30 pairs will be made — and they’re available only in the new ByWard Market store at William and George streets. And to make the scramble just a little nuttier, that store opens its doors on Canada Day. Serious shoe lovers and city devotees, mark your calendars.

$270. 61 William St.


MY LOOK: Rosa Gan rocks a colourful vintage style

By Anastasia Philopoulos

Rosa Gan has been a telecommunications software engineer in Ottawa for almost 15 years now, and while her job sounds rather serious, what Rosa wears to work daily reflects a warm, fun, and fabulous lady — who adores vintage fashion. When not busy solving a techie problem or colour-coding scarves, Rosa posts her best outfits on her blog What is Rosa Wearing?

OTTAWA MAGAZINE reached out to the fashionable Rosa to learn more about her style, her love of ballet, and her colourful office attire.

Love the purse!

Love the purse!

OTTAWA MAG: Software engineer and fashion blogger, that’s an interesting combo. Any other passions we should know about?
ROSA GAN: I have been a dedicated adult ballet student for more than 12 years. I take classes and rehearse altogether 5 times a week (in the evening and on Saturdays) at Les Petits Ballets. And I have been performing on stage twice a year since 2004.  Every time I master a new movement, it is a new childhood dream coming true.

OM: Your style is very unique. How would you describe it?
RG: Retro.

OM: What kind of retro?
RG: I love the way 1950′s and 60′s vintage style wears — fitted upper body and waistline, big skirt, very feminine. The challenge is the condition of the materials. If possible, I prefer the vintage-style dresses made in the 21st century that have much better linings and zippers.

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MY LOOK: The Urban Element’s Payton Kennedy talks about her style — and her three closets

This story appears in the October edition of Ottawa Magazine, on newsstands now. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions.

Photo by Jessica Deeks; makeup by Jessica Tomas from The Loft.

Payton is wearing a customized vintage dress by Canadian label Daymor Couture, from Value Village, and an H&M ring. She was shot on location at Urban Element with Seascape by Michael Smith, courtesy of Gallery 3. Photo by Jessica Deeks; makeup by Jessica Tomas from The Loft.

You have a really unique style. How would you describe it?
Eclectic. It changes on a daily basis. I literally get up in the morning and say to myself, “How do I feel today?” and take it from there. It’s almost costumey; it can be hippie, dressy — and I love the ’70s. I have stuff that I bought in the ’90s and have worn recently — I never throw anything away.

Where do you keep it all?
I have three closets. My blazers, skirts, and pants are in my room, my jeans are in my son’s room, and my dresses are in my office. I thought about turning my office into a walk-in closet, but I still need to work. Someday!

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SHOP TALK: Five fashionable and functional finds for the back-to-school season

This story appears in the September edition of Ottawa Magazine, on newsstands now. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions.

Time to put away the flip-flops and summer dresses – September signals a return to elegance (but with a little whimsy thrown in for good measure). Photo: Dwayne Brown.

Trail Blazer
This classic cropped blazer adds a layer of propriety to office attire. Expert tailoring and a unique wool blend mean the Juliet jacket ($425) won’t crumple on long commutes — or hold you back when you’re working the room. Designed with the busy professional in mind by Canadian company Judith & Charles.
Judith & Charles, Rideau Centre, 50 Rideau St., 613-234-7042.

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MY LOOK: Restaurateur, shoe salesman, and “man about town” Stephen Flood waxes poetic about footwear

This story appears in the September edition of Ottawa Magazine, on newsstands now. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions.

By Matt Harrison

Stephen Flood is wearing a linen shirt from Harry Rosen, linen Matinique pants, a watch from Axcent, and CYDWOQ shoes. Photo: Scott Adamson.

As co-owner of The Black Tomato, you must be pretty busy. Why do you also sell shoes?
I really like [owners] Andre Schad and Chantal Biro-Schad, and when they opened Wolf & Zed, I wanted to help out. So I said to them: “I’ve got this crazy idea. I’d like to work on Saturday afternoons, and I’ll work strictly for shoes. You don’t have to pay me.” They thought it was a great idea — and why wouldn’t they? I don’t technically cost them anything. Instead, I get a discount on shoes.

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