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Holt Renfrew

9 Fashion Trends to Fall For

— Linda Luong Luck

The Urban Tea Merchant Pops Up at Holt Renfrew Yorkdale


Urban Tea Merchant Holt Renfrew Yorkdale Toronto

A preeminent tea brand finds a (temporary) home at the city’s foremost luxury department store. The Urban Tea Merchant exclusive Canadian distributor of the prestigious TWG Tea brand, has opened a pop-up boutique at the Yorkdale location of Holt Renfrew. The airy space carries a well-curated selection of beautifully packaged tea and accompanying accessories, such as hand-blown glass tea pots, fine bone china tea cups and saucers, tins, trays, creamers and sugar bowls. Knowledgeable “tea ambassadors” can provide expert advice and guidance for selecting from the dozens of varieties, such as jasmine, chai, green, black, Darjeeling and Earl Grey.  —Linda Luong

• Holt Renfrew, Yorkdale Shopping Centre, 3401 Dufferin St., 416-789-5377; holtrenfrew.com
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Where Loves: Holt Renfrew’s Holiday Window Display


photo: Holt Renfrew

The snowflakes may be yet to fall, but another seasonal signifier is on full display in Toronto: the high-end establishments of Bloor-Yorkville have unveiled their enchanting light displays and charming decorations. The neighbourhood is already bustling as holiday shoppers get a head start checking off their lists at some of the most desirable international retailers—from Hérmes to Roots—and luxurious local designer boutiques. Unsurprisingly, one of the strip’s most heavily trafficked locations is posh department store Holt Renfrew.

Celebrating its 175th anniversary this year, the venerable company is thoroughly contemporary, but also respectful of traditions. One such tradition? Its annual holiday window display. This year’s concept, thoroughly thought out and beautifully executed by the Holt Renfrew visual merchandising team, sprawls across seven wide panes of glass and features mannequins decked out in the season’s must-have fashions and accessories, skating on imaginary lakes and riding well-heeled horses. Tracy Peters, Holts’ senior manager of national visual merchandising, describes the windows’ theme, “Let it Snow,” as rekindling feelings of the first time you saw the fluffy white stuff. With hundreds of hand-cut snowflakes the display triggers a sense of whimsical winter nostalgia.

photo: Holt Renfrew

If you like what you see, the designs on display are of course available inside the multi-level store. Footwear can be a great gift for friends, family and even yourself—how about Burberry boot to keep your toes warm, or some Louboutin pumps to draw attention at the office Christmas party? Designer accessories like ties, handbags and fragrances are also timely buys. Or perhaps you’re partial to seasonal favourites like sweaters, toques, scarves and jackets. Whatever your pleasure, Holts is sure to satisfy.

In the spirit of the season, the store has also paired with Italian label Missoni to provide a charitable gift. Limited-edition Missoni-designed plush bears and elephants are now available at Holt Renfrew locations across Canada; proceeds from the sale of these beautiful stocking stuffers help support OrphanAid Africa.

Hot Shopping: In Conversation with Ela Co-Founder Martin Aldorsson

Ela co-founders (and husband and wife) Ela Kowalewska and Martin Aldorsson. Photo: Adam Moco.

Functional and fashionable, the new ela MILCK handbags are must-have accessories for the season.

MILCK—money, identification, lipstick, cellphone and keys—is an acronym for the essentials that every woman needs for a night out. Designed by ela power couple Ela Kowalewska and Martin Aldorsson, MILCK clutches are available in 12 different colours in suede and leather varieties including a tan, studded-leather clutch that is exclusive to Holt Renfrew.

Where sat down with ela co-founder Martin Aldorsson to talk about the new MILCK handbags and the future of ela.

Where: Tell me about where the idea for ela came from.

Aldorsson: We have been in the industry for a while. Ela was working PR for Hermes. She always had a calling for designing. She made all of these these sketches and was actually able to meet with Jimmy Choo. And he saw her sketches and they started talking. (more…)

Hot Shopping: Holt Renfrew Marks 175 Years

Christian Louboutin slingbacks for Holt Renfrew

How does the country’s über department store, Holt Renfrew, commemorate its 175th anniversary? With celebrity designers and a slew of exclusive products, of course. From coast to coast this month, Holts hosts the likes of jeweller Temple St. Clair at its Montreal location and womenswear designer Nanette Lepore in Calgary. Sir Elton John and David Furnish make a special appearance on September 8 to launch a limited edition scented candle ($50) that benefits the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Other partnership products to celebrate the milestone include  a pair of Manolo pumps ($595) in Holt Renfrew’s signature magenta, an Alice + Olivia Victoria peplum dress ($275), a black tuxedo blazer by Smythe with embroidered Holt Renfrew detailing ($650), and Christian Louboutin peep-toe platform slingbacks ($1,295).

Hot Shopping: Navigate Toronto Malls During the Holiday Rush

Malls like the Toronto Eaton Centre go all out for the holiday season (photo by Rasheed Clarke)

Have you finished your holiday shopping yet? We know, finding gifts for everyone
on your list can be a daunting task. If you’re inclined to get all your shopping done in
one shot, the city’s premier malls and department stores offer multiple ways
to ease the experience.

Downtown’s largest shopping centre has cranked up its seasonal cheer with oversized snowflakes and giant silvery reindeer sculptures. The crowning gem is the Swarovski Christmas Wish Tree alight with more than 44,000 Swarovski crystal ornaments. In sight of this monolith, children can register to create their own holiday ornaments. Santa’s out in full force, too: bring your child to hear Saint Nick read a story, or schedule a 10-minute at-home Skype session with the jolly old man. Gift wrapping is available for a $5 donation benefitting the Children’s Wish Foundation. And when all your gifts are safely boxed and bagged, why not view the nearby Church of the Holy Trinity’s production of The Christmas Story? iPhone users can download the Toronto Eaton Centre’s mobile app to streamline their shopping experience.

Holiday stress often begins with packed mall parking lots. Yorkdale offers a remedy. The only shopping centre in the GTA to offer a mobile app for parking, which offers updates on your best parking bets every 15 minutes, plus streaming video of the mall’s upper deck lot. Yorkdale’s parking entrances are even equipped with electronic tabulators that note the number of spaces available, and valet parking is complimentary for MasterCard World cardholders. If you prefer public transit, visit with your TTC Family Day Pass and receive a $10 gift card when you spend $50 or more in the mall. Other bonuses include a complimentary coat check, Santa sightings, and a gift-wrap service.


Hot Shopping: Toms Soles for the Soul

Retail therapy feels twice as good with every purchase of Toms shoes. Not only are you adding a pair of comfy sneakers to your wardrobe; you’re also helping a child in need. Through the company’s One for One program, every pair purchased results in another being donated to a kid in a developing country. Now child stars-turned-tastemakers Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have lent their names to a special collaboration dubbed The Row, blending the classic Toms silhouette with materials such as Italian-sourced wool and cashmere; pick up a pair at Holt Renfrew.

30 Things We Love About Toronto This June

3. The Art Gallery of Ontario, complete with Henry Moore sculptures (photo by Roger Yip)

1. The soulful voice of Aretha Franklin, who opens the TD Toronto Jazz Festival with a free concert on June 24.

2. Donning red and white to cheer on the Toronto FC.

3. Admiring the collection of Henry Moore sculptures housed at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

4. Sipping a cappuccino from White Squirrel Coffee Shop while seeking its namesake critters in adjacent Trinity-Bellwoods Park.

5. Practicing your swing at Polson Pier’s lakeside driving range.

10. Toronto's skyline

6. Receiving a boisterous greeting from servers and chefs upon entering Japanese izakaya Guu.

7. Examining industrial-landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky’s latest exhibit about the oil business at the Royal Ontario Museum.

8. Strolling the pedestrian-friendly outdoor retail complex Shops at Don Mills.

9. The fervor of the “scramble” at Yonge and Dundas, where you can cross the street in any direction.

10. Taking the ferry to the Toronto Islands and looking back at the impressive skyline.

13. The Rex

11. Perusing refined Scandinavian design at Mjölk.

12. Admiring the cavernous grandeur of Union Station (65 Front St. W.).

13. Winding down the week with the live jazz and laid-back vibe at The Rex.

14. Walking beneath architectural artist Philip Beesley’s Sargasso installation, featured in Brookfield Place during Luminato.

15. The sense of otherworldliness in Sarah Anne Johnson’s Arctic Wonderland photos, displayed at Stephen Bulger Gallery.

19. Buca

16. Queuing for the $5.99 lunch specials at Sushi on Bloor—it’s worth the wait.

17. TV’s Rachel and Finn—a.k.a. Lea Michelle and Cory Monteith—belting it out on stage for Glee Live! In Concert!

18. Working up the courage to step onto the CN Tower’s glass floor, then looking down at the street 342 metres below.

19. Crunching on crispy pigs’ ears within Buca’s reclaimed industrial space.

20. Centering yourself at a drop-in yoga class at the Evergreen Brick Works.

24. Stillwater Spa

21. Finishing off a meal at The Gabardine with a burnt marshmallow ice cream sandwich.

22. Ordering creative cocktails and shareable snacks at Origin.

23. Admiring the elaborately designed merchandise windows at posh Holt Renfrew.

24. Getting pampered with a deep blue Tahitian massage at Stillwater Spa.

25. Picking up a new pair of flip-flops or sandals at always on-trend  shoe store Get Outside.

26. The Drake General Store

26. Quirky items from the Drake General Store to bring back home to your family and friends.

27. Tucking into tacos el pastor and a bowl of guacamole at Mexican stalwart El Trompo.

28. Coveting the volume of tomes at The Cookbook Store.

29. Scouring the rows of kitchenware at Chinatown’s Tap Phong Trading Company (360 Spadina Ave., 416-977-6364).

30. A stroll through the ravines of the Don Valley—you might glimpse a white-tailed deer by the river.

Yours to Discover: Day Six

Winter’s on its way out; it’s time to get a head start on exploring. Guide yourself with our specialized itineraries, or contact one of Toronto’s many tour operators to delve deeper into this multifaceted metropolis. And don’t forget to check out previous Yours to Discover posts, here: Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four.

Harry Rosen

Get kitted out and catwalk-ready in Toronto’s most fashion-forward locales.

CANUCK COUTURE The touring fashionista’s must-visit strip, Bloor Street West, between Yonge Street and Avenue Road, is home to a bevy of Canadian-owned retailers with global cachet, including Holt Renfrew—Toronto’s answer to Saks Fifth Avenue—fine menswear mecca Harry Rosen, and distinguished beaver-emblazoned brand Roots.

INTERNATIONAL ICONS Bloor Street also showcases standalone shops representing world-famous fashion houses, including French favourites Chanel, Hermès and Louis Vuitton, Italian labels like Gucci and Prada, as well as German stalwart Hugo Boss. Be sure to accessorize your new ensemble with baubles from Birks, Cartier or Tiffany & Co.


SINGULAR STYLE Moving north from Bloor into tony Yorkville ensures encounters with boutiques offering personalized service and unique, on-trend attire. Ladies are encouraged to try 119 Corbo, Eleven, Hugo Nicholson and the Pink Tartan store Seventy-Seven. Finery for fellows is found at Nicolas Men and Anti-Hero, among others.

INDEPENDENT SPIRIT On Queen Street, west of Bathurst, you’re sure to make a contemporary fashion “find.” For women, Robber is one of many inspired indie shops that curate new looks by emerging and established designers from Canada and abroad, while Preloved offers more relaxed garments made from reclaimed fabrics. Modish men stride into Green Shag for bespoke shirts and suits, and attention-grabbing stores like Ruins, which stock exclusive labels in gallery-like settings.

The professional image consultants of The Refinery offer a variety of weekly shopping tours that take you to chic boutiques throughout the city.

Hot Shopping: Visit Vaughan Mills

Did you forget anyone on your holiday gift list? Make up for the oversight by heading to Vaughan Mills.
A short drive north of Toronto, this huge shopping centre offers a little something for everyone, with more than 250 retailers—from Holt Renfrew’s “last call” high-fashion outlet to Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. Aside from exercising your purchasing power, it’s easy to stay entertained at the on-site bowling alley and go-kart track. And when hunger strikes, there’s an assortment of food court favourites plus such restaurants as The Pickle Barrel for family-friendly dining and Szechuan Szechuan for pan-Asian fare.

Hot Shops: Bloor-Yorkville’s Local Spirit

NOVEMBER 20 TO JANUARY 1 The posh Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood is certain to sparkle this winter season, as its annual Holiday Magic event illuminates the locale with thousands of lights and a spectacular 30-foot Christmas tree. By day, stroll the streets and admire seasonal displays created by numerous stores, including Holt Renfrew and Harry Rosen on Bloor Street and The Guild Shop on Cumberland Street. But don’t just window shop—select Bloor-Yorkville businesses are offering discounts on everything from designer apparel to spa treatments all month long.

Shop the World in Toronto

The globe’s most coveted brands—and our own national favourites—are readily available right here in YYZ. Click any of the slideshow images below to view Where Toronto‘s favourite international items for the holiday season.

Styled images with colour backgrounds photographed by Luis Albuquerque. Off-figure styling by Daniel Onori/Plutino Group.