Here’s the ultimate “rock concert” – if you like gorgeous gems and baubles, then this is the show for you.Big thank you to Salim Moorani, Founder of The Gem Expo, for inviting me to come out to the spring show which opened today at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on King W in Toronto – show runs tomorrow, Saturday Mar.17th 10am-6pm and Sunday Mar.18th 10am-5pm. www.thegemexpo.com Salim greeted me at the door along with his charming wife and daughter (below) and then let me wander the aisles, meeting up with vendors and gem ambassadors.I was pleased to run into the lovely folks from Sonatona Natural Gemstones & Minerals (below) who I met last year…they’re always ready with a smile and willing to share their extensive knowledge about their precious and semi-precious stones. www.stores.ebay.com/sonatona Lots of ready made jewellery as well as loose gems for crafters and home bead-makers…. One new vendor I was delighted to meet was Deb from Karibu Beads, featuring hand-made Kazuri Beads from Kenya. The story of these beads is fascinating so I encourage you to visit www.karibubeads.com to learn more. Here are just some of the gorgeous colourful beads I saw…. The Gem Expo also features some stunning glass work, too, including these giant “crystal balls” and some spooky stone skulls. Groovy, baby! How about some fossils? Check out these prehistoric shark teeth…yikes!Meet another new vendor, Ryan Desantos of Laya Skye Jewelry (below). He brings in handcrafted designs from Bali and I particularly liked the amazing “floating” rings that are all sterling silver with a rotating element so you can fiddle away and calm your nerves with them. One of them almost fit…I was soooo tempted. His new website is currently under construction but do check it out next month: www.LayaSkyeJewelry.com More fabulous bling…..what’s a girl to do?! Lots to see and buy so come on down this weekend – most vendors take credit cards and Debit cards/Interac, plus there are cash machines in the hotel.
Thanks to an invitation from event Founder SALIM MOORANI, I attended THE GEM EXPO at the Hyatt Hotel on King St West this afternoon and I was in sparkle heaven! All the vendors in the showroom proudly displayed their gemstones, jewellery designs, pearls, amber, even ancient fossils and meteorites as well as large geodes and crystal “forests”. I recommend you hurry on down tomorrow (Sunday Nov.12) and check out the stunning, glittery treasures yourself. Here’s Salim to tell you all about it himself….
The Gem Expo is a showcase for designers as well as suppliers of precious and semi-precious stones, silver or gold settings for those who create their own designs. I was astounded by the range of stones available and that several of the exhibitors had traveled from half-way around the world. There are 3 such shows each year and the next one is in March so if you miss this one, definitely come out to the next show. Here is just a small sample of what I saw (and added to my Santa wish-list!)… Look what I found at Crystal Palace (www.crystal-palaces.com) – below. All sorts of yummy amethyst chunks as well as some fossils and bigger geodes. And they were presenting jewellery-making classes behind the booth.I then visited Fossils Plus (below) showcasing cool treasures from millions of years ago, including giant sharks’ teeth!Kelly from Sacred Gemstone proudly showed off her supply of beautifully tumbled stones as well as her ready-to-wear designs (below). I love the vibrant blue of the lapis lazuli, one of my all-time favourite stones that originates in Afghanistan. www.sacredgemstone.com And now here’s Anna from AmberLink, who designs beautiful rich amber pieces with silver. Just check out that gorgeous necklace she’s wearing…wow! She also offers amber-lovers some vintage pieces that date back to pre-WWII…you can see the different quality and type of amber used back then (3rd pic, below) www.amberlink.comAnd here’s some more lapis lazuli for me, plus some pretty in pink stones that make me think of bacon (I don’t know why…LOL)
I was pleasantly surprised to find a Bali-based jeweller showcasing her designs at the show. Shankari incorporates fine gems, pearls, gold and silver into pieces designed for soul enrichment as well as fashion statement pieces – pendants, earrings, bracelets and cuffs – I was enchanted. Based in Bali, Indonesia, this is the first time these designs have been showcased in Canada and they hope to bring their luxury designs back again to an upcoming Gem Expo. www.Gempremium.com really knows how to stop a girl in her tracks! I took one look at these stunning South Seas pearls and I was in love. Manager Pascal told me about the sources for each type of pearl (I’ve always been partial to the black Tahitian ones) and quality levels. Just look at these lush baubles (below) and you can even pick your own pearls and have their on-site jeweller set them in one of their gold or silver settings (bottom pic)Gemologist Amanda Hamilton of Earthy Girl Designs had a wonderful array of necklaces, pendants, bracelets, earrings as well as a great selection of Arizona turquoise, something I really like myself. She doesn’t have a website but do watch for her at gem shows – she’ll be back for the March Gem Expo.Now here’s something I did not know….Ethiopia has been producing some of the world’s finest opals, rivaling the beauty of Australian opals (I’m an Aussie so I have to stay faithfull). Suzanne and Francois of Opalex from Quebec shared their knowledge of these new African opals, many of which have a rich golden firey colour. I really liked the unique strands of opal beads (bottom pic) – they were “delicious”! They don’t have a website either but watch for Opalex and the next Gem Expo. Dara Jane Loomis of Dara Jane Jewellery (Montreal) introduced me to some great statement pieces, including the bright green peridot necklaces (pics 2 & 3). I really liked the one with tiny tiger eye stones (3rd pic) and I’ve added that one to my Santa list (I’ve been a really good girl this year and I deserve it!) Looks like I started a small crush of shoppers with all my oo’ing and aah’ing! You can order your fave piece online at www.darajanejewellery.com Sonatona supplies great gemstones to designers and they certainly brought their A game to Gem Expo! Just look at this selection…wow! You can purchase via their eBay online store: www.stores.ebay.com/sonatona
Meet Shelley Sullivan of ShelleysStoneworks.etsy.com who I found busy working on another piece. Shelly is a “wire artist” (not high wire, tho…LOL) – see her delicate pendants below. Definitely a great Christmas present for that friend who loves fab jewellery. Now here’s something unexpected…hey all you rock-n-rollers, do I have a cool mascot for your band! Vicki of Inner Circle showcased her awesome skull carvings in various stones. If you can’t make it out to the show, she’s having an open house at her Toronto studio on Dec. 3rd so check out her website for details: www.shopinnercircle.ca Vicki also presented a number of sparkly amethyst geodes….OMG, I want one of those, too!Straight out of BC, here are the very unique “crystal forests” dug from the earth and presented in their raw form as well as hand-crafted in jewellery pieces. Check out www.forestcrystals.com for more info More sights from The GemExpo…. Salim told me about the show’s commitment to supporting local charities and this year, Feed it Forward, offering nutritious meals to the city’s homeless, will benefit from the silent auction which is located at the entrance to the showroom. All sorts of lovely jewellery is on offer (see a small selection below) so please check it out and place a bid. www.feeditforward.caFor more information about this show and upcoming 2018 shows visit www.TheGemExpo.com and I encourage you to drop in say hello to Salim at his brand new store, Hamsa Heaven, located at 1600 Gerrard St East. Tell him Glenda sent you! You can also purchase your gemstones at his other store, www.BlueSapphireBeads.com
Thank you to all the vendors who welcomed me to their booths!
I took my friend, artist Nancy Bennett, to Port Hope (my “spiritual home”) today where I introduced her to my fave cafe & bakery, bling store, boutiques and flower shop, ending with a quick visit to Primitive Designs on the outskirts of town where giant metal dinosaurs roam and a huge Transformer greets visitors. So come along for a virtual visit with us…… Driving into Port Hope, we made straight for the Ganaraska River (above) that rushed through the genteel little town where fat lazy Canada Geese waddled and wobbled leaving a rather unsightly trail of poo…oops, watch where you’re walking Nancy.Our first port of call, as always, was Queenie’s Bake Shop where today we enjoyed coffee, tea and sticky buns, courtesy of chef/owner Adam and his charming server (below) …then once we’d polished off all that, we popped next door to visit the super fabulous Kenneth Bell in his jewellery & accessories store. Kenneth supplies hundreds of boutiques across the country with their bling and baubles. He was already busy entertaining two other lovely ladies, Helene (below L) and Nancee (below R).What a warm welcome….and it just so happened that he was starting a 50-80% off sale so talk about perfect timing! Nancy and I dove right in and found some lovely sparklies… www.kennethbell.com Nancy found a great pair of sunglasses for her daughter on the rack of shades (below)… And I loved these stylish silk embroidered clutch purses (below) from the Far East with tiny tassels and charms.Bidding adieu to Ken, we then headed up Walton St to a relatively new boutique called Turquoise where we found multiple pretty pieces that would look good in our closets! www.Facebook.com/TurquoiseBoutiques Then into Flourish, another new shop…. www.flourishfashions.com….and Nancy’s eye was caught by a beautiful green lightweight top, perfect for wearing over a camisole or tank top. What do you think…should she buy it?Well, she did! A perfect top for an upcoming art expo where she knows she’ll get a tad chilly in her booth. Big thanks for her warm hospitality to owner Julie Pandoff (below) and congrats on such a lovely boutique. I then spied the sock rack…wow, these are too cool! …and I loved these two tunics (below) that could hide a multitude of my caloric sins…LOL!Past the flower shop, we trekked further up Walton St where I discovered yet another fab new store… ….Dwellissimo, a beautifully presented vintage furniture store that was a treasure trove of mid-century modern. Oh my, I was in heaven! www.dwellissimo.com I really really really want this red horse lamp. Hey, Santa, make note of this one, okay? You never brought me that pony I asked for when I was 6 so now’s the time to make up for that glaring omission.
As we wound down our Port Hope walkabout, Nancy and I popped into the Art Gallery of Northumberland shop on Queen St, and found these beautifully crafted works of art…. We enjoyed a quick late lunch at Jim’s Pizza but we were both too hungry to even think about a photo so we just gobbled it all up. But we both recommend Jim’s for a great Italian nosh! www.jimsporthope.ca
In between rain showers, we made it down to the lakefront beach…er, where’s the beach? Due to high water levels, the beach, the kid’s playground and picnic area were all complete submerged. Yikes!
One last drive thru town….….then off to visit Primitive Designs, a very strange, wonderful and fantastic series of barns, tents and outbuildings devoted to exotic imports. Located a little N.E. of town, you cannot miss this place – you’re greeted by a Transformer and a herd of huge metallic dinosaurs – yep, talk about eye-catching. Thank goodness this happy little Buddha watched over us as we left the car park…I was gettin’ scared!You gotta go visit in person to truly appreciate the weird, wild, wackiness of this place. www.primitivedesignscanada.com
So there we are, another trip to Port Hope done and dusted! If you would like to learn more about this friendly small town that offers big entertainment, sports, shopping and dining, you can visit their tourism office for more information and directions: www.visitporthope.ca and tell them Glenda sent you!
Last Sunday & Monday, Montreal-based jewellery designer, GLORIA BASS, welcomed celebrity visitors from the Canadian music industry and theatre, capping off her 2-day Christmas trunk show held in the heart of Toronto’s Yorkville village. She brought her unique designs made from 18kt gold and the finest precious stones and pearls to a special “pop-up” gallery, just in time for Christmas.
2016 Grammy-nominated Canadian flutist and composer RON KORB (above right) dropped in with his wife, Jade (above centre, with Gloria’s assistant Marie-Josée at left), to check out potential red carpet gems for next Spring’s awards season (Ron may be nominated again in 2017). Having been photographed by the world’s entertainment media when they walked this year’s Grammy red carpet in Los Angeles, Jade & Ron know the importance of wearing just the right accessories to make an impact and Gloria’s stunning, unique designs will definitely make an impression. Jade tried on some lovely freshwater pearls (above) and listened as Marie-Josée explained the handcrafting process of one particular white gold necklace featuring black Tahitian pearls, diamonds and rubies…wow!
Jade also loved the 18kt gold & diamond necklace (pictured with Gloria, below), part of a special line designed for Canada’s Remembrance Day programme in the form of poppies.A little later that same day artist, playwright and actor PHILIP CAIRNS (below) dropped in – Philip has recently been nominated for a Broadway World Theatre Award and was looking for something with which to make a splash at the upcoming ceremony. Marie-Josée showed Philip a number of pieces but he soon spotted a stunning Prasiolite & ruby pendant in 18kt gold that he thought would make a fabulous accessory to his awards tux…and it seems that Gloria thinks so, too! Several established clients of Gloria’s dropped into the pop-up store located on Yorkville’s Bellair St, and considering the number of sales, me thinkst Santa is gonna need a bigger sleigh this year!
Gloria would like to thank everyone who dropped into her Toronto trunk show and she looks forward to welcoming new clients via her online gallery. If you would like to see more of her beautiful designs and one-of-a-kind handcrafted works, please visit her website: www.gloriabassdesign.com
In the meantime, here are a few more sparkly gems to whet your appetite including my fave earrings (centre pic) featuring Tourmalines and Diamonds in 18kt gold, and the perfectly matched string of delicate pink “ombre” pearls (bottom).
On Sunday Nov. 27th, Montreal-based award-winning Canadian jewellery designer GLORIA BASS launched her 2-day Christmas trunk show at 24 Bellair St in Yorkville, Toronto, and oh my, what wonderful bright sparkly treasures she showcased! Like the stunning Labradorite necklace above, each piece is unique and hand-crafted by Gloria and her goldsmiths so if you’re looking for a little luxury for this year’s festive season (or any season!), please drop in today, Monday Nov. 28th, between 10am and 5pm to experience the ultimate in bling! Here’s just a little taste of what you’ll see……Gloria only uses the finest quality gemstones sourced from around the world and works in 18kt gold; she also works with exquisite pearls from the south seas, Tahiti and freshwater or cultured pearls from Japan. You can see more of her innovative designs on her website: www.gloriabassdesign.com She also works on commission, as well as custom bridal pieces.As you can probably tell, I’m a huge fan of pearls and Gloria has created a special “ombre”style design (below) with perfectly matched Tahitian and South Seas pearls….what do you think of these beauties?There are many different pieces featuring South Seas, cultured or fresh water pearls set with precious stones in 18kt gold from which to choose…
You simply MUST come in to see these treasures in person. You will not find Gloria Bass Design jewellery in any department stores so today is your last chance to view work from one of Canada’s leading designers. Again, 24 Bellair St, Yorkville (close to Bay & Bloor) from 10am until 5pm. Cash, credit card or debit.
Thanks to KJ Mullins, publisher of the web-based NEWZ4U.ca news portal, I was granted a media pass to explore the National Women’s Show today and wow, what a blast I had! Arriving just before the doors were open to the public, I was able to get a running start (I soon slowed to a plod as I got weighed down by samples and freebies) on the thousands of “civilian” attendees so sit back, relax, grab a cuppa joe and enjoy this virtual tour.
My first stop was the charming HRH Custom Creations booth where I met Amy and say her beautifully made metal signs and butterflies. www.hrhcustomcreations.comThen next up I was drawn into the Sweets Canada booth where Sam Dhutia and his pretty assistant let me sample some of their flower-infused artisan chocolate. Sam gave me a box of Q’bites with milk chocolate and black licorice and a deelish bar of Dark Chocolate/Cranberry with Lavender petals to bring home and I just had my first bite….OMG – yummm. Check out their range of edible flower & chocolate treats here: www.sweetscanada.com I love the Happy Bees Honey man (below) who was so pleased to sample his yummy treats. I caved in a bought a jar – I’ll probably christen it tomorrow on my breakfast toast. Based in Welland, Ontario, his busy winged workers feast on wildflowers so their products are naturally sweet and oh so good for you. www.happybeesapiary.ca Across the aisle, I found products courtesy of African “killer bees”! Yikes….the lip balm was actually quite lovely and they also offered great little stocking stuffers such as beeswax candles and mini honey jars (see below) www.africanbronzehoney.com I was intrigued by the Enright Cattle Co. booth (below) showcasing their fashionably rugged leather bags, totes and purses. The cattle farm based in Tweed uses the hides from their beef beasties and, as a meat-eater, I was all in favour of this company’s “use every part” philosophy. www.enrightcattlecompany.com I then met entrepreneur Eriver Muwanguzi who is introducing African jewellery and fashion designers to Toronto through his company, Tofara www.tofara.com He showed me unique handcrafted pieces from various countries and I was blown away by these statement pieces (below). I had some fun schmoozing with the “ladies in blue” – officers from the Peel Region Police Recruiting dept. Yes, I was tempted to sign on but I hardly think they’d want this grumpy old broad patrolling their precinct…LOLHave you ever visited the Ste. Anne’s Spa and Bakery? Just a short train ride or drive from Toronto, you can experience relaxation in the country with spa treatments, skin products and now a healthy gluten-free bakery. And if these jovial staff (below) are any indication, it’s a very happy place to visit. www.steannes.com Nice to see Veronica of www.iloveisola.com jewelry at the show – her handcrafted bracelets and necklaces use semi-precious stones and each has an energy or healing component.Unikati & Co. offers handcrafted toys, bags, jewellery and all sorts of lovely things, all made by people in areas of conflict, war survivors, rural families, hunger project workers…every piece has a story to tell from around the world. www.unikati.ca The lovely ladies of Lazizza explained their ultimate shapewear collection (move over, Spanx, these Canuck girls have got you beat!) to me and I may be calling on them soon so I can look fab during all the Christmas celebrations. Check them out yourself: www.lazizzashapewear.com Invocation (below) is a First Nations aromatherapy company offering home fragrance and perfumes made from natural organic or wildcrafted ingredients. The range of fragrances enhance your mood, increase energy or can relax and soothe. www.invocation.ca Here are a few random shots taken around the showroom…. Here’s something a little different but oh so comfortable, esp. if you’re built like moi! The Breast Rest garment replaces your typical underwire bra (ouch!) and makes hangin’ round the house really comfortable. The cotton lycra Comfort Support System is fully customizable to your body shape and is designed as a solution to the discomforts of the traditional bra. It has pillow-like support and revolutionary design which provides the comfort and support for which you have been yearning. www.thebreastrest.com
As soon as I saw the word “Australia” I knew I had to stop and find out more about the Rodan + Fields Anti-Aging products (below). I spoke with John and Bill (OMG, their faces were as smooth as a baby’s bum) and they kindly gave me a “personal pamper pack” filled with all sorts of potions, lotions, unctions and serums to try at home. The products are beautifully packaged and promise clinically proven skincare and anti-aging results. They are introducing the line to Australia next year so I’m emailing friends and family back home to watch out for it. Check out John and Bill’s website for details: www.holygrailforskin.com Now here’s something different – the Divorce Angels is a resource network for those going through the divorce process. Having had several friends go through the trauma of separating their families over the past 20yrs, I know how much they would have appreciated this support. www.thedivorceangels.com Pictured below left, Marni Sky is co-founder and she also featured a lovely collection of handcrafted empowerment bracelets created by a member of this unique support group.
As I was leaving, exhausted and hungry (I couldn’t even get near the food sampling booths due to huge crowds), I made one last stop at the Children of Hope Uganda booth. I so wanted the stunning purple and orange handwoven basket pictured below, but I settled for 2 cute pink bead elephant keychains and a pair of handmade bead earrings in the same colour as the basket. www.childrenofhopeuganda.org/shop I hope you enjoyed this brief overview of the National Women’s Show – and what a wonderful show it is this year. I spent over 3hrs there and still had more stuff to see, hear, watch. The show runs until Sunday night so hopefully you’ll consider a visit yourself over the weekend. Located in the South bldg of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, here’s the link to information and tickets: http://www.nationalwomenshow.com/en/toronto/visitor/
Several months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Montreal-based, award winning Canadian jewellery designer GLORIA BASS (pictured below R with her assistant Marie-Josee) who was hosting a special 2-day spring trunk show here in Toronto.Her sumptuous big statement necklaces, delicate stacking rings, ballsy bracelets and elegant pieces featuring stunning Tahitian pearls in a rainbow of natural colours captivated my imagination…..I wanted to play dress up: perhaps as a Maharani or a Tsarina, a princess or the queen of the south seas, perhaps? Oh, the feel of the cool gemstones and 18kt gold against my skin transported me to exotic lands as my imagination ran riot!
A glass of chilled champagne and shared laughter soon brought me back down to earth as Gloria told me about her design esthetic, her favourite materials and finest precious gemstones, and how she wanted to personally bring her glorious (no pun intended) jewels back to Toronto’s discerning fashion mavens. I’m thrilled to announce that we will have another opportunity to experience Gloria’s superb handcrafted designs this November 27 & 28 when she again hosts a special Christmas trunk show in a “pop-up” retail location in the heart of Yorkville.I asked Gloria if she would kindly share a little of her design philosophy and life story with my readers prior to the big Toronto event so scroll on down to meet Gloria Bass…What first inspired you to take up jewellery design – was your family involved in jewellery or fashion? No, my family was not in either the fashion or jewellery business but I always enjoyed working with my hands. When I was a teenager, I made my own clothes and did all the handicrafts – knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, etc. Early in my marriage, my husband and I spent two years in Southern California where I took a course in making jewellery. I went on to take private lessons for a short time and fell in love with it.What was the very first piece you created and sold? I can’t remember the first piece I created but I do remember the first sale at a gallery! Upon returning home to Canada, I set up a workshop in my house. When I had produced enough, I went to see someone at the Canadian Guild of Arts in Montreal and an exhibition was mounted for me. I remember coming in to the gallery the day before the show opened and was told that a gentleman had just purchased one of my bracelets. That was enough to send me flying……and then I found out that it was Peter Bronfman!
What are your favourite materials to work with – gold, platinum? And favourite gemstones? 18 karat yellow gold is my favourite material by a long shot! I love the rich colour and the metal responds the best to hand fabrication.My personal favourite gemstone is red! Rubies and red spinels. But I love all coloured stones – even though some are difficult to work with. Diamonds always add the final touch and lately, I work with a lot of different colour fancy diamonds.You use a lot of Tahitian pearls in your designs – do you think pearls have been given a bad rap (grannies love their pearls) and do you think young women should embrace them like diamonds and other precious stones? I most certainly do!!!! There are so many types and colours of pearls today. Pearls just light up a face and look good on everyone. I do so many different pieces with them – some very modern and cool!Do you have any favourite designers (current or historical) whose work you admire? I think the Cartier and Tiffany pieces from the Art Deco period are sensational. That type of craftsmanship is very rare today. I identify with Suzanne Belperron’s esthetic taste. I also like the work of the German house ‘Hemmerle’ as well as de Grisogono for what they do with colour.
You’re coming into Toronto at the end of November for a special 2-day “trunk show” in Yorkville – what new pieces are you creating especially for this show?I’m making an amazing pair of earrings using over 23 carats of sapphires ranging in colour from almost white to yellow to orange. Also, I have a fabulous ring with a 22 carat opal and a pavé of multi-colour stones, a ring with a labradorite scarab, and a lot of pieces with my signature “coil” work. And always….new additions to my endless stacking rings (pictured below)!!What trends (or colours) do you see for jewellery and accessories going into 2017? I don’t follow trends too closely although I think big pieces that make a statement are always on my radar. I will continue to make pieces that are wearable on a daily basis but just not mainstream. Any advice for young designers looking to go into the jewellery or gold-smithing business? It’s a tough world out there and there is more competition than ever now. If one has the passion and drive, one can succeed.
Thank you, Gloria. I encourage you to visit her website to see the beautiful, innovative designs that have become her signature www.gloriabassdesign.com In the interim, enjoy some of her outstanding work here….. Even men can wear pearls…as cufflinks (below)or opals, too!
GLORIA BASS DESIGN
Toronto Trunk Show
Sunday November 27th & Monday November 28th
10am to 5pm
24 Bellair St, Yorkville
A couple of months ago, I was pushing my cart up the aisles of my favourite supermarket and kept running into the same lady reaching for the same products. We both laughed “we gotta stop meeting like this…” then began trading nutrition recommendations and handy menu suggestions as we hit the fruit & veggie dept. together. She was delightful and had a wicked sparkle in her eyes. I had just met fashion powerhouse and stylist to some of Hollywood’s great old-school stars, FLO BARON. Flo and exchanged phone numbers and promised to meet for tea, and within the week I found myself sitting in her super glamourous Yorkville condo surrounded by artworks collected over many years and her elegant black and white furnishings. Very Busby Berkley, very Flo Baron! Flo not only loves styling women in fashions that compliment and enhance their body shapes, she also offers opportunities to purchased some pretty stunning designer lines from the States. She has an adjoining private “salon” and holds court each week with an exclusive group of clients, putting together their outfits, accessorizing and offering wardrobe tips.I asked Flo to share a little of her background and fashion career and she revealed some wonderful stories and anecdotes that I’d like to share with you here…..
Although her family wasn’t involved in the fashion industry, Flo Baron always knew she was destined for a life surrounded by beauty, design and creativity. As a young girl in Chicago, she dreamt of fabulous fashions and always appreciated the feel and look of fine fabrics. Flo won a scholarship to secretarial school where she excelled but fashion always beckoned, perhaps she would become a model. Her idol was Jinx Falkenburg (pictured below), one of the highest-paid cover-girl models in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s. In the early 50’s, Flo answered a newspaper ad from a modeling school who wanted someone to teach make-up, personal grooming and dress styling to women going into the corporate sector for the first time (yes, these were pre-Mad Men times). She landed the job and taught hundreds of young women how to present themselves in the most fashionable manner for their 9-5 jobs as well as cocktail parties.
Moving to California with her husband in the mid 50’s, Flo’s life took an exciting turn when she landed a job in the dress shop at the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel. She helped style Hollywood’s most glamorous stars of the day including dancer and movie star Cyd Charisse, Dorothy Lamour, Elizabeth Taylor and even Zsa Zsa Gabor who would frequently drop in and demand Flo bring her everything on the racks in her size! “Polly Bergen walked in one day wearing a full length mink coat. She put her arm around me, winked and whispered “I did it all by myself!” What a fabulous lady she was.”Some years later, after a brief stint as a production secretary on a popular TV show, Flo became intrigued by interior design and decorating. “I love anything with an artistic value, anything that was created by an idea in somebody’s mind.” So along with a friend, she soon launched a home accessories and bathroom design business. Flo loved intricate fixtures and bathroom furnishings so she soon had every garage mechanic in San Fernando Valley working with her to handcraft her metal bathroom, tabletop and furniture designs. After the successful debut of her line at a Los Angeles trade show, she opened her own factory, hiring a workforce of skilled craftspeople to produce her line which was sold in the US, Canada and internationally. After 40 successful years, Flo sold that business and in 2005, she moved to Toronto to be closer to her daughter.
Over the past ten years she has developed relationships with a number fashion designers from New York, California and Canada. Flo has brought back these lines with her to share with friends and personal styling clients. Due to her background in fashion, décor and design, Flo has developed a loyal following of clients who look to her for guidance with their clothing choices, as well as purchasing unique and affordable fashions that she personally curates for each client’s wardrobe. “I love helping women discover their true inner beauty and elegance by enhancing their appearance with clothing and accessories that are not only timeless but very affordable.”
When you visit Flo Baron’s style studio, you will enjoy a personalized wardrobe consultation, and get to try on various fashion pieces and accessories to enhance your own personal style. Whether you need something casual, a business outfit or an elegant ensemble for that swanky soiree, Flo can put together a head-to-toe look that will make you feel like a million dollars…but with a much more affordable price tag. She has also just launched a “young & chic” division catering to the younger fashion followers and coordinated by her assistant Michelle, seen below assisting another client. One of Flo’s clients is the Canadian actor, playwright and entrepreneur Nonni Griffin seen below getting the full Flo experience! If you want to learn more about this wonderful and talented woman of influence, please visit her website: www.flobaroncollection.com
Earlier this week, as Toronto sizzled and steamed, my friend Teresa and I played hooky and journeyed the 50 minutes east to the wonderful lakeside town of Port Hope (my fave small town in Ontario). Over the past couple of years, Port Hope and I have become good friends – the welcoming shopkeepers and cosy cafes, the historic restored Capitol Theatre, the stunning Municipal Building, the charming little beach and the tumbling Ganaraska River have all worked their magic on my soul.
As per usual, our first port of call was a visit to Kenneth Bell – the king of bling, the sultan of sparkle, my go-to guy for all things fabulous! I managed to get Teresa into a tiara, too, so we now have matching crowns!! Below, Teresa meets Kenneth for the first time…a match made in bling heaven! Follow Kenneth-Bell-Fashion-Accessories on Facebook. Next door to Kenneth’s shop is the always-awesome Queenie’s Bake Shop where we indulged in some deelish lunch sandwiches. Both Teresa and I were so brave – we resisted the incredible giant strudel and cookies on the front counter (sssh, don’t tell Teresa but I snuck home with a couple of their famous butter tarts). Follow Queenies Bake Shop on Facebook. A littler further up Walton Street we found Bubbles and Gems, another fab fashion house where Teresa found a cute skirt and I found these amazing cushions…something for everyone at 20% off! www.bubblesandgems.com We walked past Holton Flowers who always have fabulous arrangements in the windows…we went inside to find floral heaven!We dropped in quickly to G. Facey’s, another fave fashion store of mine, where Teresa found a few more additions to her wardrobe, then down to the new Joie de Vivre store (below) where Teresa found some sweetly fragranced body creams. The new store is twice as big as the previous location further up the street, and offers a lovely range of goodies for your face, body and mind. www.joiedevivrearomatherapy.com One of the new Walton Street shops we found (new to me, anyway) was the Marche 59 cafe and artisan bakery (below) offering organic breads, vegan and gluten-free tasty treats and all sorts of goodies from local producers. Must give ’em a try next time I’m in town. www.marche59.ca Time to head over to the beach so we made our way down Walton Street, past these beautiful hibiscus pots, along the riverbank to Teresa’s car parked near the Municipal offices…. …then over to the lake (Lake Ontario). Wow, what a lovely glimpse of the beach (below)We even saw a dad teaching his son how to fish…so cute!Thanks again, Port Hope, for your warm welcome – it always feels like coming home for me. See y’all again real soon.
The other day I received this invitation (below) via email and being located only a few blocks from my home, I decided to visit the pop-up shop in Yorkville and meet fine jewellery designer Gloria Bass. I’m sooooo glad I did!Just extended for one more day, the pop-up is located on the West side of Bellair just past Sassafraz, in the Ritchie Estate Jewellery store at #24, the walls are lined with display cases filled with Gloria’s exquisite jewellery. My photographs don’t do the “wearable art” justice so I borrowed a couple of shots from her website (linked at end of story) – I encourage you to visit online for descriptions of each unique piece, handcrafted with the finest gems and metals (18ct gold) and South Sea pearls of varying sizes and colours. Gloria’s signature filigree gold wire accents and clasps are intricately woven into each piece. For over forty years, Ms. Bass has channeled her passion for design and her skills as a goldsmith, to steadily build the reputation of Gloria Bass Design. As the soul of the company, her sensibility can be found in every Gloria Bass Design creation.Based in Montreal, Gloria (above Right, with her charming assistant Marie-Josee, above Left) and her team of highly skilled assistants and craftsmen continue to serve an international clientele. The pieces of jewelry produced in her workshop are the outcome of her curiosity, creative talent and thought. They evoke sensuality and elegance. The unique Gloria Bass Design style is easily recognized in each stunningly beautiful and quality-made piece of jewelry. The world’s most voluptuous pearls and breathtaking gems are combined with distinctive goldsmithing techniques to become wearable, and at the same time, extremely comfortable pieces of art. Insistence on precision and detail, and the use of the finest materials, ensures superior quality.The exhibition and sale has been so popular that Gloria is extending the pop-up for another day (Monday May 16) before returning to Montreal, so if you’re in Toronto, please make sure you drop in anytime tomorrow between 10am and 7pm to see the magnificent statement necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings and men’s cufflinks. 24 Bellair in Yorkville….and be sure to tell Gloria and Marie-Josee I sent you. www.gloriabassdesign.com/