Sometimes the smallest gifts are the most memorable. They may not be items you thought you wanted, but those little gestures often reveal just how well a person knows you. After years of exchanging impressively high-priced gifts, RLB and I decided to treat each other to fun, little things. My birthday gift last year was a copy of the 1960 musical, Bells Are Ringing, starring Dean Martin and Judy Holliday. Seeing 1960s New York made for one perfect birthday. Plus, knowing how to select a classic movie from my favourite era is much more impressive than paying for designer denim. 

On an ordinary school day last year, one of my teacher's reminded me that he had photocopied an article that I might be interested in reading. I figured it would be a designer profile, or a feature on a Canadian magazine editor. After class I collected the required reading for the week, along with the extra article. It was Gay Talese's "VOGUEland." Published in 1961, the article took readers inside the Conde Nast office. Before The Devil Wears Prada, there was "VOGUEland." As I read about the "suave and wrinkle-proof women who call one another 'dear' and 'dahling'" I smiled at this unexpected treat. I was extremely grateful, and pleasantly surprised. 

Both instances may have been results of quick decisions. It's no secret that I read fashion magazines and enjoy old movies. But these two moments reminded me that small gifts can be the most surprising. Maybe such gestures do reflect how well a person knows you, but they're also a reminder of what you've chosen to reveal.

Love/Leave Oct 2010

To celebrate ELLE's 25th birthday, the mag has put out multiple covers of both their US and British versions. On the American covers, the faces change but the rest remains similar. The British versions feature different looks, sets and styles of photography. This ELLE UK cover stars Canadian model Coco Rocha.
LOVE: Coco's bombshell look - complete with leopard print, cleavage and tousled blond locks - may be a little obvious and extremely  overdone (file under LEAVE), but at least the entire shot tells the story of this vintage vixen. The set design makes this cover much more attractive than others I've seen in recent months, which have featured a similarly styled model posed against a stark white background.

LOVE: Since I haven't decided whether or not I'm a fan of Carey Mulligan (her movies or her style), I'm immediately intrigued by this cover. The story alone draws me in because I'd like to learn more about her. I think that her natural hair and makeup was the right choice because the story is about getting to know her, and an overly styled look may have left her unrecognizable to those who are fans of her earlier work.
LEAVE: The outfit. When I first saw this cover I immediately thought about how pretty she looks. Then her outfit left me a little confused. For someone who has already had some lovely red carpet moments, I think they could have had a little more fun. Plus, her hair looks as if it has movement, yet the clothing looks completely stiff and heavy.

LOVE: Yes, it's time again for yet another Drew Barrymore cover. She's been everywhere lately and I'm still a fan. She experimented with retro glam looks while promoting Grey Gardens, but I think this '70s inspired cover and spread really suit her. Also, the lighting here reminds me of Ashley Olsen's recent FASHION cover. It's warm, inviting and calling my name. 
LEAVE: When the cover star looks this good, who reads cover lines? Of course I do. But even Drew's shiny hair couldn't stop me from cringing at the sight of 'Fabulous at Every Age.' I know that some of the best cover lines are recycled over and over, but I've seen this one so many times that the words have become meaningless.

Who wins this round? I'd reach for Harper's Bazaar. How about you?


First Day

People keep asking me if I miss school. I don't. Or they ask if working full time feels like work yet. It is work. I suppose it feels like work. But that doesn't mean it's all part of an awful routine. Today is my sister's first day back at school. I'm happy for her. I hope she's stimulated today, inspired even, and if all goes well I hope her lectures are interesting enough to make getting through another year of university a little easier. I think the first day back is always about hope. You see, UofT will always be in the back of my mind, and I like it there. It's hard to escape. Most of the time I'm walking past campus or through it. At a recent film festival party, I could see UofT from the bar. I remember meeting friends there, finding love there and learning my way around downtown. I remember strolling from class to class with the hope that someday I'd be able to write more than an essay on the history of the English language. Someday I'd find a place that would bring together how I'm feeling and what I'm experiencing. I know what it's like to go from lecture to lecture and wonder what it will all add up to. But I've always known that I wanted to write for a publication that inspires people. Sometimes I have trouble explaining what I see when I look at a magazine, but Sally Singer has done it so well. 

"If all goes well, the magazine I edit will feel emotional. It should feel like a friend or an enemy or an aggravating presence or the most wonderful thing you've ever had. Magazines, when they work, are emotional vehicles. They drive you to places you just didn't know you were going to go on the day you picked them up. And if they don't, they're not working at all."-- Sally Singer, EiC of the New York Times' T Magazine, in an interview with Paper


The Boards

There's a long list of assumptions that can be made about people who consider themselves fans or followers of fashion. I've always thought that one example is that people who love fashion are always on the lookout for new sources of inspiration. Where does there inspiration come from? Oh, the possibilities are endless. But where does it go? One likely spot is the board. Call it a mood board, inspiration board or bulletin board but I've always had one and have taken pride in the collages I've created. 

In high school, my board was a combination of party invites and pop culture. In other words, the mix often included a picture of Britney Spears in something short and sparkly. "Crazy" and "Stronger" were in heavy rotation since I struggled between being lovesick and what I hoped came across as being fiercely independent. Ripped pages from Seventeen and CosmoGIRL! about not needing a boyfriend, being the single friend in a group of attached girls and how to exude confidence also made appearances on that teenage board. 

Though the images I posted always revolved around the young woman I wanted to become, they didn't always focus on fashion. Throughout my university years the board became filled with travel images and increasingly artful photography. I had taken the leap from suburb to city, and hoped to broaden my view of the world. 

These days the board continues to mix tears from all of the different magazines I'm reading. From fitness to fashion, close shots to wide ones and brightly coloured to monochromatic pictures, I arrange what inspires me as I please. Sometimes there are ads, heds or entire articles. Sometimes there are models, starlets or athletes.

Sure, there are two boards in my room (one that frequently changes, one that is a little more permanent), but those can only express a few of the ideas that influence me each day. There are certain things that I'll always be tied to - but here's what's up right now:

The Standard One:
-2010 Calendar of 1960s fashion photography
-An Italian Breakfast at Tiffany's postcard (Colazione da Tiffany) purchased on the Danforth
-Pictures of my cousins and I
-My number from my first 10k race
-An Italian bracelet I purchased on my Siena study abroad trip
-A birthday card from my sister
-A card sent by RB when she lived in Manhattan

The Ever-Changing One:
-Gwyneth Paltrow surrounded by books from Vogue
-A Michael Kors a, posted for it's camel clothes and burnt orange accessories
-Black & white photo of Alexa Chung from L'Officiel
-Black & white photo of Catherine Deneuve reading from FASHION
-Beauty shot (strong brows) from FLARE
-Fashion shot (all in black, leopard print shoes) from FLARE
-An Asics ad to remind me to keep running
-A dancer at the barre from Women's Health to remind me of the years I spent in dance class