2/14/12

To Capture a Moment


Within the pristine white walls of Toronto's TIFF Bell Lightbox, fashion-lovers, royal followers and film fans alike were brought together by the recent exhibit, Grace Kelly: From Movie Star to Princess. Though patrons shuffled between her handwritten notes, scripts and most memorable pieces from the Dial M for Murder actress' wardrobe, no item encased in glass could match the experience of seeing them brought to life on screen. 

Audiences became infatuated with Grace Kelly, the movie star because of her beauty and reserved charm. While walking through the portion of the exhibit dedicated to Kelly's Hollywood years, movie posters and iconic outfits were on display. But for evidence of the personality that intrigued generations, you purchased the wrong tickets. The tribute to her short film career soon led to displays of the clothes which marked her transition to royalty, from the floral dress she wore to meet Prince Rainier for the first time, to a replica of her wedding gown. For more of the personality that first caught Hollywood's attention, a screening of To Catch a Thief was the perfect accompaniment.

Alfred Hitchcock's 1955 mystery was one of the first movies to romanticize the French Riviera. To see it is an indulgent experience in which the beauty of the setting is layered with glamorous leads (Kelly and Cary Grant) and luxurious costumes by Edith Head. Kelly plays Frances, a restless American heiress who romances reformed criminal John Robie. She's sure of herself and of getting what she wants but bares none of the petulant attitude she has playing rich girl Tracy Lord in her final film, High Society. As she moves through scenes in looks by the legendary costume designer, her over-the-top accessories also communicate the character's love of attention. When she isn't wearing jewels, a wide-brimmed hat will suffice. The solid blues and whites in her wardrobe reiterate her cool demeanor to the audience. Just as costumes were used to convey Frances' identity, so to was the camera. Hitchcock frequently used profile shots of the actress to highlight her refined, icy quality, which were then juxtaposed with her character's aggressive pursuit of John Robie. Aside from the film's aesthetics, the audible gasps from the audience made it clear that Hitchcock's mystery is still a thrill to unravel.

2/5/12

Travel: Hours in New York

There's no feeling quite like getting on a plane without luggage. Along with the thrill of exploring a city, boarding without bags leaves you free to begin the adventure as soon as you land. It also makes for a fuss-free trip when you plan to travel to and from New York in one day. Make the most of those few, indulgent hours with a list of stops that will inspire.

GOOD MORNING, MANHATTAN
Get the day started with a creamy cappuccino and chocolate croissant at Sant Ambroeus (259 West 4th St.). The cozy room is decorated in traditional style with plush banquettes for friends looking to linger, and high marble bar for those interested in downing an espresso, glancing at the headlines and dashing out the door. A less formal location than the Upper East Side original, the West Village outpost also offers a full menu including brunch, fresh panini and their house-made gelati. 

HOUSE OF PAGES
Top up the inspiration that exists in the architecture and store windows around you with a stop into Casa Magazines (22 8th Ave.). This tiny corner shop is filled with floor to ceiling magazines ranging from popular consumer titles to obscure periodicals from all over the world. Don't let this magazine-lover's heaven overwhelm you, the helpful owner is always willing to locate (or order in) whatever it is you're looking for. (Note: After debating, I left with British Vogue and Italian Glamour)


TASTE TEST
Cross the cobblestones and head toward Chelsea Market (75 9th Ave.), to browse and sample treats from a variety of vendors and restaurants. Each stop along the concourse showcases specialists in their product, whether it is cupcakes, lobster or nuts and spices. The One Lucky Duck booth is filled with juices and snacks for raw food eaters, while L'Arte del Gelato tempts shoppers with typical choices like nocciola alongside intriguing flavours like olive oil. The Food Network offices are upstairs, so keep your eyes peeled for Bobby Flay. 

A VIEW FROM THE TOP
Elevated above the city's West Side is the High Line (runs from Gansevoort St. to West 30th St.), a public park built on a former freight train track. Steps from the busy streets, the High Line is an ideal place to stroll, read or catch some sun without ever leaving the city. 


BY DESIGN
No matter how you define your style, the shops lining the streets of Manhattan's Meatpacking District are sure to please. Head to British brand AllSaints (411 West 13th St.) for deconstructed knits or leather. Craving colour? The Diane von Furstenberg (875 Washington St.) flagship has got you covered. With the clock ticking, window shopping may be all you have time for before lunch!


NY-LICIOUS
If you've chosen New York's Restaurant Week over Toronto's Winterlicious, try lunch at Fig & Olive (420 West 13th St.). The restaurant's streamlined design contrasts its industrial surroundings in the Meatpacking District, and the casual atmosphere makes it a fitting stop for lunch with friends or even a client. It comes as no surprise that at a restaurant that also sells a wide variety of olive oil, the meal begins with a tasting of oils from Portugal, Italy and Chile. After a delicious bouillabaisse with sole, scallop and striped bass, chocolate pot de creme makes the whole experience even sweeter. Though taking time to savour lunch is highly recommended, don't forget you've got a plane to catch.