Skip to content

Review: Janet Jackson sparks a rush of nostalgia

Published in the Vancouver Sun August 26, 2011. 


When you’ve got 34 number one songs to your name, you’re allowed to celebrate any way you want.

As the title of Janet Jackson’s current Number Ones: Up Close & Personal tour suggested, the 45-year-old R&B pop star chose to look back at her fertile career with a wine-and-sweatpants type of affair rather than an elaborate princess party. The iconic artist, born Janet Damita Jo Jackson, reveled in retrospective glory simply by hanging out with her closest fans in Vancouver’s living room. All that was missing was a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Jackson, often singularly known as Janet, brought her hits and her swagger to Queen Elizabeth Theatre Friday night, but it was an experience decidedly different than any of her standard live show spectacles. Janet could’ve easily swept us away with opulence, going the route with flying dancers and blazing fireworks, exotic stage setups and sexy costumes. Instead the Gary, Indiana-born songstress opted to put herself in the spotlight first and foremost.

Janet’s intention for the tour was to unplug. She wanted to perform in intimate settings for every stop on her largest international jaunt ever and stoke the embers of nostalgia. And overall, it was probably a smart move.

Continue reading at

8 Stylish Workout Accessories

From Colorful Headbands to Snazzy Sunglasses, Workout Extras Can be Fashionable and Functional

Published August 23, 2011 on 

Bringing style to the gym may seem as futile as doing wall squats while chowing down on a cheeseburger. After all, your mascara just ends up in the rivers of sweat that crisscross your face, and anything you wear ends up smelling worse than a hockey goalie’s gear.

Many women tend to turn a blind eye toward their appearance before exercising, and rightfully so. But looking good while pumping iron actually has its advantages. According to Carolyn Williams, owner of The Bar Method workout studio in Vancouver, stylish workout accessories can actually aid your training.

“We often see, as people lose weight, that they start caring more about what they wear to class, and in turn, they actually start working harder,” said Williams, who also works as an instructor at her studio. “Also, if you feel confident in what you are wearing while you are working out, you will have the tendency to look at yourself more during your workout, which we encourage. This forces you to focus on your form, which in turn helps you to engage multiple muscles, giving you a better workout.”

Sarah Kurchak, a personal trainer and fitness instructor based in Toronto, also believes good-looking workout attire and accessories inspires extra effort.

“In my personal experience, both as a trainer and an exercise geek, putting on something that makes you feel both comfortable and stylish can have a huge impact on how you feel about your overall workout,” Kurchak said. “It sounds superficial, but the right outfit actually can help to keep people motivated and reach their training goals.”

Williams and Kurchak, along with Caroline Gault, Alberta-based “Fashion” magazine writer and Edmonton editor for Vitamin Daily, got the chance to choose eight must-have workout accessories that will keep you stylish as you push to your peak physical potential.

“I think that when you delve into workout accessories, it gets more exciting,” Gault said. “You’d be surprised by how many fun, stylish and functional products there are these days beyond your standard backpack and water bottle.”

Continue reading at

Review: Sade’s decade-long absence hasn’t lost her any fans

Published in the Vancouver Sun August 14, 2011.


Sade’s decade-long hibernation hasn’t left them buried and forgotten

Ten years may have passed since the English R&B soft rock band last toured or released a record, but neither Sade nor the crowd at Rogers Arena seemed to blink an eye at the quartet’s yawning musical absence. Led by 52-year-old singing-songwriting cornerstone Helen Folasade (Sade) Adu, Saturday night’s show was a happy reunion between old friends. Sade and the audience may have grown a few laugh lines over the years, but they certainly haven’t grown apart.

Very few bands have the luxury of popping their heads above ground after such a lengthy hiatus to find they’re still burning as bright as bedside aromatherapy candles. Sade, however, seem to be the exception. For the past 20 years or so, the Nigerian-born Adu’s family life has outweighed her professional, resulting in only two records since 1992’s Love Deluxe. The Grammy Award-winning group’s latest mood-setter, 2010’s Soldier Of Love, is only the sixth studio album in their 25-year career. It’s also the first since 2000’s Lover’s Rock.

Perhaps Sade can thank the timelessness of their rapturous make-out music for their continued success. The group’s sultry sound—the equivalent of a shirtless, muscled man running his baby-soft fingertips down your spine—never expires. Or maybe Sade has their patient fanbase to thank for staunchly following them since 1984’s debut album Diamond Life.

Either way, Sade proved to a mix of young and old fans Saturday night that they’re a classic band that will always remain (adult) contemporary.

Continue reading at

You Don’t Have to Spend a Lot to Look Great

To Have First-Rate Style, A Few Simple Tricks Outweigh a Fat Wallet

Published August 10, 2011 on 

For the average fashionista, Christmas comes four times a year. Each season means new trends and a new shopping adventure that can make you feel like a 12-year-old kid hopped-up on hot cocoa. As exciting as it is to bag new looks in clothing, shoes and accessories every few months, however, seasonal wardrobes can leave your credit card looking more ragged than a half-eaten candy cane.

Although keeping up with fall’s comfy camel coats and chic sweaters while maintaining a budget sounds more difficult than gift shopping for your strange Uncle Frank, there are plenty of tricks to maintaining a contemporary style without lagging behind the fashion curve.

Rediscover and Re-Wear

According to Kelsey Dundon, Vancouver-based fashion blogger for The Anthology and lifestyle editor at Vitamin Daily, a budget-friendly way of staying on top of fall 2011 trends starts with raiding the depths of your closet to evaluate what you already own.

“Long maxiskirts were everywhere … and they’ll look beautiful with flat boots on sunny fall days,” Dundon said. “Ladylike pencil skirts from a few seasons ago are huge again. Shoes are more classic than they have been in recent seasons, so dig deep in your closet, polish off the pairs you bought a few years ago and rock them all over again.”

Continue reading at


Dinosaurs roam again at Science World

Published in the Vancouver Sun July 30, 2011


Jennifer Chow sounds like she’s in trouble.

Over the phone, it’s a jungle of noise and excitement as ravenous creatures chatter and chirp. Critters screech in the background. A bloodthirsty roar rings out in the distance.

Then comes the low, guttural clicking of a beast, signalling it has found its next meal.

“I just walked through [the exhibit] and I set off all the dinosaurs,” laughs Chow, business development manager for Dinosaurs Unearthed. Chow and her Richmond-based travelling exhibit company are the masterminds behind Telus World of Science’s latest show, Extreme Dinosaurs, and are ultimately responsible for all the commotion heard through the receiver. “They all move and roar once someone walks by.”

Luckily for Chow, the prehistoric predators nesting in Science World’s Extreme Dinosaurs exhibit aren’t real, although they definitely look it. The enormous display, almost elaborate enough to put Jurassic Park to shame, consists of 19 life-size animatronic dinosaurs that move, growl and chomp. Walk by the triceratops and it will lift its head, grunting at your presence. Stand beneath the king of all dinosaurs, the Tyrannosaurus rex, and watch out: it will gnash its teeth as its whip-like tail skims the tops of palm trees.

Continue reading at

Fall on a Budget: Jewelry

Make a Statement on the Cheap

Published July 28, 2011 on 

Bolder is better in fall 2011, as jewelry trends stay on the daring and dramatic path. With inspirations ranging from oversize feather earrings and giant gem cocktail rings to antique floral pendants and sleek architectural cuffs, these fearless accessories can make any winter wardrobe mean business. But pretty pieces can cost a pretty penny. If you can’t dish out dollars for designer brands and are looking to hit the trends on a dime, don’t fret: There’s plenty of bling to be had for a few bucks.

Make a Statement

Niki Blasina, the blogger behind A Haute Mess and a monthly columnist for MTV Canada’s FORA fashion and beauty blog, says some of her favorite fall 2011 jewelry trends include mammoth jewels, chunky filigree, shoulder-dusting earrings and intricate bronze floral patterns.

“Statement jewelry has been on trend for the past few seasons, but this fall we’re going to see different versions of it,” she said, noting how the “statement” trend is being seen in earrings as well as necklaces. “I love the statement chokers seen at Michael Kors — wide metal, close-fitting neck pieces. I also really like the modern filigree as seen at Proenza Schouler. It’s a very modern take on what you would expect when you think of antique or cameo jewelry. Classic statement necklaces with oversize jewels are definitely back on trend this season, but with more color. Earrings that are on trend also make a statement. Think long, shoulder-grazing styles. There’s also the bronze floral trend — think anything from your garden like flowers, branches and leaves — in big shapes and bronze metal.

Continue reading at

Fall Trends: White Turtlenecks

Tube-Neck Top Layers On Chic Style

Published July 22, 2011 on 

By Amanda Ash

Despite sharing its name with a shy and poky reptile, the white turtleneck is a fun fall must-have that will inspire trend watchers to break out of their stale-style shells. The excitement behind the preppy, ’60s mod-inspired garment lies in its limitless layering possibilities. A long-sleeved top with a high, round collar that can fold over or bunch around the neckline, the white turtleneck is this fall’s piece with the most creative potential and versatility — an item that can be worn underneath everything from summery dresses to sexy, sophisticated blazers. It’s a winter winner that can breathe new life into a snore-worthy wardrobe while cocooning your body in warmth.

“Everybody loves to layer, so it seems like the turtleneck is a great place to start,” said Allison Smith, designer and owner of the fashion line Allison Wonderland. She notes how the piece follows the current layering trend and makes for easier transitioning between summer and winter wardrobes. “You could wear it under, say, a silky dress from the summer that you’re not quite ready to put away yet, or if it’s March and still cold outside, you could put a turtleneck underneath [a spring dress].”

Continue reading at


Katy Perry gives Vancouver fans a sugar rush

Published in the Vancouver Sun on July 20, 2011


Katy Perry has her unwavering confidence to thank for the giant, cotton candy Cloud Nine she’s been riding since her breakthrough single I Kissed A Girl hit the airwaves in 2008.

Sure, her blue wigs and cupcake bras are hot. Her cleavage-parading outfits and volcanic stage fireworks are titillating. But in the end, Perry’s most attractive quality isn’t her outrageous fashion sense or larger-than-life concerts.

Perry’s international appeal boils down to her unabashed and sometimes goofy character.

The 26-year-old American pop superstar, born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, proved to a sold-out Rogers Arena Tuesday night that sexy doesn’t always equal Daisy Duke bikinis and smooching the cherry lip gloss off your ladyfriends. Although the chart-topper definitely flaunted her svelte shape in cute Candyland-inspired latex dresses, it was Perry’s quirky, comedic and perhaps awkward personality that melted the popsicles of 14,000 fans.

As proved by some of her more unique music videos, Katy Perry’s got guts. She’s got spunk. And she’s not afraid to put herself out there. One minute the Grammy Award-winning artist is spraying whipped cream out of her bra, singing alongside reefer king Snoop Dogg in California Gurls. The next, she’s a geeky mess of poofy hair and headgear, slurping back the spit between her braces as she mourns a broken solar system diorama in Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).

Perry’s fearlessness made an appearance onstage Tuesday night. It shone through all of her glittering costumes and surfed over the sea of swirling lollipops. Add in two albums’ worth of catchy, saccharine pop songs and you’ve got a gig that’s more fun than waking up in Vegas.

Continue reading at

Fall Trends: Duster Coats

Long, Loose-Fitting Coat Merges Old West With Modern Urban Vibe

Published July 15, 2011 on

By Amanda Ash

Fall outerwear is going to great lengths — sometimes as far as the ankle or heel — to ensure dedicated fashionistas are cloaked head-to-toe in sophistication come cooler weather. Duster coats, often incorrectly referred to as trench coats, are this winter’s frost-fighting trend. They run the gamut from wool to fur, combining a feminine, cosmopolitan style with 20th century outlaw origins. Inspired by Texas Rangers and Wild West gunslingers, these long coats were traditionally worn by horsemen to protect clothing from the grit and grime of backcountry trails. Fall’s glamorous dusters still function as a sort of shield, but their ruggedness has been replaced with a graceful polish that’s fit for the debonair. Think of wrapping one around a mini-dress on a snowy evening or draping one over a delicate ballgown during a downpour.

Maximizing the “Maxi” Trend

Although the cozy, cultured, mid-length camel coat dominated the last two fall seasons, the duster coat is this year’s outerwear trend, said Anya Georgijevic, fashion writer for Vitamin Daily and “The Block” magazine, and blogger at I’, nominated as one of “Elle” Canada’s top fashion blogs of 2010.

“It’s just dropping that hemline a bit lower,” Georgijevic explained. “It’s pretty much the same coat, but almost menswear-ish.”

Jude Feller, creator of Lily & Jae and designer for Lifetime Collective, refers to the duster as a “maxi coat.” She said dusters are in during the summer of 2011 thanks to the popular spring and summer maxi-skirts and dresses, which fall beneath the knee and come in soft, flowing, billowing fabrics.

“I personally think duster coats go with everything else ‘maxi,’ ” she said. “Also, the trench coat was big for spring, so it could be a combination.

“They seem to be elegant for fall, which is nice because the original duster coat was much more loose and masculine,” Feller added, referring to the coat’s rustic roots. “Paired with a maxi-skirt or dress, I think they’re a hit.”

Continue reading at

Fall Trends: Tartans

Traditional Scottish Pattern Takes Plaid to a Whole New Level

Published July 14, 2011 on 

By Amanda Ash

If you’re eager to get in touch with your inner Braveheart without going the way of haggis, bagpipes and swords, look no further than this fall’s tartan trend. The bold plaid pattern, typically woven in blue, green and red colors and reserved for traditional Scottish wear, is making the leap from kilts to everything from dapper coats and pants to comfy dresses and capes. Burberry — famous for its camel, black, red and white plaid — has been inspired by tartans for years. For the fall of 2011, other fashion lines have adopted the historical geometry of crisscrossed horizontal and vertical lines and bands, making for striking yet playful warm fall pieces that will make you the queen of autumn style.

From Lumberjack to Great Scot

Tartans are a warm, cozy fall classic, said Anya Georgijevic, fashion writer for Vitamin Daily and “The Block” magazine and blogger at I’, nominated as one of Elle Canada’s Top Fashion Blogs of 2010.

“There’s a big focus on it this fall, especially because last fall was a bit about the fall floral print, so it’s just a nice, refreshing way to look at something the complete opposite of floral,” Georgijevic explained. “For Burberry, after doing the studs and leather for six seasons, for them to actually go back to the tartans they’re known for, I think it’s really great.

“Nothing’s better for Christmas than tartans,” Georgijevic added, since the patterns tend to come in darker colors and warmer fabrics. “Cabins, ski lodges — it’s a perfect look.”

Jude Feller, creator of Lily & Jae and designer for Lifetime Collective, says tartans are in this season thanks to the plaid craze, which spawned the popular and fun button-up lumberjack shirts.

“Unlike plaids, which tend to be more subtle, tartans are generally a statement. I would call this a statement trend,” Feller said. “I would say that they’re inspired from the ongoing plaid trend. Something a little more bold this time around.”

Continue reading at