After the Fall: A Breath of Life

After the Fall: A Breath of Life is a documentary project that depicts a young woman’s (Shilpa) day-to-day struggles with life-saving decisions and navigating through differing cultural and religious notions of healing.

afterthefall

A Summary of the Documentary

Shilpa struggled through two bouts of cancer and an adverse reaction to the chemo that scarred her lungs irreparably so that she required a double lung transplant. While on the waiting list to receive a transplant, she had to deal with conflict within her social support network. Even after the transplant she experienced many ups and downs in her recovery, landing her in and out of the ICU, and had to learn to walk again. The struggle remains a reality even today as she relies on a series of anti-rejection drugs that don’t always work. Despite her very difficult struggle, Shilpa remains positive and optimistic as well as vibrant and energetic and surrounds herself with friends and loved ones.

Shilpa2 (1) shilpa3 (1)

The documentary goes over what Shilpa’s life used to be like before the transplant and now after the transplant. It documents her sister and mother’s struggle with her illness. It also touches on Shipla’s experience, coming very close to death, how she felt and how she feels now about life and her purpose and what’s meaningful to her. It also possesses a central conflict: Her mother didn’t agree with her getting the transplant and didn’t believe in modern medicine in general, but instead relied heavily on a support system that consisted of her religious beliefs and the conviction that her daughter would be saved through prayer. Shilpa, however, doesn’t think that it has to be one or the other, but that true healing can come from a combination of the two.

Interview with the Production Team

The brilliant minds behind this touching documentary are Pam Sethi and Rose D’Souza, who jointly wrote, produced, and directed this entire project.

Pam and Rose (1)

Pam has a background in nursing and epidemiology and is currently in policy work while Rose has a background in Journalism and public health. Rose was interested in being involved with this documentary because she felt that “it was a really great story to tell,” while one of Pam’s primary concerns was figuring out a way to actually create change and start a movement. Pam concluded that change is often initiated through powerful stories. Combining their intentions for the project, they were able to create a creative piece that does both.

Pam explained that “it was supposed to be a 10-15 minute doc, but the project became larger than what we expected it to be.” Both Pam and Rose have full-time jobs, and, as Rose notes, spent “many late nights after work making this [documentary] together.”

cameracrew (1) cameracrew2 (1)

Themes of this documentary touch on philosophies and views on transplant, cultural variances, death and dying. “The intent of this doc was twofold,” mentioned Pam, “to not only share Shilpa’s beautiful story and to raise awareness in Shilpa’s community and the public, but also to impact providers and policy makers around the patient experience and impact those in positions of decision making.”

The percentage of the eligible population registered as organ donors in Ontario is 25%, many of which are from the GTA. In the GTA alone, 15% of the eligible population are registered organ donors. This 25% is 3.1 million out of an eligible 11.8 million. As of December 31st 2014, 1,581 Ontarians are currently waiting for an organ transplant.

“With an entire crown ward dedicated to raising awareness on issues of donation,” said Pam, “we are questioning why our statistics haven’t grown or gotten any higher.”

The documentary served as a good opportunity for Shilpa to show others what a new set of lungs has done for her and to raise awareness around the realities of organ donation. She hoped that her story could touch people and perhaps even elicit a response from the community to register as organ donors and get involved.

Shilpascars (1) shilpa (1)

Pam also mentioned that this was a long, drawn-out process for Shilpa because of the disagreement around her treatment within her household. Pam would like to see policy makers become more informed about cultural differences regarding the beliefs and impressions of organ donations and be able to integrate and address some of these concerns in the counseling period before a transplant.

Pam and Rose both expressed how amazed they were at Shilpa’s willingness to share her story and how expressive she was, because “she is ordinarily a very private person and to share something so personal publically is very unusual for Shilpa.” Rose describes Shilpa as “always having a smile on her face, regardless of what she’s going through; she doesn’t like to share any of the bad experiences.” Rose explains that having had to be strong and pull through for the past 8 years, Shilpa always put on a happy, positive, and strong demeanor; however, she was finally able to express in this documentary some of the hurt, fear, and negative feelings that she has had which most of her closest friends and family never heard her utter before. Ultimately the documentary works to help Shilpa voice her struggle, and as Pam mentions, “where she was before the documentary a year ago and where she is now, I feel like she is completely empowered.”

afterthefall2

After the Fall: A Breath of Life has been submitted to Canadian and International film festivals throughout 2015. Keep your eyes open for your chance to see it.

 

Read more about the project here: https://www.facebook.com/Afterthefall.abreathoflife

See the documentary teaser here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUWpjN2Pmfs&feature=youtu.be

Statistics on Organ Donation in Ontario were sourced from the Trillium Gift of Life Network: http://www.giftoflife.on.ca/en/

 

Published in Fusia magazine February 2015

Highlights from Berlin Fashion Week

Contrary to some popular opinion within the global fashion world, German fashion is far from dead. Designers at this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Berlin (January show collections that thrive with vivid patterns and bold aesthetics; they breathe a very fresh breath of life.

Here are some of the best designs from Berlin Fashion Week 2015

 

Designer:

Dorothee Schumacher

Redefining business casual. In Dorothee Shumacher designs, you can go from meeting to meet-up in seamlessly and make a statement in a completely original way.

Dorothee Schumacher 1 Dorothee Schumacher 2 Dorothee Schumacher 3 Dorothee Schumacher 4 Dorothee Schumacher 5 Dorothee Schumacher 6 Dorothee Schumacher 7

Designer:

Kaviar Gauche

Fancifully playing with the wedding dress. Traditional meets tantalizing in some of these breathtaking designs.

Kaviar Gauche 1 Kaviar Gauche 2 Kaviar Gauche 3 Kaviar Gauche 4 Kaviar Gauche 5 Kaviar Gauche 6 Kaviar Gauche 7 Kaviar Gauche 8 Kaviar Gauche 9

Designer:

Holy Ghost

These looks all exhibit a chic city dweller. The collection thrives on layers and fashionable comfort.

holy ghost 1 holy ghost 2 holy ghost 3 holy ghost 4 holy ghost 5 holy ghost 6 holy ghost 7 holy ghost 8 holy ghost 9 holy ghost 10

Designer:

Nana K. Brenu

Some of the most memorable work of Berlin Fashion Week 2015, an impressive display of colour and bold symbols “influenced by the impact of the complex simplicity of the monochromatic geometric designs of traditional Ghanaian symbols,” yet remaining very original and modern. Nana K. Brenu’s design philosophy for 1981 “is based on the notion that design should reflect who you are, where you are from and where you have been. In other words clothes are the storytellers on the journey of our lives.”

DEU 1981, Maxhosa By Laduma, Soboye Show 1 DEU 1981, Maxhosa By Laduma, Soboye Show 2 DEU 1981, Maxhosa By Laduma, Soboye Show 3 DEU 1981, Maxhosa By Laduma, Soboye Show 4 DEU 1981, Maxhosa By Laduma, Soboye Show 5 DEU 1981, Maxhosa By Laduma, Soboye Show 6

Info and Photos sourced from http://mbfashionweek.com/berlin

 

Published in Fusia magazine January 2015

A Day of Wellness at Miramar Bath House

Most people can agree that one of the most disappointing things to happen while traveling, short of losing all of your money and identification, is to get sick. Travel is a luxury and an investment and being in bed sick is such a waste of essential time and dampers the enjoyable experience. So, when I got sick with a flu that had me in bed for about a week, I was understandably quite disappointed. I was even more disappointed because I had a trip to Frankfurt planned and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to go because I was feeling too sick for the 5 hour drive from Berlin. Luckily for me, I was starting to feel better the day before my scheduled departure.

Upon my arrival into Frankfurt my friend, who had also been sick, assured me that she would get us better quickly; her solution? A Wellness Tage (a day of wellness) at Miramar Bath House. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but having heard so much about European bath houses, I figured it would be a good experience to add to my European travels.

outside pool therma pool

The reality of this experience exceeded all of my expectations. There are about a dozen different pools and hot tubs. Being that we partook of this experience in the winter, every pool was heated to a cozy 34 degrees or higher. The, let’s call it an ‘amusement spa’, was divided into themed locations: thermal pools, salts and crystals oasis, sauna paradise, and the wave pool and water slides section. This is precisely why I’m calling it an ‘amusement spa,’ it was a water park meets spa and was uniquely interesting.

water slides wave pool

We entered the spa and first took a nice leisurely swim in the central thermal pool. It was languid and relaxing, but I also took this opportunity to actually swim and therefore be a little bit active. We then decided to head outside to the hot tubs. We sat emerged in bubbling hot water with steam cascading all around us, and….wait for it…..SNOW falling lightly on our heads. The juxtaposition almost made me giddy. I’m sure I looked childish as I reached out to catch the large flakes fluttering gracefully down towards us, but I had never sat outside in the snow in my bikini before. In my opinion the best moments are experienced with childlike fascination and glee anyway.

outside hot tubs 2 outside hot tubs

After the hot tubs we moved on to the waterslides. This is apparently where you get your workout, since you have to carry large tubes up what feels like never-ending staircases, but the thrill of the slides makes it completely worth it. After we had our fill of plummeting into the topsy-turvy unknown, and being buffeted back and forth in the wave pool, we headed towards the salts, minerals, and crystals area for our much needed R&R. Again we found ourselves in a thermal pool that headed outside. We languidly swam amidst steam and strangers.

steamy outside pool

We then headed back indoors to relax on recliners in a heated room in front of a beautiful gas fireplace.

relaxation lounge 2

The entire crystal room is decorated with crystals and Amethysts. The constant sound of waterfalls, the glow of the fireplace, and the glittering from every corner of the room makes you feel like you are relaxing in the lap of luxury. Even the hot tub in this room is designed in a way that you feel like you are sitting directly in the middle of an Amethyst.

salts pool 2 Krystal and Mineral Room, Amasyth hot tub

After much relaxation and swimming, we then partook in some much needed and thoroughly enjoyed aromatherapy massages and then relaxed in the Sole Relax Raum, which was a heated room of therapeutic tranquility: the floor was covered in bath salts which perfumed the air and the room remained disruption free for a 20 minute period where an attendant created tranquil music with gongs and other serene and soothing instruments. The space was meant to be an oasis for quiet contemplation and mediation. The yogi in me was impressed and excited about the idea of being able to focus on the wellness of mind as well as body.

massage 2 solo relax raum

After many more hours of swimming and relaxing in all of the various areas, we reposed in the sauna paradise and walked the grounds. I will admit that my North American mentalities made this a slightly uncomfortable experience for me since in Sauna Paradise clothing is optional. However, despite this momentary angst, the entire experience throughout the whole day was so unbelievably relaxing and exhilarating that I left on a wellness-high.

sauna 3 sauna

Ultimately I was thoroughly impressed with my first European bath house experience. Miramar combines fun with relaxation and in turn really has something to offer everyone; whether you are there to have fun on the waterslides and in the wave pool, or to relax and unwind in the salt baths and thermal pools, Miramar really has something for the whole family.

krystal outside bath 2 children's pool

In the end, my misfortune of getting sick worked out to allow for an exceptional experience. The getting sick is no fun, but the getting better can be! The Europeans really know how to relax and enjoy life when it counts and they really know how to get better in style. All I can think of now is….how on earth am I going to get better from colds and flues when I’m back in Canada? Somehow sipping Neocitran in bed just doesn’t have the same appeal as a European bathhouse.

Photos taken from Miramar Website: http://www.miramar-bad.de/therme/

Published in Fusia magazine, February 2015

“From Paris with Love”! XO

From Paris with Love was a Trunk Show and Brunch Party held by POA Studio this past Sunday, Nov 9th at the Vintage Conservatory in Toronto. The Trunk Show was designed to offer valued clientele the opportunity to see all of the latest collection, all of which just arrived from Paris, before launching it in the store. The affair was intimate and featured limited edition fine scarves, exquisite jewelry, breath-taking hand bags, and absolutely stunning, one-of-a-kind clothing.

dress sweater&scarf

Love is indeed the operative word here, as I couldn’t help but fall in love with many of the beautiful pieces in this latest collection. The scarves and necklaces were the focal pieces of the collection, adorning walls and tables all over the venue and accompanying every article of clothing. Pieces ranged from delicate and understated to bold and gaudy; each one so unique and the perfect complimentary piece to ‘make’ an outfit.

clutch jewlery&scarves jewlery scarves scarves2 scarves3

Clothing included work by Designers and Brands: An’ge Paris, Egerie Paris, Show Girls Paris, Free for Humanity, Biscote, Oui, among others. My absolute favorite item that I fell in love with instantly was a sheer top in a leaf print with mixed media leather and crocheted shoulder and upper-back accents.  The material and pattern were so vibrant and lively and the mixed media elements were tastefully done and made the shirt pop. This elegant top could easily work casually with a pair of jeans or leggings or could be punched up to slightly more formal with a nice dress skirt or dress pants. The majority of the collection shared a similar versatility. From what I can tell, most POA collections cater to taste, quality, and versatility; their collections offer the most unique pieces that undoubtedly become focal elements to any wardrobe. There is certainly something to be said about having an item in your wardrobe that you absolutely love, that people always complement you on, and that almost no one else has.

top

As if the absolutely stunning clothing and accessories weren’t enough, the brunch presented was positively scrumptious. The tantalizing spread consisted of delectable croissants and macarons served from Delysées (http://delysees.com/ ) and a spread of cheeses, crackers, smoked salmon, and shrimp. Along with choices of juice, wine, and absolutely delicious coffee.

brunchtable cropped-delysees-logo-white-final-1-version

POA Studio really knows how to treat their clientele well. Not only offering preview events like this one, but the studio itself is much more than a retail store. POA Studio is both a spa and luxury fashion boutique. One trip to POA Studio will have you feeling beautiful inside and out, and isn’t that what it’s all about? I would encourage everyone to venture out to this one-of-a-kind boutique for a shopping experience that you can’t get anywhere else. POA Studio is located at 98 Church Street in Toronto. You can also check out their services and collections at http://www.poastudio.com/.

 

Published Nov 2014 in Fusia magazine

Yoga Tree Bay and Dundas Grand Opening

Yoga Tree has opened a new location at Bay and Dundas and I was fortunate enough to attend the Grand Opening launch party this past Thursday.

The event was unlike anything I have ever been to before; the event coordinator did a particularly excellent job of promoting the space as well as offering a little something for everyone.

bench Decore

When I first entered the studio, I was immediately greeted by the happy and friendly staff. I was then invited to test out the balance of my chakras with a quick session on an acupuncture mat and was then directed towards the amazing professionals from Ayurveda Rituals spa (http://ayurvedictouch.com/). They cleansed my aura (which between you and I, really needed to be done) and they identified the imbalance in my dosha through a sensory experiment, and last but certainly not least, I received a wonderful foot massage. This served to get me in touch and in tune with my body in a way that I haven’t for a very long time. Even if you aren’t a believer in chakras, doshas, and auras, the second floor of the studio, set up as a relaxing lounge, was definitely a space where everyone could relax and enjoy. What is more, this lounge is complete with its very own Kombucha bar, the first of its kind in Toronto.

footmassage Ayurveda Botanical Skincare

For any of you who many not know, Kambucha is a cold tea that originated in China around 200 B.C. which has undergone fermentation and is naturally carbonated and full of probiotics (Pekoe Kombucha). Kombucha possesses healing, cleansing, detoxifying, and energizing qualities. We were served this cleansing elixir over ice with gin and mint leaves. It is absolutely delicious and you can feel good drinking it. I ended the tour of this floor feeling relaxed and grounded.

drink kamboucha

The tour continued, however, as I moved upstairs to the third floor where the studio was abuzz with people eating food provided by Freshii, wine by Southbrook (local and organic wine), and were enjoying the lively musical entertainment offered by the event’s DJ as well as the opportunity to get henna applied by artists Joanne Rumstein-Ellis (Hennafication) and Tarquin Singh (Henna Planet). The energy on this floor was a compelling contrast to the sheer relaxation only one floor down; I suddenly felt revitalized and full of energy. It was a truly enjoyable evening.

Freshii Henna

I thought the Grand Opening was very well thought out since I ended up leaving feeling exactly as I do after a good yoga workout: relaxed as well as energized. The space was beautifully decorated and the crowd was an interesting mix of yogis and downtown young professionals.

I was very impressed with this beautiful, spacious studio and I would recommend that everyone go check it out if they can. The studio also includes on onsite wellness center with access to a registered massage therapist and naturopathic practitioner, three separate yoga studios that are custom-made to be soundproof and provide insulation, and hot yoga rooms that have an innovative humidity control. Indeed this is far more than just a yoga studio; go relax, rejuvenate, and grow at Yoga Tree.

 

Published Oct 2014 in Fusia magazine

Decadence is Calling: The 9th Annual Chocolate Ball Gala

Most definitely a night of decadence, the 9th Annual Chocolate Ball Gala was this past Thursday, Oct 16th, and I am still recovering from all of the sugar. Having lived in Toronto for many years now and also being a serious chocolate fan, I was shocked to only discover last year that Toronto has an entire festival dedicated to celebrating everything chocolate, and the signature event of the festival is the Chocolate Ball. I was fortunate enough to attend last year and again this year and it has yet to disappoint. The entire evening is truly spectacular and sensational in every aspect of the word; I’m already anxiously waiting for next year’s Ball!

The Gala’s theme was Tropica Cocoa: A Salute to Movie, Music, and Dance of the Tropics. From décor to entertainment and even the wardrobe of the greeters and volunteers, everything was film and tropics inspired, right down to the beautifully constructed ice sculpture at the gala entrance – this entrance being the Eglinton Grand Theatre, probably the most appropriate venue for such an event, adding to the film motif.

greeter

The evening’s festivities included a silent auction, photo booth, a chocolate casino, caricatures, savory food stations, chocolate stations, dessert stations, as well as live entertainment from a DJ, the BASo Alto Dancers, Junior Ballroom Dancers, and the Polynesian Dreams Hawaiian Dancers. There were also door prizes and raffle draws.

dance dancers

Of course the main event, however, is the chocolate! Sweet meets savory in the succulent chocolate-infused food prepared by Chef Russell (from Penthouse Catering) and Chef Terry Port from (Personal Chef Solutions). Some of the “hit” items included chocolate braised baby back ribs and chocolaty pulled pork tacos infused with Cumin and Cocoa, topped with Queso Fresco and Cilantro. Although these infusions may seem a bit bizarre, they were wonderfully crafted, simply delicious, and cooked to absolute perfection. There was also a Crêpes À Go Go station managed by the wonderful Chef Veronique.

food

Chocolate stations included the beautifully crafted pieces from ChocoStyle, CocoaWorld Chocolatier, Giddy YoYo, Golden Apple Confections, M Thompson Chocolates, Old Time Confections, and Xocai. There was also the unbelievable dessert station Dolcini by Joseph which offered a breathtaking selection of the most delicate, melt-in-your-mouth pastries from master Pastry Chef Joseph Montinaro.

caramel chocolate

All that decadence and none of the guilt! Why? Because this event isn’t just about overindulging on chocolate; proceeds go toward Prostate and Breast Cancer initiatives. Eating chocolate for charity…It doesn’t really get much better than that.

If you are intrigued by the festival and your overwhelming love of chocolate, don’t worry there is still more chocolate festival to enjoy. The festival concludes on November 2nd with the Chocolate Sunday, Toronto Luxury Chocolate Show at Roy Thompson Hall. Tickets are available at the door or online at www.TorontoChocolateShow.com. Go ahead and indulge, you know you want to, and you deserve it!

 

Published Oct 2014 in Fusia magazine

Fandry: Falling in Love and Flailing in Caste

fandry-8

Fandry is, on the surface, a coming-of-age film about love; however, it delves into the perpetual deep social issues regarding caste conflict and inter-caste relations in India.

“For over 1,500 years, anyone born a Hindu was right at the centre of the caste system. If one was born among the lower castes – the Dalits or the Sudra (Untouchables), a life of struggle and torment began. But life is the exact opposite if one is born a Brahmin. Rape, torture, and killings continue to take place in the name of caste. Dalit massacres have been committed since 1947 and still continue” (Shaka)

The Canadian premier of Fandry was this past Tuesday, Nov 11th, as part of the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival. This film was powerful, very moving, and worked well to expose a prevalent issue that needs to be addressed. Every once in a while you walk away from a film that makes you think deeply, question everything, and it somehow changes you; Fandry is one of these films. The political and social agenda is beautifully conveyed through the films excellent use of affect. You can feel the frustration of the lead, Jabya (Somnath Awghade), who is madly in love with a girl out of his reach and is harassed mercilessly by the higher-caste village boys. You feel his sadness when his dreams are constantly ripped away from him as he is forced into demeaning work. You feel the shame he feels when he is set apart and embarrassed in front of his peers, and you feel the hope that is always just out of reach in his quest for the black sparrow with the tail like a kite. The effect is as overwhelming at times and the film is constructed in such a way that it is nearly impossible to leave unaffected.

The director very masterfully draws the audience into this world, but it is a world where the audience quite obviously doesn’t belong. The audience is made aware that we are voyeurs; we are observing this family’s pain and struggle, like many of the other villagers, and for most, this is a struggle that we cannot identify with as we are observing from positions of privilege. At the end of the film, the director chooses to very powerfully break down the fourth wall, having Jabya throw a rock at his nemesis, but it essentially ‘smacks the audience in the face’ with its message and the act literally becomes a ‘light’s out’ moment for the audience. It was a particularly jarring way to end the film, which was precisely the point. The ending offers an incredibly symbolic message, at least in my interpretation, that being a passive observer to another human being’s suffering is the same as being a participant in his or her disenfranchisement. Put another way, if you do not actively question and work to change an ongoing issue, then you are allowing that issue to persist and are in fact part of the problem.

Fandry is a film that has started a much needed social dialogue in India and, much to its credit, has incited the creation of Project Fandry, a social group encouraging discussion and advocating for change: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Fandry/711562668909315.

In spite of the sensitive topic, Fandry, released in 2013 in India, has been received very well and with high acclaim. It has won Best Film at the Mumbai International Film Festival, Best Film, Best Film(Audience), Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actor at the Pune International Film Festival, Best Film of the year 2013 by the International Federation of Film Critics, Best Indian feature film at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, Best Film, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Child Artist, Best Script, Best Editor by Mata Sanman, Best Director at the New York Indian Film Festival, and won a National Award for Best Debut (Director) and Best Child Actor. I’m sure it is a shoe-in for the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival Audience Choice award as well.

Source:

Shaka, Jack. “India’s Caste System: A Panacea for Peace or Conflict? An Interview with Dr. Kshemendra Kumar Upadhyay,” Journal or Conflictology, Vol 3, Issue 1, 2012. pp.3-6.

Published Nov 2014 in Fusia magazine

Mélissa Nepton Spring 2015 Runway Show, WMCFW

Mélissa Nepton is a Montreal designer who specializes in “modern, ready-to-wear couture that targets the urban career woman.” She studied and developed her craft at Marie-Victorin College, L’École supérieure de mode, Motreal, and L’École Nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Paris— where she presented her first runway show. In her World MasterCard Fashion Week Designer Bio, Mélissa recounts that:

“For me, fashion is a vigorous expression that impacts women’s lives in a positive way. And in return, women bring to fashion a sense of sensuality, fluidity and femininity. It’s a communication rooted in comfort, practicality and confidence.”

And indeed it is this sensuality, fluidity, and femininity that come to life in Mélissa’s work. Her Spring 2015 collection, shown this past Tuesday at 8pm, was full of life, vibrancy, and unique and exciting patterns. Her line featured a lot of squares and stripes, as well as off-quilter semi-rectangles that sort of link in a way which is really eye-catching. Most of her line is very casual, which speak to her notion of fashion being “rooted in comfort and practicality.” This level of comfort was emphasized with the extremely casual footwear, as most of the pieces made their debuts on the runway accompanied by low heeled or flat sandals and sneakers. The dresses were flirty, daytime wear, and the shirts, shorts, and pants were light and breezy; made for down-time and relaxation.

blue pink

Yet, that hint of feminity is in every piece, with flowing skirts, form flattering cuts and lines, staple low cut necklines and designs that flaunted exposed skin, serving to be both feminine and sensual. The colour palette was one of soft hues, not unexpected for spring, which were off-whites, pinks and blues, and beige. There were also some nice contrasting black and white pieces.

blackandwhite shorts

My favourite pieces were two fun and flirty dresses. The one was a beige and black dress with contrasting stripes. It had an inner halter top and shorts that was mid-thigh length and an outer top and skirt cover that draped to below the knees. The material was quite sheer, allowing each layer to show through, along with some strategic hints of flesh. The dress offered an element of sexiness, but was ultimately classy and captivating.

beige&black

The second dress was a flirty off-white striped sun dress with a plunging neck line. Again, the material was striped with opaque and sheer fabric, so that skin became a focal point. The skirt was a flowing A line and fell to just above the knee. Beneath the dress is a visible body suit that accents the feminine contours of the body, playing again on exposed skin around the legs and arms. Despite the plunging neckline, this dress emits a feeling of pretty and flirty instead of being overtly sexy or over the top.

white

Mélissa has a gift for merging contrasting notions and playing with lines, making her work very fresh and intriguing. Every piece in her collection is something that can be practically worn in day-to-day life but yet is something you know you would feel good wearing; that would help you beam with confidence and charisma. I can’t wait to include some of her amazing work into my own Spring 2015 wardrobe.

 

 

Photo and Designer Bio Source:

http://worldmastercardfashionweek.com/designer/melissa-nepton-2/#.VEelCvnF9yw

 

Published in Fusia magazine Oct 2014

Mixed Media is the Message

Stripes and sparkles, lines, lace, and leather; yes the 2013 GUESS Holiday Collection has been revealed to the press and will be arriving in stores between October and December.

GUESS_HolidayPressPreview_PhotoCreditTonyZhao_July10_2

The casual pieces of the holiday collection are displaying a lot of military inspired designs as well as a lot of denim shirts, jackets, and the traditional array of the staple GUESS jeans. The not so staple aspect of these jeans showing up in this year’s collection, however, is mixing denim textures and colours within a single item.  Although the jeans may physically consist of a single denim medium, their mixed look follows closely to the overall mixed media theme dominating the dressy/trendy portion of the collection. The casual collection also boasts a lot of knits with asymmetrical cuts, holes portraying a worn look, and lots of metallic beading accents. Overall the hues are light and soft in the casual coats, bags, and accessories – vintage soft pinks and beige/greys.

GUESS_HolidayPressPreview_PhotoCreditTonyZhao_July10_1

The accessories are prominent in the collection and inspiring. All of the leather accessories, footwear, and bags incorporate a lot of chains, buckles, and zippers – zippers are a very big part of the Guess holiday collection, specifically diagonal zipper placement – and we will be seeing a lot of black stone and gold accented jewelry. An impressive and elegant new set of watches is also being released with the Holiday Collection that will prove to be excellent Christmas gift items.

GUESS_HolidayPressPreview_PhotoCreditTonyZhao_July10_5

GUESS_HolidayPressPreview_PhotoCreditTonyZhao_July10_3

 

 

 

Within the dressy/trendy portion of the collection we are continuing to see a lot of peplum and lace inspired by last fall’s looks, as well as a lot of cocktail dresses incorporating sweetheart necklines with connecting sleeves and sheer overlay top portions; all of these sexy dress options display prominent open backs. In this part of the collection there are a lot of black, red, and white pieces, which is to be expected of a holiday collection, but all pieces reiterate the Holiday theme of sparkles, lines, and lace.

GUESS_HolidayPressPreview_PhotoCreditTonyZhao_July10_6

Ultimately the truly inspiring pieces or the “show-pieces” of this year’s Holiday Collection are without a doubt the jackets. It is within the jacket pieces that mixed media really becomes the message. My favorite piece was a black dress coat that was a mixed media piece incorporating a wool base with woolen sleeves and a leather front featuring multi-directional zipper accents. Aside from physical mixed media in the jackets, we are also seeing a lot of quilting on leather items. Much like the intertwined denim in the jeans in the casual and trendy portions, the multiple textures being picked up in the leather jackets once again bring home this mixed media theme.

Toronto-20130710-01013

Keep your interest piqued and your eyes open for some of these stunning new additions to the GUESS wardrobe; they are sure to inspire personal experimentation and will definitely turn heads.

GUESS_HolidayPressPreview_PhotoCreditTonyZhao_July10_4

 

Published in Fashion Weekly magazine August 2013.

Savings on Your Hydro Bill and Saving the Environment: It’s a Beautiful View Through This Window

Maintaining a comfortable living environment in the throes of summer or in the midst of winter can be difficult, especially when you’re trying to be conscious of conserving energy and reducing emissions. We are told in the summer to use air conditioning sparingly and to draw the curtains, open the windows, and use fans whenever possible.  In the winter we are told to limit our use of heat and to bundle up. We’ve heard all of this before, but the constant effort of trying to stay cool or keep warm can end up being quite a lot of work for minimal results on your energy bill and a minimal reduction of emissions. In Canada in particular, our climate changes so drastically that this is a very real concern. It is encouraging to know, however, that there are inspirational Canadian companies working hard on finding solutions to these lifestyle concerns that also impact our environment.

photo 5

One company that has come up with a solution is eTime Energy Inc. eTime Energy is a Canadian based sustainable solutions provider “focused on providing North America with the right green technologies that make significant progress towards cutting down carbon emissions and conserving energy.” They spent the last 7 years focusing on the weakest link of energy conservation: the effect of windows on a heated or cooled environment. Their solution to this problem is a simple window treatment that creates an HPS Heat Shield incorporating Nano technology.

photo2

So how does it work? The coating is a clear liquid window treatment for glass and polycarbonates that is sprayed onto the surface of the window at one one-thousandth of a hair (8 microns thick). The Nano technology – titanium dioxide spherical particles that cause Infrared (IR) and UV rays to be reflected back – creates a thermal barrier stopping the transfer of heat from entering or exiting the coated window. Coated windows show a reduction in IR and UV ray penetration by 80-90%, a reduction of glare by 70%, and a continuous 10-20 degree temperature difference to uncoated windows. So what does this mean? This coating lowers temperatures by up to 20°C reducing cooling and heating loads by 20-30% and energy bills by 10%.

photo3

Their design goals were to deflect the maximum amount of IR and UV rays (to reduce energy loads and consequently emissions) while also maintaining the maximum amount of visible light to diminish the need for artificial lighting. It was also designed to be clear to avoid optical distortion or disrupting the visual field of the window.

 

photo4

photo1

 

 

 

 

 

Scientific facts and figures aside, this is a practical product that you don’t even notice is there and benefits both our environment and our wallets. Instead of bundling up this winter and installing plastic-film storm windows, perhaps this window treatment is a better way to go. Indeed, I think this is a home-run for eTime Energy and is exactly the type of technology that we have been waiting for.

For more information visit http://www.etimeu.com/ and for testimonials visit www.youtube.com/user/etimeenergycanada.

 

 

Information Sources

 

 

Published in Fashion Weekly magazine October 2013.