Behind the Scenes at a Hudson’s Bay Photoshoot

One of my favorite types of projects is creating full rooms from top to bottom. To my extreme pleasure, that is exactly what I get to do with Hudson’s Bay!  Today I am going to bring you behind the scenes of a recent photoshoot that we did to showcase brand new linen collections for spring. As usual, shoots like these are HUGE productions with big crews, multiple photographers and lots and lots (and LOTS) of options.  What do I mean by options?  I mean that for every item that you see in the final shot, we probably brought 4 others to choose from.  And yes, that includes furniture.  Why do we need so many? Because I never know how things are going to look until I see them in the space, with lighting and bedding etc etc.  I would rather have an extra bedside table or two on hand and swap them in quickly than wish I had something different and get stuck.  Options are my best friend when I’m styling…unfortunately they can also be my assistant’s nightmare (thanks Biagio!).  On shoots for Hudson’s Bay I always, ALWAYS bring lots of flowers because there are bouquets in every shot and sometimes it can be a long process to get them exactly right.  We have to consider what looks good in the room, which blooms are seasonal/available (even though we are shooting months in advance), what speaks to the brand, what was done previously and what my clients prefer.  Luckily, flowers are my absolutely favorite thing to do.  See if you can spot our choices in the final images.

Anyway, without much further ado, I present to you images from the Spring Linens Book photoshoot.  Yes, we work really hard BUT we also have a lot of fun.  First is the cover image (you might recognize it from last week’s Globe and Mail insert):

hudsons bay may 17-30 2013 stephanie 1Setting up for the same shot.  Our locations was a super-hip furniture store in the West end.

IMG_0202On the other side of the camera: OPTIONS!!  And my makeshift desk is in there too somewhere.  Yes, it looks like chaos but I swear that we have a system.


Oh there it is! Among the flowers…on the most adorable Bay garden table.  Hey! It matches my phone!  And I always keep my receipts in a chic glass vase. Don’t you?


Biagio and I are in constant contact…and we bring our own phones.


We shot an alternative angle for the Esprit bedding and it included me (in a pink dress!) walking up and down the staircase in the background.  The image was meant to be blurred….LOL!

IMG_0227The last time you might ever see me in a dress this pink:


This is the final shot of new Distinctly Home bedding.  We were going for a uptown Kate Spade style.  I am in love with the gladiolas and the fabulous painted pipe wall! Amazing!  Oh and here’s a tip: garden stools as bedside tables. Why not?

hudsons bay may 17-30 2013 stephanie 2An alternative bike option for the above shot.  Super-chic no?

IMG_0215Here’s amazing off-figure stylist Rodney Smith (with photographer Paul Chmielowiec) creating those fantastic towel insert shots.

IMG_0218A better shot of Paul (the master behind all of the off figure shots in the book):

IMG_0219And who shot all the big room shots you ask?  Michael Graydon of course!  Here he is with our incredible Art Director Rebecca Watson.  Go Team!

IMG_0211All right now a few other random but fun shots. It’s raining chairs! Hallelujah!

IMG_0221Biagio, looking handsome, with “options”:


I love a pretty vignette:
IMG_0198Photo assistant Rudo working on his tan:

IMG_0220The communal inspiration desk:

IMG_0214Oh and here’s me (in my regular clothes) trying to get a handle on things.

IMG_0208What a fun shoot!!  Thanks very much to all involved especially those at Fuel Advertising and Hudson’s Bay.  A very special thank you to our tireless clients Arren Williams and Jen Radway.  Can’t wait to see you all again very soon.

PS: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention bed-stylist Charlene Walton and producer Rosanna Tanti.  Nice work ladies!!!


Hudson’s Bay Beauty Book

Well, it’s been a while since my last post but life and work have been a complete whirlwind for the last few weeks!!  Hopefully, that means I’ll have some great new images to post and tell you about.  Speaking of which, the Hudson’s Bay Beauty Book came in my Globe and Mail this morning and I can’t resist doing a mini-blog post to show you the image as well as a few behind the scenes tid bits.  This was a lovely project for me in which I got to collect as many pink peonies I could find -which was no easy task in January- and then sew them onto a pretty bandeau to fit directly onto our model.  I used a mix of real blooms and silks that blended together perfectly to create a gorgeous texture, not to mention a heavenly aroma!  I also placed flower in her hair, and shot individual blossoms for the background and page insets.  The sewing wasn’t always easy since natural flowers are so delicate and the final touches had to be sewn while the model was already wearing the “garment” but I think it turned out great.

FYI: Production by Blu, Photography by Christoph Strube, Makeup by Jackie Shawn and Hair by Justin German.

Here it is, take a look:

IMG_0271 IMG02339-20130114-0820 IMG02340-20130114-1049 IMG02341-20130114-1115

Today’s Bride Cover Shoot

Hey all you Brides-to-Be and Weddingistas, the newest issue of Today’s Bride is on newstands and it includes two fashion stories styled by yours truly!  Here is a collection of my favorite images by photographer Carlyle Routh as well as a few peeks behind the scenes:

This image showcases one of my absolute favorite pieces: a killer headband by Jennifer Behr at White Toronto.  When I found it I couldn’t wait to see how it would look on model, Alex, and I was so pleased with the result!  I think it’s great with this strapless gown by Canadian designer Jasmine, no necklace and a simple earring by Tara Fava.  She looks totally balanced, fresh and pretty.  I also LOVE the bouquet by Pink Twig, one of the best floral designers in the city. (I also featured them in my Toronto Life wedding story that can be seen here).

This is hair and make-up artist Michele Rosen working her magic.  She is just such a genius with brides (and everyone else for that matter)!  Please check out her work at the link above- you won’t regret it.

This gown by Pronovias Balta  was a stunner on our model and I love that Michele left her hair down with just a gorgeous hair comb by Erin Cole at White Toronto.  Again, kept the neckline bare and added accessories to her wrist instead.  And don’t you love that industrial wall behind her? It’s the Fermenting Cellar at the Distillery of course!  (PS fluffing out the train wasn’t easy so make sure you have a good crew of bridesmaids on hand if you choose this one!).

This image is a stunner: I’m in love with the lipstick colour and the way it coordinates with the floral (yes, it’s always about the props for me!).  Pink Twig did a vibrant combination of pinks and oranges for this one and it’s so on trend.  The glittery necklace by Tara Fava sits just inside the model’s collarbone perfectly and adds sparkle to her pretty face.  The veil is a modern take on a traditional idea and perfect for anyone who wants a bit of both worlds.

I love this shot of Michele and Alex in the window light.  Just had to share.

Alex looks so young and happy with her balloons and blue Manolos. I mean, who wouldn’t??  A simple pearl necklace was all she needed to finish the look.

We changed themes (and models!) with our second chapter: sophistication and uptown style shot at the gorgeous One King West hotel.  The little jeweled headband, statement earring and super-soft fur shrug all from White Toronto are old-school hollywood glam. Perfect for a sophisticated evening wedding.

A dress like this one by Jasmine is a perfect opportunity to show off a dramatic shoe!  This one is by BCBG in bright fushia.  Also, the train can be removed easily for a sassy dance-floor ready dress that will take you all through the night.

Speaking of shoes: I loved these Louboutins from Davids so much I just had to sneak them in.  She looks like a little confection in this shot- her headpiece by Blair Nadeau matches her cake from the Cupcake Shop to perfection. Yum!

This dress by Jasmine is from another era: it has a Grecian influence and 1960s Hollywood look.  Can’t you just see Elizabeth Taylor or Grace Kelly in something like this? I love how Carlyle shot this too; it shows off the open back and lovely draping.

That’s it for now….there are lots more images in the magazine so make sure to grab yourself a copy and enjoy!!  Many thanks to Art Director Jo-Anne Martin Grier who dreamed-up this lovely story and is such a pleasure to work with.

Style at Home Apartment Makeover

After months of work, an episode of Cityline (click here to watch), a photoshoot with the fabulous Virginia MacDonald and a relaxed winter of pure enjoyment, my lovely apartment makeover story is finally hitting newstands!  You can find it in a special issue of Style at Home called 100 + Best Designer Secrets which will be on shelves for several months to come.  I am so excited to share it with you!

My decor journey started two summers ago when I moved in to my little Leslieville townhouse walk-up with only a few pieces of furniture and a lot of books.  I had a bed, two shelves, a big sectional couch and a borrowed TV.   I was starting fresh- which was a blessing on move day- but meant that I needed to source lots of new pieces to make it feel like home.  The space is a modern box (see pics below) without much character or ornamentation. It has two main rooms: a living/dining/kitchen space and a decent size bedroom that is just wide enough to fit a queen-size bed and two side tables.  It has tons of light and a perfect location but absolutely zero personality. A blank canvas, if you will.


My challenges included an entrance door that opens into the living room (no foyer, no storage), dark wood kitchen cabinets that dictate the look of the whole room, limited space for a dining table, wall-to-wall carpeting in an oatmealy-type hue, a lack of privacy due to big windows and ground-floor situation, a plaster ceiling (no heavy light fixtures) AND a whack of bulk-heads that jut-out all over the place.  Nevertheless, I dug-in and eventually made it into a very comfortable place to call home.


I am super proud of how the living room turned out : I started with the gorgeous floral artwork from Elte because I love flowers so much and never, ever get tired of looking at them.  My second find was the decadent silk drapery from InView (sadly, they are no longer in business).  I don’t think I ever would have gone straight to dark violet for an investment piece but I could not help myself when I saw the lush fabric.  From there, the rest of the puzzle pieces fell in to place.  The paint colour is Benjamin Moore‘s “Edgecomb Grey” which turned out perfectly (true confession: I brought home dozens of sample pots to try before I picked this one. I was a mad-woman on a paint-colour-mission. Tip for readers: make sure you sample on the wall BEFORE you buy in large quantity. Light changes everything!).

My sofa is from Domison and replaced a much larger sectional that I moved from my previous apartment.  I really like the modern lines and dark wood base that grounds the piece and makes it unique.  The rug (ohhh the rug) is also from Elte and is TO DIE FOR.  I love the way it picks up the colour of the drapes but does so in a completely new way.  It’s such a key part of the room.


My bedroom is such an oasis now that I almost never want to leave!  Originally, I was going to do a much more subdued palette (I usually decorate with white, on cream, on light grey, on more white- it’s like a decorating tick). But a glam trip to Harbour Island last February roused my dormant love of colour and I decided to add as much of it as possible to my everyday life (within reason of course!).  I found the Farrow and Ball wallpaper first and fell in love with it.  I LOVE the colour yellow for a bedroom as it so uplifting yet soft at the same time.  The silvery-blue drapery came next (tip for those with privacy issues: hang soft translucent sheers under your black-out drapes and keep them drawn all the time- you get natural light without being on display to passersby), then the crisp white linens by Barbara Barry, with a silky throw that matches the drapes perfectly (sometimes these little miracles just happen).My lighting fixture from Universal Lighting is custom made and super dramatic.  It adds so much to the space and absolutely love the crystal orb that hangs from the center.  It was a big splurge on my part but I am so happy with the result.  It’s on a dimmer (of course!) and I can control the light level whenever as I want.

The second most dramatic part of the room is the wall of bookcases and mirrors.  I am big believer in creating serenity in the bedroom and I wouldn’t normally use bookshelves as I think that they can look cluttered and busy (in other words, not calming at all!).  But since I had no other place to put them I decided to alter the usual look and make it a stylish-wall of beautiful objects.  I turned the book spines away from view to reduce “noise” and they now look like romantic objets.  I also love to add antiques and natural touches whenever possible.  The shelves are from Ikea BTW and look great with glass doors.

The closet system comes from Space Solutions who did a terrific job of helping me to design the ideal layout for my small space (for anyone who has rushed morning routine like mine, I recommend re-doing your closet to make it more streamlined and organized.  It is a major stress-reliever).  I love the idea of displaying shoes, bags and other nice things.  Why not keep them in plain view?  They look fantastic!!

Anyway, I hope you grab and issue of the mag when you see it in the store and feel free to write to me with any questions or queries.  Things I’ve learned in the last year: 1. take your time and live in a space before decorating. You never know what ideas the walls will whisper while you sleep; 2. don’t be afraid of colour but use it sparingly by mixing in white or other neutrals; 3. display the things that you love as they will lift your spirits every day and lastly; 4. it’s your space so make every inch a reflection of your individual style. Have fun!

Special thanks to Raina Kirn of Raina and Wilson who shot my headshot (also featured on this blog).

My Sister’s Wedding

Spring is the jumping-off point for wedding season and my beautiful sister Heather got married a week ago! It was a wonderful day for everyone and I put some of my wedding-decor knowledge to use.  One of my favorite parts of being a stylist is doing flowers so I was in absolute heaven choosing, matching, cutting, wrapping, coaxing and babying the hundreds of blossoms we used to adorn the festivities.  My main worry? That the cherry blossom branches for the wish tree wouldn’t bloom or that the hyacinths would loose their divine fragrance before the bride hit the aisle.  But after all the little stresses, the day turned out perfectly and I can look back now with a big sigh of relief.

The couple chose  the Distillery District in Toronto holding the ceremony in the Arta Gallery and the dinner at the nearby Thompson Landry Gallery.  The invite list was tailored to fit just the closest family and friends so the gathering was a small but boisterous 55 people.  My goal with the decor was to keep is simple and be appropriate to an elegant evening event.  When holding a party in an art gallery, one can rely heavily on the artwork for visual impact and decoration.  If the room had been a cavernous hall my job would have been much more complex (thanks Heather!).

We started brain-storming back in October before our meeting with the invitation designer (Paper and Poste! You rock!) and chose a colour palette of dark purple, silver and white (basically, you can’t do anything until you know your colours -so start there brides-to-be!). After that, every choice we made had to be within the palette (which is the way I design everything from a room to a photoshoot by staying strictly within the colours).  When it came time to talk flowers I wanted to accomplish the following things: an early spring theme that filled the air with fragrance, a ton of candle light, lots of sparkle and a few meaningful elements that made it personal.  We wanted to keep the budget small (what is the point the of an intimate affair otherwise?) AND we had a rather un-romantic hitch to keep in mind:  both galleries closed doors to patrons only one hour before the wedding guests were scheduled to arrive giving us a tiny fraction of time to prep the spaces.   So make it pretty, quick, inexpensive and meaningful all while being in my sister’s unofficial wedding party (hair, make-up, pictures etc etc).  I needed help. Obviously. And called in my longtime friend and fellow stylist Jay Junnila to save the day and save it he did!!  What a champ.  After an exhaustive day of prep (after an exhaustive week of prep) the last candle was lit at precisely the moment that the first walked in (at both spaces and two different times!).  It was a brilliant execution and I owe Jay a huge debt of gratitude.

This is the wedding factory that was my studio on the day before the wedding. Jay is taping ribbon and sparkly broaches to antiqued candle hurricanes:

I put my sister to work too.  It was a DIY wedding after all! Looks like a giant mess at this point:

As for the floral design, we did a blend of white roses, purple freesias, white double-tulips (totally worth the extra! singles would not have been nearly as gorgeous), and purple hyacinth.  The centerpiece vessels were antiqued silver of various sizes as I chose a grouping of small vases as opposed to one big arrangement.  Because of the intimate nature of the dinner we decided to go with two very long and wide harvest tables which made for a long runway down the center that needed decoration.  We started with a dark purple runner (sewed by my talented seamstress/Mom), then 16″ square mirror tiles to fill the space and reflect candle light, then clusters of vases spaced every three people and finally lots of sparkling tea-light holders.  We kept it all low so as not to block the cross-table view and inhibit conversation.  The final touch was a single white rose in a little round vase one per guest to the right of each place.  It was sumptuous without being overly-decadent, glamourous without being flashy and appropriate for downtown evening setting.

The bouquets were created to match and I added a touch of the bride’s namesake flower, scottish Heather, for luck. Oh! And little diamond pins were added to each rose to make them even prettier.  Can you spot them?

I think that the smell of hyacinth will forever remind me of this day (and the following week as the fragrance lingered) and bring a smile to my face.  Congrats again Heather and Sean!