ASHTIANI is an emerging, award-winning, luxury fashion brand that, since it’s inception in 2011, showcased four distinctive and on-brand collections that deserve international praise. In contrast, during the SS 2013 Toronto Fashion Week, ASHTIANI’s collection was presented to a select few on one of the small runways. Despite the space limitation and lack of influential eyes, ASHTIANI’s SS2013 collection got some of this year’s best reviews by Evan Biddell of The Star calling the designer “truly one of the undiscovered gems of the Toronto Fashion Week”. The Globe’s Deirdre Kelly named Golnaz Ashtiani “as the one-to-watch”. Although the designer has been featured in mags and blogs, overall, not many fashionistas, bloggers or editors truly rave about it, not to mention the common Canadian.

ASHTIANI AW12, SS12, AW12 looks

Although marketing and PR teams are of vital importance to grow and expand a label, the costs associated with them are sky-high and, most of the time, unaffordable for emerging designers. As such, for the first few years, just like in every start-up, the owner is the head chef and the bottle washer. Point in case, Bojana Sentaler, the Creative Director behind Toronto-based SENTALER luxury coats, is just beginning to expand her one-person shop after three years being in business and achieving doubling revenue year after year! 

It’s incredibly admirable for Bojana Sentaler, Creative Director behind SENTALER luxury coats, to achieve success doing everything on her own for the past three years.

Of course, part of the responsibility of becoming a publicly notorious fashion house, brand or label is that of the designer. But, the designer’s true calling lies in creating the life-style that the rest of us envision.

Designers are visionaries, first and foremost.  Twice a year, they create and showcase a direction in style and fashion for the rest of us, before we even realize it’s what we want. I believe that’s tough enough.

MICHI, a luxury lifestyle brand, has been designing and producing rule-bending active wear in Toronto. Looks from Fall 2012 collection.

Radio and TV stations in Canada must broadcast a certain percentage of Canadian Content, as defined in the CRTC regulations. According to Fraser Institute, an independent Canadian research and educational organization, annual broadcast content quota on Canadian TV stations must consist of a whopping 60% Canadian programming, and at least 50% of prime-time programming (6:00 pm to midnight). For radio, MAPL regulations require 40% Canadian Content. Although such policies are  a burden and a cure, supporting Canadian talent is important and beneficial for the talent, and, at the very least, it’s also good for the rest of us from the entrepreneurial and economic perspective.

From Mark Fast’s Faster luxury basics line. Not sure how to wear this but Christian Aguilera pulled it off.

I can’t help but wonder why don’t Canadian personalities, hosts and other public figures promote Canadian fashion designers to help, globally, showcase our talent? Canadian magazines should consistently and independently feature Canadian designers and fashion. This would greatly help the designers grow and remain Canadian. MARK FAST, a Winnipeg-born designer who made  knit wear internationally popular as well as sexy and racy, has been based in London since he started his label. Mark, studied in Europe, made his connections there and it makes perfect sense  to start-up shop there. DAVID DIXON, somewhat of a Canadian fashion veteran, was quoted in a March 2012 article on CBC, stating that “Over the past few years, Canada has become a little hot spot, and a lot of these designers … Jeremy Laing, Erdem — even though [they’re] not based here — still represent Canada.” They certainly represent Canada but does Canada support and assist in representing them as much as, say, London or New York?  Golnaz Ashtiani, graduated from London College of Fashion and moved to Toronto. A brilliant talent that we can only hope will stay in Canada.

ANASTASIA RADEVICH is a Montreal-based luxury shoe designer with an incredible knack and passion for modern and futuristic shoe-design.

I would love to challenge Canadian editors, stylists, bloggers, self-proclaimed fashionistas and PR professionals to continuously search out and promote unique Canadian talent that will help those fascinating and risk-taking creative minds grow, expand, stay Canadian, and gain global brand recognition. JOE FRESH will always be featured in the news because they have the knowledge, reputation, and resources. And, most certainly, Louis Vuitton is going to get the best ad space in a glossy but when will ASHTIANI, SENTALER, ANNE SPORTUN, ANDREW FLOYD, MICHI and ANASTASIA RADEVICH become international names? The longer we wait, the more these designers fall into the possibility of being mimicked, tempted to move their brand elsewhere or be offered the fame of working under an already established fashion house.

Some of the looks from Joe Fresh SS 2013 collection, from https://www.facebook.com/joefresh


ANNE SPORTUN EXCLUSIVE, part 2: custom jewellery

ANNE SPORTUN‘s design and creative process is unique, stylish and contemporary which is also embodied in her jewelry. In addition to the pieces you can find in the flagship store (742 Queen St. W., Toronto) and online, ANNE and her team also accommodate customers in one of a kind, custom jewelry. And, they have truly perfected the art of custom jewellery creation with utmost success.

Anne Sportun One of a Kind ring

Who wouldn’t adore a ring that combines the memories of your grandmother’s engagement ring, your mom’s elegant flare and your own personal style? However, looking for a trustworthy designer who can hand-hold you through the delicate process of creating something new from something sentimental is a thought not many of us are comfortable with.

Luckily, ANNE SPORTUN and her team have been assisting customers with designing pieces for their new beginnings (engagement, wedding, new job, tax-return, new wedding, divorce) for a long time. From the moment you walk into the flagship boutique, you will be accommodated by caring staff with in-depth understanding of jewelry as well as customers needs. They  are extremely accommodating, understanding and hard working. For example, ANNE SPORTUN’s team worked with a passionate, young professional on designing a ring that incorporated stones from the rings that she already owned. Completely understanding the monetary hardships of  a young professionals, ANNE’s team also credited the young woman for the precious metals in the rings that she no longer wanted (she actually got rid of all the rings from her previous boyfriends!).

Working with Anne Sportun was amazing. Fantastic experience for me the whole process. The ladies were always really helpful and always cheerful. It was a long process due to my end but they were never anything but amazing. I am really happy I had this experience with them and have an incredibly ring I havent taken off since I picked it up at their store. Couldnt have better things to say about a company.

Just one satisfied customer that was more than happy to provide feedback to me when I e-mailed her!

For those looking for the perfect engagement ring, ANNE offers something called a ‘Presentation Ring‘. The lucky guy is assisted in choosing an ANNE SPORTUN design that he believes his future wife would love. He proposes with the ring and, if the lucky girl believes that she would like something different, the couple can return to the store to either choose a different design or a custom order. Read further about the Presentation Ring on ANNE SPORTUN’s blog.

One of my favourite custom ring ideas is the “new beginnings” ring. The idea behind it being that a fashionable woman who passionately decided to move on with a new life after marriage, works with ANNE to design and create a new ring for herself from pieces of the old one! It’s brilliant to be this accommodating and understanding of today’s desires and needs of everyday women.

Ladies and gents, go mad with investing ‘portable wealth’ that will not only increase in value but will bring you joy!

Also, check out the original Anne Sportun post and Anne Sportun Exclusive, part 1.

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Images provided by Anne Sportun’s marketing team. Thank you!

ANNE SPORTUN EXCLUSIVE, part 1: drawing inspiration

ANNE SPORTUN creates a world beyond jewellery design. This world entails exquisite pieces of luxury, vintage glamour, distinctive taste and fine exclusivity. The talented and successful Torontonian and a fine jewelry designer, together with her business partner, Barb, have built a mini empire of talented goldsmiths, marketers and PR members that all share passion for stunning, nature-inspired and unique rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces.

Wrap Bracelets have been incredibly popular with Anne’s customers.

It is highly admiring that Anne has created thousands of pieces of jewellery, and to this day, her every ring, bracelet, engagement ring, earrings, and necklace are as creative, contemporary, and wearable as the very first one. The shapes are organic and inviting, the precious and semi-precious stones are cut with care and delicately placed in their setting such that you don’t ever want to take ANNE’s jewellery off. The talent to connect with elegant and progressive women speaks volumes about Anne’s creative vision and ability to connect with her customers.

I haven’t seen earrings this stunning, elegant, intricate and unique in a very long time. My short hair would adore to accompany these pieces of art!

Unlike most designers, ANNE does not design and produce jewellery ‘collections’ in the traditional sense of the term. She wants to ensure that her stunning designs captivate the customer’s imagination in the same way that she felt when she was inspired to design a specific ring, earring, bracelet, and necklace. In this respect, her marketing team certainly have a challenge on their hands, none the less, her creative, untraditional approach ensures the pieces are at their best each and every time.

The closest ANNE has to a ‘collection’ is a number of pieces that share a cohesive idea and a vision. For example, the FLOW COLLECTION was designed with the following inspiration:

The Flow collection is smart, simple and distilled. The collection’s elegance reveals itself in a natural form with a delicate movement and sparkle, denoting the preciousness, and flow of everyday life.”


The Flow Collection

The Flow Collection

Images provided by Anne’s lovely marketing team.

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SARAH PHELPS: abstract artist with flare

SARAH PHELPS is not just an artist, she’s an entrepreneur and she ensures that happiness drives her success in whatever she does, and she certainly does a lot! Sarah has been painting most of her life but she also made a number of interesting career choices including becoming a wildlife biologist, a personal trainer and a wellness coach. I believe that Sarah’s biggest achievement (thus far) is her ability to connect with and inspire people. These traits shine through her abstract paintings. Sarah told me a number of stories when people bought her painting on a whim while she was carrying them or just seeing them online.

“I want people to get something out of my paintings, I want people to love them” – Sarah Phelps

On the topic of where Sarah’s inspiration comes from:

It all happens at that moment, typically nothing is pre-planned. … [The] best pieces are created through frustration. Just when you think you’ve lost it, your frustration pulls you out of it, and a masterpiece is born 🙂 – Sarah Phelps

In the end, the best way to experience art is to check it out yourself. Sarah’s paintings are extremely affordable and, in addition, she commissions pieces to your liking. I also hear that she has very happy customers!


Sarah Phelps in her studio


I’ve always been the type to go against what’s popular in fashion. Currently, colour blocking is one of my biggest pet peeves. I love colour, don’t get me wrong, but when an orange top is combined with green pants, blue shoes, neon yellow bag and a fuchsia pink belt…. I want to poke my eyes out.

On that note, I am now more attracted to neutrals, shades and earthy tones. I also jump onto clothing that’s grungy and mysterious. Mandula, a Vancouver based label with a flagship store located in the historic Gas Town, is one of my latest favourite finds.I love MANDULA for a lot of different reasons.

Firstly, the all natural fabrics feel absolutely wonderful against your skin; a brand new shirt is already comfortable. Secondly, it is mysterious, independent, unique and creative. Thirdly, it’s timeless.

To become fascinated by Mandula is extremely easy, especially if you have a chance to visit the flagship store. I spent a couple of hours browsing and trying things on. The accessories that are made from reclaimed leather and such, are an absolute treat and a definite attention grabber. The baby clothes are also spectacular. They feel like an extension of mom’s skin: soft, warm and comfortable.

One bright colour makes a bigger statement than a rainbow of colours

Mandula reclaimed leather accessory

I love this shirt, the colours, the V-neck and the cut of the fabric are wonderful

A dress I’d wear everywhere and anywhere

This is the punk rocker in me…stared at this outfit for a while

* Images form Mandula’s web-site


A few hours ago I landed in Tdot from beautiful Buenos Aires and couldn’t wait to write something about TRAMANDO – a “very cool” Barcelona based label created by Argentinian Martin Churba, as explained to me by a concierge of the one and only Alvear Palace Hotel.

In addition to being ‘very cool’, Tramando is edgy, creative, feminine, futuristic, provocative and wearable – everything I would possibly want in a label. I visited Tramando’s shop in Recoleta, BA the second day of my trip, fell in love with a dress, and only wish the rest was history. They didn’t have my size and I’ve been dreaming of this dress ever since. As I wasn’t able to purchase my dream and post a photo, I’m left with taking images off of Facebook and Google.







Watch out Cavalli, there’s a Canadian equivalent of beautiful, nature-inspired prints (based in NYC now, where all the cool kids go). The biggest difference is that JUMA is less flashy and more classy (also won’t break the bank). Cavalli, in my opinion, can be worn only by a handful of women who are fit, tall and usually tanned (it’s hard to pull off busy, colourful prints on all body types). JUMA, on the other hand, is international, understated but very gorgeous, with a unique sense of prints and cuts.

I noticed JUMA couple of years back when I saw one of their scarfs in a boutique on Queen West. I had no idea they (bother and sister master-minds) have a fascinating clothing line for women and men but JUMA is a proclaimed ‘unisex’ brand. None the less, I am still in love with their scarfs. They’re very versatile. You can wear them to work and for a night out. They’re a jewel.

* Photies from Google and Juma’s Facebook page


Finally I found a jewellery designer that incorporates my personal and financial life-style in each and every piece. The Toronto-based, Maryan Keyhani is my jewellery pick of the year. I am blown away by the originality, artistry, boldness and self-confidence that clearly shines through each and every design created by Maryam.

There is an insightful article in the Business of Fashion about Maryan, her background and her business vision. She is actually quite a star in the media publishing world and has been written about and featured in many vital fashion glossies.

In this day and age,  most designers have all of their best goodies on display for everyone to see. As a truly original jewellery artist, one runs the risk of being copied quite easily as a result of this. Maryam has found a practical way to avoid copycats by simply requesting individuals to sign up for access to view her current/ upcoming collection online. In addition, all of the online shops that carry her jewellery, are ‘sign-up’ only, as well.

At this time, FW 2011 lookbook is available for everyone to browse and I highly suggest you do so.


White Fox Fur and Macaw War bonnet

Oh feather earrings, how they come and go faster than any other celebrity fashion trend. I am going to guess that the reason why feather accessories never become a classic fashion staple is because 99% of the time they are tacky and poorly made.

How about that other 1%? The other 1% is dominated by Ruby Feathers out of Winnipeg! These feather, fur and leather accessories including earrings, necklaces, hair accessories, cuffs and bonnets are spectacular! I adore them and would be proud to wear them. Otherwise, I would not be caught dead with a feather in my ear or hair, Cher and Cyndi Lauper from the ‘80’s should remain in the ’80’s – now those are classic.

Love these Cuffs!


Ibis Bracelet

It’s been a while since I covered a ‘rock n roll’ jewellery collection! Due to this prolonged break (and other reasons noted below), I am stoked about this post!

Harakiri Design is a Canadian gender-free jewellery line that’s rough around the edges – for all the right reasons – but gentle and meaningful
inside. The necklaces, earrings and bracelets are mostly inspired by Mother Nature herself, mostly in dead forms, with some pieces having religious inclinations (not my favourite). Regardless of the inspirations, Harakiri detailed designs can’t be messed with. One of my favourite features of the collections is the polished look and feel of certain rough designs. It’s a lovely ambiguity that will allow individuals to wear a shiny, polished shark tooth without hesitation to events that aren’t exactly appropriate for a shark tooth, per se… like work.

Mireille Boucher – the lovely designer superstar – and her work have been featured in numerous magazines and runway shows, and are gaining the respect they, oh so, deserve.