Media, Darling: Shinan Govani

Shinan Govani is the National Post‘s resident snoop and people watcher. In addition to frequent television appearances and being Page Six‘s “go-to-Canadian,” Govani has also appeared in such publications as Salon, Details, New York, Fashion, and enRoute. “Shinan is to celebrity what the Bank of Canada is to the dollar,” Toronto Life once said. His beat has him meandering across umpteenth different types of scenes, in Canada and beyond, whether it’s the Art Basel scene in Miami, Fashion Week in Paris, the film festival circuit c/o Sundance/Cannes/Toronto, the society set, the chef crowd, etc. Earlier this year, he attended Vanity Fair‘s famous Oscar night party in L.A. – the only Canadian journalist to be invited inside the party.


Photo Credit: Sisi Penaloza
Website: National Post
Twitter: @shinangovani, @nationalpost


Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I can’t remember not being a media-phile and know-it-all, but I didn’t always know how it would translate into a career. Always had varied interests – including politics, culture, style, food – and the great thing about journalism, per se, is that one can minor in all those subjects at once, if one wishes. More specifically, for me, most of my interests in all subjects pivoted around the people in various tribes, so winding up with the kind of column I write is no accident. I’ve always subscribed to Jonathan Swift’s famous dictum: “Character is plot,” i.e. I believe all great stories – be they world events, or tabloid tales, or what not – come down to people. Their vanities, their hang-ups, their childhoods, their reaches for validation, etc.
I will also add that I was always the guy who’d have anxiety attacks when I passed newsstands, fretting about what I hadn’t yet read, as well as the kid with the flashlight under the blanket reading a book way, way after bedtime.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
More books, for sure (my first novel, Boldface Names, came out a few years ago). I’d like to maybe take a stab at writing biographies at some point. Also, I want to continue to give back, socially-speaking, having played in this crazy playground for so many years – continue to contribute in causes such as AMFAR (I co-chaired its annual gala in Toronto for two years, through which we raised close to two million dollars). I want to go live in Venice, Italy for a spell, but in the winter. I see it very clearly: Venice. In the winter. When the hordes of tourists have poofed, and the city is supposed to be the most hypnotic (it’s when the moisture from the sea hits the chill, creating a haze off the canals that filters the suns into variations of pink and gold). 
Also: I’d like to get around to making bread. But just once.
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Read and write. And write and read.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I am a veritable Cookie Monster when it comes to media-consumption, so, in addition to many of the obvious (the Page Six-es and the Vanity Fairs) I’ll just throw a few things, at the top of my head, and in no particular order: some fun podcasts on KCRW, out of L.A., including Elvis Mitchell’s showbiz-insider, ‘The Treatment’ as well as the quite charming ‘Good Food’; Tatler out of the U.K. (required reading in my field); the weekend Financial Times (love the ‘Lunch With’ column, and David Tang’s high-larious advice column!); anything Camille Paglia or Ingrid Sischy or Bob Collacello; everything Daily Mail; the Daily Beast (much better curated than the Huffington Post); the Great Lives series on BBC4; columnists, far and wide, like Maureen Dowd, David Carr and Cathy Horyn in the New York Times, AA Gill in the London Times, Emily Nussbaum and Anthony Lane in The New Yorker, Mike Musto in The Village Voice; Arts & Letters Daily online; the Slate Culture Gabfest; Fashion Police on E! (I would never dare miss an episode!); Hardball; Rachel Maddow; the ‘At Issue’ panel on CBC’s The National; all the great aggregators on New York mag (The Cut, Grub Street, Vulture, etc); NewYorkSocialDiary.com (where the great gossipist Liz Smith still is going and writing!); Barbara Amiel in Maclean’s (I won’t even try to resist!)…NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ (I worship Terri Gross!)…AdweekSalonPolitico…Richard Lawson on theatlantic.com…Jason Gay on tennis in the Wall Street Journal…Roger Friedman’s Showbiz 411 column online…and it goes on. (Oh, how I miss Christopher Hitchens).
Special shout-out to Bon Appetit magazine, which, I believe, is the most-improved glossy, with Adam Rapport as editor. In many ways, it’s the best culture mag out there!
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Having tea with Jackie Collins, one-on-one inside the Plaza Athene in New York, was pretty nifty. But maybe ’cause it was just last month that I remember it so fondly. (I’ve been at this for a while!)
Worst?
Linda Evangelista. What a bore! Definitely proof positive that models, in most cases, lose all their power when they speak.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Plus ça change. Also: “You’re never as good as your best review, and never as bad as your worst.”e
As Good As Your Best Review, And Never As Bad As Your Worst’ –
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Oh, why the hell not?
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Bikram yoga.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
All my best experiences with PR pros have occurred through genuine relationships developed over my years of doing this. Let me be frank: in the context of a social column, it’s all about back-scratching and, well, that thing called chemistry. A press release is probably the least effective way of getting my attention. A publicist who can craft a story angle, or at least lead the horse (me!) to water with it, will definitely get my attention faster. A publicist who has given me a scoop on a matter something/someone that’s not a client, or is occasionally the source of intel, will get my attention when they need something from me! More specifically: my particular column is all boldface-oriented, so a fast-thinking PR will mould a story, or a mention, in a way that has boldface potential. In New York or L.A., when I hear from PRs, they’ll often send me the pitch, in proper paragraph form, having boldfaced the names in themselves, so I immediately get the pic. This doesn’t happen often in Toronto.
I hate?
Debbie Downers. And raisins.
I love?
People who can see and appreciate all the colours. And spicy food that makes me weep.
Reading?
Crazy Rich Asians, an advance-copy of a novel that I think is going to be huge. It’s out in June. It’s kind of like a Chinese Dallas meets a Chinese Real Housewives meets a Chinese Royal Tenenbaums. I also have a pretty interesting biography on the go: Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde.
Best place on earth?
The Maldives – primarily because I’ve never been. (The mind provides the best excursions!)
Hero?
Victoria Grayson.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean.
Voicemail or email?
Email. (Or tweet!)
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Media, Darling: Julia McEwen

Julia McEwen has been fixated on all things beautifying since she
was a child sewing clothes for her dolls and giving them radical new hair ‘dos.
She’s a fashion sleuth, facial mask hoarder, self-described dog snob, and
purveyor of shiny fabrics.
She briefly worked as an independent fashion designer and a
freelance wardrobe stylist before joining Canadian Living almost five years ago. Now, as fashion
and beauty director, McEwen is responsible for fashion and beauty photo shoots,
service driven beauty stories and testing the latest products and trends.



Did
you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
horizon?
Many
jobs — both real and fake — were on my wish list growing up, but a job in the
media was never top of mind. Like most little girls, the prospect of being a fairy princess or a mermaid sounded like a good bet. As I grew older (but not
so much wiser) professional gymnast or Olympic downhill ski racer was the goal.
Next came vet, marine biologist, lawyer, interior designer and then finally I
settled on fashion designer. I went to school for fashion design and fashion
business and while attending one of my electives, fashion journalism, I decided
that was my dream occupation.
Where
would you like to be five years from now?
I’d
still like to be working in print media, but on a larger scale with more of a
focus on fashion. I’d like to be writing and producing aspirational photo
shoots and articles. Ideally this future publication would be located in NYC or
London.
Any
advice for people getting started in your industry?
Try,
try and try again. Oh, and do one, two or even three internships. Perseverance
is the name of the game in this industry. You have to love what you’re doing
because it’s a ton of work for not a lot of pay. Also, never be rude to people.
Being an asshole will get you nowhere, fast.
What
are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
Best
interview you’ve ever had?
Surprisingly
enough, one of my best interviews was also one of my first interviews. It was
with reality TV mentor, Tim Gunn. He was very media trained so for a newbie
journalist it was appreciated. He was also astoundingly insightful, charming
and inspiring. What more could I ask for?
Worst?
Carrie Underwood. Seconds before the interview I was instructed not to ask any
questions with a Canadian emphasis. I work for Canadian Living magazine……
Best
advice you’ve ever been given?
“Why
say no when it feels so good to say yes.” – Tommy Boy, the movie.
“Don’t
live in the past or the future, live in the now.” – My friend’s mom, aka Buddha
reincarnated.
What
rule(s) do you live your life by?
Likely
this rule is fuelled by my OCD, but for the last eight years, I plan out my outfit
for the following day. Every detail is decided on in advance, including
accessories and jewelry. It helps keep my closet tidy and gives me plenty of
time to map out the perfect outfit for the day ahead.
What’s
the most important tip you can give PR pros?
When
it comes down to it, a PR person’s success depends on their relationships with
media peeps. We’re all human, no need to send out mass emails or leave awkward
voicemails like you’re reading from a bad script. Just be real, talk openly and
be honest.
Things
that make me happy:

When
a press release has the name of the product, price, availability and arrives
early enough for it to be timely to feature in book for long lead media, e
vents
on the subway line that are first thing in the AM and e
vents/previews/interviews
that start on time and don’t last longer than an hour.

Things
that make me go crazy:

Massive
attachments in email, t
he
phone call follow up less than 24 hours after the initial pitch/event has been
sent or emailed, s
aying
something is exclusive when your direct competitors are being offered the exact
same thing and ev
ents/previews
in the middle of the day.

Best
experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I’ve
had countless warm and fuzzy experiences with so many wonderful PR pros it’s
difficult to pick an all time best. So I’ll just give a few of them shout outs
for being my PR guardian angels: Katherine Hamilton, Lisa Kruger, Lindsey
Haywood, Caroline Duguay, Sarah Smithers, Anita Matte, Kelly Amsterdam, Isabelle
Randez and Jessica Shamess.
I
hate?
Leggings,
UGG boots and Canada Goose jackets. Especially when worn all together with a
Starbucks in hand. #fashionfail #lifefail
I
love?
Day
sequins, rice and Norwich terriers.

Reading?
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.
Best
place on earth?
Somewhere
I’ve yet to discoverer. My money is on Anna Dello Russo’s apartment-sized
closet.
Dinner
guest?
Hero?
I
don’t have one overarching hero in my life but there are lots of influential
women out there who inspire me — and one man. Jenna Lyons, Julianne Moore,
Grace Coddington, Cate Blanchett, Gwen Stefani and Tom Ford.


Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Vine
is the newest app added to my social media roster. So far it’s tied with
Instagram for top spot. Followed by Twitter, Pinterest and Viddy.
Pool
or ocean?
Ocean.
Public, resort and/or hotel pools are cesspits. 
Voicemail
or email?
Emails
all the way. Even if it takes me one, two or seven plus days I’ll eventually
reply to your email. Voicemails make me ragey.

Fashion-able: 2013 Designer Collaborations

Here on the fourth floor we’re not letting articles like this deter us. Why? Because we love designer collaborations (see our 2012 instalment here). Big companies teaming up with high fashion brands so that us plebeians can actually buy them? How kind. Here are some designer collabos we’re looking forward to. 


River Island x Rihanna
Ahh Princess Riri, we’ll always love you even though you’re back together with Cbreezy. You’re a beautiful, smart (we like to still believe) and confident woman with killer style, which is why we’re super pumped to see what you’ve come up with for your River Island collaboration. Even this sneak peek has got us willing to eat the extra £10.00 shipping fee. Now if we could just pay extra for that accent…



Oliver Peoples x Maison Kitsuné
Super cool brands Oliver Peoples and Maison Kitsuné have teamed up to bring us a beautiful collection of sunnies you’ll hopefully see us wearing this summer. The retro model Tokyo has a unisex frame and the option to add coloured lenses. The Paris model is more feminine and available in black and a tortoiseshell-honey colour called 8108 (below).

We’ll have one Paris in 8108 please.



Banana Republic x Milly
Hitting shelves in May 2013, this Hamptons-inpsired collab is the first for Milly designer Michelle Smith, but we hope not the last. The 46-piece women’s collection ranges from apparel jewelry and totes in summery colours like coral and lime, to 16 pieces for men including printed shorts and knit button-downs. Now if only we had a place in the Hamptons to wear this collab, we’d be all set.


We can feel the summer breeze from this Banana Republic x Milly collection. 

Alber Elbaz x Lancôme
We.love.makeup. Especially when it’s Lancôme teaming up with the ever-charming Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz. No details yet except a très adorable video that has been released. The limited edition collection is set to launch Saturday, June 15. 


Prabal Gurung x Target
Having dressed the likes of First Lady Michelle Obama and The Duchess of Cambridge, Prabal Gurung has been taking the fashion world by storm since the launch of his line in 2009. The collaboration between Gurung and Target is a smart one, especially on the heels of the failed Nordstrom x Target collection. The collection hit stores earlier this week and almost sold out within a day (just our luck), so if you want to get your fashion hungry fingers on this collab, we suggest checking out eBay or pleading with your American friends to let you ship something from Target.com to their house.


Once Target comes to Canada, you can count on us being first in line for whatever amazing collaboration is coming up next. 

Media, Darling: Hannah Yakobi

Hannah Yakobi is an award-winning journalist and communications specialist.
Throughout her career, she has written for the
National Post, OK! Magazine,
Canwest newspaper network and dozens of publications worldwide. She is
currently the editor-in-chief of
FAJO Magazine, an international publication with staff in
Canada, U.S., U.K. and Italy.


Over the past decade, Yakobi has interviewed and photographed many fashion
and entertainment icons, including John Fluevog, Mariah Carey, Jeanne Beker,
Enrique Iglesias, Deepak Chopra, Catherine Malandrino, Paul Venoit and Bryan Adams. A graduate of Carleton University‘s renowned school of journalism,
Yakobi speaks four languages and has lived in five countries. In her free time,
she enjoys raising awareness and funds for various Canadian and international
charities.



Dress by David Dixon. Photography
by Robin Gartner for FAJO Magazine.



Twitter: @FajoMagazine,
@HannahYakobi

Web: www.fajomagazine.com 



Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on
the horizon? 

My career trajectory was somewhat unpredictable: I wanted to be a ballet dancer when I was very young (who didn’t?), for many years I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer (I even took some courses)
and later I briefly thought psychology was the field for me. But then, at 18, I became a
reporter and have never looked back. 


Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’d like to continue to do exactly what I’m
doing now, but on an even larger scale.


Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
You need to be hard-working and dedicated. Some
people have an expectation that fashion is all about glamour and fabulous
parties – it certainly does have that, but in order to stay in this industry
for a long time, you need to earn it. Expect long hours and plenty of stress.
When you start, say “yes” to almost everything. And never be rude to anyone –
it’s a small industry and the word about bad behaviour travels fast. 


What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I grew up reading Harper’s Bazaar, so that
publication has always had a very special place in my heart. And I love the
British edition of Glamour, the small, mini-size version – I’ve been reading it
for years.


Best interview you’ve ever had?
Dominique Szabo, Senior Vice-President of Estee
Lauder. She was remarkable on every level.


Worst?
This is a hard question. I’ve had some
interviews that didn’t start on a good note. But almost always, after chatting
with each other, the interviewee and I were able to get the conversation
flowing.



Many of my friends who are also journalists
frequently tell me crazy stories about some of their interviews. I think I have
been lucky to never experience that. At least – not yet.   


Best advice you’ve ever been given?
“University education is very important” is what
my grandfather always used to say. When I got my degree, I understood the value
of those words.


What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Hard work pays off. 

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Do the research before you contact media folks.
If someone says they are not interested in a pitch, do not pressure them.
Maintain relationships with people. 


Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
The folks at National PR. They are quite
amazing.


I hate?
Cold weather, pretentious behaviour,
unprofessionalism. 


I love?
Charity work, hosting parties, travel and
getting my hair done. 


Reading?
About to re-read Life of Pi. Just saw the movie
in December and loved it, so decided to read the book again.  


Best place on earth?
Barcelona, Spain.

Dinner guest?
Valentino Garavani. I have great respect for
that man. 


Hero?
My mother. She is an incredible woman, who has
dedicated her life to my sister and I. She has had quite a spectacular career,
and always has incredible business ideas. 


Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Instagram.

Pool or ocean?
Can I say “the sea”? Mediterranean sea!

Voicemail or email?
If you want to chat, I’m on my phone. If you
want a response right away and it has to do with business, email is where you
can find me.

Media, Darling: Briony Smith

Briony Smith is the writer and stylist
behind
The Grid’s fashion page. She was previously the fashion editor of
blogTO. Briony has also contributed to publications like ELLE Canada, LOULOU, Toronto
Life
, and glow. She recently appeared as a stylist on MuchMusic, and was named
by
Flare magazine as one of the Top 10 Best Dressed denizens of Fashion Week.


Photo courtesy of Flare, by Max Kopanygin.

Twitter: @TheGridTO
Website: thegridto.com 


Did you always want to be in the media? If
not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I still remember the day my dad told my
10-year-old self what a masthead was—and my immediate obsession with getting on
one someday! (Other careers I toyed with, believe it or not, were cop,
obstetrician, lawyer, and librarian.)
Where would you like to be five years from
now?
Writing, editing, and styling stories and
packages that make people say to their friends, “Hey, I read the best piece
today.”
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
Don’t. You will have to work ten times as
hard as everyone else, all the time. Forever. If you can handle that, and still
feel that passion for fashion, journalism, the arts? You’re in the right place.
What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own? 
Vanity Fair, HBO, The A.V. Club, The New
York Times
, iwantapounddog.blogspot.ca.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
For crush factor (at the time), Will
Arnett. I behaved in a terribly unprofessional manner when I conned him into
repeating a line from a treasured Human Giant sketch.
Worst?
One musician scheduled a phoner immediately
after his dental surgery, while another actress scheduled the call during her
brief limo ride to the airport and kept barking what I should and should not
focus on in the piece. Oh, and Hawksley Workman.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
A common refrain in the Smith household was
“Life isn’t fair.” My corollary to that might be: “Failure isn’t falling
down—it’s not getting up.” Jesus, that sounds like something on one of those
inspirational posters. This quote from U.S. congresswoman Debbie Wasserman in
last October’s Vogue did, however, strike me recently: “I might not convince
you that I’m right, and I might not always win the day or be successful on
everything I set out to accomplish. But I’m never going to lose because I got
outworked.”
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
The usual things: Try to be kind. Smile
more. Work hard. Dress well. It’s the little things. This, too, shall pass.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
We know our fevered, last-minute emails
for products, images, and interview requests can be annoying, but super-prompt
replies are what make me really love some PR people—and loathe others.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
I cheer every time a PR gal sends me a
high-res, off-figure, on-white image just in the nick of time.
I hate?
Leggings as pants. Snobbery. Getting up
early. Sore feet. Bad TV. Bad style.
I love?
French 75s. Kindness. My friends. Work
ethic. Similes that give you chills. Trinity-Bellwoods. Great style. A
well-dressed man.
Reading?
Best place on earth?
Under the covers. Or maybe Thailand.
Dinner guest?
Louis CK. Karl Lagerfeld. Peter Kaplan. And
the Davids: Chase, Milch, and Simon.
Hero?
Roger Ebert.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?
Flixster, Shazam, and Instagram.
Pool or ocean?
The sea! It’s one of the great loves of my
life. (Full disclosure: I’m from B.C.)
Voicemail or email?
Email. Never, ever voicemail. Don’t call
me. Ever.


Photo Friday – holiday office parties

Slap on the lipstick and heels, gals, it’s time to party! With your boss. Stressed about the office holiday party? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a few simple dos and don’ts – happy Friday.


Do: Bust a move.





Don’t: pull an Elaine.
Do: Wear something special.





Don’t: Wear so little “something special”.


Do: Let loose.


Don’t: Overindulge. 






Do: Find yourself under the mistletoe.






Don’t: End up with a lawsuit.

As fun as it seems, you don’t actually want your office to be this Office.


Responsible office parties.


Even offices back then got a little friskier during the holidays.


Definitely don’t be this guy.

Media Darling: Greg Hudson

Born and raised in Edmonton, AB, where he made his mother
proud by singing and acting in many high school musicals, Greg Hudson is now
the associate editor of
Sharp, Canada’s men’s magazine. He talks to starlets and
authors, and is the one you would pitch to if you want a story in the
magazine. He’s also written for Toronto Life, Elle Canada
and
Canadian Business. He has a wife and an incredibly cute dog named
Saunders



Website: sharpformen.com
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other
careers were on the horizon? 
I always wanted to be in the media, but in high school that
meant being a subject of media. I wanted to be the first Canadian prime
minister who got his start as a world-renowned pop star. My heroes were Pierre
Trudeau and Robbie Williams.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
A place where I can look back and say, “You know, I am now in
a completely appropriate place career-wise vis-a-vis where I was five years
ago. I am therefore content.” I will say this from a bigger apartment.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Work hard. Editors—and hopefully readers, too—can tell when
you phone something in.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your
own? 
Of course, all the other men’s magazines, but also: Slate.com, TheAtlanticWire.com (I have a crush on Richard Lawson. You can tell
him I said that.), The A.V. Club.

These are shocking, considering my demographic.  

Best interview you’ve ever had?
Brooklyn Decker was surprisingly candid, when she really
didn’t have to be. George Saunders and Michael Chabon were dreams that came
true.

Worst?
Probably Amber Heard. She didn’t walk out or anything, she was
just too pretty to be at all enthused.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
I think I’ve forgotten all the advice I’ve ever been given.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
I try to treat others as though they are, in fact, real
humans. Although, I probably fall short of the Golden Rule more often than I
allow myself to admit.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
If something is personalized to me, and backed up by a sense
that they know my publication, I’m going to look for ways to help them.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear
about #wins.
When I feel like I’ve made an honest connection with a PR
person, whether it’s through hilarious email banter, or the reciprocated use of
ironic exclamation marks, it’s a win. Oh, and when people can hook me up with
books, gift ideas, or samples at the last minute for silly television
appearances? To them, I silently sing Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings.

I hate?
The word natch. I hate the word natch.

I love?
Validation.

Reading?
Everyone’s life would be improved by reading George
Saunders’ new book The Tenth of December. (I named my dog after the guy. He’s
like my new Pierre Trudeau and Robbie Williams).

Best place on earth?
Shuswap Lake in British Colombia. 


Dinner guest?
Ugh. I have to make dinner now? No. No.

Hero?
See answer above, under READING.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
These are all words I don’t understand. Like favourite appetizer? I’m a fan of
various dips, I think. Or, you know, a plate of wings. Pan bread and parm dip
at Earl’s is pretty great, too.

Pool or ocean?
Neither. Lake. But, you know, a clean one.

Voicemail or email?

Email.