The scoop on Tastemakers Lounge at TIFF 2011

The ladies on the fourth floor have a knack for spotting (and starting) hot new trends. That’s why we’re excited to give you the scoop on the gifts and goodies that wowed at our seventh annual Tastemakers Lounge, hosted during the Toronto International Film Festival.

This year, we transformed our InterContinental Hotel suite into a paradise of products for local and international talent in Toronto for the festival.  Guests were quick to snap up chic, one-of-a-kind accessories, many of which are Canadian. Stars personalized Pandora bracelets with gem-studded, 14-karat gold or sterling silver charms and rocked fashionable eye-wear from brands FYSH UK, KLIIK denmark or EVATIK from Western Optical. Crowncap gifted everyone with warm and cozy Nathanial Cole hats. And at the end of a long day working the red carpet, there’s nothing better than a pair of superior, stylish denim when the formal wear comes off. Stars scooped up jeans from Mavi’s newest line, Mavi Gold.
Geoffrey Rush, The Eye of the Storm, trying on a new pair of frames.
With snap-happy paparazzi trolling through Toronto and swarming red carpets, skin and hair care is of the utmost importance. Indeed Labs treated guests to its newest face serum Okrapeptide (a great, natural Botox alternative). Professional in-house stylists from Conair preened and pampered guests with John Frieda styling tools. 
Arlene Dickinson, Dragon’s Den, checking out her new ‘do courtesy of Conair.
As much as we adore great new products and gorgeous apparel, we also know that great finds go well beyond fashion, beauty and jewellery. 

To satisfy the gamer in each of our guests, Mattel Game On! showcased four new games including Angry Birds: Knock on Wood, the board game version of the smartphone favourite. For the music-lovers, ClarityOne equipped talent with 3-D ClarityOneEarbuds featuring a built-in PureSound processor for crisp, clear sound. 

Butter‘s Yara Shahidi picks up Uno Roboto.

There’s nothing we love more than celebrities who interact and engage with fans. For stars ready to sign autographs, Sharpie gifted guests with the ultimate tool for making signatures stylish. After a full day of doing interviews, a working actor needs a good night’s sleep. Canadian line Cilque[s•ilk]  sent guests like Scott Speedman home with 100 per cent silk bedding, pillowcases, an eye mask or a gift certificate.

In between parties and screenings, busy stars need to nosh!  PC showcased its newest line of products, President’s Choice® black label, to the VIP crowd. Visitors who were in the mood for something crunchy and tasty hit up the popchips mini lounge. To quench their thirst, guests grabbed a Smartwater and filled up their brand new Bobble, a resilient, reusable water bottle.
Dustin Milligan, Sisters and Brothers, kicks back with a bag of popchips.

Tastemakers guests also left with gift certificates to Rue Pigalle, Dealuxe and Eleven.

Our guests took their swag home in the adorable Fall 2011 Everygirl Tote snakeskin printed bag from Old Navy and cheeky reusable bags made from recycled t-shirts from Me + You.
Other guests that stopped by included Mary Harron, Sarah Gadon and Sarah Bolger (The Moth Diaries), Don McKellar (I’m Yours), Lasse Hallström (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), Kim Wayans, Adepero Oduye and Pernell Walker (Pariah), Jessica Parker Kennedy (50/50), Sam Childers (Machine Gun Preacher), Mike Clatterburg (Afghan Luke), Jennifer Podemski (Take This Waltz), Vinay Birmani (Breakaway), Katie Boland (TIFF Rising Star), Tattiawna Jones (Keyhole), Georgina Reilly (Highland Gardens) and many, many more!
Tastemakers Lounge may be lavish, but it’s not just about swag. Tastemakers is making a donation to CNIB, a charity that provides research, innovative consumer products and advocacy support for blind and partially sighted individuals. CNIB also takes on the huge task of delivering 2.2 million materials in alternative formats like braille and audio to people with disabilities across Canada.
Russell Peters, Breakaway, hopes Okrapeptide will fix his many laugh lines.
We are so proud of Tastemakers Lounge and the wonderful sponsors who provide truly fantastic and innovative products year after year. See you at TIFF 2012!
Visit our Facebook page for more pics from the lounge.
Check out some of our past Tastemakers posts and discover our amazing history. 

Fashion-able: Swimwear

Grab your Karen Walker sunnies, because with our guide to swimwear, bathing suit season is no longer the most dreaded of them all. For when days are scorching hot, we’ve got you covered from itty-bitty bikinis to sleek one-pieces.

Why wear one print when you can wear two? Mix and match with Zimmerman’s two-piece floral-weave bathing suit ($245). The fully padded floral top contrasts perfectly with the black basket woven bottom. Grab a towel – you’re gonna make a splash (we couldn’t help ourselves.)

Bring glamour to the beach in J. Crew’s Islet paisley ruched underwire bandeau tank ($108). The strapless bather has a pretty, neutral paisley print with a removable halter strap. Bonus for busty babes? The built-in underwire offers some serious support for full coverage. 

Look cool poolside in Old Navy’s animal print bandeau bikini top (about $15) and ruffled bottoms (about $15). These simple, classic mix-and-match pieces get a little oomph from the hot animal print and jewelled halter strap. Not a fan of prints? You can swap out the top for a huge selection of solid colours. 

For a little more coverage, but lots of style, Gap offers similar mix-and-match options that let you choose a different size for each piece. We love the pretty periwinkle-purple colour of this tankini (on sale for $17 right now!), and the deep V-neck still offers a bit of sex appeal without flashing all your goods. The bottoms (also currently on sale for $7) have adjustable ties on the side, which help avoid the dreaded squeezed-hips look.

Go get suited up and don’t forget the SPF! 

We’re Not Just Pretty

Working in public relations has its perks. There are invites to hot parties, exclusive sneak previews of films and products, and rubbing elbows with the occassional celebrity. Generally though, PR is not about glitz and glam. Our lives do not resemble Whitney Port’s or Samantha Jones’. There are regular 18-hour days, delicate situations to be negotiated and smiling despite the bad news – all the while working at a pace that gives the Molson Indy racers a run for their money. We love it and it’s often fun, but we’re not just bubbly blondes that chat about Angelina all day long, while dashing from party to party.

We’re Not Just Pretty” is our latest regular feature. We’ve asked some top PR professionals to give us the inside scoop on their work lives, and clear up any misconceptions that exist about what it really means to work in PR.

We’re thrilled to feature Tara Wickwire, Director of Public Relations for Gap Inc. Canada. She oversees PR efforts for Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Gap Outlet, Banana Republic Factory Store and the upcoming Gap Inc. e-commerce launch.

Tara graduated from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science, then moved to Toronto to complete the Public Relations post-graduate program at Humber College. She began her career at The Bay and later joined Gap Inc.

Outside of talking about jeans for a living, Tara loves to play tennis, wax poetic about Nurse Jackie, visit the library, enjoy the great outdoors with her family, cook successful recipes and converse with Gwyneth Paltrow about the merits of vacationing in Nova Scotia.

How long have you been in your current position?
I have led the Gap Inc. PR team since 2006.

How does your company leverage PR?
The function of the PR team in Canada is certainly multi-faceted. It’s up to our team to execute PR campaigns that reflect our product and marketing focus. We are the means through which the brand’s messages are communicated, so we need to keep it distinct among the brands and also find new ways to tell our brand stories from season to season. Obviously social media is an exciting new dimension and it enhances the PR function in such a challenging new way.

What do you love most about your job?
Each day I come to the office and work with a fantastic and inspiring team. It’s a real joy to be able to think and work creatively in support of the brands I feel very passionate about. I love the challenge of finding new ways to tell our brand’s stories and to ultimately engage the customer.

What qualities are most important to you when hiring a PR team member?
Obviously, credentials and experience play a role in finding the right team member. But for me, it’s very much about a vibrant work ethic and a personality fit with the entire team. It’s finding the right combination of enthusiasm, warmth, polish, curiosity and relevant experience.

Who is your mentor or professional in the industry you admire?
I have a bank of many fond memories of working with my previous boss and mentor, Jane Shaw. She taught me a lot about perseverance and understanding your own strengths and opportunities. A mentor can teach you what it takes for success–but this starts with self-awareness and confidence.

I also really admire Mark McEwan’s leadership style. I love how he interacts with his team and keeps a very calm aura during intense moments.

What are your feelings about how PR has been positioned in the media in more recent years, on popular TV shows (Melrose Place, Sex and The City, The Real L Word, The City etc.)?
Aside from the misleading melodrama, it’s great. I actually think it’s fantastic that PR has developed such a high profile in pop culture because it’s an incredibly positive career path, full of opportunity and great experiences. But with these shows, there is a drawback that people are misguided about what the job entails. So many classic moments – it’s pretty much an enduring Facebook status of “Really??????”.

I would love to see a show following White House interns. Now that would be good.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for PR pros, both junior and senior?
It sounds basic, but read as much as possible, for both inspiration and research. You can achieve greater success with your message once you are thoroughly familiar with what your reporter, publication, blog, etc., has covered. Soak it all in and add it to your arsenal of information. It’s one thing to talk about a trend, but it’s quite another to use context and how it relates to cultural and societal shifts.

But most importantly, be absolutely genuine.

A little more from the fourth floor:
Website:, The Huffington Post,,, – and more!
Designer: A.P.C., Helmut Lang, Jil Sander, Miu Miu.
Store: Aside from the obvious- A.P.C., Barney’s, Holt’s, Jeffrey, Alexis Bittar and West Elm.
Book: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.
Snack: Let’s just put it this way: not carrot sticks.
Season: Fall.
Inspiration: My parents.
Drink: Orangina.
Motto in two words: Be grateful.
Idea of perfect happiness: Sitting on a dock looking at the ocean with my boys.
Indulgence: HBO, designer shoes, Whole Foods mac and cheese, roasted marshmallow ice cream, Diptyque candles. Shall I continue?
Celebrity crush: Tim Riggins.
Favourite tweeter to follow: (Other than @GapCanadaPR, @OldNavyCanadaPR and @BRCanadaPR of course!) – @thesulk, @3rdand10, @tiyanagrulovic is a wit at the tweet, @Flarefashion, @Seacrest. And love the stream of consciousness from @dkny, @lakebell