The Juno Runway

Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary so, of course, it makes sense to celebrate the annual Juno Awards this year in our capital. This Sunday, the country’s finest will gather to celebrate their performance achievements from all genres of the musical spectrum.

Canada’s jazz scene has been recognized worldwide for producing some of the greatest jazz musicians such as Oscar Peterson, Diana Krall, and Michel Bublé, just to name a few. Some of this year’s nominees include singer Heather Bambrick, as well as pianists Renee Rosnes, and Amanda Tosoff.

Couturier, Rosemarie Umetsu, just so happens to be dressing all three of these talented musicians for the big day. We ask the sought after designer who she incorporated their personalities into each fashionable ensemble.

Heather is very fun, edgy, with a hint of whimsy. To match her big bubbly personality, I wanted to create something that would be amazing for the red carpet and feel equally in place for a jazz club or bigger stage. Renee’s piece represents elegance. This was definitely designed to be fluid and flowing like her new album, with a nod to her East Indian heritage. A specific point of inspiration she gave me was a gorgeous set of earrings and bracelet her husband veteran, jazz pianist Bill Charlap, had given her for Christmas. Finally, with Amanda, her style overall is super simple and easy. I wanted her to have something with no fuss but be modern and intelligent. She plays with a lot of singers and prefers to be understated.

Fashion, Glamour, Opera

Toronto-based Sid Neigum‘s latest fashion project has our stamp of approval written all over it. The Alberta-born designer will be taking his Fall 2017 collection to the west coast later this month to present at the Vancouver Opera’s signature fundraising gala – All The Glitters.

On top of showing his latest collection, Neigum has also joined forces with the VO to design costumes for their upcoming production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Those attending the black-tie gala will get an up-close preview before these costumes take over the stage at the inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival.

While these creations grace the runway, the presentation will be complemented with a remixed opera score by electronic music producer Phil Western and sets and lighting design from Emmy Award winning cinematographer Craig Trudeau.

For those who are able to attend this extravagant event, the evening will be a “a glamorous event with a unique collaboration. The show will be a fusion of contemporary fashion, music, and staging, coupled with the joy of the operatic aria. We’re playing off the beauty of the historic Pacific Ballroom and taking it into more futuristic directions,” says Thomas Anselmi, Creative Director at BMO Overture.

#TIEDTOKIDS: Niminimi partners with Friends of UNICEF

TORONTO/MONTRÉAL, March 2017 – Canadian luxury accessory brand NIMINIMI has partnered with Friends of Unicef to raise awareness and funds in support of UNICEF Canada.

Titled, Ça prend tout un village pour élever un enfant (It takes a village to raise a child), the design was inspired by South African artist Katherine Ambrose, and her painting depicting rural and township life in Africa. Proceeds from each sale will be contributed towards the fundraising efforts of the 2017 Montreal UNICEF Gala celebrating UNICEF’s 70th Anniversary.

To encourage as many to participate, the hashtag #TIEDTOKIDS was created to symbolize the scarf uniting people together and help as many children survive, thrive and reach their fullest potential.

Founded by Nimi Nanji-Simard in 2016, the namesake line began after her many years working as a buyer for luxury hotels in Nairobi, Mount Kenya and Maasai Mara. While also incorporating European influences, designs echo an array of colours and motifs that are then sent into production by some of Italy’s finest artisans. Quality proves its worth as Nimi has made an effort to find the most beautiful silks on the market.

About UNICEF Canada
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) is a non-profit humanitarian organization focusing on saving children’s lives around the globe. UNICEF Canada is one of UNICEF’s 36 National Committees. Their efforts are committed to take action, save, rehabilitate and watch over children, with a special attention to the most vulnerable and excluded groups.


* $100 from each regular scarf (36×36) and $30 from each pocket scarf (13×13) will be donated


Inaugural Evening at the Atelier

Rosemarie Umetsu has not only been a supporter of the arts through her fashion collaborations but has also loved to entertain enthusiasts housing countless performances at her beloved atelier. Having recently moved locations, the couturier has officially embarked on a new chapter in her fascinating career.

“We have now created a Fashion House taking the Atelier to a higher level of fashion experience with clients and where I can use this space to further augment my design culture”. As she is presently in JUNO mode designing for up to 5 nominees this year and with names like Isabel Bayrakdarian, Measha Brueggergosman, Yuja Wang and many more under her client roster, there was an urge to dive even deeper into developing Umetsu’s fashion expression.

In addition, Yamaha Canada Music has also come on board as a top level sponsor where the atelier is now in a position to continue in an expansive way of what was done in the past. The space can now enhance the goal even further to support arts groups and helping nurture developing artists, as well as assist the established.

Tomorrow evening, the Yamaha Recital Space will present its inaugural recital featuring Korean-Canadian pianist Younggun Kim as well as debut the new Yamaha CX piano. With bookings already going into 2018, I think it’s safe to say that everyone is excited to embrace this new urban event space and its great acoustics.

Younggun Kim performs at Atelier Rosemarie Umetsu

Younggun Kim’s performances have been known for their “technical capacity and a lush sound” with concerts spanning all across North America and Europe. This Saturday, a special inaugural concert will be taking place where the Korean-Canadian pianist will allow audiences to experience a new performance space in the Yorkville area.

Couturier Rosemarie Umetsu, for many years, has opened her atelier doors to artists and opera singers having organized countless intimate concerts. With a brand new location and in partnership with Yamaha Canada, Kim’s recital will be the first of many to come in this brand new chapter.

With his performance attire also being prepared by Umetsu (as he will also be debuting a brand new Yamaha piano)piani, we chatted with Royal Conservatory alum about his upcoming musical presentational and of course, a little fashion.

MC: What’s your approach when performing intimate recitals in comparison to playing at Roy Thomson or Walter Hall?

YK: An intimate space means less distance between me and the audience, which gives me a chance to communicate with them in a way that is unique to such spaces. It is an interesting sensation as a performer that it feels as if I’m playing in a private gathering, surrounded by my friends. It is also possible to verbally communicate with the audience more easily in such a setting; from explaining the background of the next piece to cracking some jokes, playing for a smaller crowd is a great opportunity to connect closely with the public – more so if one doesn’t need a microphone. Lastly, the characteristics of a more intimate space enable a whole other palette that is not necessarily accessible in a large hall; even the smallest nuances will not be lost to the public, and while it isn’t feasible to stuff an entire Wagner production in a 150-people space, such a venue is quite ideal for solo piano and chamber music.

In a way, this is similar when comparing a public lecture and a seminar class. Both have their respective virtues. I’m really looking forward to this Saturday’s session.

MC: Share more details about the evening’s program.

YK: It’s a mixture of popular pieces, rarely played gems, and rarely played versions of these popular works. Every piano enthusiast will recognize the two Chopin works that I have programmed; however, they may not be familiar with Godowsky, who rewrote many of Chopin’s works including his Etudes. Godowsky’s pieces are new works using Chopin’s pieces as a starting point and they deserve to be played more than they are. The practical problem is that Godowsky’s works are, because of his affinity for polyphonic writing, complex harmonic language and his adventurous spirit, considered to be some of the most difficult piano music to play. Imagine playing two Chopin Etudes simultaneously – and that’s exactly what one of the pieces I’ll be playing is about. Also interesting are the Kapustin set; unlike the rest of the program, Kapustin’s musical language is jazz; they are very exciting and quite honestly, always great fun to play. I am happy to say that they have proven themselves to be audience favourites too. I am also playing pieces by Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Liszt; they are well-known pieces but for a variety of reasons not often performed in public.

MC: Finally, tell us more about your personal style and what fashion means to you both as a musical stage performer.

YK: I always try to dress myself according to the occasion. I believe that how I look is very important in creating a persona on the stage, and it is not disconnected from what I try to convey aurally; after all, you will be ‘seen’ as well as heard on the stage. So far my efforts in fashion have been concentrated on dressing myself in a way to show the same seriousness and dedication that I give to my music; maybe it is time for me to move ahead!