Smart fashion

Innovative fashion is on the rise thanks to technology and a very ambitious retail environment. The world of bricks and mortar stores are changing and reinventing their ways thanks to online shopping. Brands are looking to create garments that not only look good but serve a purpose. Here’s a look into some interesting ‘smart fashion’ from how we purchase to adding the next best thing into our closets.

3D Virtual Styling
Let’s start with shopping. E-commerce retailers are growing at an alarming rate and let’s face it, convenience is key for many of us. Of course, many are hesitant to purchase without physically trying something on before buying it. Just last month, Asia-based Venture Studio, Nogle, unveiled a 3-D real-time virtual styling solution that would help online retailers, especially start up brands, connect better with their growing customer base. brings a new way for shoppers to try on clothes, create new looks and share on social media allowing users to create a 360-degree avatar of themselves. After entering a few simple measurements – height, weight, hips, waist and bra size – shoppers can generate an avatar with their body measurements to try on garments and find the best fit. Finally, shoppers are also able to personalize their avatar by adjusting their body measurements, skin tone, hair colors, and shoe selection.

‘Smart’ Denim
For many fashion designers, the new trend is transform everyday wear into something more useful. Spinali Design is a French-based company known for creating jeans that can give directions without needing to take our your mobile device as you are heading over to your destination. Blue tooth sensors are stitched into the jeans’ waistband, your smart phone stays in your pocket and instead, sensors will vibrate, for example, will vibrate in your right pocket if you need to turn right. Once you lock down where you plan to go on your mobile device, the jeans will do the rest of the work.

Living, breathing textile
MIT researchers never cease to amaze us. Over the past year, efforts have been made to further increase athletic performance through textile innovation. Combining biomaterials research, this completely new form of performance fabric reacts to body heat and sweat. This garment understand when you sweat, help to release it, and close up to keep you warm again.

High-tech luxury
The worst is when your phone runs out of ‘juice’ before you come home from work or an event. Now, it is possible to charge your mobile device in your handbag at all times. High-tech purses are on the rise from clutches to totes. Mezzi, is a company from Vancouver making sure that their consumers “always stay in charge”. Along with an integrated phone charger, other designs also include blue tooth speaker, in-bag light and call/message notifications. We’ll take it.

Behind the Elixir

We are now two weeks away from the most sought after cultural party of the year. Operanation will attract anyone who is anyone from all over the city and beyond. We can only imagine the preparation and planning behind an event like this so who better to ask than this year’s co-chair Randi Bergman. 

The talented freelance writer and editor, too, is no stranger to the Operanation scene. Since 2014, she has been co-chairing; this year, along with Kristen Burke and Ben Kizemchuk. What is there not to like about planning something so extravagant – right? “I love seeing all the ideas coming to light and watching people discover them for the first time. The Four Seasons Centre is also just such a beautiful venue – it feels very surreal to watch that many people engaging with your concepts”, says Bergman.  So, where do you even begin?

MC: What inspired this year’s theme?

RB: The theme always begins with the year’s selected opera. This year’s is Elixir of Love, which centres around a travelling salesman selling not-so-legit love potions. We took the idea of the mysterious potion and ran with it – creating this very surreal idea of a cabinet of curiosities opening for the night. You never know what you’ll find!

MC: Can you share some of your top priorities when it comes to planning Operanation?

RB: I spearhead all things creative for the event, so that means everything from the theme to the decor to the activations. I work really closely with the COC team (they’re the ones who do the REAL work!) as well as the committee to dream up ideas that will be engaging, fresh and super fun for the crowd.

MC: We have to ask you as well what your favourite opera is.

RB: I am far from an opera expert. Probably something really obvious like La Boheme or La Traviata.

Tickets can be purchase online or by calling COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231. 
*Randi’s photo courtesy of Jenna Marie Wakani

Detox Passport

Today, we live in a world where convenience is key when it comes to accessing all of life’s necessities, sometimes, by just the click of a button. There is nothing wrong with efficiency and saving time, however, the result does have its consequences.

Specifically, when it comes to food, I think it’s safe to say that we are all guilty to giving into packaged meals, supplements, you name it. Life is hectic, a typical nine-to-five day doesn’t really exist anymore, and most of us don’t realize, in general, the amount of toxins we take in every single day.

With that said, balance is crucial and whether you are a budding professional conquering the boardroom or a traveling musician or opera singer, detoxifying your body can do wonders.

Emily and Erica are the founders behind Detox Passport – a 28-day program specialized to cleanse four important organs of elimination in our bodies. After returning from a life-changing trip to Bali, a growing passion turned into a reality when they decided to pursue a vision in expressing preventative health. I had a chance to learn more and chat with these two passionate ladies.

When should someone embark on a detox program or what are the signs people should pay attention to?

Since our world has become filled with toxic elements, detoxing is something that should be done at least twice a year to keep your body functioning at its optimal capacity. If you’re feeling sluggish, have trouble losing weight, get headaches, have bad skin, low energy (relying too much on caffeine to get by – we hear you!), or just don’t feel like your most vibrant self – these are all tell-tale signs that you need a detox.

What are the benefits of detox?

Detoxing can make the difference between struggling to wake up and start your day, to literally bursting out of bed with energy. We’ve had some of our participants comment on not only how well they’ve been sleeping (from previously having insomnia) to how much easier it is to get up in the morning with energy. We’ve also had heard from our detoxers that they get complimented on how smooth and glowing their skin looks, only a week into doing the detox. It’s amazing how many different areas of our lives become affected once we start taking care of our bodies through simply cleansing and nourishing.

Can you share some more feedback on your four tea blends and the reason for choosing the various ingredients for each?

We’ve formulated 4 unique tea blends that target a different organ of elimination each week (4 in total), in the sequence that will be most helpful for the body to cleanse.

First week focuses on the colon, removing all of the old debris stuck to the intestinal walls (sometimes there for years!) The colon cleanse also works to tonify the intestinal muscles, improving their motility and elimination, which is very different than using a laxative, which simply creates a dependency that the body then relies on.

The second week focuses on the liver and gall bladder, which is like the master processor of toxins in the body. It’s one of the largest and most vital organs we have, performs over 500 functions (including blood filtration, production of protein, bile, and hormones, as well as the maintenance of thousands of enzymes), and we suffer a lot when it’s not functioning optimally! It’s so common these days to have a sluggish liver, which creates a backlog of toxins to be processed by the body and poor energy among other things as a result.

Weeky three focuses on the kidneys, our water filtration system! This dynamic duo removes waste products from the body, to be filtered out through urine. They also produce hormones that regulate blood pressure, filter excess toxins from blood, and absorb minerals. When your kidneys are working slower than normal, harmful waste and fluids can build up in your body, creating all the most unpleasant feels – including weakness, fatigue, puffy eyes, inability to concentrate, and water retention to name a few.

Finally, the fourth week focuses on the lymph and blood, which is the final step of this cleanse. If your other organs of elimination haven’t fully been able to do their job – the toxins end up here, circulating and wreaking havoc! At this point, you’ll likely notice your skin suffering from outbreaks, rashes, or skin conditions like eczema for example, as toxins attempt to leave your system. The body is intelligent – and this is a huge sign you need a cleanse.

How can you fit your detox program into a busy schedule such as a performer?

Detoxing doesn’t have to be difficult! Our recommendation is to take the teas twice a day – morning and night. You can also make a big bottle to take to work with you if time is rushed, and simply drink on the go. As far as healthy food prep goes, we focus on simple, whole foods. Meals are easy and usually take 5-10 minutes to create. We’ve made it straightforward with simple guidelines to follow in our Detox Guidebook. If you’re a person that likes to eat out, we recommend getting to know the healthiest spots near you (if you live in Toronto, we’ve curated a list for you – along with discounts that can be claimed across the city).

For more information, visit 

A night of fashion curiosities

This year’s Operanation will be an evening full of curiosities – and, of course, a night where party goers will be surrounded by both opera as well as fashion aficionados. Yes, many like to compare this event to the Met Gala. There is no doubt, that when it comes to the arts and fashion, the sky is the limit when it comes to creativity.

Fashion editor for the Globe and Mail, Odessa Paloma Parker, is on the committee and has been an avid supporter and party goer herself for many years. “Operanation is a chance for people who are passionate about the arts and creativity to come together for a good cause. Fashion is an extremely creative field, and there are perfectly complementary aspects in opera – the grandiose story lines, the attention to detail, the divas! You can’t find an art form more chic”.

A former vocal student herself, Parker studied at the Royal Conservatory for several years and at one point wanted to pursue a career as an opera singer. With both music and style running through her veins, I had to pin her down and ask about what she hopes to see for this year and more.

We have so many local designers to choose from when it comes to evening wear. What would you recommend?

It would be amazing to see someone wearing something custom by Matthew Gallagher, perhaps with some vibe-y crystal details – he makes such opulent pieces that are perfect for events like Operanation. Greta Constantine is always a must for occasion dressing, and I would love to see someone wearing one of their colourful sheer looks from the spring 2017 collection. And Sid Neigum made a stunning bronze draped dress for his fall line that would be a very dynamic choice.

What about your past looks?

I really loved wearing a lace gown by Unttld last year, as well as a tie-dye vintage dress with velvet bolero jacket a few years ago. A friend described me as the “female Jimi Hendrix”.

What would be the perfect ensemble for you?

Well, there are some exceptionally witchy pieces in the spring collection from Preen by Thornton Bregazzi. I think, given the esoteric theme for this year’s event, something very mystical would be appropriate. I would top the look off with some incredible jewellery by Alan Anderson and a pair of custom silver boots by Modern Vice.
And, of course, I must ask another very important question – do you have a favourite opera?

It’s a toss up between Tosca and The Marriage of Figaro.

Tickets can be purchase online or by calling COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231. 

A Night of Fashionable Curiosities

I like to think that there is an opera lover in all of us. Not everyone can handle the intensity of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, let’s say, but a little buffa can definitely tickle everyone’s fancy. Now imagine three floors full of luminaries and cultural trendsetters from the worlds of fashion, business, television, and music all to support Toronto’s next generation of opera artists.

As one of the top spring social events of the season, The Canadian Opera Company will, once again, bring Operanation to life on May 25th. A party not to be missed, this year’s theme will bring forth an evening of enticing elixirs, culinary experiments, and musical hybrids.

On top of the amazing performances in store, here’s another important question – what do you wear? Couturier Rosemarie Umetsu is not only a designer to some of the world’s top classical artists but she is a continuous supporter of the COC. “Operanation is a great example of a gala that has incorporated popular culture, attracting a new demographic interested in this art form as well as the opera company’s prestigious ensemble program”.

Having dressed and designed for past participating performers and attendees, Umetsu says, “this is the kind of evening where you want to be theatrical and visually spectacular. I’ve also been commissioned to create pieces for non-artist guests. In these instances, it’s been great fun designing something within the scope of the theme of the specific Operanation. These pieces have always been fun and red carpet worthy”.

Operanation 2010
[From the left, COC artists including Wallis Giunta and Lauren Segal, to the right Rosemarie and Wayne Umetsu]

What would the designer like to see for this year? “A Night of Curiosities leaves a wide scope of imaginative and very individual interpretations. I expect to be surprised”.

Tickets available at