Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Saving Face: Winter Skincare Essentials

Winters in Ottawa are known to be not the easiest to manage. Old Man Winter seems to have it out for us, and it is just not a fair deal... What did I do to deserve this? The biggest victim of the extreme cold is our delicate skin. It is so important to pay extra attention over the colder months to protect ourselves from the harmful effects or else you'll end up getting the life sucked out of you like an episode of True Blood. Here are the best ways to fight against winter's top culprits - biting winds, drying indoor temperatures and below freezing temps.

1) Moisturize

The indoor heat may be a nice change from what's going on outside, but it is sucking the moisture out of your skin. It is imperative to use a good natural moisturizer at least twice a day. Purple Urchin, an awesome local company, makes fantastic natural products that work wonders. I recommend their Extreme Cream for super hydration.

Purple Urchin Extreme Cream - $11.95

2) Don't forget the body either

I for one am guilty of this - I just never seem to have the time between the gym and work to slather on the moisturizer, but then I end up suffering from 'lizard-skin' syndrome. Trust me and take the extra minute to slather on some hydrating lotion before starting your day. My favorite is the Dream Cream from Lush. Sometimes I just use extra virgin coconut oil for extra moisture in a pinch. Side note - coconut oil is awesome for hair and nails too.

Lush Dream Cream - $29.95

3) Go easy on the soap

Most of the commercial soaps out there contain harsh chemicals that aggravate your skin which is the last thing you want when battling the elements. Use a simple bar soap with natural ingredients and you'll notice immediately healthier looking skin. Saaboon is another favorite local soap company. They're vegan too!

Saaboon Wash & Glow Soap - $7.00

4) Exfoliate

Remove the dull layer of skin to reveal a fresh, glowing face by using a gentle exfoliator once or twice a week. DO NOT use those defoliators which physical seed shells and/or ground nuts in them (such as St. Yves' products). These actually make little tears in your skin rather than slough off the dead skin cells. Not cool. I like the Soy Exfoliant by Fresh. The cucumber seeds are much gentler than the hard shells found in other products.
Fresh Soy Face Exfoliant - $49.00

5) Stop Tanning

This should be common knowledge by now, but those indoor tanning booths are pure evil for your skin. I know it is tempting to spend a few minutes soaking in the Vitamin D when it is -30 and blizzarding out, but you are only drying your skin out more and accelerating the aging process. Think of it as the opposite of the fountain of youth. Thanks to modern technologies though, there are lots of great sunless tanners out there to give your skin a faux glow.

Bare Minerals Faux Tan Face - $32.00

 6) Exercise

Yes, its true. That thing you vowed to do come January 1st that you forgot about works wonders for your skin too. Getting your sweat on removes toxins from your body. You may have noticed that awesome glow you get after a good sweat session at the gym - by increasing blood flow, exercise helps rejuvenate and nourish your blood cells. In addition to providing oxygen, blood flow also helps carry away waste products, including free radicals, from working cells. Exercise also reduces stress, which is a known culprit for dull looking skin.

I know I sound like your nagging mother by now but all of the above pointers should be a regular part of your winter routine. Follow these rules and you'll come out victorious once spring rolls around without having to spend a fortune on chemical spa treatments.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

What To Wear: Valentine's Day Edition

People either love Valentine's day or hate it. Either way, you'll most likely end up having to endure it one way or another. Whether you have a hot date with someone you've been crushing on for ages, are spending the night with your other half as you have been for years or you just plan on spending the night out with your single friends, the outfit dilemma always arises. When rocking the red for V-Day, I think we all agree that there is a very fine line between looking festive and cute and looking like a sriracha bottle.

You can't go wrong with these V-day finds, no matter your plans. And yes, this includes staying at home in your PJs.

Girls Night Out

Sometimes you just want to give a big middle finger to Valentine's day by going out and celebrating singledom with your gal pals, and this outfit is sure to grab attention from both males and females alike. The sheer neckline of this top adds a hint of sexiness without being over the top. Pair it with leather leggings instead of denim for a sex-kitten vibe. These platform booties are sure to get major shoe envy from your friends. For accessories, I love the look of gold ear cuffs and big cuff bracelets.

Cami NYC Classic Red Cami ($128)
H&M Imitation Leather Pants ($7)
Kat Maconie Bonnie Platform Bootie  ($350.00)

Girls Night In

The great thing about that Cami top is that it can easily work for a luxurious PJ top. Pair it with some uber-comfy black shorts and a whimsical eye mask for a Breakfast at Tiffany's-esque look. Heck, I'd wear this every night!

Cami NYC Classic Red Cami ($128)
Anthropoligie Bryrony Shorts ($38)
Mary Green Breakfast at Tiffany's Silk Satin Sleep Mask ($38.50)

Hot Date Night Out

Rather than wearing the predictable red dress or top, I prefer to rock a simple LDB with a sexy pair of tights and accessorize with festive reds instead. I would keep it simple and punch it up with accessories, like a thick chain gold necklace or a chain strap purse. His eyes will be glued on you all night (so please, watch out for spinach in your teeth).

Talula Nippori One Shoulder Dress ($40)
Wilford Romance Tights ($75)
Giuseppe Zanotti Mary Jane Stiletto Pump ($513) 

Romantic Dinner at Home

Wear something subtly sexy, yet comfortable. You aren't going out, but you should wear something a little nicer than your usual Wednesday night dinner at home garb. I'm a big fan of bodysuits these days. Pair it with an awesome pair of jeans and a low-cut blazer for the dinner, then remove said items for a sexy romp in the sheets afterwards.

La Senza Lace Bodysuit ($34.50)
Nasty Gal Stratospheric Black Blazer ($58)
J Brand Tabitha Skinny Leg ($308)

With this arsenal of outfit ideas, you are bound to make the best of what V-Day has to offer. If you ask me though, the real holiday is February 15th, where all the chocolates are 75% off. See you all at Wal-mat!

Monday, 10 February 2014

OFW Day 4: In the Audience

That evening, on Sunday, February day of Fall/Winter Ottawa Fashion Week, I had the opportunity to enjoy what the front of the house has to offer.

First up was cocktail hour held in a small lounge on the main level of the Museum of History. Here you got to mingle with all kinds of fashion lovers.

Then down in the main hall came a beautiful performance of vocals and traditional throat singing, working in perfect harmony with string instruments.
After that opening performance, my friends and I took time to be our silly selves at the photo booth... one of the major attractions that evening.

The lights then dimmed and we all sat down in anticipation to see what we all came for - a final look at DUY's collection.

If you are confused, let me catch you up to speed. Top fashion designer Mr. Duy Nguyen is retiring his label, but the designer himself will continue on in the world of fashion elsewhere. It was bittersweet to see the beautiful pieces of art walking down the runway, knowing that it will be the last. But as the saying goes, "When one door closes, another opens." I have high hopes to see what awaits for Mr. Nguyen!

The crowd was then whisked away into serenity by a grand piano performance for the finale. What a dazzling way to end this season's Ottawa Fashion Week.

Good work to all the OFW staff, designers, and assistants. We pulled off a hell of a show! I look forward to helping out next season!

Karen Leon


Saturday, 8 February 2014

OFW Day 2: Backstage Savvy

Today I had the extreme pleasure to work with two magnificent designers for the second time. As a returning backstage intern, I was thrilled to hear that I was assigned to: Bernice and Barclay, a pair of super cool and down to earth individuals; and Sukhoo Sukhoo, a fashion veteran with a hilarious and welcoming personality.

What an awesome day for me to have been reunited with these amazing people!

Bernice and Barclay:Designers Lorianne Hawdur & Jamieson Nesbitt
For Bernice and Barclay, the unique bit about them is their fun, flirty, and lighthearted shows. The personalities that the models were instructed to embody this season was a sexy secret agent...from the 60s/70s. Austin Powers instantly came to my mind when I heard of this, and the models certainly pulled it off!
Bernice and Barclay Fall/Winter 2014 Collection

I was also extremely excited to see what Mr. Sukhoo had in store for his audience, as he is known to have extraordinary shows. This season's theme was futuristic yet exquisite; it reminded me of the fancy outfits in 'The Hunger Games'. With mesh cloth wrapped around each model's face, it seemed likely that there was an accident awaiting. Being the pros that they are, their presentation of the garments went on without a hitch. Although it was entertaining to see them rip the cloth off the moment they could.
Sukhoo Sukhoo Fall/Winter Collection 2014

Models letting loose
The most amazing pieces in this collection

Now comes the end of Day 2 here at Ottawa Fashion Week, and the last day here at the Lac Leamy Hilton Hotels. For Saturday and Sunday the show will be held at the Museum of History, previously named the Museum of Civilization.
Runway at Lac Leamy Hilton Hotel

I unfortunately will not be reporting for tomorrow's events, but will return on Sunday to give you the scoop for the finale of Fall/ Winter 2014 Ottawa Fashion Week.

Till then!

Karen Leon

Friday, 7 February 2014

The End of OFW Day 1: Opening Day!

The End of OFW Day 1: Opening Day!

The curtains have now closed for Day 1 of Ottawa Fashion Week. The backstage crew and models have gone for a good night's sleep, and will be back early Friday morning for fittings and rehearsals.

Some of tonight's designers who I assisted with were: KLATT, Zarucci, and Prophetik. Down below you will see some of the garments that they revealed at tonight's show.

I'll be back tomorrow with more from backstage here at Ottawa Fashion Week! But for now, sleep tight!

Karen Leon

Thursday, 6 February 2014

OFW Day 1, Backstage Anticipation

OFW Day 1, Backstage Anticipation

It's Day 1 for this season's Ottawa Fashion Week, and there's a lot of excitement in the air. I am here assisting backstage, and everyone cannot wait for the crowds to arrive!

Live bands are setting up, interns are steaming garments, and there's rehearsals after rehearsals.

I cannot wait to see the transformations that these models will undergo. Like a chameleon, some popular models will even undergo multiple looks for multiple designers. That's a lot of hair teasing and makeup for one night!

As a backstage intern, I have the honor of assisting Celine Brideau with her label, "CBrido", who has travelled vicious weather and traffic to get to the Capital. Based out of New Brunswick, she displays cozy and warm, yet high fashion garments. Suitable for the Canadian business woman!

Stay tuned for more on Ottawa Fashion Week as I will keep you updated on all the backstage buzz.

Karen Leon

Sunday, 2 February 2014

A Valentine's Day in Style

Just when you were starting to recover from your Christmas holiday bills, another day of gift-giving arrives. Valentine's Day is all about showing the ones you love just how much you love them, and to have passionate sex with your lover by the fire on a bearskin rug (am I right?). I for one am happy with nothing else but a good back massage and a glass of wine... Nothing tops that on my list. But for those of you out there who need some ideas on that perfect gift that says "I love you" and "I am the best GF/BF ever", here are some great no-fail ideas.



14k gold-plated brass, $90;

I am so obsessed with this necklace. This is one gift she`ll wear close to her heart!



You can`t fail with chocolate. Trust me.


Fabric stamped with gold foil, $90;

This is such a practical, pretty gift. She'll think of you every time she pulls her iPad out to take a selfie.



This stuff smells divine, and it comes in an adorable pink jar. 



Cotton and viscose, $119;

He'll be thanking you for this cozy gift now that the darn groundhog predicted another 6 weeks of winter.

pro v1 personalized golf balls

Titeleist, $59;

These are the best of the best in golf balls. Personalized with his monogram, now everyone will know who keeps shanking the ball at the 8th tee.

apple tv

Apple, $99; 

He'll never miss an episode of Sons of Anarchy every again. 
This gift is perfect for the Movie addicts and Netflix marathoners of the world. 

nixon diplomat watch

Brown Leather, $500;

There is no greater universally-loved gift than the watch. This one is both elegant and laid back, making it perfectly versatile. And now he has no excuse for being late for your 8 o'clock dinner reservations.


Fleur Du Mal, $128;

You can't have a Valentine's Dya Gift Guide without Lingerie. This is the gift that you both get to enjoy, thus getting the most bang for your buck. Fleur Du Mal has the most beautiful lingerie pieces, finding the perfect marriage between sexy and elegant.