Hooked on Holts

By Kate MacLennan

At Christmas, Toronto’s Bloor Street Holt Renfrew looks spectacular, its windows glittering with holiday frou frou and its racks dripping with effervescent frocks. I only mention it because last week, as I was strolling by the picture panes of our paint-barely-dry Dunsmuir Street location, it occurred to me that we’re probably in for a treat this year.

This whole “thinking seasons ahead” thing is the plight of every individual whose life touches fashion in an occupational manner. Although the new Holts story broke months ago, nobody who was there will soon forget the 1,200 people who turned out in their finest frippery, sufficiently lubed with bubbly and Grey Goose (with a lime twist and soda, ladies. It hydrates and won’t stain your dress—thank me tomorrow). Most were staring at Marcia Cross, unable to tear their eyes from her uncannily luminescent skin. Turns out that it was Calgary transplant makeup artist Beau Nelson who plugged her in for the evening. But I digress.

If you haven’t been to Holt Renfrew since a fraction of the dust settled, go. The World Design Lab has more than a few Canadian labels you’ll want to wear first, including Vancouver’s Dace, and Toronto darling Arthur Mendonça, whose fall collection is utterly worthy of stopping to fondle. Then there’s the beauty bonanza. Make the Shiseido counter one of your first stops—the skin care line might change your life. And don’t miss the Etat Libre D’Orange perfumes (but be sorry you missed its charming French perfumer, Etienne de Swardt). Scents such as Jasmin et Cigarette, Putain des Palaces (Whore of the Grand Hotels), and Sécrétions Magnifiques (you got it, Magnificent Secretions, which de Swardt confided he created specially for Galliano), will become sure conversation starters at your next soirée.

Wardrobe sorted, nape scented, now it’s time for peace of mind. The spa has a quiet little entrance that you could miss, but don’t want to. You’ll be swept past reception, down a hallway lined with salon chairs, ushered into a serene room stocked with current issues of Vogue and Vanity Fair, and will then find a glass of cucumber and lemon water in your hand. The treatment rooms are downstairs (as in underground), and are exceptionally unisex. (Read: Your husband so won’t hate you for sending him here.) Props to Holts: I wasn’t cold once during my massage and facial. Bless B. Kamins, Chemist:  My post-treatment glow gave Ms. Cross a run for her money. Plus, my considerate aesthetician Rachel refrained from slamming a single cupboard door or faucet. It really is the little details that make the difference.

Welcome to The Styled West, by the way. I’ll be hitting B.C. Fashion Week next month. Check back for highlights.