Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Divine Distractions - A Blogger Meetup, Isabella Rossellini, and Crepes

With my current up-and-down mental state, I welcome any distraction to draw my attention to outside my head.  For the past few years I have attended a few events at the Luminato Festival in Toronto, a ten day festival that celebrates the arts.  When I learned that actress Isabella Rossellini would be presenting a stage version of her Green Porno film series at the Festival this year, I made sure to purchase a ticket which became an excuse to spend a weekend in Toronto.  In addition to the draw of Ms. Rossellini, there was also the opportunity to meet up with friends....

Double blogger selfie with Megan aka The Fashionable Bureaucrat.   Wow, we are sooo pale...

After a yummy lunch at L'Ouvrier, a restaurant new to both of us, we decided to take a stroll through Kensington Market, an eclectic, culturally diverse, working class neighbourhood in the heart of downtown Toronto. It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2006, and on this warm and sunny weekend, it was crowded with people shopping, enjoying a meal or drink on a patio, or just soaking up the atmosphere.

We found that we had unwittingly coordinated our outfits (which also happened at the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show last year). 

I had been looking forward to wearing my Bill Cunningham neckpiece in Toronto where there was a greater chance that people would know who he is.  The necklace was made by a New York artist, Victor-John Villanueva, who creates images of pop culture icons from Perler beads (what my black and white hair bow was made from).  As an admirer of Mr. Cunningham (even more so after meeting him last year in New York),  I loved this piece and was lucky enough to get it at a reduced price during a special sale. 
Kensington Market has lots of older buildings that now house independent businesses.  You can get fresh juice, an amazing piece of pie, a roti, spices, vintage clothing, and all while being serenaded by local buskers.

One of my favourite pieces of wall art in Toronto is in Kensington.  Notice the "Green Car" in the foreground, filled with plants.

We went into a very cool menswear store called Model Citizen, owned by the very dapper man in blue on the left.  The store had a fabulous array of funky ties, bow ties and pocket squares, as well as t-shirts, jackets and bags, the majority of which are by Canadian designers. The ultra-hip décor incorporates metal birds created by one of the staff.

This scooter-and-sidecar combination seems like the idea warm weather transportation. I could see The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas zipping around New York in one of these in black or red.

Later that day.....

The show was at the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto, which is part of the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, one of the few surviving "Stacked" theatres.  The Winter Garden was constructed seven storeys above the Elgin Theatre and has a rather exotic atmosphere, with hand-painted gardens on the interior walls, and a ceiling covered in beech boughs and lanterns.

Green Porno is a series of short films about the sexual behavior of animals and insects that is written, performed and directed by actor Isabella Rossellini.  Rossellini has always been fascinated by animal behavior, and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in the subject at Hunter College, NY.  She is also, by her own admission, fascinated by sex, so she thought it seemed a good idea to combine both into what became an incredibly funny, informative, and entertaining online film series that aired on Robert Redford's Sundance Channel.  The original films utilize wildly creative costumes and sets to depict the diverse mating habits of such creatures as the fly, porpoises, snails, and barnacles.  On stage, the show takes the form of a lecture given by Rossellini, who collaborated with writer Jean-Claude Carriere, with excerpts from some of the films shown throughout.  She's warm, engaging and drolly humourous, and if she had been my high school biology teacher I'm sure I would have remembered a lot more of the material.   The only disappointment was that more effort hadn't been made to expand and further dramatize the 75 minute show for the stage.

After spending most of the show in severe black and pearls, Rossellini donned the costume from her film about the mothering habits of hamsters (don't ask) for the final 10 minutes of the show.  I was sitting in the front row, so I was able to discreetly snap a couple of photos.

A delighted Rossellini received a standing ovation from the audience

The Next Day....

A passing woman offered to take a photo of my friend Judy and me after we had enjoyed a delicious lunch at Crepes a GoGo, a charming and tiny french restaurant in the heart of Yorkville.

The restaurant serves simple, delicious food (the crepes are served in a paper bag) and I always order a Lemonana, their signature lemon and mint flavoured beverage.

We had to make a couple of stops so that Judy could get some jewellery repaired, one of which was at Tiffany's.  I had an Audrey Hepburn moment while making my way up the elegant staircase.

It was a lovely weekend, and the rain held off until it was time to catch my bus back to London. 
I couldn't have asked for better distractions than laughs with friends, delicious food and a close encounter with talented, inspiring artist.


  1. Ohmigod, what a fabulous time! You and Megan look so cool together, like the coolest people around. Except for your friend Judy - what a gorgeous tunic! It all looks like such fun - the buildings, the food, the show, being so close to Isabella Rossellini. If you need to get out of your head, why not go all the way to the top!

  2. i´m green with envy!!!
    art festival, isabella rossellini, yummy food, cool neighborhood to wandering around.........
    interesting black&white theme going on here - like the shapes and volume of your and your friends clothes. and your hair, tequila sunrise :-)

  3. Thank you for my vicarious trip to Toronto to hang out with you and friends. It was just what I needed. I would wear your outfit (once again!) verbatim. The graphic top, cool pants, and awesome shoes look amazing. Wish I could've been there. XXOO

  4. Oh, come on, FCF. If you won't say it, we will. Readers! FCF is too modest to toot her own horn, but she was photographed by Bill Cunningham (the flesh and blood version, not the beaded version) last year. And in case you didn't click on the equally modest link she provided, he kinda OWNS the Style Section of the New York Times. Wanna see the picture he published of FCF? Paste this into your browser and scroll down:
    The IFs

    1. Oh, how cool, thank you for the link and for outing the modest Shelley!

    2. Every person needs friends like you. Thanks for letting us in on the secret.

  5. What a marvelous time! I felt like I was there with you and Megan (and I wish I had been!). That looks so amazing. The Elgin is gorgeous - I love all the greenery.

  6. Drats, my comment was deleted somehow but, rest assured, it oozed with superlatives. How could it not? Look at these photo. I'm glad you're able to get out of your head to live moments like this.

  7. What a fabulous trip. Catching up with friends is always good for the soul. The Winter Garden Theatre looks amazing and Kensington Market in the sunshine looks like a wonderful place for a mooch. Best wishes to you.

  8. Looks like the very best trip, and a fabulous diversion. I adore Isabella Rossini, in every thing she does. And you look so cool in those wide-legged crops! xo

  9. Thanks for sharing, Shelley, you always take me down memory lane when you visit Toronto. I even remember that men's shop! You and your friends look wonderful (I'm adoring those second set of shoes you're wearing - are they vintage?). And Rossini's play sounds neat. She is so easy to adore. Xo

    1. I purchased the wedge heels with the ankle strap this year - they are Fly's, and are pretty comfortable (given that I find very few shoes comfortable these days). They do have a bit of a 1940's vibe going on, don't they?

  10. Shelley, what a delightful post! I am so pleased that you got away for a lovely weekend, it sounds like the perfect distraction/pick-me-up/therapy, and just what was required.
    How great to see you and Megan together - did she give you a squeeze from me? I asked her to (via Facebook!) How funny that you unknowingly co-ordinated your outfits again! You and Judy look so cool together too. Time spent with friends is a wonderful tonic, I find.
    Love all your out-and-about in Toronto pics, it looks like a really fun place to visit. Lots to see and eat and drink and enjoy! The Isabella Rossellini show sounds very interesting, she's so gorgeous, and bright too, always a killer combination. The art nouveau Mucha-inspired mural is gorgeous, as is that stair case - designed for swishing down, I'd say!
    Hope you're doing OK, my friend. xxxx

    1. She did pass along the requested squeeze! Thanks so much ;)

  11. SO GLAD to see you out and about, especially in one of my favorite cities :) Kensington Market is amazing for some retail therapy, and that mural is also one of my favorite pieces of art. I was happy to see it featured. The stairs at Tiffany's are gorgeous, and make me want to strike a pose every time. Feel good hugs sent to you.. :)

  12. So many beautiful images Shelley but the ones I like most have you in them! What a kick ass weekend of eye candy, yummy food, art and best of all blogging buddies! You both look fab! I love how those pants look on you and wish I could rock a pair. That theatre has me feeling like I'm in an enchanted forest, simply breathtaking! Toronto looks so cool, love that mural and car, like something you'd see in portland for sure. Thanks for sneaking some shots in od Isabella, she is beautiful!

    Hope to chat with you again soon my dear!

  13. everything sounds and looks really fabulous, the blogger meeting (oh yes, you look so cool!!), the walks through an interesting neighborhood, the incredible and interesting Isabella Rossellini!!
    (and love your hairstyle!)

  14. Lucky you! For years I've wanted to go to Luminato and every year it is right around my birthday so we always have other plans.

    I haven't been to Kensington market in years. After seeing your wonderful photos I must make a point to get down there this summer. Especially that men's store.

    I have been admiring Fly shoes forever. Love these and your artsy outfits. It looks like Megan is wearing the top to your bottoms. ; )

    So fun you were able to get together.

    I'm still hoping you and I will manage it one of these weekends. Since my husband is away so often I tend to spend almost all of my time with him when he is home. He is home for the next month. After that though if there is cool stuff in London I could also drive out your way. They seem to have some great artsy stuff too. Keep me in the loop and keep getting out and feeling better.


  15. Wow I am so amazed and impressed and envious! I love the outfits you and your friends wore, the stairs at Tiffany's are stunning and the show sounds so fantastic. Isabella Rossellini has always impressed me but now I am even more impressed, and doesn't she look absolutely adorable!

  16. This is all looks like such a good time!

  17. What a brilliant time you had! I have a blogging friend who lives in Toronto ( and her photos and stories of where she goes and what she gets up to make me want to jump on the next plane over there.
    Love the market and those stairs. xxxx

  18. Happy to see that you spent a day in Toronto, which looks to be an absolutely glorious city to spend time exploring and enjoying. Your Bill Cunningham neckpiece is indeed special, considering that you made his column last time you were in NYC! No big surprise there! A blogger and friend meet-up and Isabella Rossellini surely have healing properties!

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