Holiday Gift Guide 2017: Bag Edition

“It is a known fact that a woman do carry an evening bag at dinner time.” Now this famous quote from the now iconic documentary Paris Is Burning holds more truth than people think. However, the quote should be interpreted by the fact that any outfit always feels a little more complete once you add a stunning bag to it. The perfect bag also has the ability to boost one’s confidence and mood. Allowing the wearer to express their personal style with a bag of their choosing. And for that reason, we here at Novella feel that choosing the perfect bag for that perfect someone is always a great gift giving choice for the holiday season. However, choosing the right bag can sometimes be extremely hard and with so many bags and personalities out there, having a guide on what to get is often very helpful and time-saving.

Forever 21 Faux Leather Crossbody Bag: $33.90

Photo: Forever 21

As fashion grows and progresses, so does the need to use it as a form of self-expression. Unlike the conventional bags most people are used to seeing. Today’s purses are no longer about functionality and stand more as a test of creative integrity and self-expression. One big trend that really encompasses this idea is the mini bag, while it may not be the most functional bag to its size, this Forever 21 mini faux patent leather bag is all about visual appeal rather than functionality. Sure you may not be able to fit everything in there. But this bag does hold its own perfectly fine as a party bag or evening bag. And its punchy mix of fire engine red and shiny metal hardware give this bag an edgy 80s personality that’s been all the rage the past few years.

Chanel Boy Bag: $7175.00

Photo: Chanel

The Chanel Boy Bag may be the bag to end all bags. With its iconic silhouette and chain strap. The Boy bag has become synonymous with Paris upper echelon. However, with a name like Chanel on the bag, the cost is automatically going to be quite astronomical for a purse. But its the quality of materials and craftsmanship that really makes this bag an extra special gift. Rather than purchasing your special someone a regular black Chanel Boy bag. Opt for this glittery sequined version. Which mixes the perfect amount of after-dark glamour with the conventional look of an all black bag.

Zara Knotted Bucket Bag: $49.90

Photo: Zara

Zara has a long-standing reputation for creating fashionable high-quality clothing and accessories that merge the high fashion appeal of the runway with functional everyday attire. This simple black shoulder bag is the perfect for someone who’s always on the go. It’s roomy design and thick strap are bound to last for those who can’t help but carry everything but the kitchen sink with them. What sets this bag apart from regular leather totes is its fresh design. The bag itself is very architectural. With the knotted straps creating a very angular silhouette that compliments the triangular shape of the bag.

Maison Margiela Patchwork Pouch: $2660.00

Photo: Maison Margiela

For those who want something more interesting than the average bag, Maison Margiela created this unconventional clutch. Utilizing the brand’s love for deconstruction. The clutch is decorated with pieces of Margiela staple patterns and fabrics. Creating an entirely unique look for those daring enough to wear it. Another interesting aspect of the bag is its shape. Rather than opting for a traditional square or rectangle clutch. The brand created an exaggerated and extremely elongated rectangle clutch that breaks the boundaries of what bags and clutches should look like. While this may not be the most functional option on the list, it does stand alone as a very interesting statement piece.

Aldo Wenang Light Blue Women’s Crossbody: $70.00

Photo: Aldo

These days bags can be whatever you’d like them to be and often, the more colourful and fun they are, the better. This fairytale Aldo bag brings the punch of colour many are looking for in the new year. The pastel colour scheme and embroidery is fun and playful without being juvenile. Which is often a very important thing for the purse aficionado on your holiday gift list. What makes this bag really special is how all of the colours and hardware work perfectly together. Rather than being jarring, the bag compliments itself. Especially the blue to pink gradient that makes of the colour of the bag.

Holiday Beauty Gift Guide 2017

Let’s say you’ve got a beauty junkie in your life.

Someone that takes at least 30 minutes to get ready, someone who plans their makeup before their outfit (or even coordinates them, which is pretty next level), someone who knows the difference in tones between red lipsticks or someone who enters Sephora and actually knows what they’re looking for.

What do you get this person for Christmas?

Firstly, don’t underestimate the power of a good snoop. See what brands they seem to like, items they go through quickly. Listen to them when they talk about makeup. Maybe there’s something they wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves, but something they’ve always wanted.

While you can always go the gift card route — tried and true, though a little uninspired —  you could also dive headfirst into Christmas-shopping-mania and find the perfect gift for the beauty lover in your life.

We can help you there.

tarte Limited Edition Treasure Box

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This is a wildly-well-priced gift set from a wonderful makeup brand, containing almost everything you need to do a full face of makeup except for foundation. tarte’s makeup is good, in the nature of full disclosure they are one of my favourite brands, and is entirely vegan if your beauty junkie is concerned with the ingredients of the product. This guy will keep on giving: the potential for a lot of use, over a long period of time.

Find it here.

Juliette Has a Gun Discovery Kit

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Fragrance is so specific to every person that it’s hard to get it right unless you know someone really well. A good solution to that, of course, is to bombard them with so many scent options they have no choice but to find one they really like (and possibly regift the rest.) Mini perfumes are perfect to take on the go, not to mention Juliette Has a Gun have some wonderfully unique and gorgeous scents available. This is the perfect way for someone to be introduced to the brand.

Find it here.

Tom Ford Black Orchid Set

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So yes, scent is specific to every person, but come on, I think everyone likes Tom Ford. His makeup brand is the pinnacle of luxury. The packaging! The scent! The price tag! This is a splurge gift for sure, only for those who have made peace with a high budget, but if you know your intended gift receiver is a bit of a lush, the you know this gift will be a hit. Like, when you wear this, you smell expensive.

Find it here.

Sephora Favourites Give Me Some Nude Lip

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If you can’t decide on one lipstick to get someone, or if you go spying in their makeup collection see so many brands you don’t even understand how its possible, I will point you in the direction of the Sephora Favourites lip set. This gift set has lippies from Kat Von D, Buxom and Bite Beauty and contains both liquid lipsticks and, well… lip-sitcks. And they’re all nudes so they’re guaranteed to actually be used. Basically the perfect gift for the person you have no idea what to get for.

Find it here.

Fenty Beauty

Okay, so we all know Rihanna is a goddess who can do no wrong, and it was a surprise to absolutely no one that there makeup collection is damn good. Even if someone already has pieces from the collection, it seems unlikely someone would say no to getting more Fenty Beauty. Nearly everything from the collection is a safe bet, but may I point you towards:

Galaxy Eyeshadow Palette
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Glittery eyeshadows galore in beautiful, limited edition packaging.

Find it here.

Killawatt Freestyle Highlight in Trophy Wife
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The greatest highlighter to have ever been made. Whoever wears it will literally look like a million bucks. Like a stack of gold coins.

Find it here.

MAC Rossy de Palma Collection

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“Limited edition” and “collaboration” are words that are pretty exciting and hysteria-inducing in the beauty community and MAC is on top of the game. Their collabs are always timely, well-made, and beyond tempting. They do have a few available right now, such as the Nicki Minaj and Robert Lee Morris collections, and, while both are exquisite, my personal favourite is the collection with Spanish actress Rossy de Palma partly because she’s fabulous and partly because the packaging is so luxe.

Find the collection here.

MAC Snow Ball Pigment and Glitter Kit

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If you know your gift-intended loves some glitz and glam in their life, why not give the gift of glitter? MAC pigments are famous for their staying power and potency and these colours are perfect for the winter. Not to mention they come in a cute little disco ball clutch for even more glam.

Find it here.

Colorpop Yes Please! Palette

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Colorpop is a well-made, incredibly fairly-priced makeup brand, so most of their products are good for the more modest budget but will make a huge impact. The Yes Please! palette is a real show-stopper for the brand. The palette was on Nylon’s beauty hit list of 2017 and features 12 gorgeous warm-toned shades, guaranteed to look good on everyone.

Find it here.

L’Occitane Advent Calendar

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At this point, it’s getting close to the wire, but I had to include one beauty advent calendar, firstly because they are just the best and secondly because they are so difficult to find in Canada that we all need to share the good ones when we are able to find them. L’Occitane’s advent calendar is pretty iconic already, at a decent price point for the amount of high-quality products you get from it. This year they’ve also put out a premium advent calendar for the big spenders, but the original is a great way to introduce someone to the brand if they’ve never tried it before.

Find it here.

L’Occitane Divine Collection

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For the skincare fanatic in your life, L’Occitane is a good way to go, and their Divine collection is a particularly well-advised gifting idea. It’s anti-aging, but you won’t necessarily offend anyone by giving it to them because the products in this line are also moisturizing, luminizing and all-around nice-skin-makers. (That being said, maybe don’t gift this to anyone who is real sensitive about aging.) The set contains an all-over cream, an eye cream, a cleaner and a face oil — a full skincare routine ready to go.

Find it here.

Inspired Soap Works Velvety Salve

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Lastly, I’ve got something pretty different from everything else we’ve talked about on here. Inspired Soap Works is a smaller Canadian company with a big impact, selling hand-made affordable skincare products. One of their last launches are a line of salves for the entire body, from head to toe. The salves are formulated without water, so despite them coming in small packages, they really will go a long way. These are the ideal ~stocking stuffers~.

Find it here.

The Christmas gift guide for Francophiles

Few days ago I went to the Distillery Christmas market and realized that Christmas will be upon us in 38 days… yes, they put a huge countdown at the entrance and you cannot miss it!!! As you read these words, you have even less time left so it’s time for you to think about gifts. If you have Francophiles around, this gift guide is going to help you.

Ma P’tite Culotte, women’s lingerie

Offering a new set of lingeries to a woman you love is always a good idea. Ma P’tite Culotte is a French brand that offers an optimistic and enthusiastic line of lingeries. For her last collection, Charline Goutal decided to create pieces that correspond to women’s moods.

Available on Ma Ptite Culotte website

Le Slip Français, French underpants

The founders of this underwear brand believe that companies can no longer just be economic forces with a narrow sense of purpose; they must, instead, define and pursue certain values. Their definition of success includes the well-being of those around them and the sustainability of their business: “You want to change the world? Start by changing your briefs.”

Available on Le Slip Français website

MAGNETHIK ethical handbags

MAGNETHIK is a brand founded by Fabienne Pomi, a French, vegan fashion lover who offers made in France and vegan handbags. All the pieces are made without any animal products and according to an ecological and ethical process. MAGNETHIK has been voted “Best Fashion Novelty” by the PETA association in 2016.

Available at Importation Lou

Chapon chocolates

Patrice Chapon is one of seven French bean-to-bar chocolate makers. His know-how is internationally recognized — he just got two awards from Salon du Chocolat in Paris.

Available on Chapon website and in Toronto at McEwan Don Mills and TD Centre Location.

Red wine

A Francophile will always appreciate a glass of good red wine. This gift is probably the safest — you cannot go wrong with it. If you feel like offering a bottle of red wine to one of your relatives, I recommend this bottle of Château Vignot Saint Emilion, 2009. It goes perfectly with cheese.

Available at LCBO

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

When Valentine’s Day inevitably comes around every February, there are two types of people in relationships: those who inexplicably know the perfect gift and those who scroll through online gift guides with a fervour that grows increasingly panicked as the deadline looms.

I should probably point out at this moment that Valentine’s Day is not meant to be a stressful holiday. It should be about the time you spend with your loved ones: whether it’s with a romantic partner, friends, family or just yourself. Even if you are looking at the holiday from a romantic perspective, there are lots of things you can do that don’t involve buying a gift, such as making a meal, planning a small trip or organizing an activity to do within the city.

That all being said, Valentine’s Day is a day with heavy commercial implications, so if you are one of those people who just have no idea what to get your significant other, allow me to provide some ideas.

FOR HER

Fragrance

Fragrance is such an individual thing that it can be difficult to give as a gift, especially if you have no indication about what kind of scent she usually likes. If there is such an indication, definitely use that for inspiration. If you don’t have that, use your own knowledge of her to determine what she would like, because I assume/hope if you’re buying fragrance for this person, you know them pretty well. If you’re still stumped, I’ll make a recommendation: if your girl is the type of likes right, floral scents, Arlésienne by L’Occitance En Provence is definitely a safe bet. It’s got rose, violet, and saffron notes, so you know it’ll be a crowd pleaser.

Lovefresh Body Lotions

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You straight up can’t go wrong with one of these. Body lotions and scrubs from any brand would be good, but Lovefresh is a personal favourite and I’ll tell you why: the products are high-quality, luxurious and made in Canada. The scents are all so nice that I’ve had a hard time picking a favourite in the past, so any option is a relatively safe option. Anyway, who doesn’t love having ridiculously soft skin? Lovefresh products are available through their website and in select stores across Canada.

A Boudoir-Approved Robe

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The traditional route for Valentine’s Day always seems to be lingerie. While that’s not a bad thing, I would like to put forward an alternative idea: a nice robe or even some luxurious sleepwear. It still brings the feeling of romance without having to figure out what your lady’s bust size is. Speaking from the female point of view, I’ve always enjoyed having one of these around to throw on in my particularly high-drama at home moments. Might I recommend this Valentine’s-themed robe from For Love and Lemons? Very cute, very romantic and a little sexy.

Jewellery

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Just saying jewellery is vague, I know. If the person you’re buying for seems to favour a certain kind (i.e. if she wears a ton of rings or seems to like a good necklace) then it’s a good idea to draw inspiration from what she already has. Jewellery is so versatile and so easily personalized, and that’s actually more helpful than overwhelming. If you go to a store like Victoire, which sells products by Canadian designers, you can easily find jewellery that will reflect her personality, whether she’s more classic and romantic or a bit more quirky and humorous.

Magazine

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If you don’t want to go the way of a book, then a magazine is a great alternative. There are so many wonderful quarterly and periodical magazines being published with compelling articles, fascinating interviews, and gorgeous design. Look for magazines that double as coffee table books such as Kinfolk or The Gentlewoman. You can find some great ones at Chapters, or at independent magazine shops around town, such as Type Books on Queen St. W.

FOR HIM

Fragrance

As I said in the “For Her” section, fragrance is so specific to the person who wears it that it can be a difficult buy. The best thing to do is to work with a scent he already uses. If he has a favourite cologne, see if there’s a corresponding shave balm or lotion. If he doesn’t have one, try to find one that would fit with his overall self. If you’re still a bit stumped, I can recommend the L’Homme Cologne Cédrat by L’Occitane en Provence. The scent is super masculine and fresh, probably the smell of a guy who vacations in the French Riviera and speaks multiple languages.

Cufflinks

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Cufflinks are a pretty traditional gift for men, and there’s a reason for that. For so long, men were held under pretty strict rules of dress and in many workplaces, still are. Accessories such as ties, socks, and cufflinks are the easiest way to show some creativity and individuality while wearing a suit. If your man is a traditional guy, a pair like these classic ones from ASOS is a great and affordable option. If his style is a little more quirky, these Paul Smith cufflinks will be perfect.

Watch

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Another classic accessory, the watch. Especially good if you’ve noticed that he 1) doesn’t wear one 2) has one that needs replacing or 3) has the same sports watch he wore in high school. While it would definitely be nice to get everyone a Rolex, there are other beautifully designed watches that are more affordable. Daniel Wellington watches are hugely popular and have a minimalist design, perfect for any guy who just needs to know what time it is but also wants to look good.

Coffee-table book

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The way of the magazine could definitely apply to the guy, no problem, but there are also some gorgeous coffee-table books circulating the stores that could serve as sources of inspiration and would also just look really impressive sitting on that coffee table. May I recommend: Icons of Men’s Style by Josh Sims.

Wallet

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The wallet can go by the same rules as the watch on whether it would be a good gift. If he’s still using a velcro wallet à la Steve Carell in Crazy, Stupid Love then it may be time to not-so-subtly suggest he use a new one. If you’re looking for suggestions, the brand Matt + Nat has some great minimalist wallets that are pretty cost effective, and are also made with vegan leather.

Holiday Food and Drink Gift Guide 2016

It can be so easy for one to feel bombarded with unexpected obligations at the beginning of December. Sure, work schedules are dying down as people begin going on holiday breaks. But then you also remember that your aunts and uncles are going be calling you any day now, wondering when you can find time to visit. A surprisingly cumbersome task, considering you’re also in the throes of the busiest shopping time of the year. But even though it may be more difficult to find time to head back to your favourite restaurant or bar, there are still plenty of ways to find inspiration regarding new foods and drinks to try in the comfort of your own home. Plus, as this time of year can get unexpectedly stressful, it is important to remember that a night out with those closest to you is still needed. So here is a list of holiday gifts for the foodies you know and love, which they will no-doubt appreciate.

Image Credit: Amazon

The 24-Hour Wine Expert  by Jancis Robinson

We have all had those early dating experiences where you go with a special someone to a bar that you have carefully picked out, only to feel completely lost and out of your element when the time comes to choose a wine that will hopefully impress that person. With every confused look you make towards the wine list, your true ignorance begins to shine through that crumbling false confidence. Fortunately, British wine expert and journalist Jancis Robinson has done those helpless singletons a huge service by writing about all the essential knowledge one needs to have for an in-depth understanding on wine in this easy to read, compact book. From common tasting terms, to good food pairings, and even outlining the main differences between wines from different regions, this is a fantastic beginner’s guide for that person who wants to broaden their horizons from the cheap stuff they bought in college for $15 dollars, and develop a more masterful palette.

Image Credit: Amazon

Shake. Stir. Sip.: More than 50 Effortless Cocktails Made in Equal Parts  by Kara Newman

This is the perfect gift for that friend who’s an expert when it comes to hosting memorable soirées. And it also shows that just because you make something yourself, it doesn’t mean it can’t rival something you had at your favourite bar. Kara Newman is no slouch when it comes to her expertise on the subject either, as she contributes food and drink articles to publications like Wine Enthusiast and The Wall Street Journal. The cocktails inside are mixed with alcohols of equal parts, which means they are a breeze to measure out, especially for those larger get-togethers. If you plan on inviting your closest confidantes over for New Year’s, ditch that rum, coke, and plastic cup nonsense, and surprise them with something more adventurous.

Anything and Everything from Nadege Patisserie

Chocolates and sweets can be a pretty safe bet when it comes to wooing those extended family members you don’t see very often or the in-laws you’re desperately trying to impress even though you don’t know them very well. And when it comes to impressing people with sweets, you really can’t go wrong with the collection at the Nadege Patisserie. It offers the widest selection of macarons in Toronto, which can be purchased in different assorted boxes. And their selection of cakes are works of art. Their French Vanilla panna cotta, the Marie Antoinette, is particularly eye catching, so much so that you kind of won’t even want to eat it. For a more varied assortment of things to try, you can also go with one of their gift boxes, comprised of the different bon bons and chocolate tablets. Get something here for your significant other’s parents, and you will be ingratiated into the family in no time!

Image Credit: IMDB

The Trip

Lets be honest with ourselves: when you go to a nice restaurant with one of your closest friends, you can only wish the conversations you have are as effortlessly witty as the ones in The Trip, starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. The film is mostly improvised and centers around the two actors playing themselves as they visit different restaurants in the English countryside on behalf of a magazine. The more time they spend together, their petty rivalries and the begrudging affection they share begin to show through conversations that can only be had in the closest of friendships. Don’t have much time to see your friends over the holidays? Cuddle up at home and watch what is, I think, the funniest food porn you will ever see. This film, along with its’ equally funny sequel, The Trip to Italy, are available for purchase on iTunes either separately or as a bundle.

Image Credit: Kris Finnigan

Dinner at Brothers

Hypothetical situation: I meet a friend from out of town who wants me to show them some places around the city that I think are examples of the kinds of restaurants and bars that are representative of the city’s culinary scene. To be honest, I would probably end up taking them to Brothers, located at 1240 Bay Street. It encapsulates the laid-back unpretentious vibe that is characteristically common amongst the most popular and highly regarded establishments in Toronto — such as those owned by local food celebrity Jenn Agg (The Black Hoof, The Cocktail Bar, and Rhum Corner) or Grant van Gameron (owner of the widely popular Bar Raval, Bar Isabel, and the El Rey Mezcal Bar) — offers a rotating menu selection that feels entirely its own, with a uniqueness that can only be the result of tireless passion. The dishes are largely made from ingridients produced in Ontario and cooked with slight Italian and Greek touches. Want to show you know a thing or two about good places to eat in Toronto? Bring your loved one to this lesser-known establishment that is certainly deserving of attention.

Image Credit: Karolyn Ellacott

Surprise Date Night at Archive

As the beginning of December sets off that internal clock that makes you try to get your holiday shopping done as quickly as you possibly can, it can be easy to forget to make quality time for just you and your significant other. If you and your boo are big wine enthusiasts, surprise them with an intimate night out at Archive at 909 Dundas Street West. With more than 200 bottles of wine currently on their list, theirs is surely one of the longest and the most impressive you will be likely to find in the city. The minimalist, cozy atmosphere also makes for quite the low-key romantic setting. The chance to warm up with someone while escaping the stresses of the holidays is something that should not be taken for granted.

Image Credit: cheeseboutique.com

Gift Baskets from Cheese Boutique

If you’re coupled, it’s a very likely scenario that you will really want to make time for a date night at some point during the coming months, yet you will struggle to muster up the courage to brave the unrelenting cold weather. As such, make it a special night in by giving bae a gift basket from the Cheese Boutique, located at 45 Ripley Avenue. These baskets are specially made to the customer’s liking and budget, with the available cheeses from a wide variety of different countries — you can view their extensive selection here. A nice bottle of wine, exotic cheeses, watching Love Actually for the twentieth time in the comfiest sweatpants you own — the perfect night in to escape the winter blues.

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