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 Hookup for the Bookish

I’ve been known to stand on line early in the morning to get a ‘fresh’ signed copy of a book — most recently, M Train by Patti Smith, on a rather chilly October day. Though to say I was ‘on line’ is misleading as usually — much publicity and fanfare preceding the publication of certain books notwithstanding — I’m in the company of a few $1 book mongers and anxiety driven individuals haunted by the very real possibility of a last copy being picked up by some unreasonable old lady à la Marble Rye. Which, in turn, would push me toward a criminal life of thievery and extortion. Then I would have to quit my job and move out of the apartment and peddle $1 books by the park. Better to get up early and stand on line.

Needless to say, I like books. As such, all I want for Christmas is you to pick the right book and maybe leave me alone to read it for a while in the corner by the fireplace, and come check in once in a while to see that my hot toddy is refilled. Dinner is only served once I finish this chapter. That sounds just about Goldilocks right.

Dear reader, you may, God willing, be blessed with blessings upon blessings with such a presence in your life, in which case, you have a serious job to do this Holiday Season: PICK THE RIGHT BOOKS! Fortunately, the following list has been vetted and approved. These are the books that will make the book lover in your life feign Sade and sing Cherish the Day come Christmas morning. This, dear reader, is the Holiday Hookup for the Bookish or the Gift for the Cooped Up, Lonely, and Bitter but Still Totally Sane & Dateable Individual, AKA the Analog Reader. 

The Paris Review and the NYRB Classics Book Club Joint Subscription

A Subscription to the Paris Review and the NYRB Classics Book Club

There’s a prejudice against English majors that we’re terrible at math, to which, though it’s true, I take umbrage as a matter of principle. But even I know that $140 for a year’s subscription to the Paris Review and the New York Review of Books Classics Book Club is a miracle of a deal of grand mathematic mystery and unforeseeable consequences. That’s four issues of one of the best literary magazines to ever exist + twelve classics from the imprint famous for rescuing masterpieces from dusty shelves. It’s a thing of dreams. Go get it here.

The Book Hookup from Strand Bookstore

Strand Bookstore Book Hookup

If the one you love is more into being in the loop for new releases, the Book Hookup from Strand Bookstore offers three subscription boxes — Fiction First Editions, Young Adult First Editions, and Art/Photography — that can be purchased as a single installment or a recurring installment up to four times a year. Not only are all the books signed, the deal includes Strand exclusive merchandise and literary knickknacks from the store’s many partners, such as Hearth & Hammer No. 23 and Cavallini & Co. The books are picked by possible future Patti Smiths or Fred Basses; also, that all Strand Bookstore employees took its famous literary quiz assures extra quality control. The Hookup. 

From ‘Hiroshi Sugimoto: Theaters’ by Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Theaters 

Ever wonder what it’d be like to watch a movie in a single frame as a camera? Well, Hiroshi Sugimoto did too, and way earlier than any of us. Sugimoto’s beautiful and eerie photographs are layered meditations on the passage of time as seen through the shining screens in classic movie palaces with their ornate architecture, drive-in movies, and disused and run down theaters of Europe and North America. If you feel that this might dampen the Holiday mood, it won’t, I promise. Personally, I’m super excited to see Holiday romcoms in this manner!

John Derian Picture Book

John Derian Picture Book

This big book of various printed matter is not for a coffee table. It belongs, open to a random page, on a podium somewhere in the house that’s conducive to long musings and deliverance from ennui. Published by John Derian Company Inc. of New York that deals with eclectic and rare collection of prints, this colorful book is a full arsenal of beauties and curiosities. One of my personal favorites is the Devil’s Toboggan Ride, which shows a man riding a toboggan labeled ‘Cider,’ ‘Beer,’ ‘Wine,’ and ‘Whiskey’ toward ‘Death’ with a polite welcoming skeleton. Other highlights include various typography and highly detailed illustrations of flora and fauna of the world.

Essays Against Everything by Mark Greif

Essays Against Everything by Mark Greif 

Mark Greif has published remarkably brilliant essays in n+1, the magazine dubbed “The best goddamned literary magazine in America” by none other than Mary Karr. Essays Against Everything is a collection of Greif’s essays on cultural, political, and philosophical concerns. This highly intelligent and often hilarious collection is, therefore, not for a joy reader, looking to knock back a few pages before bed. Reserve this beautiful hardcover for the intellectually astute. Or at least for the one who claims to be so. Or, better yet, if the one receiving the gift is that rarified person of the mind, gift it to each other and compare notes.

I Must be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems by Eileen Myles

I Must be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems by Eileen Myles

Eileen Myles is a popular poet, the nearest thing to a poet-celebrity we have (her Instagram, by the way, is on fire). But her poetry is often polarizing. To see if someone will appreciate Myles, one must do the following: 1) Read to them a poem by Robert Lowell, perhaps Child’s Song; 2) Tell them about Lowell’s life, its many brushes with tragedy, illness, etc.; 3) Read to them Myles’s On the Death of Robert Lowellwhich begins with, “O, I don’t give a shit”. If they do not laugh, Myles, unfortunately, is not for them. Too bad, since she’s so damn good. Incidentally, this might also be a good way to rid your friends-list of unnecessary clutter à la Marie Kondo: Keep only those with a sense of humor.

In Gratitude by Jenny Diski

In Gratitude by Jenny Diski

Jenny Diski was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer in 2014. She was told she had three years to live. In Gratitude is the closest thing to knowing what was on the brilliant mind behind the Sixties and Skating to Antartica between what she calls the ’embarrassment’ at the doctor’s office and her death in April this year. This book on illness and childhood memories is both hilarious and solemn. But her ability to continue to be an eloquent detached observer is truly a marvel. It’s funny, hopeful, and intelligent.

The Ladybird Book for Grown Ups

The Ladybird Book for Grown Ups

These hilarious books on time old questions regarding, among others, the mechanics of a husband and the secrets of mindfulness are key to a successful afternoon on Christmas Day. Don’t let the snow outside and the overbearing family presence lull you into a mindless perusal of a copy of Ex’s Life — Special Holiday Edition. The Ladybird Book for Grown Ups series is a gift, dear reader, you must give yourself in order restore some kind of a balance between the winter blues and general contentedness. Laughter, after all, is the best temporary measure.

The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories by Nikolai Leskov

The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories by Nikolai Leskov

These 17 stories by Nikolai Leskov, who’s suffered the fate of obscurity and rediscovery threefold, make the reader have fits of imagination and often lurid and hilarious visions. Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky of the Dostoyevsky translations fame, this beautiful edition promises not only Leskov’s wonderful stories but a true rendering of the writer’s use of skaz, what Pevear describes as a Russian term for ‘oral writing’; it’s no wonder that there’s a sense of channeling Leskov’s voice while reading his stories. It’s an ideal book to read aloud to family by the fireplace or to yourself by your nightstand. Either way, Leskov delivers.

M Train by Patti Smith

M Train by Patti Smith

To be honest, there was no particular reason for waiting on line for Smith’s M TrainSome time earlier in the week, I had listened to Horses and was thinking of Smith. Then, later that day, as if by fate, I saw her face, enlarged, on the window of a bookstore. And for whatever reason felt compelled to wake up and stand on line to get her book as soon as I possibly could. The book retroactively justifies my seemingly silly ordeal by the bookstore. It is beautiful and thoughtful, the kind of book you don’t want to talk too much about because it feels somewhat like a violation of a secret and sincere handshake. Get this book for whoever you want to spend some real time with.

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Holiday Beauty Gift Guide 2016

Christmas will officially be upon us in only a few short weeks, so it’s crunch time if you haven’t already put a dent in your holiday shopping. Everyone needs a little help when it comes to gift giving. If you’re unsure what to get the beauty guru and makeup junkies on your shopping list, have no fear, Novella is here to help. From makeup to skin care, to scents and body treatments, we’ve got gift or stocking stuffer ideas for everyone on your list. These treasures are sure to please the beauties in your life.

Mèreadesso Clear/Tinted Lip Treats


These are an awesome gift for someone who loves lip colour and chap sticks. Not only are they lightweight, but they are also a great primer for any lipstick, gloss, or liner. Plus, they’re perfect for the winter because they are super moisturizing! Can someone say mistletoe?

Available at Nordstrom: $28

Laura Mercier Translucent Powder


This powder is the holy grail in the world of beauty bloggers. If the YouTube beauty guru in your life doesn’t already have this, it’s the gift that will make their Christmas.

Available at Sephora: $47

The Good Bar Soap “Goodie Bag”


This little bag of body treats contains the perfect variety of soaps and body care to give your special someone the chance to dabble in a variety of Good Bar Soap products (so they can pick their favourite). Not only are The Good Bar’s soaps handcrafted, and all-natural, but they are also made in Toronto.

Available at The Cure Apothecary in Toronto or at $12

L’aromatica perfume “Dapper” Eau de Toilette


This is the ideal gift for the tomboy in your life who doesn’t necessarily wear a lot of makeup or use a lot of beauty products. This unisex scent is one of L’aromatica’s most popular. This fragrance is masculine, woodsy, and spicy, but sexy nonetheless.

Since it is made from alcohol in Oregon, it can’t be shipped to Canada. However, you can find it at The Cure Apothecary in Toronto: $30

Doe Hair Pact “Bora Bora” hair mask


For the person that is always colouring and changing their hair, gift them with this moisturizing mini escape. The “Bora Bora” hair pact mask contains coconut and avocado oil and is meant to nourish the driest and dullest of hair. Plus, it smells like a mini vacation.

Available at The Cure Apothecary in Toronto, Urban Outfitters, or $17

Kunye Nourish Face Mask


Known as the “green smoothie for your face, this organic vegan face mask is perfect for the health conscious, all natural, beauty lover. Its gentle formula combined with wheatgrass, neem, spirulina, sea kelp, and Canadian bentonite clay is great for all skin types.

Available at The Cure Apothecary in Toronto or $38

L’Oreal Telescopic mascara


I know drugstore mascara seems like a rather unconventional gift for the holidays, but mascara is arguably one of the most important items in any girl’s makeup bag. This mascara is the gift that keeps on giving, but without the scary price tag.

Available at Shoppers Drug Mart: $15

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Shop All Weekend: Toronto Centric Menswear Gifts

I think it’s safe to assume that most of us are in the middle of our holiday shopping, hopping from mall to mall, shop to shop, trying to get the holiday shopping done before the the big rush comes in the next few weeks. We get it: some of us are really want to give something special to our friends and family, and try to buy something that is not from the generic shops, and chain malls. For those who want to go that extra mile, and purchase gifts with a little more of a personal touch, and more of a local vibe, here are some Toronto-centric menswear holiday gift ideas, to help you out for your holiday shopping.

October’s Very Own Merchandise


You must be living under a rock if you didn’t  know that Toronto is home to one of the most popular artists in hip hop and music. Rapper, and Hip Hop Mogul Drake reps the city hard. He single handedly re-named the city (who doesn’t refer to Toronto as The Six), refers to himself as the “Six God”, and recently opened up a restaurant on King Street West. If you’re looking gifts for a Drake fan, or just some Toronto-centric gifts, I don’t think you can go wrong with picking something up from the October’s Very Own Flagship store on Dundas West. Along with the recently opened Los Angeles OVO store, we’re one of the two cities in North America to have a shop filled with Drake’s OVO merch. The store is stocked with OVO merchandise from hats, t-shirts, and hoodies, to stickers and iphone cases, so whatever your budget, you can snag a gift from the 6-God.

Adidas NBA All Star Game Jersey


Everyone that follows basketball in this city knows that the NBA All Star game is making it’s way to the Air Canada Centre next year. The recently revealed All Star jersey pays homepage to the city. Adidas has outfitted the jerseys with many Canadian and Toronto-centric easter eggs within the design of the jersey, including a silhouette of the Toronto skyline on the back of the jersey. These jerseys make the perfect gift for any fans of basketball, but unfortunately they won’t be available until January, so if you’re late on your holiday gifting, this would be make the ideal make up gift.

Nike Air Max 1: The Six


You know how you know our city has become a big deal? When sportswear giants Nike has finally blessed the city with it’s own signature sneaker. Nike took the classic silhouette of the Air Max 1, and outfitted the sneaker in a clean black and white design, and a bunch of Toronto references that would make any Torontonian proud. The sneakers would make the perfect gift for any local sneaker head, but you need to act fast as they are already sold out at numerous retailers, so you’r next best bet might be eBay,  or Grailed.

Legends Leauge Apparel


Bryan Espiritu’s Legends League is a local streetwear institution. It has become a staple in the city for those looking for quality streetwear pieces with a Canadian and Toronto twist. You’ll be able to get all the streetwear staples at Legends Leauge, everything from graphic t-shirts and snapbacks, to hoodies and accessories.

Need & Wants Studios


If everything mentioned above still feels a little too commercial, and not Toronto-centric enough, gifting a gift from Needs & Wants Studios is the way to go. Sean Brown’s Need & Wants makes some of the best varsity and bomber jackets in menswear today. The brand’s line of bombers and varsity jackets are highly sought after, thanks to the signature inverted sleeves Brown incorporates in most of his jackets. Brown makes all of his jackets in house and in the city in Toronto, so you know the quality is going to be top notch.



Top 10 Holiday Wine Picks


Written By Angela Aiello

The holiday season always brings a beautiful sense of completion to the year.  This time of year is all about warmth, reflection and appreciation. Both your fashion choices and your palate will transition to the winter and colder months. We are meant to look back on the year with gratitude for what has been given to us, while looking forward to close out the year in celebration. This is a time for gathering with family and friends, and supporting one another along our journey. Wine is one of the very best gifts to give and receive, and there is always a reason to buy two bottles – perhaps one for a friend, and one for yourself! Great wine is said to be a blend of quality, taste and value, and these wines will definitely not disappoint.

1. Taittinger Champagne – $59.95

Nothing signifies the holidays quite like a bottle of Champagne! This is one of my favourite Champagne houses. Small bubbles, a perfect taste profile and flawless blend of grapes (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier) make this the perfect gift for someone who has helped make this year special and successful. Keep a bottle on hand for yourself, because you know you worked hard too #PopTaittinger #TaittingerTime

2. Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Rosé Brut – $29.95

Sparkling wines from Ontario are simply world class. This pink sparkling wine is one of my go-to bottles and is sure to impress anyone who opens it. It is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay made in the traditional Champagne method and not only looks lovely but also tastes lovely.  This makes a great gift for the boss, family member or wine-loving friend. #VQA #OntarioWine

3. Joiy Sparkling – $19.95

This 4 mini bottle pack of bubbly available in the gift section of the LCBO is fun and delicious. Sip with a straw or a wedge of citrus as per Winemakers instructions (and I agree to both!). This is the great holiday party accessory to bring and/or serve. Their tag line for the wine is bottle happiness and it sure is! This modern version of sparkling is from New Zealand and has really great packaging too. This is a very cool gift option for your bestie who will ultimately share it with you! #joiyWine

4. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc – $19.95

Impress any white wine drinker with this fantastic bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Smell beautiful white flowers, soft peaches and light & lovely citrus. A wonderful pairing with your holiday cheese boards and whites meats like roasted turkey and chicken as well as oysters. Everyone will love this bottle of wine it’s simply delicious.

5. Chloe Chardonnay – $17.95 (+ 8 Bonus AirMiles until Jan 2)

A pure delight from California’s Sonoma County, Chloe is a beautiful chardonnay that has body, fruit and class. I love the label, the branding, the taste and the price! This is a fuller bodied wine so serve it in nice big glasses and not too cold. With nice spice and vanilla notes, this is a great bottle to share or give to someone who loves chardonnay and you can also open this bottle with all of your holiday meals.

6. Paul Mas Estate Cabernet Merlot  – $13.95

A wine I’d sip, serve, share and highly recommend for all your home holiday parties at home. From a single vineyard in the South of France, this is a well crafted, beautifully smooth blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot aged in French oak barrels. Experience luxury with this wine by pairing this wine with red meat dishes, evening entertainment by the fire, dark chocolate and cheese.  It truly over performs for the price. #PaulMasStyle

7. Penfolds Bin 9 Cabernet Sauvignon Gift Pack- $23.95

A very exciting gift option for the new wine collector. Sourced from multiple of different vineyards across Australia’s South Australia region with a large portion sourced from the historical soils of McLaren Vale. This is a contemporary expression of Cabernet Sauvignon with suppleness and happiness in every sip. Besides it’s Penfolds, so what else would you expect but perfection! Bin 9 can be enjoyed young or cellared for 5-10 years and to boot it comes in a gift box.

8. Finca Hispana Tempranillo  – $16.05

Up for an adventure? Sip this great bottle from Spain’s Rioja region and get transported away to an old world adventure. It is rustic and lively and made from the Tempranillo grape. Serving up delicious tapas this holiday? This is a great sipping and pairing option. The woman on the front of the label is the winemaker and it’s only one in a series of wines making it to the LCBO over the coming year. #FincaHispana

9. Ruffino Chianti Classico Reserva D’oro 2010 – $44.95

An Italian wine lovers dream. This 2010 tastes like pure bliss and is the perfect gift for that person on your list that already has everything. It’s a great discovery bottle that has been aged at the winery and then released to us (we all know it’s incredibly hard to cellar wine without drinking it before it’s best before date). This wine can be cellared for a few more years, or it can be enjoyed right now.  Best enjoyed with a wine lover who appreciates old world wine style. No food pairings needed, however a fireside romance is highly recommended.

10. Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny $34.95

Port is a masterpiece, and Tawny port is my absolute favourite. A bottle from Taylor Fladgate, one of the most respected producers of Port, is the absolute perfect gift. Called Tawny because of its colour, Port is made with many indigenous grapes from the beautiful Douro Valley in Portugal. The grapes grow on very steep hills and are handpicked. It is fortified and blended with wine that is at minimum 10 years old and aged in oak casks. After years of age, the wine finally reaches a mature tawny colour. The final taste is smooth with mellow and complex flavours. It pairs well with blue cheese and is a perfect after dinner delight.

Making wine awesome since 2006 Writer, Educator, Host, and Founder of the iYellow Wine Club Angela Aiello has-been Involved in the world of wine & food for over fifteen years. From TV to Radio to print, she’s got the world of food and drink at her finger tips. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter at @SuperWineGirl 
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