Star Swag At TIFF

The velvet ropes, black SUVs and throngs of screaming fans that proliferate during the Toronto International Film Festival have once again disappeared, but some of the best things to pop up during the star-studded event can be enjoyed year-round — whether you’re a VIP or not.


For the fifth year, CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight commissioned a Made in Canada lounge for the festival, a kind of extension of the green room where guests of the show are treated to a selection of goodies that are, well, made in Canada. I dropped in one day to check out the space conceived by Best PR Boutique and Montreal’s Apartment 4 (and to find out what celebs were snapping up). The stars that passed through included Jesse Eisenberg (The Double, The Social Network), Ryan Kwanten (The Right Kind of Wrong, True Blood), Taylor Schilling (Stay, Orange is the New Black), Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, The Wire), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon, Inception), Don McKellar (The Grand Seduction), Paul Dano (Prisoners, Little Miss Sunshine), Zoe Kazan (The F Word, It’s Complicated), Joel Edgerton (Felony, The Great Gatsby) and Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), among others.

The set-up evoked a cozy cabin, with a branch chandelier by the Brothers Dressler adding wow factor to a snug seating area decked out with a sofa, chairs and tables by Style Garage, pillows by Pehr and Room 2046, a rug by Flor.

Painted paddles by Atelier 688, hung above an EcoSmart fireplace from Company B, gave the vignette a dose of hipster chic, while resin photo art of Georgian Bay by Christine Flynn (who owns both Love the Design shops in Toronto) stood in for windows with scenic views of cottage country.

This is Canada, so a partial wall was covered in Sher-Wood hockey sticks — a clever idea to raise money: stars could sign them for charity.

What swag was getting the most love? Those with tastes sweet and salty were satisfied by bags of caramel corn by Toronto’s Bobbette & Belle. Manitoba’s Wendell Estate Honey will be sweetening Hollywood’s tea cups and breakfast tables, and Neal Brothers Foods captured the taste of the Great White North with its Maple Bacon potato chips. (Yum!)

For something a bit more spirited, Dillon’s small batch white rye, gin and bitters proved popular, with Bitter Pear emerging as most people’s first choice.

On the décor front, ceramic versions of mason jars by Vancouver-based Heyday Design were picked up for use as vases and tea light holders.

Nearly every visitor asked why the lounge smelled so good. The answer: Smells Like Canada. The company’s candles come in four fragrances — Toronto Smoke, Saskatoon Wheat, Red Deer Rose and Fraser Valley Wood — with Toronto Smoke winning the most compliments.

Who says you have to walk the red carpet to treat yourself like a star?

Photo credits:
1-3, 8, 10. Tara Noelle Photography.
4-7. Kimberley Brown.
8. Bitters, Dillon’s.
9. Ceramic jars, Heyday Design.

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