A few weeks ago I was contacted by Stella Artois saying that they like my blog and want to invite me to a TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) event. I was honoured and very excited, so of course I said yes!
I initially thought I would be attending one screening or party, so you can just imagine my shock when I found out I would in fact be experiencing a three-day extravaganza of VIP activities including screenings, private parties, dinners, a fancy hotel, and so much more. Even better when I found out I was allowed to take my boyfriend with me!
So on Saturday September 10, my boyfriend and I left our simple lives as commoners and entered a new life of glitz and glam at the Park Hyatt in Yorkville (which, for those of you who don’t know is a very fashionable area of Toronto where all the celebrities stay). We opened the door to our room and our jaws dropped. It was totally decked out with Stella/TIFF decor.
We had fleece blankets, pillows, authentic director’s chairs, gift baskets, chalices, and some ice cold Stellas waiting for us. We got to take it all home with us too! Okay, maybe not the Stellas. They didn’t last very long.
We had a private stretch SUV limo waiting for us outside. It was my first time in a limo and I enjoyed every single moment of it. A short while later we arrived at our destination for the night: the Nikki Beach Party at the TIFF Light Box. It was a rooftop party where we were served all the drinks and appetizers we could ever want. We were hanging out under the stars with the stars, holding a drink in one hand and rack of lamb in the other. It was a perfect night.
We got back to our hotel and had a wonderful sleep. The next morning we headed down to the hotel’s restaurant for breakfast.
Wakey wakey eggs and…well let’s first start with freshly squeezed orange juice and some biscotti with preserves. My boyfriend had this lovely looking breakfast salad while I had poached eggs, muesli with yogurt and Belgian waffles. Everything was scrumptious.
After our leisurely breakfast, Stella sent us over to Berman & Co, Canada’s largest wardrobe rental company. They have over a million outfits and have dressed people for movies, television shows and commercials. You can find absolutely everything from a lettuce bikini to a 1930s cocktail dress in this massive showroom. Stella organized to have a stylist pick out some 60s-style outfits for us. Once we got fitted, two makeup artists gave me a massive transformation and then a hair stylist finished off by giving me a wonderful hair-do.
It’s hard to explain how I looked, so here’s a before shot of me standing in front of some of the dresses that were used in Anne of Green Gables (!!!):
And this is how my boyfriend and I looked afterwards:
Quite a drastic change, huh? You’d think it ends here, but that was just the beginning. We were lucky enough to have the amazing Steve Carty do a photo shoot with us! This guy has so much talent. He has done shoots for Kanye West, Pharell Williams and Colin Firth to name just a few, so we were really excited to have him do us! The pictures turned out amazingly as expected, and Stella had the best ones printed for us and gave us a lovely photo album to put them in.
When that was all over, we got dressed back into our normal clothes (but I totally kept the hair and makeup) and headed to a gala screening of Machine Gun Preacher starring Gerard Butler.
After the film, the limo took us to the Drake where we had a delicious Asian-inspired dinner and then partied the night away at their special event TIFF party.
There is something quite wonderful about having a gourmet breakfast sent up to your lavish room and having someone pour your tea for you while you sit in your plush terry bathrobe reading the daily newspaper. I could most definitely get used to this.
In the evening we went to Earl’s on King to have a farewell dinner with the group. I ordered the cedar planked salmon with seasonal sauce, brown basmati rice and fresh vegetables and was not disappointed.
The gang at Earl’s.
We were too full to eat dessert, so we got into the limo and headed out to Roy Thomson Hall to see the gala screening of The Lady starring Michelle Yeoh with David Thewlis.
What a truly inspiring story. The beautiful and extremely talented Michelle Yeoh played the main character who struggled to bring democracy and freedom to the politically unrest Burma. This film, like Machine Gun Preacher is based on a very true story, and that made me appreciate it even more. I will watch it again once it is out in theatres.
After the amazing film, we headed over to the Festival Music House special event TIFF party at MOD Club. It was lots of fun. We got to see K’Naan do an intimate performance. He’s really good live.
The next morning we packed up our bags and all of our gifts and said goodbye to our luxurious hotel. The experience that we had was something that we will remember for the rest of our lives. Thank you so much to Stella Artois and La Société Stella Artois for choosing me to come along on the adventure of a lifetime.