You couldn’t blame Cory Young for appearing so surprised by the multitude of Christmas trees that awaited him at the Fairmont Empress on Thursday.
For the Seattle-based newlywed, whose family flew here from Chicago to celebrate his marriage to his Canadian bride, Brenna, their wedding day coincided with the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, after all.
“I didn’t expect to see all these Christmas trees,” said the dapper groom. “In America, we don’t start thinking about Christmas Eve until after today.”
Their fashionable entourage’s arrival a week after the 25th annual Victoria Festival of Trees got underway at the Fairmont Empress and the Bay Centre, with 85 trees combined, was a bonus, he said.
“This beautiful scenery has added to our wedding day,” beamed Young, whose bride chose the Fairmont Empress as the venue for their 30-person wedding party.
“It’s a beautiful place. It has that old-timey kind of feel, but at the same time it’s kind of elegant,” he said. “So we both immediately fell in love with it.”
The B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation fundraiser invites visitors to browse and donate as they vote for their favourite trees creatively decorated by community sponsors, organizations and businesses.
Participants compete for the People’s Choice award by collecting votes and raising funds. A new feature, Text-To-Vote, now lets voters even text donations from their smartphones.
Funds raised, including $138,000 last year, contribute to the Excellence in Child Health Fund, which supports research into childhood diseases, life-saving equipment, rehabilitation and other hospital needs.
This year’s Times Colonist entry — an elaborate Grinch Whoville-themed tree displayed in the walkway between the hotel and Victoria Conference Centre — was selected as first place in the Judge’s Choice category.
Runners-up in this category were trees decorated by Save-on-Foods and Broadmead Care Society, with the Reid’s Choice award going to the Victoria Disabillity Resource Centre.
The Spirit of Giving category, which encourages team fundraising, recognized the Bay Centre, which donated $5,000 toward the purchase of new machinery for the hospital’s cardiology program.
Fairmont Empress director of operations Cole Millen said it has always been an honour for the hotel to participate in the holiday tradition.
“The Empress has been part of the community since 1908 and we have many traditions, and this is one of our favourites,” he said.
“People get to come and see what we have to offer, and we also get to give back to the community through sharing our property and our space.”
There were plenty of American tourists in the hotel Thursday, including two men from Seattle who decided to celebrate U.S. Thanksgiving by treating themselves to the newly renovated hotel’s high tea.
“It’s Thanksgiving at home but we decided it would be good to come because it’s during a quiet period, and it’s not a holiday here,” said Jason Hunke.
“It’s such an iconic hotel. It reeks, in all the best ways, of the beautiful colonial vibe that is so wonderful in Victoria.”
And no, they joked, they weren’t secretly plotting to move here because of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s victory.
“No, we’re just thinking happy thoughts while we’re here,” quipped Rich Nolle.
Ryan and Marie Herdt, visiting from Puyallup, Washington, encountered the festival trees while here to celebrate their 15th anniversary.
“We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, so we really don’t celebrate Christmas,” said Ryan.
“But we do think they’re beautiful,” added Marie, noting it was the couple’s first visit to Canada.
Their itinerary included high tea, a “food crawl,” checking out local castles, shopping and “soaking up everything Victoria has to offer.”
The couple was relieved that because of their beliefs, they wouldn’t have to weigh in on Trump’s election victory.
“One thing about Jehovah’s Witnesses is that we’re politically neutral,” said a smiling Marie.
“It doesn’t affect us one way or another,” said Ryan. “We put all our faith in God and believe He is our Saviour.”Read more at:year 12 formal dresses
Berenice Gilmour, 38, trained as a dancer and ran her own dancing school, but when her eldest daughter needed a dance costume, she realised that designing clothes was her real passion.
Berenice borrowed her daughter’s sewing machine to design a costume, and family and friends were so impressed by her creation that more commissions followed.
She said: “When I made the costume, I just thought, ‘I need a proper job doing this’. It was a massive change for me going from dance to fashion, but I just knew it was something I needed to do there and then.]
“And it just went from there. I didn’t know anything about sewing but I started taking lessons at Leeds City College, and I’m now in my third year of a fashion degree at Harrogate College. It’s exciting to have the chance to do something I love.”
Berenice was presented with the Achievement in Education Young Achievers award at a glittering ceremony on November 17 at Leeds United’s Centenary Pavilion in recognition of her succeess at the Harrogate Bridal Show, where she was crowned Best Student Designer by Bridal Buyer, for a design based on a birds of paradise brief.
The day after winning the title at the Harrogate Bridal Show, Berenice approached Leeds bridal designer Anita Massarella, and now has an internship with the retailer while she completes her degree.
Berenice said: “All my life I have driven past her shop, and I just thought I might as well knock on the door and see if I could have a chat. I just can’t believe that it’s happened and I have the internship, I never expected anything. I couldn’t believe it when she asked me when I could start.
“I’m a mum with four kids and I am used to giving all of my pride to them, but it’s nice to be recognised at the awards. I don’t think I would be doing all this without my kids, I want to be a role model for them and show that you can do anything if you set your mind to it.
“For anyone thinking about doing something they haven’t done before, I would say just go for it. You just have to believe in yourself.”
Approaching the end of her fashion degree, Berenice now hopes to complete a Masters degree in Creative Pattern Cutting at Huddersfield University.
She said: My mum thought that I would get more awards for dancing, not for sewing. It’s all happened so quickly.
“I’m looking forward to carrying on and I really want to do the masters. My kids and my mum are really proud of me, my eldest knows how hard it is to be at university without kids, and can’t imagine how hard it is for me to juggle university with kids.
“But as people say, when you have more to do and more to juggle, you often find yourself getting more done because you have a lot of responsibilities pushing you on.”Read more at:short formal dresses
I recently attended a conference here in New York crafted for those interested in launching a career in fashion. FashionistaCon provided some great insights from well-established professionals in the field and I saw some neat parallels to those in the travel industry seeking to start a new business or trying to reinvent what they’ve been doing for years.
Rachel Roy, the American fashion designer, advised the audience to “stick to what you’re good at. No matter what the trends are on Instagram, you have to keep to your core competency.” Sometimes you have to wait trends out to be recognized, she added. “There will always be people who like what you do; don’t worry about being a media darling.”
How do you determine what your true passion is? “Ask yourself what you’re drawn to when you’re not working,” she said.
Patricia Field, the acclaimed costume designer who used her amazing creativity to style the outfits worn on “Sex and the City” and in “The Devil Wears Prada,” advised that when choosing your career, “you should do what comes easy to you. If it’s easy, you will do it well. If you go with what’s difficult for you, you’ll be competing with those for whom it comes easy.”
Here’s a tip on why it’s important to have an appealing work place. Field started her fashion career working in Alexander’s, a now defunct discount department store in New York. As I recall, Alexander’s was scrappy and messy, but it was where we went for back-to-school and holiday outfits. Field worked in the blouse department, which was in disarray when she got there. Merchandise was wrapped in cellophane bags and strewn across countertops. Field hunted down a few mannequins, ironed the blouses and put them on display so they looked great. Her efforts made the department an appealing place to be. Management noticed the resulting dramatic increase in sales and promoted her.
Eventually she opened her own store. “I loved being in retail,” she said. “People walk in your door and they’re filled with information. And being in retail is not selective; people choose to come through your door and in to your world.”
She’s since sold her shop, but keeps her business going online. No longer as concerned about making money as she once was, she is selling unique items these days and is doing well. “People love one-of-a-kind,” she said.
For those wondering how to stand out in a crowded industry, Field is keen on listening to your inner voice. “If you pay attention to yourself and develop yourself, you will be an original,” she said.
Once you’ve determined what you’re good at, hire people who can fill the voids of what you don’t know how to do. Rachel Roy said she loves designing, but hates selling and finds it uncomfortable to sit around a boardroom talking about her product line and so she has people who do that for her.
One caveat for teaming up with others, according to Roy, is that when you choose a business partner, it’s imperative that they share the same vision and values as you do, otherwise “you give all that up.”
This was a fashion conference, after all, so here’s a tip on how to dress to succeed. Tom Kalenderian, EVP and general merchandise manager for Barneys New York, advised that you should overachieve when presenting yourself. “I know I got my first job at Barneys because I dressed in an Armani suit for the interview. Dressing well speaks to who you think you are,” he said.Read more at:formal dresses brisbane | formal dresses melbourne