TIFF14: Tastemakers Lounge celebrates 10 years in style

Tastemakers Lounge

Tastemakers Lounge knows how to celebrate the Toronto International Film Festival in style, and that’s hardly surprising since they’ve been doing it right for 10 years now.

Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski and Leesa Butler debuted Tastemakers Lounge at TIFF in 2005, and I vividly remember going, especially since it was the first gift lounge that I ever attended.

Since then, I’ve been going back to Tastemakers almost every year to see what they had in store for celebrities, and I’ve been lucky enough to walk away with some of the gifts as well, which is always filled with some of the treats.

Hosted once again at the InterContinental Toronto Centre, the lounge runs from September 4 to September 8 this year and it includes three rooms for the stars to browse through, with the products on display for everyone coming through. Part of Tastemakers’ focus, which is one of the reasons I love their lounge, is to highlight great Canadian brands, and also to bring attention to great charities.

This year, the lineup of featured companies includes Brita, acting as the title sponsor; Danier Leather, with jackets, hats, and tablet cases; Piloti leather shoes and bags; Lush’s Charity Pot; and Tonia DeBellis with her unique high-end hoodies.

Here are a few of my favorite things at this year’s Tastemakers Lounge:

Danier Leather
Danier Leather is fall. I love the everything about the season, and Danier’s leather jackets fit perfectly for what I like to wear once the leaves are changing and the wind has turned cool. I also love that Danier uses a lot of Canadian leather, and they manufacture many of their products in Canada with a solid, premium style.

It is also refreshing to see men’s clothing in a gift lounge, which is not always the case, and I love their biker-themed jacket with the black buttons on black leather.

Danier’s other items on display included a women’s shoulder bag, infinity scarves, tablet cases, and a men’s leather baseball hat.

The first thing I saw as I walked into the lounge was Piloti’s racing-inspired Italian leather shoes, which were designed for race car drivers, but are true luxury footwear for any guy. Their Campione dress shoes, in particular, which retail for $450, are distinctly impressive, with a design that is modern and classy.

The shoes sport a tire tread sole, which Piloti patented under the name Roll Control, and they look very comfortable, especially the Primo loafer. Piloti also have three leather bags which are simply stunning, and make me want to go traveling: Monza Weekender, Medio Messenger, and Piccolo Travel Bag.

The Lush Charity Pot is a tremendous thing, and 100% of the money raised from the product goes back to the charities, including any pots that are donated at gift lounges since Lush pays for any that they give away.

The pot itself, which retails in the large size for $22.95, is actually a body lotion made from Fair Trade organic cocoa butter, almond oil, and ylang ylang.

As for the charities, Lush partners with select grassroots organizations to make a difference in communities, specifically with goals relevant to the environment, animal welfare, and humanitarian goals. One example is Girls Rock Camp Toronto, which is one of the local organizations that benefits from Lush’s sales of the Charity Pot, in addition to Children’s Peace Theatre.

You have to appreciate this kind of concept, especially with a product that aims to be as natural as possible. Lush is also going to auction off a giant Charity Pot, which has been signed by stars who have come to the lounge, for their charities.

Lush Charity Pot
Lush Charity Pot

Tonia DeBellis

Tonia DeBellis is a Canadian designer with a clever eye for deep textures and beautiful patterns. At the Tastemakers Lounge she was showing off her Haute Hoodie, which retails for $399, and brings real sophistication to the concept of the hoodie.

The design is wonderful, and for me, what I also really appreciate, is the use of incredible textures, which show off the sophisticated lines and the overall look of the hoodies.

DeBellis also was showing off her Haute snoodies, which fit over the head inside any regular jacket, and again, the fabric really makes these look very, very classy.

Other Highlights:

olive + piper had their fashionable, and affordable, jewellery on display, which includes rings, necklaces and bracelets. Most of their stylish jewellery retails for between $25 and $35.

Rise Gear has the answer for the busy traveler who doesn’t want to bring a lot of luggage, and still wants to keep things organized. Rise Gear offers collapsible shelving inside of a duffel bag, making it easy to “unpack” once you get to your destination–just open, lift, and hang the entire bag up in the closet. The Jumper size bag retails for $79.

Counting Sheep Coffee is the night-time answer for coffee lovers who want to enjoy a cup of java, but don’t want to risk ruining their sleep. This decaffeinated coffee includes a mix of organic Valerian root, which acts like a sedative and relaxant.

Here is the full list of brands at Tastemakers Lounge: Pekota Design furnishings, Lush, Brita, Sorel, Danier Leather, Piloti, Tonia DeBellis, olive + piper, Rise Gear, Papa D’s Tropical Hot Sawce, Counting Sheep Coffee, Consonant Skincare, and Calvin Klein.

W. Andrew Powell lives, sleeps, eats, and breaths movies and entertainment. Since launching The GATE in 1999 Andrew has enjoyed being a pest to any publicist who would return his calls. In his "spare time," Andrew is also an avid photographer, and writes about leisure travel and hotels around the world.