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Toronto Christmas Market #AmexLife

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Last Friday, we visited the world famous Shop.ca Toronto Christmas Market at the historic Distillery District. If you’ve never been, you’re missing out on a very unique indoor/outdoor shopping experience presented by American Express. It’s truly become a Toronto holiday tradition!

We started our adventure at the American Express Lounge. A place where everyone alike can escape the Canadian cold… Next to it, we played a round of ‘Spin To Win’ at the Amex Cabin, for our chance at some great prizes.

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After warming up in the lounge, we made our way through the cobblestone walkways by following the sounds of the Candy Cane Carolers. We ended up at the sound stage and joined in with the performers by singing along with some classic holiday feel good songs. The Market’s lineup was stacked with great Canadian artist with American Express providing the entertainment on select evenings.

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Believe it or not, we built up an appetite while singing our lungs out, so we decided to taste test some of the local vendors in the Market. Let’s just say, you need to try the giant pretzels, the chicken drumsticks and the French Canadian poutine. If you feel like grabbing a beer or Christmas cocktail we suggest you make use of El Catrin’s heated, yes we said heated outdoor patio. There’s nothing more Canadian than enjoying a cold one on a patio in the middle of winter!

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For those of you under 19, don’t worry, you can still enjoy a cup of hot chocolate by the cozy fire pits throughout the Market or over to the American Express Lounge for a complimentary cup!

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One of the coolest things about the Market is that you can shop both indoors and outdoors while supporting local vendors. If you’re looking for a one of a kind gift for that special someone, you’re sure to find it at the Shop.ca Toronto Christmas Market.

Follow @1LOVETO & @AmexCanada #AmexLife

Lupul

Follow Joffrey Lupul on his off days at some of his favourite spots in the city. From his local coffee shop, to his favourite live music venue, to his “boys night out” steak house. Rate his style by Gotstyle and for every vote, Joffrey Lupul and Gotstyle will donate $1.00 to local charity – The Remix Project. Last year the #LupulStyle collaboration raised $25,000 for the True Patriot Love Foundation, this season they’re looking to raise even more for The Remix Project.

VOTE HERE: lupulstyle.com

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To learn more about The Remix Project, please visit: theremixproject.ca

Follow @1LOVETO #LupulStyle

The Regent Park Film Festival

The beauty of film is that it can relay powerful stories and messages which can resonate with the viewer and change perspectives. When those films are coming straight out of your own neighbourhood and represent your voice, that’s power.

The Regent Park Film Festival does exactly that and we were lucky enough to check out the 2014 festival at Daniels Spectrum. Festival Manager, Amanda Pileggi, told us that the festival is not only accessible and open to all, it offers free admission and free child care! She says RPFF is a place where “everyone can connect to storytelling and film” and fosters a deep sense of community and connectivity.

We caught the screening for “Black Men Loving” directed by Ella Cooper, Intersections directed by Snap! A youth filmmaking workshop, and Hope Heights directed by Marc Magnusson in partnership with Manifesto.

Black Men Loving did a phenomenal job demolishing the stereotype of Black fathers by profiling some in Regent Park and across Toronto. Jason Creed, father of four, was one of the fathers profiled and recounted some moving truths of parenting young girls. We also got a real look at a homosexual relationship which, regardless of the endless stereotypes, provides a loving home to their son.

Intersections is project by the RPFF, funded by the Ontario Arts Council. “Professional artists Sheena D. Robertson and Richard Fung worked with youth from the Regent Park and Lawrence Heights communities, who wrote, produced, acted, and filmed all aspects of the production.” It takes the audience on the journey of one kid and shows us how we all connect, or intersect, without even noticing it. It sheds light on stereotypes the kids of Regent Park and Lawrence Heights face and the reality they have to survive in a very clever way.

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Hope Heights is about a section of Toronto known as Lawrence Heights. Although the community has seen violence and tragedy, the point of the film explains that the media makes it worse than it actually is. We all rely on the news to tell us what’s happening in the world but sensationalism is compromising the facts. The community doesn’t deny terrible things have happened there but the good outweighs the bad; the people are respectable and the potential is infinite. The lesson we come away with is to seek out truth for yourself; if you didn’t see it with your own eyes, or hear it with your own ears, you don’t truly know.

For more info: regentparkfilmfestival.com

Posted by Samira Zia Rehman

Follow @1LOVETO #RPFF14

EAST vs West T.O.

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We found ourselves in a room with a panel of some notable Torontonians debating a question that has caused clashes, confrontations and general chaos: East end or West end, what’s better? They called it, “An intelligent discussion on a not so important topic.”

Representing the West End: Roz Weston of the Roz & Mocha Show on Kiss 92.5FM and Co-Founder of Toronto music label Arts & Crafts, Jeffery Remedios.

Representing the East End: City Breakfast Television Host, Jennifer Valentyne and Editor/Publisher of NOW Magazine, Michael Hollett.

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Vogue Magazine recently declared Queen West one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world. It’s got Bellwoods Trinity Park, the Entertainment District and cool hotels like The Drake. Does cooler mean better though? East end boasted about their green space, a family orientated community and the ease of getting into downtown anytime they want. They claim the cuisine is amazing and it’s far easier to make a reservation and enjoy your surroundings. There is less congestion there and has a very chill vibe. East end is home to Leslieville and The Beaches but West end has The Annex, Parkdale and The Junction.

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Things got a little heated when an audience member challenged Roz on the very existence of Scarborough. The man in the audience claimed Scarborough doesn’t really exist saying, ‘it’s Toronto’. Roz, obviously annoyed, came back with, “Scarborough does exists. Tell somebody FROM Scarborough that Scarborough doesn’t exists; Scarborough exists!” The man says, “I AM from Scarborough!” Remedios chimed in with, “Oh no, you’re from Toronto.” The audience was in stitches! LOL!

The general conclusion of the night? The best end depends on who you are and what you like. You’ll find something that fits you because here, it’s all good in the hood.

Photos by Katherine Holland

Posted by Samira Zia Rehman

Follow @1LOVETO #EastvsWestTO

The Remix Project was created in order to help level the playing field for young people from disadvantaged, marginalized and under served communities. Our programs and services serve youth who are trying to enter into the creative industries or further their formal education; The REMIX Project provides top-notch alternative, creative, educational programs, facilitators and facilities. Our mission is to help refine the raw talents of young people from across the GTA in order to help them find success as participants define it and on their own terms.

The Remix Project is now accepting applications for the following youth programs.

RemixProject-BusinessArts

RemixProject-CreativeArts

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APPLY NOW (DEADLINE: DEC 27TH, 2014)

For more info: theremixproject.ca

Follow @1LOVETO & @TheRemixProject #MakeItHappen

PEKOTA – Designed & Made In Canada

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We met Marco Pecota, Owner and Creative Director of PEKOTA, a Toronto-based boutique design firm, at the “RISE UP” party by DX and were wowed by his stunning designs throughout the venue; fitting for a party that is dedicated to design excellence! We had to know more so we caught up with Marco to talk art and design.

1. You wear many different hats, from publishing to film; why venture into furniture, how did you start?
I have always loved design. Once I finished designing and rebuilding my home a few years back, I felt a craving for more design. The hobby of building my first chair quickly turned into a small side business and then into a full blown design company.

2. Describe your creative process.
I am inspired by the design of the early 20th century. Not just furniture but also automotive, aviation and architecture. Combining this passion with an industrial edge has led me to design what I like to call “Industrial Elegance.” Everything I design starts with pencil to paper. I sketch out the design which is then converted into technical drawings and finally into 3D renderings. From there it goes to steel fabrication via laser cutting and CNC forming. After that we craft the wood components in house and handle all of the finishing and packaging.

3. Made and designed in Canada; why is this important to you?
Being made in Canada is very important as it allows me to have greater quality control over our products. I am hands on throughout the entire process allowing for quick changes to perfect the piece. This also allows for quick customization for customers. It is also important for me to support our local suppliers because it fosters a manufacturing community.

4. What do you hope people experience through PEKOTA designs?
I hope that people find my pieces both beautiful and original. I think that any art form should aspire to achieve this. Our pieces should make people feel comfortable and inspired.

5. Favourite experiences via designing?
I enjoy the entire process: from researching inspirational designs, to capturing a new look, to the process of manufacturing. There is great satisfaction in seeing a fresh idea come to reality in the matter of a few weeks.

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For more info: pekota.com

Posted by Samira Zia Rehman

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ArtReach Youth Pitch Contest

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“The pitch contest challenged me on so many levels. I’ve had the opportunity to pitch for funding before, but I’ve never done a creative pitch with other people. Through the experience I learned how to be a better leader and how to deliver an entertaining pitch in front of a panel of judges. I was also able to meet new friends and establish connections that I didn’t have before. It was hands down one of the most exciting experiences of my life.” – Anthony Gebrehiwot, XVXY Photo

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That’s just a glimpse into the gravity of the Youth Pitch Contest created by ArtReach and City of Toronto Arts & Culture. It created a platform for young artists and entrepreneurs to pitch ideas surrounding their craft to a panel of respected judges including our very own, Bryan Brock, in hopes of winning up to $5,000!

“The arts are a powerful and motivating way that youth are involved in their communities. Whether it’s in someone’s basement, or through a community program – young people are creating art all over this city.” – ArtReach

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The eight finalists included: Black Like We, JellyTooFly, Pomegranate Tree Group, Wild Moon Jewelry, Pique Toronto, Alien Nation, XVXY Photo and Corex. Winners included, Anthony Gebrehiwot of XVXY Photo, Fiona Raye Clarke of Black Like We, Dwayne Holness of Corex and Asia Clarke of Wild Moon Jewelry.

Asia hoped the prize money would help her with funding to attend a Jewelry Arts Academy for Goldsmithing in Trinidad and Tobago as well as to hire an assistant to help with existing demand, two key pieces she felt she was missing. In her pitch, used a combination of audio/visual projection and live models. The four key element of her speech were, “Future, Heritage, Create, Magic”.

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“Preparing for the pitch contest was a challenge because I really wanted to win but was made nervous by my amazing competitors – I was already aware of and inspired by their work” says Asia, “I have connected with some of the other finalists and even made plans to collaborate on future work which is dope! I’m looking forward to that.”

It’s always a thrill to witness the scope of creativity in Toronto. The Youth Pitch Contest is another reminder that one proactive step towards your goals, is a giant leap towards your dreams.

For more info: artreach.org

Photos by Miguel Arenillas. Additional photos by Ebti Nabag & Idil Jailani.

Posted by Samira Zia Rehman

Previously: Youth Arts Pitch Contest

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1 LOVE T.O. presents our 5th Annual Holiday Ice Skating Party on Saturday, December 20th, from 8-11pm at The Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West). We’ve got our official DJ DLUX along side DJ LISSA MONET and our very own T-rexxx as host for the night.

If you’ve got your own skates, bring ‘em! If not, don’t worry, we’ve got skate rentals available, but arrive early, they sell out quickly. If it gets too cold, don’t worry, you can keep warm with hot chocolate, food and other drinks inside the lounge!

We’ll see you on the ice!

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Follow @1LOVETO #DJSkateNights

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TORONTO — Sitting at the Home Smith Jazz Bar in Toronto’s Old Mill Inn was intimate, inviting and festive as jazz music romantically played faintly in the background. A grand piano sat handsomely on the right, while a warm fireplace to the left kept the bar toasty. A fresh scent of pine trees filled the space that even the exposed bricks appreciated its company. The smell of Christmas was undeniable. Whilst awaiting the arrival of Mr. Cyrille Gautier-Auriol, Hennessy’s Ambassadeur de la Maison, I admired the set up at the round cherry wood table and upholstered chairs to match. In front of me were three very attractive Hennessy Cognac bottles: Hennessy V.S, Hennessy V.S.O.P, and Hennessy X.O. whom were accompanied by three Riedel Vinum Cognac Hennessy glasses; one for each range. Alas, perfect timing; the man of the hour had arrived.

Gautier-Auriol is the ninth generation to uphold a title in the number one Cognac business as the official Hennessy Ambassadeur de la Maison. With that being said, we were given a thorough history lesson whilst learning the appreciation of the art of blending (and indulging) the various blends of Hennessy Cognac. With a swirl, a sniff from each nostril, a dive of the nose to glass, and a subtle taste— your five senses are awaken and your taste buds are thankful.

On the nose, the Hennessy Very Special (V.S) brings together an intense and fruity character with oaky notes. On the palate, powerful flavours suggest grilled almonds, supported by notes reminiscent of fresh grapes and vines. Upon the sniff of the nose, the immediate fragrance from the Hennessy V.S.O.P is soft with spices such as: vanilla, clove and cinnamon followed by toasted notes arising from the maturation in oak barrels. The Hennessy X.O is the most festive and appreciated of them all with flavours of candied fruit and its subtle and lightly spicy nose create a complete harmony. To taste, a smooth, velvety, full sensation gives a simultaneously powerful and soft tonality with a hint of cocoa and a warm fruity presence. The long finish expresses all the complexity of the cognac’s art of blending and its long aging process.

As part of our exclusive 1LOVETO interview with Mr. Cyrille Gautier-Auriol, we got the inside scoop of his all time favourite Hennessy cocktail that only his team knows about, and well, now we do. What is it exactly? It’s called the Hennessy Paris, which consists of either Hennessy V.S. or Hennessy V.S.O.P with triple sec and lime juice. According to Gautier-Auriol, it’s originally called “Zyka”.

In addition, to gaining a new found appreciation for the art of blending and indulging Hennessy Cognac, Gautier-Auriol gave us the approval with 1LOVETO’s concept of the art of blending through music and culture with our on-going Hennessy and Artistry events. “So, if music continues to revolve, Hennessy’s market will revolve as well. That’s why I can tell you that Hennessy Artistry is a good idea. Basically, Hennessy and the relation with the music will stay a long, long time.” According to Mr. Gautier-Auriol himself, when one gravitates toward a Hennessy Cognac, it is because one enjoys themself, one is happy with themself, and with the people which they are around. In short, this is why he says, “Hennessy blends with life.”

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Hennessy V.S is considered the “Champion of the World” when it comes to the preferred cognac. What gives it its title?
It is the “Champion of the World”— it’s the best well known and the most consumed quality cognac around the world, specifically in North America. In Ireland we are huge for a small country; we are very well known, very appreciated by the Irish people. Hennessy Cognac is an Irish name and the Hennessy family immigrated a long time ago in France and that’s when they created their company in 1765. So Hennessy V.S in Ireland is very strong, also in Eastern countries of Europe. There’s also a new image and huge market in Africa with five markets and two dominant markets which are in: Nigeria and South Africa, where the V.S is very well represented and very well consumed.

Hennessy Black is said to be the preferred cognac for mixed beverages. Do you agree? If so, why is that?
Yes, Hennessy Black is a cognac which is a contemporary cognac. It has been created by the current master blender of Hennessy. Hennessy has a lot of culture and heritage and the master blender, Fillioux, is the seventh generation of the same family. So, we’ve noticed, especially in North America, that the Hennessy Cognac product of spirits was consumed in the nightlife with bar lounges. So Mr. Fillioux proposed a blend which is floral and fruity which means it’s not passing through a deep blend of woody structures and colour, so Hennessy Black is a pale colour but floral and fruity. The goal was to make this contemporary cognac to mix with everything: with Red Bull, with Coke, with Orange Juice, with Cranberry. And if you question me about what I love with Hennessy Black, it’s with ice cubes and the cranberry fruit. Why cranberry? Because the fruit itself is acidic and it’s paired less with the V.S tradition which is woody and spicy, so the floral and fruity note is much better and this is why I prefer to blend with Black instead of V.S. Black is very much a contemporary cognac for the nightlife; for the people who want to drink and to be seen with something that is quite different than the current options like vodka and tequila. So you make a difference in choosing something a little bit more unusual, and with a brand such as Hennessy.

Hennessy X.O is proven to be the favourite amongst the other two cognacs because it’s blended with over 100 eaux-de-vie (water of life) and aged for about 30 years. How would you justify it being the most favoured of the three?
Yes. Hennessy has a huge, huge, stock of eaux-de-vie batches and eaux-de-vie is an unblended cognac. Cognac is the result of many eaux-de-vie which has been matured more or less for a long or short amount of time— depending on its potential. The master blender and tasting committee choose the batch to make the Hennessy cognac branch quality and so with the X.O, the selection is made with 100 different batches aged at roughly 30 year’s old. The Hennessy X.O is a fantastic, high-end cognac made with 100 different batches, and when I say 100 it’s more or less what we call “the art of blending” from one year to another or from one blend to another of the same quality. The Hennessy X.O is beautiful in taste and has notes of dark chocolate, toffee, candied fruit, cinnamon, cloves and cigar leaves. This is what we call the complexity in the cognac. The palate releases from the spices and the texture is velvety. We’re close to Christmas time and it’s perfect.

The Hennessy XO was originally created for the personal use of friends and relations of the Hennessy family in 1870. When did this change and become public?
At the beginning it was very discreet and respondent to the need of the family and friends but very soon after, through the archives we discovered that from 1971, the first shipment was in the United States. XO, though it’s something exceptional, it’s a super premium brand and a high-end quality cognac. Hennessy X.O was the only cognac available on the market for more or less 100 years. Because it was apart of the Hennessy DNA, the gene of Hennessy X.O was very creative. The idea of the Hennessy X.O bottle is engraved in grapes and vines to remind the consumers that Hennessy Cognac is in fact, made with grapes and vines. It’s very much important because many, many, many consumers don’t know that we are made in Cognac located in the middle of Southwest France. They know that cognac products are consumed all around the world but they don’t know for instance that in the Cognac region there’s a city called Cognac as well. So, that’s very much important to deliver the message that we come from a small region where God decided for us. Sometimes we have good harvest, sometimes there’s very bad harvest so we need to compose all the time the decision of the sky.

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Where do you see the future of Hennessy going? Do you seeing it remaining the same or do you see some changes possibly happening?
To be honest, I’ve been travelling around the world for Hennessy and it’s a very promising brand for the future. I had dinner here last night at the Old Mill with a group of young professionals and I’ve realized that Hennessy is a great, great name and consumers love our style of cognac, which is a different style than others, and also the culture and heritage of the brand fascinates consumers who love and are enthusiastic drinkers of our cognac. So honestly, it’s not a secret, Hennessy cognac and the board of Hennessy has ambitions for the near future to become the number one players with the spirits in terms of value, not necessary in terms of volume, but in terms of value. This means we will work more and more toward the quality to enjoy the palates of millions and millions of fans of Hennessy but also to create something different in order to seduce the consumers by new ideas of how to promote and upgrade. Last night with a group of young adults was purely the best example. There is no reason why Hennessy will not be a well-known brand and more and more so in the future, I’m very much confident. Specifically in Canada, due to the system of distribution (which is not so much free), with the control of the states, the job of how our team and the brand ambassadors here today are working is totally unbelievable. I never thought they would achieve such a performance today and it’s not finished.

1LOVETO is a proud supporter and brand ambassador of Hennessy Cognac and we hold multiple Hennessy and Artistry events, which are fitting because Hennessy is said to “blend with life,” and we hold such events to focus on blending music and culture as an outlet for talents in the community. Do you see Hennessy providing more support and sponsorships for collaborative events such as this?
For sure, Hennessy and Artistry is a good concept and we need to always improve, of course, because the World changes. This comes back to Hennessy’s creativity which is apart of our I.D. and of course we will make an evolution of this program which is absolutely fantastic. It makes pure sense between the blend of pure creation with the music, the DJs and the singers. We can’t speak only of the modern music which is the rap today, the hip-hop and the RnB, because Hennessy since a long time ago, especially in North America, Hennessy started with the classical music and after it moved to jazz and after that we served to the trendy music like hip-hop and RnB. So, if music continues to revolve, Hennessy’s market will revolve as well. That’s why I can tell you that Hennessy Artistry is a good idea. Basically, Hennessy and the relation with the music will stay a long, long time.

If you had to explain Hennessy in one word, or one phrase, what would it be?
In terms of quality from Hennessy V.S, V.S.O.P, and X.O, I would qualify them to be very well balanced and very well harmonious with one another. My motto today is the more you appreciate, the more you know how to appreciate and that’s very much what my job is. To educate people and to drive people to discover something that’s an experience for them. Also I would say, Hennessy is a pleasure and an enjoyment with indulgence.

Posted by Christina Cheng

Follow @1LOVETO #HennessyAmbassador

From Street Art To Feet Art

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Toronto-based sock wear brand Huely transformed their latest Street Art Collection (Series 02) with the help of co-founder and lead curator Nate Kogan. Nate selected eight of Toronto’s top street artists including SPUD, Uber5000, Anser, Darryl Graham, Lazerhorse, Paul Byron, Justin Pape, and Poser. Each artist designed their own Huely sock, drawing on inspiration from their respective styles.

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Remember when getting a pair of socks at Christmas was the worst gift ever? There’s a good chance most of the men out there would welcome a pair of Huely’s this holiday season!

SHOP HERE huely.com

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