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Toronto International Film Fest Becomes a Magnet for Party-Goers and Celebrity Watchers

Holt Renfrew transformed its flagship Bloor St. store into a UK dream, with half-nude men posing as guards while British comedies played in the background of a party during the Toronto International Film Fest.
Digital Journal — It has become Toronto’s most-talked about, most-anticipated event of the year, and it’s back in town. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is celebrating its 31st birthday this year, attracting thousands of tourists and dozens of Hollywood’s A-list flock.

Running until Sept. 16, this year’s TIFF has been called the biggest and best ever, and Toronto is increasingly earning more global attention than the infamous Cannes Film Festival.

This year has been no exception, with stars like Brad Pitt, Will Ferrell, Sean Penn, Brittany Murphy, Emma Thompson, Russell Crowe, Penelope Cruz, Christina Ricci, Reese Witherspoon and many, many more slated to make appearances at the nine-day fest.

With so much star power in the city, Toronto’s trendy Yorkville district has been flooded by mobs of fans vying for a snapshot of their favourite celeb as they enter one of the theatres or restaurants.

Holt Renfrew owner, Galen Weston, celebrates during Holts’ Burberry event with his wife Hilary. Holts hosts a party each year during the Toronto International Film Festival.
Over the years, the TIFF has also become synonymous with parties all over the city. From private, invite-only parties to large festival bashes, the TIFF injects a massive dose of energy into the city’s nightlife.

Starting things off at this year’s film fest, hundreds gathered to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Burberry at the Holt Renfrew flagship store on Bloor Street West.

Every year, Holts becomes home to the must-see and must-attend event for A-listers and celebs alike. This year, the flagship store was transformed into a UK dream: half-nude men posed as guards, British comedies played in black and white on a specially-created video wall and DJ Dan Lywood — one of London’s most

Holt Renfrew president, Caryn Lerner, celebrates the 150th anniversary of Burberry with world-renowned jewellery designer, Mimi So, during the Toronto International Film Festival.
desired DJs — filled the room with thumping beats all night long. Even the popular Holts Café was made into a London Underground station, complete with pillows naming various tube stations: King’s Cross, Russell Square and Sloane Station to name a few. Call it British Invasion.

As Canada’s biggest high-fashion retailer, Holt Renfrew parties usually attract a crowd that epitomizes the definition of glam: Dressed to the nines in stunning stilettos and striking crocodile-skin loafers, a trendy crowd poured into the event, gleefully laughing and sipping martinis.

While the invite to the Holts party clearly indicated guests were to arrive in “cocktail” dress, many schmoozers risked jeans and runners, while others chose silk and diamonds. And among those in attendance were Christina Ricci and Dustin Hoffman.

Director and CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival Group, Piers Handling, enjoys Holt Renfrew’s Burberry party alongside Robin Kay, president of the Fashion Design Council of Canada.

Throughout the TIFF, the city will see many more parties put on by a variety of hosts including Harry Rosen, Hello! magazine and Chanel (to name a few). They each have their selected guests, and some even ask for photo ID to gain access.

Any trained film fest groupie will tell you: Getting invited to an exclusive event is your ticket to enjoy — you’ve made it passed the riffraff and into the glory of the chic. Rubbing elbows never felt so good.

What it takes to get into the VIP Lounge, however, is another story. Other than the few minutes of greeting adoring fans posed as fashionistas, almost every celeb beelines-it directly to the seclusion of the VIP lounge. And like many TIFF parties,

Digital Journal Fashion and Lifestyle Editor, Julia Suppa, takes in the Toronto International Film Festival.
without VIP access, your exclusive party can become a flop almost instantly.

But few looked concerned, because for the hundreds left around the various bars, getting a glimpse of the star power and sipping on complimentary cocktails is worth every moment.

Back outside the parties, for those uninterested in the antics of the rich and famous, the TIFF is still worth attending for, well, the films. Among the highlights this year causing uproar, concern or attention: D.O.A.P. (Death of a President) , Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Babel and a long list of notable Canadian films and documentaries.

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