Away with Hazelton

creative direction & editing CYNTHIA NGUYEN photography VINCENT KO in collaboration with HAZELTON HOTEL

Donned with velvet, emerald couches in the lounge and serving exquisite Boston vanilla bean cream donuts on the menu— this boutique hotel will capture your heart. And not because it’s in the heart of Yorkville. Whether it’s for work, pleasure or play, the Hazelton Hotel doesn’t stop at expressing luxury at their hotel doors. The ever-so captivating Yorkville neighbourhood that surrounds the property is fastened with the best designer boutiques such as Corbo Studio and TNT Fashion, galleries, bars and restaurants. Uncover Toronto’s first true luxury hotel in one of most desirable destinations in the city— with 77 comfortable, oversized luxury hotel rooms and suites designed by award-winning and internationally renowned, Yabu Pushelberg firm.

From the spacious, granite bathrooms that is accompanied with your own personal television to watch your favourite soap opera, to the heated granite floors, to the L’Occitane en Provence bath sugar cubes and toiletries. The bathroom alone will make you want to make yourself at home or at least get you calling it your own private sanctuary. The 24-hour room service is catered by the ONE restaurant, headed by celebrity Chef Mark McEwan— which is by far, one of my favourite restaurants in the city. I often catch myself re-ordering their Shakshouka, spaghetti with meatballs and Boston cream doughnuts. They also have an amazing tea selection by Sloan.

 

in this photo
jacket BALMAIN
trousers PETER COHEN
courtesy of TNT FASHION

There’s something about the property being farther away from the downtown core, from where I live and work, that makes this escape seem more like believable and simple getaway for me. Sounds like the perfect mini vacation from home. To leave the city freely and travel away from the seasonal blues is not easy for most. Where there is rest and wellness to be restored, the space around you does heavily contribute to your recovery. For me, the spacious size of the rooms (and closet) allowed me to feel free to move around in and all the modern interior and details felt as though you were staying in an enhanced version of your home.

 

 

 

 

in this photo
top ALEXIS
skirt HELMUT LANG
boots NICHOLAS KIRKWOOD
bag DANSE LENTE
courtesy of TNT FASHION

 

With a bed so soft, you’ll sleep through your alarm— especially with the hotel’s L’Occitane en Provence lavender pillow mist to help you have a better rest, (although the fact the curtains of the room open electronically with the flick of the switch made it hard to contain my excitement to open them in the morning) and a bathroom so beautiful, you’ll definitely want to make time for a bath. For someone who doesn’t own a bathtub in their home, this was a huge opportunity for me to take advantage of. I made some tea, brought a book and called room service to bring some extra bubble cubes for the bath and they kindly and promptly provided.

 

 

Although my made up staycation itinerary only covered 24 hours, the use of those hours offered good rest, an extravagant bubble bath and an amazing breakfast in bed.

But let’s face it— the true meaning of relaxation doesn’t exist without a few hours at the spa. The Valmont Spa at the Hazelton offers world-class facial treatments, luxurious body treatment and specialized massages designed to release stress and toxins. You have access to the steam room, indoor saltwater pool and gym. For more than 30 years, Valmont does not only hold one of the most premium range of advanced performing cosmetics and skincare products from Switzerland but has also been deploying all of its know-how in the field of anti-aging with profession care combining expertise, product performance, and accuracy of gestures.

I had the great pleasure of enjoying the last few hours of my time at the Hazelton hotel by ending it off with a facial and a collagen face mask by Marie Nguyen. A skin consultation was performed, followed by a facial cleanse using Valmont’s purification White Falls cleaner and White Falls invigoration softening toner. Next, Marie used Valmont’s purification face scrub mixed with Valmont’s clarifying cream mask— this combination is great for those with extremely sensitive skin when you’re looking to exfoliate.

The priming with a hydrating fluid is then used before using the V-line lifting cream mask to reduce the look of lines and wrinkles on the face. The lifting mask is then removed for Marie to proceed with applying the Valmont’s prime renewing pack, which promotes anti-stress and fatigue and produces that immediate glow. With the renewing pack, the regenerating collagen mask went over top for 20 minutes to rejuvenate the skin, causing the skin to lift, hydrate and smooth out— during this stage, a nice scalp and hand massage was done. Lastly, Marie removed the mask to apply Valmont’s eye cream (used to replenish the skin’s volume around the eye and treat puffiness and dark circles), v-line serum, face cream and lifting cream. It’s safe to say that may be the most intensive yet best facial I’ve had so far. A shout out to Marie Nguyen for walking me through the steps and providing such a personal and amazing experience during our session.

 

in this photo
coat FILIPPA K pants VINCE
top NATALIJA heels DONALD J PLINER
courtesy of CORBO STUDIO

 

in this photo
sweater MALENE BIRGER
dress BROCHU WALKER
boots DONALD J PLINER
courtesy of CORBO STUDIO

A special thank you to the entire staff and property for hosting my wonderful staycation.
My stay was extremely short but the rich experience exceeded beyond my own expectations. 
 
As always, all opinions are my own.
 
 
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L’Interdit

creative direction CYNTHIA NGUYEN photography VINCENT KO in creation for GIVENCHY

Forbid yourself nothing. Allow no rules. An invitation to defy convention and embrace your singularity.
 

In 1957, L’interdit was a perfume originally created for Audrey Hepburn by Hubert de Givenchy. The word interdit is French for “forbidden.” When Hubert de Givenchy asked if he could commercialize it, legend has it, Hepburn replied “Je vous l’interdis!,” which translates to “I forbid you!”

 

 

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don’t call me lucky

creative direction CYNTHIA NGUYEN 
photography VINCENT KO 
in collaboration with ANN TAYLOR

“I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.”

— Shonda Rhimes

_______________________________

 

Here’s the deal.. if I had it my way, I would buy my entire Fall wardrobe each and every time the new year rolls in. But like most people, whether it’s cost or closet real estate—that’s not my reality. That being said, this reality leads me to be highly selective with the pieces I choose to invest in for years to come and all season long.

Having been a loyal fan to Ann Taylor since the start of my university days, I’ve teamed up with them on their “let’s work together” campaign to share with you my favourite modern, versatile picks from their Fall line.

The thing to know about Ann Taylor is that they’re not just a one-stop shop for a basic suit, but they’ve evolved the concept of “work dress code” for modern women like myself, by offering pieces that can be taken from 9am to 9pm and on— staple turtle necks that can be used every year, to minimal wrap coats, topped with trend-forward trousers, paired with sleek, pointed toe kicks.

If you’re looking for something to wear for an interview, a presentation or even a celebratory promotion dinner, Ann Taylor pretty much covers all the basics and sophisticated, on-trend pieces to play with and get you prepared for all of your occasions. The idea of staying in one outfit for work, dinner and attending a party is considered effective if you’re able to use the same pieces to adapt to any situation or place and have it stretched beyond your 9-5. And who doesn’t want to look like the most polished yet still feminine one in the room? I wouldn’t mind flaunting my work pieces and admitting to coming from work. x

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tulum


creative direction CYNTHIA NGUYEN
photography SELF PORTRAIT in collaboration
with NEST, NATALIJA
and Saltwater Collective
“Go where you feel most alive”
Oh, Tulum—the coastline of Mexico where the mellow sounds of the water and the slow music intertwine to become background sound to your scenes; where the taste of the salt is in the air and the breeze softly kisses your face. These were all the kind of moments and reactions I felt when I either found myself still at the shore of the beach or sitting in the outdoor living room of my beautiful, temporary beach home, at NEST, or even biking along the beach strip, under the palm trees. The calm views, the tasteful decor and the care people bestowed on me, warmed my heart, as these things brought joy to my time in Mexico.

in this photo
swimsuit SALTWATER COLLECTIVE

in this photo
dress shirt NATALIJA

in this photo
tote bag CLUB MONACO hat LACK OF COLOR
My time in Mexico started by plane from Toronto to Cancun. From Cancun airport to Tulum, I took the ADO bus. This transportation method was a recommendation made by a friend who is a local and from my experience, it is accessible from the airport, safe, and extremely cost-effective and easy to use. Normally a private shuttle or cab straight from the airport to Tulum can cost anywhere around $60-$100 USD. The price for a one-way goes for about $10-14 USD per person from Cancun to Tulum, and $8-10 USD from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. Be aware that the some businesses, including airport operated and restaurants will overcharge you as a tourist. Ask for local pricing when possible. The best way to explore the local streets of Tulum is by bike and NEST Tulum kindly provides them for their guests. Surveying prices along the beach strip via bike for scuba diving, snorkelling and tours are a good idea to compare rates. You can also ask your concierge for their go-to tours and they will be able to help you.

in this photo
Vanille 44 LE LABO

in this photo
top NATALIJA skirt NATALIJA

It must have been years since learning about Tulum’s Cenotes. I would collect countless photos and underwater references. I would day dream about uncovering the wildlife and scenic region below the surface of the water. I knew that if I didn’t personally experience the Cenotes while I was in Tulum, I may not have another reason to go into a body of water. Boundaries were to be pushed and fears had to be overcome. About less than 4 weeks before my trip, I didn’t know how to swim. I was long developed in my adult years. I was ridden with regret that I had not learnt how to swim for this long. Over my childhood, I had developed a fear of water over traumatic events. The fear of water had also lend itself into such effortless routines, such as making face washing more difficult. It had taken me two informal lessons, taught by a love one and one formal lesson by an instructor before I was able to accomplish some sort of familiarity with moving through bodies of water.

 
It was both emotionally and physically draining to navigate through my lessons in order to get back to where I had previously developed a feel for comfort in the water. It wasn’t until the second last day during my time in Tulum that I  decided I had to try swimming and snorkelling in the Cenotes. It took me five to ten minutes of clinging onto the stalagmites and even holding my tour guide’s hand to get comfortable in the freezing water of the caves. I felt that I would be more embarrassed to partake in a group, and instead opted for more privacy in a one on one session, allowing me to go at my own pace. After the few minutes of struggle was over, I surprised myself with remaining calm and poised under water. I was not only swimming and snorkelling, but I was filming and holding a flashlight. For someone who had the severe fear of water— multi-tasking and breathing properly was a challenge to get used to. Eventually, the scenery became more of a distraction, and my breathing and body movements became consistent, and I was able to personally experience the Cenotes in the way I only dreamt of.
 
 
Since the beautiful NEST Tulum is an eco-friendly, boutique hotel, the power is generated from solar, wind and generators. During my first evening with the property, there was a power outage due to the wind currents. There was no electricity, no wifi, and no music. Only the sounds of the ocean, the sight of the little stars that litter the sky and candles that lit the path back to your room. If it were anywhere else, you’d find yourself uneasy. But since it happened in Tulum, it felt almost acceptable. It felt okay to disconnect and notice your surroundings. To take in what was in front of you and be grateful for all that you have. Tulum is not a place just for beautiful photos but for adventure and rest.“Every once and a while. Take off your life. And rest.”
– Nayyirah Waheed

Pants are Power


creative direction CYNTHIA NGUYEN
photography VINCENT KO
in collaboration with ANN TAYLOR


You know that feeling when you find that pair of pants that holds you in the right places, stops at the appropriate areas just like the original design and doesn’t require a belt?

Now, imagine you were not allowed to wear pants— ever.
And that you could be arrested for slipping into a pair.

In light of International Women’s Day, I’ve teamed up with Ann Taylor to celebrate the brand’s commitment of over 60 years— making women feel empowered through their apparel, as well as the evolution and right for women to wear pants. Not only speaking to the historical shift in fashion but more-so the right in equality and social which women have fought for back in the 1940’s. 

It’s a fascinating thought to see how much of a statement and value is behind the mere act of women wearing pants.

 

Doublecloth Bow Sleeve Coat 
Frayed Cuffed Girlfriend Jeans
Marled Newbury Blazer

 

 

I’m sharing with you Ann Taylor’s campaign video that follows the journey from the year 1940, when women were once arrested for wearing pants in public, followed by today, 2018, where women can now wear pants freely– wherever, whenever. Including the Oscars. This video pays tribute to National Women’s History month and commemorates the evolution of how women have fought for not only the rights to wear pants that make them feel confident and empowered in fashion but for equality as well.  

 


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