Hi, everyone! It's no secret that I'm a sucker for a little bit of luxury. So when it was announced some months ago that a Saks Fifth Avenue was to open in Toronto in 2016, my interest was instantly piqued. While visions of high-end bags and clothing crossed my mind, my main curiosity (not at all surprisingly) was whether Saks would bring with it anything new to the Toronto beauty scene. That is, would it feature any brands not before available in the city? Would it offer any sorts of unique shopping experiences? Well, the Saks grand opening was this past Thursday and I eagerly bounced into the shop on the very first morning. All in the name of beauty research!
What first struck me was the elegant, but not stuffy decor. It is as fancy as you would expect a Saks to be, but also features modern, whimsical touches that give it an interesting, approachable feel.
First impressions aside, I immediately started scanning for brands. Anything new and exciting? I first spotted three of my favourite dangerously high-end brands, Tom Ford, Chantecaille, and Cle de Peau, which are also available in town at Holt Renfrew, but remained a sight for sore eyes. Can't tell if I'm thrilled or dismayed that these brands are now located just blocks away from my work. My wallet says dismayed, but my heart says otherwise ;)
And then as I turned the corner, my heart stopped. I realize this sounds incredibly dramatic, but I've literally had dreams about stumbling across this brand in Toronto (yes, somebody help me)- it was a By Terry counter! By Terry is one of the brands that I make sure to visit every time I'm in NYC and that forever dominates my Cult Beauty wishlist. The products are top-notch, unique, and incredibly luxurious. So thrilled to now have easy access (though, as above, my wallet weeps).
Another exciting discovery was the Trish McEvoy counter! I'd encountered this brand for the first time during my last visit to New York and had totally fallen in love with their shadow/liner crayons and concealers. I believe this is the brand's first foray into the Canadian market and I couldn't have been more excited to welcome them!
To quench my other beauty obsession (i.e., pampering and treating my complexion), Saks Queen Street also features some incredible skin care brands. I was happy to see Aesop occupying a beautifully designed corner of the shop.
I was also excited to spot Tammy Fender, a luxurious, organic brand that I'd read about on Into the Gloss and had been stalking on Cult Beauty for a couple of years. Tammy Fender had not been available in Canada until now. so it is definitely a welcome addition!
The beauty department also includes a few other natural, organic, and niche brands (a welcome site in addition to more standard, stuffy lines like La Mer and La Prairie), including the lush, luxe Tata Harper...
... and an absolutely drool-worthy Apothecary section stocking Indie Lee (a new fave of mine) and Mario Badescu (an old reliable, more affordable option).
While I'm far from a fragrance connoisseur, I also completely swooned over Saks' selection of perfume brands. First off, the department is stunning, with modern geometric shelving and multitudes of tiny lights. Second, it offers a neat mix of classic fragrance houses, like Guerlain, and more niche, hard to find labels like Le Labo, whose chemist/apothecary feel totally appeals to me. There is also a sizeable Jo Malone counter, which is absolutely beautiful!
Oh yeah, and did I mention Diptyque? Candle heaven!
As for my experience with the sales associates and makeup artists at Saks, I was generally very happy! Yes, things were incredibly busy and hectic during the first few days (I may have visited a few times during opening weekend), but employees were eager to provide makeup touch-ups and brand orientations.
My first such experience was at Trish McEvoy, where a friendly makeup artist sat me down to play with some of the brand's star products. Here I am below sporting Trish's (yet to be blended) "triangle of light" underneath my eye, using the lovely Instant Eye Lift, which simultaneously conceals and brightens.
I told the makeup artist that I was a huge fan of Trish McEvoy's 24 Hour Shadow and Liners (the shade Glamorous has been one of my most-used products over the past several months), so she reached for two shades, Dove (a silvery blue-grey) and Smokey Quartz (a mid-tone plummy brown) to create the eye look seen below. She also used Trish's staple liquid liner that is supposed to support lash growth. I was super happy with the eyes!
Given that the Trish McEvoy artist had layered some products with the foundation I was already wearing, I did leave that counter feeling that my base looked a bit cakey. So when I skipped over to By Terry, I was happy when the artist offered to re-do my foundation. (And by happy I mean a bit terrified, given my control freak nature when it comes to makeup, but also curious to see his approach).
Upon sitting in the By Terry chair, the makeup artist introduced himself as Roberto, which instantly triggered a light bulb in my brain. Roberto with By Terry- hey, he did my makeup in NYC two years ago! I was indeed right- he had touched up my makeup and charmed me with his energetic wit at the By Terry counter in Space NK Soho in 2014. What an incredible coincidence!! We quickly reconnected like old buddies and he went to work searching for the perfect products.
I of course had to take a selfie during the process, as a By Terry makeover is something you must document!
For my base, Roberto used a mix of the Light Expert Illuminating Flawless Foundation and the Densillis Wrinkle Control Serum Foundation, which managed to cover all of my pesky redness while feeling completely weightless. Topped with a bit of the ultra luxurious Hyaluronic Hydra Powder and Densillis Blush, it was perfection!
I had to take a selfie with Roberto when he was finished, as it was absolute serendipity that we crossed paths again!
So (after this incredibly long post), my thoughts on Saks Fifth Avenue Toronto Queen Street in a nutshell? Thumbs up! Yes, it is as pricey as one would expect, but the range of brands is comprehensive and eclectic, the sales associates are friendly and more than happy to make samples (which my finicky skin is so happy about!), and the design details give it a unique character. I know I will be visiting more often than I should!
I of course did not leave the store empty-handed, but (given the epic length of this post), I will reserve my haul for another day. Stay tuned!
Have you ever shopped at a Saks Fifth Avenue? A fan of any of the brands I featured here? What is your favourite department store for buying makeup and skin care?
Have a wonderful week! xo