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On with the show

Nordstrom opens its doors in Toronto and, in Calgary, gala-goers celebrate with heart. Nolan Bryant reports

Security shut down a section of Toronto's Yonge Street on Sept. 14, as a crowd was ushered out of the Eaton Centre to a large white tent in Yonge Dundas Square, and Mayor John Tory was called in. It was no emergency, but rather a department store opening. Nordstom was unveiling its Toronto flagship. The store's traffic stopping debut was the latest in a series of big splashes being made by U.S.-based department stores in an effort to woo Canadian consumers.

Two fashion shows were presented in the big tent to show off clothing and accessories by designers that the retailer stocks. There were nearly 100 looks including statement pieces by Rochas and Sonia Rykiel, gowns by Marchesa, and tattered and pierced knits by New York designer Alexander Wang. For those who couldn't snag a seat inside the tent, the show could be seen on a jumbotron in the square, and everything that came down the runway is now for sale in the shiny new shop.

Proceeds from ticket sales for the fashion show and party inside the new four-level store, which totaled $270,000, will be divided among six not-for-profit organizations including Covenant House Toronto, Humber River Hospital Foundation, Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO), SickKids Foundation, St. Michael's Hospital Foundation and Women's College Hospital Foundation.

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Among the 2,000 guests out for a first look at the new flagship: Mayor Tory and his wife Barbara Hackett; Canadian designers Wing Yau of jewellery label WWAKE and LVMH prize finalist Vejas Kruszewski; models Hilary Rhoda and Petra Nemcova; CAFA co-founder Vicky Milner; socialites Simona Shnaider of Toronto and Ada Fung of Vancouver; the gala's honorary committee, which included scene stalwarts journalist Glen Baxter, Liberty Entertainment Group CEO Nick Di Donato and his wife Nadia, Jessica Jensen and photographer Joshua Jensen-Nagle, entertainment manager Jeffrey Latimer, CEO of Magnotta Winery Rossana Magnotta, and president of The Sprott Foundation Juliana Sprott. Also on hand to celebrate was Nordstrom Canada's president Karen McKibbin and fourth-generation members of the Nordstrom clan including Blake Nordstrom, Pete Nordstrom, Erik Nordstrom and Jamie Nordstrom.

A few days earlier, on Sept. 10, and a little further west, the third annual Beat Goes On Gala was taking place in Calgary in support of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, a partnership between Alberta Health Services and the University of Calgary. The sold-out gala raised an impressive $800,000 during the evening, bringing the three-year total raised at the event to $2.75-million. Money raised will help support cardiovascular care and the adult congenital heart disease transition program, which cares for patients born with heart defects as they advance from adolescence to adulthood. The evening will also help fund research, namely cardiovascular biomedical engineering in a variety of areas including imaging and electrical modelling. The Libin Institute boasts some impressive stats. Its 175 members with a staff of 1,500 serve over two million people in southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and eastern B.C. each year.

Former Libin Institute patient and partner of the Dilawri Group of Companies Tony Dilawri was the gala's co-chair alongside Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation's president and CEO Ken King. Among the 420 or so others inside BMO Centre's Palomino Room for the dinner and a post-meal performance by JUNO-Award winner Jim Cuddy and The Jim Cuddy Trio: CEO types including Alberta Health Services' President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu; Birchcliff Energy CEO Jeffrey Tonken; Resverlogix's CEO and co-founder Don McCaffrey and his wife Anne; University of Calgary's president and vice-chancellor Elizabeth Cannon; Stream Asset Financial CFO Aaron Bunting; Sheldon Kennedy, former National Hockey League player; naming donor, businessman and philanthropist Alvin Libin and his grandchildren Eda and Nora and their father, Alvin's son Bobby; Kenaco Capital Services Inc. president and naming donor of the Stephenson Cardiac Imaging Centre, Ken Stephenson; and Dr. Todd Anderson, director of Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, and associate director Al-Karim Walli.

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