Harlequin Romances Inspire Fourth Annual Book Lover's Ball

The Toronto Public Library Foundation's fourth annual Book Lover's Ball included a fashion show inspired by Harlequin's 60-year history.

By Susan O'Neill February 16, 2009, 11:46 AM EST

Models wearing Greta Constantine

Photo: Henry Lin

Book Lover's Ball
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For the fourth annual Book Lover’s Ball—held Thursday at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and presented this year by Harlequin—the Toronto Public Library Foundation paid tribute to Harlequin’s 60-year history with a runway show spanning six decades and a special presentation featuring fashions imagined for the future. “Books are a great respite … especially in tough times,” said foundation president Heather Rumball, who reported that organizers wanted to create an atmosphere where guests could “escape” for an evening.

The runway show—produced by Monarch Events Group—featured designs created by the likes of Lucian Matis, Ross Mayer, Bustle, Farley Chatto, Andy Thê-Anh, Greta Constantine, Evan Biddell, and Denis Gagnon. Each designer presented a collection inspired by the romance of a different decade. (The '70s scene featured a live performance by Liberty Silver singing “Last Dance” and models wearing gold fashions designed by Chatto.) “The designers have been so willing to lend their support. They believe in the library,” Rumball said.

The foundation worked with Solutions With Impact to create the theme for the evening. The event management company draped the hotel’s Canadian Room in white fabric from Micki's, topped tables in black beaded linens, and used tall glass vases filled with spheres of baby’s breath as centrepieces. “We wanted to create something really magical that takes you to a place of escape and romance,” Rumball said. “Just like books take you to a new place, we wanted to take guests to a new place, as well.”

The evening began with a reception featuring a selection of hors d’oeuvres prepared by celebrity chef Massimo Capra—host of the Food Network’s Restaurant Makeover and co-owner of Mistura Restaurant and Sopra Upper Lounge—including Tuscan style chestnut soup with cocoa bread sticks and salted cod fritters with tobiko chive mayonnaise.

The dinner, prepared by David Garcelon—the hotel’s executive chef—included a three-course meal inspired by Anita Stewart’s Canada: The Food, the Recipes, the Stories. A fresh bean soup with dill and warm crème fraîche panna cotta was followed by a main course of spicy Saskatchewan braised beef short rib and roasted filet mignon, and a dessert of Vineland Montmorency cherry pavlova, marquise of Lindt dark chocolate, and a sour cream apple pie with honey ice cream.

Fifty-six celebrity authors mingled with the 600 guests, and one author was seated at each table during the dinner. “We invite as many as we possibly can, and we try to make the authors as diverse as the offerings of Toronto’s library,” Rumball said.

Rumball reported this year’s gala was the most successful in the event’s four-year history. She said it is always a challenge to sell tables and secure sponsors but noted that the foundation anticipated raising $360,000 this year—$50,000 more than the total raised in 2008. Event sponsors included Harlequin, Random House of Canada, Whitehots Canadian Library Services, The Toronto Star, the Printing House, the Remington Group, TD Bank, MAC, HarperCollins Canada Ltd., CBC, Maclean’s, Quill & Quire, Trius, Fashion Crimes, Via Rail Canada, Shaw Festival, Peller Estates, and Donato Salon.

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