On the Town with Shinan: Jane Fonda's $25,000 Toronto shopping spree

By Shinan Govani

The conversation at lunch turned to Jane Fonda and cha-chings of decades past.

“She made a beeline,” Barbara Atkin began, remembering a juncture during the 1980s when Fonda – then safely out of her Barbarella phase but before her marriage-to-Ted-Turner phase – happened to be walking on Bloor Street in Toronto and was seduced by a window at Holt Renfrew featuring the looks of a then-ascendant Canadian designer, Wayne Clark. “Biggest sale we had by a single person…back in those days,” Atkin footnoted, letting it slip that the the icon dropped some $25,000 that day.

Amazingly, Fonda then showed up in a Wayne Clark original when she co-hosted the Oscars not long after with Alan Alda and Robin Williams! And the dressmaker – this being a time before stylists and fashion were so institutionalized in Hollywood – had no idea whatsoever that she was going to be doing so until he turned on the TV that night.

So…how about that for a time capsule? There was more from whence that came at an intimate noon-hour toast to Ms. Atkin who, after 28 years at Holt’s, has deigned to hang up her Manolos. A fashion-whisperer forever, whose influence on style in Canada can be felt in many stealth ways, Barb, as she is best known, had made it her business to attend fashion shows worldwide, season after season, coming back to Canada as “translator,” as FASHION editor-in-chief Bernadette Morra described during her own warm tribute.

Known for her ability to always crank a quote, and, thus, a journalist’s BFF (especially when on deadline) Barb was, unsurprisingly, also fêted for her quips. In fact, a whole back wall had been decorated with bubbles of her quotes during our lunch, held in a corner of the Holt’s Cafe. My favourite, possibly: “A car is a handbag on wheels.” (Toronto Star, 2013)

So, what was your final, final fashion show? I leaned in and asked the blonde mainstay, as we were digging into our pinky-orange salmons (very stylish!). She had to think about it for a second...and then, remembered: Valentino, in Paris!

Asked to name a highlight and, perhaps, even a turning point during her long career, Barb pointed to the Viva Italia party, held during the Toronto International Film Festival, here at the flagship store – with a very smouldering guest of honour, Sophia Loren. It was a coup for the store – and a party that’s still talked about as being one of the more memorable TIFF shindigs. It had been Barb’s idea to bring in Vanity Fair as a co-host of the party, and had personally flown down to New York to coax the magazine’s editor, Graydon Carter, into it. As far as the celebrity-industrial complex goes, it “put Holt’s on the map,” she tells me.

Retire?Barb asked at one point, alas, brisking at the R-word. “What does that even mean?” Already conceiving of new ways to pivot, and to continue weighing in, she does have plans to spend more time, in L.A., where her daughter and new weeks-old granddaughter reside.

Meanwhile:

The truth is out there – out there being Vancouver, of course.

David Duchony and Gillian Anderson have reteamed, turning up on Canada’s spiffy west coast to shoot a new installation of The X-Files. And while Gillian has been relatively low-key, David – who’s also starring in the moody Manson-era drama Aquarius these days on NBC – has been spotted making the most of it (the city’s crowd-pleasing English Bay included!)

As for how he feels having another go-around on The X-Files, David admitted on the chat-show The Talk this week that he was a tad nervous, at first. “We did it for so long once up a time that I thought it would feel odd,” he said. But, almost immediately, “we just kinda fell into the rhythm.”

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