On the Town with Shinan: Jessica Paré turns heads at a fashionable fête

By Shinan Govani

Variety: the spice, it seems, of Jessica Paré’s life.

On TV, the Mad Men minx only has eyes for a man with Brylcreem and a sleek side-part. In real life, as I was reminded at a dinner we were just at together, her beau comes with dreads. Don who? The Canadian beauty and her man – John Kastner, a long-haired musician and composer – were among those making the scene at an exclusive gathering at The Room, a fashion candy-land inside The Bay in Toronto.

As an array of wives-of and peacocks sallied forth into the venue’s VIP platinum suite for a dinner organized for 30 last week, I caught up with the of-the-moment brunette. We chatted about the parallels between Jessica and her Mad Men character, both from Montreal and living in California. In addition, we had good laugh about a much-dissected scene from the current season in which Don – having traded in lunchtime trysts for fiction – is seen snuggling up on a sofa not with someone else’s wife but with that ultimate masculine neurosis novel from 1969, Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth. “Wasn't that good?” Jessica exclaimed, launching into an astute overview of other novels by the Pulitzer Prize winner.

Turns out Jessica isn’t just a pretty face!

The dinner, by the way, was in honour of another Montreal-born A-lister: designer Erdem, the darling of the London fashion scene (who, incidentally, went to Toronto’s Ryerson University). Now a go-to for everyone from Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, to that queen of the millennials, Lena Dunham, Erdem is also favoured by Keira Knightley, Diane Kruger and Florence Welch. At our big long table, punctuated with long looming cherry blossoms, the conversation tended toward deconstructions of the Met Ball, held in New York a few nights prior and at which Erdem was present.

More: See more pictures from the Erdem party

Also dominating over dinner was the irrepressible Lord Conrad Black, busy gleaning tips on being a better tweeter – he just joined! Beside him, his wife – the enduring social beauty Barbara, working a Greta Garbo-esque hairstyle – was heard to say that she is in the process of writing a juicy novel. “Write faster!” I told her.

Here! There!

* That was Kathy Hilton getting her hotdog fix at the corner of Simcoe and Queen streets! The fun-lovin’ mother of Pariset al made her limo stop while she was living it up in Toronto last week, I hear. But it wasn’t all just street meat: the social fixture and her husband, Rick Hilton, also enjoyed a smart dinner at The Chase.

* Michael J. Fox and Martin Short were among the Canadians sniffing and reminiscing while paying Barbara Walters a visit on The View this week – as she wraps up her amazing 50 years on television.

* Martin Sheen gave quite the barn-burner of a speech the other night at WE/U/NIGHT, a fundraiser held at Toronto’s Sound Academy, and hosted jointly by Free the Children and the Michael Pinball Clemons Foundation.

* So zealous are some fans of flower child chanteuse Lana Del Rey that one actually pulled her hair when she waded into the audience at her concert this week at Toronto’s Sony Centre. Social media was atwitter!

* It pays to be Ryan Gosling: The Canadian actor swooped by San Francisco last week, on the heels of his directorial debut at Cannes, and in so doing managed to snag a seat at a restaurant that’s said to be the hardest place to get into in the city, and possibly all of the U.S. – State Bird Provisions, an eatery that nabbed the James Beard Prize last year for America’s Best New Restaurant.

Look for Shinan's “Last Word” interview in the print issue of HELLO! This week, he goes one on one with Canada’s own Alan Thicke!

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