It was held in downtown Toronto at the Westin Harbour Castle.
I’m not a hairstylist, but one of the amazing PR firms I collaborate with (Langton Communications) invited me to the event because they thought I’d enjoy it – they were so right! 🙂
The Contessa Awards are pretty much like the Academy Awards, except for the hair industry. They were founded in 1988 and are Canada’s longest-running and most prestigious awards honouring excellence and creativity in salon professionals. (Top manufacturers and distributors of professional beauty products support Contessa. They have many sponsors including CND, JOICO, L’Oreal Professional, Marvel Beauty Schools, Paul Mitchell, Redken 5th Avenue NYC, and many more!)
According to the press release PR provided, the submissions “are evaluated on originality, creativity, fashion appeal, model suitability and technical execution”. They also take into consideration the quality of the photography, makeup, and clothing.
They announced the nominees for each category, and then the winner headed to the podium and gave their acceptance speech. (There were some that were so raw and emotional – you could truly see just how much it meant to them and how much hard work they put in to deserve their place in the spotlight. It was inspiring!)
A lot goes into the cuts, colours, and vision for the entire image, which includes makeup and nails. (This post is very picture-heavy, but stick around because I’ll show you some of the winners’ photo submissions. One winner is actually a nail artist, which I thought was really cool to see. I’ll show you the manicures she came up with.)
Even though I brought my DSLR camera, I rarely busted it out. So all the photos you see in this post that were taken by me were with my smartphone. The quality isn’t the best, but I also included some Instagram videos, so you could get a glimpse into what it was like to actually be there. (A pictures says a thousand words, but a video says even more!)
The entire night was like nothing I had experienced before. It was so great to see everyone dressed up and to be among creative artists who challenged the status quo and who weren’t afraid of taking risks.
I’m in desperate need of a haircut, and there was so much inspiration at the Contessa Awards!
What an honour and a privilege it was to be invited! I am so very grateful to the entire Langton Communications team, especially Donna-Lee, Michelle, and Maxine, all of who I saw at the event.
There was a circus theme for the Contessa Awards this year! And it was sponsored by so many big companies.
When I first arrived, there were room dividers that had large posters featuring images of the various hairstyles and hair colouring by talented people in the industry.
Click the image below or here to see my Instagram video showing just a few of the many creative hairstyles.
There was a guy from Cityline interviewing some people for a segment, and I noticed a photographer snapping photos.
To the Contessa Awards, I wore my white-lace t-shirt (Garage), a leopard pencil skirt (The Loft), layered necklace (Ann Taylor Loft), black tights, and knee-high suede boots (La Canadienne).
For my makeup, I did a simple purple/brown smoky eye and wore MAC Heroine Lipstick. (My phone didn’t quite capture the colour of the lipstick accurately – it’s more purple in real life!)
On my nails, I wore a-england Lady of the Lake, which is a rich purple holo that I absolutely loved! (You may remember that I posted a photo of it on Instagram.) I will need to review it on here because that smartphone photo didn’t do it any justice!
During the cocktail period, I ran into a woman who was hired to boost the spirits during the event. She was holding balloons with helium, and she even had a bunch of balloons attached to the bottom of her dress.
I asked her about her makeup because it was so fun and bright! She said she did it herself, which was cool.
With feathers in her hat and so many cheerful colours, I just had to have a photo taken with her!
The event started off with cocktails at 5 pm, and this is when everyone was mingling, looking at the photos, and (of course) drinking!
I had 2 drink tickets. Each one, you could redeem in a separate room that had a bunch of bartenders who could make a variety of drinks upon request.
My first drink? White wine! Second? Rum and Coke. (Haha, yeah, I didn’t exactly keep it classy the second time around!)
The room with the bartenders was large, and there were a few small, round tables, the kind where you stand around rather than sit at.
There were pretty flowers at each little table, and I wanted to show you one in more detail. Click the image below or this link to see my Instagram video showing you the flowers.
Here’s the room where more people began trickling into when the outer area was filling up. (This is also where the bartenders were.)
Since there was a circus theme, it only makes sense that there were some clowns thrown in to entertain us!
Hehe, now, you know that I have a fear of clowns, but, thankfully, I was okay this time. I think it’s only the clowns with balloons that I get nervous around.
The clown below was doing some tricks with a string and two sticks. Click the image below or here to see my Instagram video of it.
There were award presentations and performances sprinkled throughout dinner (starting at 7 pm), which was a nice balance.
There were so many tables, and I asked Michelle (one of the awesome Langton PR ladies) if this was a typical turnout for the Contessa Awards. She said it was larger this year (at around 1,100 people) because this was the 25th anniversary!
At each table, the centrepiece was a tall vase filled with large, colourful gum balls. And, yes, they were real gum balls because I saw a few people at other tables reaching in and chewing some.
There was a delicious mushroom soup to start off the dinner, and it was incredibly delicious and rich! (I would’ve wanted to take home an entire pot of it!)
In the dining area, the place was hopping! To get a better idea of the atmosphere, click on the below image or here to see my Instagram video of where I was!
Next up was chicken! *Bawk bawk bawk*
Finally, dessert was a chocolate masterpiece. It was very rich and paired well with the berries.
Now, remember I told you that the entire time we were having dinner, the awards show was going on? Well, let me show you a little taste of what I saw!
These were the New Talent winners! Click on the below image or here to see my Instagram clip of them!
As you can see, while the focus was the hair, there was a lot of attention put into making sure the entire image and creative vision was cohesive.
Check out this Instagram video of the nominations (or click the image below).
Here’s my Instagram video showing looks on the runway. (You can also click on the below image.)
This was a dramatic scene, hehe, and I remember saying how it’ll be a lot of work to remove the balloons from the ceiling afterwards! 😉
Click here or on the below image to see my Instagram video of more performances.
And, yes, another Instagram video of an awesome performance!
You can’t have a circus theme without spinning on a large hoop!
Look at what this woman did in my Instagram video.
There was a nail artist recognized at the Contessa Awards. I was so excited for her, and it just goes to show you how far nail art has come!
Click here or the image below to see my Instagram video of the Nail Artist of the Year! (Later in this post, I’ll show you some photographs of manicures she did to win!)
And even more! (Instagram video)
Nearing the end! (Instagram video)
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for the entire Contessa 2013 Awards because I had to work the next day, so I left at 11 pm. I was there from 5 pm to 11 pm – the majority of the event.
There were swag bags hung on the back of every seat, so I brought mine home! Inside were lots of haircare goodies that I’m going to try soon! There were also CND Vinylux nail polishes included!
Okay, as promised, here are some photos of the winning nail art.
Canadian Nail Artist of the Year: Elfi Lemieux (Montreal, QC)
I love how much this one pops – it’s a very bold design!
This nail shape is so trendy. I don’t think I could pull it off, but it’s interesting to see!
Wiz Khalifa springs to mind whenever I see black and yellow! 😉
And this is Elfie! It’s cool to see the face behind the art, isn’t it? (Congrats to her for winning!)
Since Langton Communications was kind enough to provide me with a CD full of photographs of the winning looks, I’m going to show you a few more.
I wish I could show you them all, but there are soooo many, hehe, and this blog post would transform into a short book! 😉
So here are just a few of the many looks that stood out to me. Enjoy!
Alberta Hairstylist of the Year: Alann Sluser (Edmonton, AB)
Atlantic Hairstylist of the Year: Chelsea Sutherland (St. John’s, NL)
Ontario Hairstylist of the Year: Dorothy Tsang (Ottawa, ON)
Men’s Hairstylist of the Year: Matthew Conrad (Victoria, BC)
Elite Master Hairstylist of the Year: Guylaine Martel (Mont-St-Hilaire, QC)
Hehe, this was a long post! I hope that you enjoyed it. Wish that I could’ve brought you along with me, but this was the next best thing, right? 😉
A huge thank you to Langton Communications for allowing me to attend such a prestigious and memorable event! I’ll never forget it!
Which of the above hairstyles or colours really speaks to you the most? Of the nail designs shown, which is your favourite?
Edit: Awesome! I’m honoured that Salon Magazine retweeted my blog post!