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The mystery of celebrity gifting lounges and where to get the products for yourself

The Micro Pedi at-home pedicure tool. One of the gifts available during the Toronto International Film Festival.
The Micro Pedi at-home pedicure tool. One of the gifts available during the Toronto International Film Festival.

After ten days of movies, star sightings, gifting lounges, red carpets, and what seemed like a never-ending social calendar, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) wrapped up on Sunday, September 15. Over the course of the festival, stars were showered with an endless list of free products. The companies lavished them in the hopes they would wear it, tweet it, or have their photo taken close to it, so the company could proudly announce that “a certain A-list celebrity” is the new owner of a “certain product.”  While I wasn’t able to attend all the gifting lounges – or even permitted access to most – I was able to try some amazing new products during my visits to a small number of lounges and red carpet events.

One lounge stood out from the pack with a strict “no celebrities allowed” edict. EGPR’s Essentials Lounge, now in its fourth year, caters strictly to media who schlepped from press junkets to gala openings to various events and parties all to deliver the gossip on who was where, who wore what, with a movie review or two in between, and if they were lucky a couple hours of sleep. Esther Garnick, EGPR’s Director of Publicity explains why, ‘We work with media year round and they are, in our opinion, the true stars of the film festival. They work 18-hour days and work under the pressure of unrealistic deadlines, just so that we at home can follow the action.  It can be a thankless job, so we want to make their TIFF experience a little less stressful, and hopefully a little bit easier!”

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The stars, on the other hand, were lavished with freebies at top level talent gifting lounges which sprout up all across the downtown core. Getting products, especially brand new, yet-to-launch products, in the hands of celebrities and tastemakers can help bring public focus to a brand.

“Celebrities visit gift lounges for the same reason we put ours on — for the sense of discovery. It’s such a thrill to finding the brands or products for our lounge. After nine years, it’s clear celebrities like them too,” explains Leesa Butler, co-founder, VP of Operations of Tastemakers which she runs every year with Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski, the president of rock-it promotions, inc. and Tastemakers.

From the bizarre, like a certificate to a vampire facial in Alabama (flight not included) to the practical like slippers (thank you SOREL!), companies are eager to get their products in to the hands of the influencers – namely a big name celebrity.

While most of us will never get the chance to live the life of the famous, we can still indulge and enjoy the same products they use. Here are some of my favourite products which I saw offered at various lounges and events during TIFF, and where you can purchase them for yourself – who needs to be a star to enjoy the best in life?

Practice those red carpet poses in these Zigi Soho heels. $179.00 at www.ziginy.com.
Practice those red carpet poses in these Zigi Soho heels. $179.00 at http://www.ziginy.com. ziginy.com
Want that flawless, close-up-ready skin? Look no further than Mèreadesso's All-In-One Moisturizer - the perfect makeup base. $120.00 at www.mereadesso.com.
Want that flawless, close-up-ready skin? Look no further than Mèreadesso's All-In-One Moisturizer - the perfect makeup base. $120.00 at http://www.mereadesso.com. mereadesso.com
Perfect those brow arches with Tweezerman's Isaac Mizrahi Splatter Paint Tweezer. $25.00 at www.sephora.com.
Perfect those brow arches with Tweezerman's Isaac Mizrahi Splatter Paint Tweezer. $25.00 at http://www.sephora.com. sephora.com
Make your eyes pop with one of Hard Candy's Top Ten Eyeshadow palletes at a price that can't be beat. $6.00 exclusively at Walmart.
Make your eyes pop with one of Hard Candy's Top Ten Eyeshadow palletes at a price that can't be beat. $6.00 exclusively at Walmart. walmart.com
No need to worry about a little breakout when you have Elizabeth Grant's Exclusives Wonder Effect SOS Spot Stick, $25.00 at www.elizabethgrant.com.
No need to worry about a little breakout when you have Elizabeth Grant's Exclusives Wonder Effect SOS Spot Stick, $25.00 at http://www.elizabethgrant.com. Elizabeth Grant
Nothing says Hollywood glam more than a classic cat eye. Try Stilla's Stay-All-Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner. $20.00 at www.sephora.com.
Nothing says Hollywood glam more than a classic cat eye. Try Stilla's Stay-All-Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner. $20.00 at http://www.sephora.com. sephora.com
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Celebrities are always showing support for charities, show yours with Ardene's Link to Love bracelet in collaboration with Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl initiative. $5.00 at Ardene, nationally.
Celebrities are always showing support for charities, show yours with Ardene's Link to Love bracelet in collaboration with Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl initiative. $5.00 at Ardene, nationally. ardene.com
Finish off your look with a flawless manicure. CND Vinylux is the latest in nail technology. Only available in salons, www.cnd.com.
Finish off your look with a flawless manicure. CND Vinylux is the latest in nail technology. Only available in salons, http://www.cnd.com. http://www.cnd.com
Feel like a downtown gal on the move with Calvin Klein's latest fragrance. Starting at $60 for 30mL at Sephora, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sears Canada, and more.
Feel like a downtown gal on the move with Calvin Klein's latest fragrance. Starting at $60 for 30mL at Sephora, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sears Canada, and more. sephora.com
The new HP 7 Slate tablet is the answer to busy stars on the go who need more than their smartphone, but no room for a laptop. $149.99 at www.hp.com.
The new HP 7 Slate tablet is the answer to busy stars on the go who need more than their smartphone, but no room for a laptop. $149.99 at http://www.hp.com.
Looking for a place to get your best gowns dry cleaned? Creeds boasts a client list whose wardrobes are the envy of most. Prices vary at www.creeds.com.
Looking for a place to get your best gowns dry cleaned? Creeds boasts a client list whose wardrobes are the envy of most. Prices vary at http://www.creeds.com.
Looking for thick, luscious locks? Try Aveda's Invanti line. Free samples available at http://invati.aveda.com/.
Looking for thick, luscious locks? Try Aveda's Invanti line. Free samples available at http://invati.aveda.com/.
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Stay on track of your fitness with the Nike Fuelband. $149.00 at Nike stores across Canada.
Stay on track of your fitness with the Nike Fuelband. $149.00 at Nike stores across Canada.
Nothing can ruin an evening like a bad case of  cramps. Try Eyaa's brilliant reusable and wearable heating pad. $44.95 at www.eyaa.co.
Nothing can ruin an evening like a bad case of cramps. Try Eyaa's brilliant reusable and wearable heating pad. $44.95 at http://www.eyaa.co.
After dancing the night away, give yourself a pedicure with Micro Pedi's at-home pedicure tool to get back that smooth sole.  $35.99 at www.theshoppingchannel.com.
After dancing the night away, give yourself a pedicure with Micro Pedi's at-home pedicure tool to get back that smooth sole. $35.99 at http://www.theshoppingchannel.com.
To relax and restore after all those hard hours of party hopping, take some personal at Miraj Mammam Spa at the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto. Treatments start at $55, http://www.mirajcaudaliespa.com/.
To relax and restore after all those hard hours of party hopping, take some personal at Miraj Mammam Spa at the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto. Treatments start at $55, http://www.mirajcaudaliespa.com/.