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The Secret: Vintage Crawl Revealed

All great Vintage Crawls start with Stella Luna. Living in truth.

I am beyond exhausted.  Beyond.  What is the source of my fatigue?  Walking 3 1/2 hours from Queen & Roncey to Ossington & Dundas, followed by a few hop, skips and a jump home.  But it was worth it.  A laugh inducing vintage crawl with lovely C  (January Jones’ doppelganger) and her amazingly cool mom E.  In our wake, we encountered a smattering of rainbow racks, unique statement pieces and ‘fortuitous’ finds.  The fashion gods were definitely with us today.

I am in an extremely generous mood.  Dear friends of the LC, contained in this post is the original ‘Vintage Crawl’ route map beginning in Parkdale and ending near Ossington (west to east).  If you have the fortitude of spirit and a passion for fashion, you and your closest girlfriends may also embark on an adventure in the history of fashion.  Best practice: Always recruit shopping powerhouses, those with an open mind, the enthusiasm to try on different looks and comfortable soles.  Whiners stay home.

  •  Stella Luna – 1627 Queen Street West.  I realize I wax poetic about Stella Luna but this store deserves all its praise.  The owner Crispian stocks hands-down the best curated selection of vintage frocks, a haunt of many stylists and in the know fashionistahs.  My favourite pick!

How wild is this stone encrusted snake belt? I scored it for a song bc no one could figure out how it clasped. I intertwined it like any smart belt conoisseur would!

  • Frou Frou – 1616 Queen Street West.  Blink and you might miss Matthew’s unasuming storefront.  A good stop for eclectic chapeaus to pouffy prom dresses, many fashions are brought in from Montreal.
  • Blondie’s – 1378 Queen Street West.  This classic house dancefloor by night turns into a hipster coffeeshop by day.  Stop in for a lemonade or an OJ to quench your thirst or take a bio-break.  It’s going to be a few blocks until you reach your next destination.
  • House of Vintage – 1239 Queen West. New-ish on the Queen West West block, they have a swell assortment of leather boots, from tooled cowboys to slouchy bohos.  They also have a nice selection of pumps from Charles Jourdan to YSL.
  • Drake Scoops + Tee’s – 1142 Queen West.  You’ve walked an hour & a half by now (including changeroom time) simultaneously shopping and burning calories.  You can pause for a scoop or pick up a soft tee from Shared.
  • 69 Vintage – 1100 Queen West.  Tucked beside The Social is a well-stocked assortment of boots, dresses, glam sequined party tunics and denim.  They had some very tempting fur chubbies here but it is much too hottt to be looking at fur.  But how cute would an elbow length mink chubby be with leather opera gloves?  Think about it.
  • I Miss You Vintage – 63 Ossington Ave.  Hang left at the corner of Queen & Ossington to a cluster of vintage shops.  I Miss You  is a designer shop with Chanel’s, Prada’s and Dior’s hanging next to pretty 50’s shifts and bejewelled evening gowns.  Don’t be alarmed by the chi-chi poo poo hangtags as there are also affordable vintage pieces and the BEST ACCESSORIES OF YOUR LIFE at reasonable prices.  My current fascination is with mixed media rope belts but if that’s not your thing, they have belts (braided, cinchers, obi’s) and clutches in the softest Italian leather in every imaginable colour.  I never leave empty handed.

So I like reptiles on my feet. I adored the snakeskin leaf detail and peep-toe. Camel shoes are a wardrobe staple.

  • Vintage Mix 1 – 186 Ossington Ave.  The window here always peaks my curiosity.  Like shopping in a cool cat’s swinging 1960’s apartment:  bookshelves overflowing with novels and shoes, suitcases filled with belts and colour-blocked rolling racks. 

Another secret worth sharing:  My favourite vintage boutique, Stella Luna is celebrating its 15 year anniversary next weekend (August 7th, 2010).  There will be wine, cake and great deals to be had.  With all of my unselfish sharing, dear fashion gods, I want to be that girl that emerges with a pair of Ferragamo’s for $10.  Just putting it out there (The Secret)!!


August 1, 2010   2 Comments

DIY: Colour Blocking Your Closet

On the topic of perfectionism, one of my favourite activities in the whole world is colour blocking.  Considered borderline OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) by some, it makes the chore of laundry bearable.  I recently did an event where I kindly asked volunteers to colour block jewellery and shoes.  This was received with eye rolls, sneers and annoyance ‘really?’  But the end effect was quite smashing and they agreed that the visual aesthetic was worth the extra effort.  It’s just sooooo much prettier. 

Maybe it’s my formative years spent in retail boutiques, endless hours of folding designer jeans just so, meticulously spacing hangers on racks (a 1/2″ apart) and neatly merchandising  tops in an ombre effect (light to dark) that has engrained in me the need for my closet to resemble a store.  But I know other fashionistahs that share this compulsion so I feel much better about it.  We drank the Kool-Aid together. 

This morning I visited my good friend C who is in the process of converting her upstairs office into a walk-in closet.  Her grey dress pants were touching her light silk summer dresses.  OMG.  I exclaimed, “Your dresses are touching your pants.  Your closet is cute but you need to colour block.”  She agreed and as it’s still a work in progress. 

Here are some tips & reasons why you may want to transform your closet to top form:

  • Crank the Tunes – Colour blocking can be as relaxing as sitting in a giant hot tub.  Turn up your favourite melodies and start from white, move to colours, then fade to black.  Even if your wardrobe consists of grey to grey-black to dark midnight black, there is still room to colour block.  I like to work the colour wheel.
  • The Closet Edit – The activity of colour blocking also allows you to disect your fashion choices.  Never realized how much you’ve invested in the colour purple (my problem) or how much you need a functional blazer?  I mean, how many chiffon blouses does one need?  A general rule of thumb is if you haven’t worn it in more than two years, you likely won’t.  Perhaps a trip to consignment, Goodwill or a local charity is due.  Why hoard fashion that might have a better home with someone who will cherish it?  Give how you live.

A Perfect World: Anthropologie tops merchandised with like colours on vintage fixtures.

  • Shoes, To Box or To Hang? – When I used to have a gi-normous closet with tons of storage, I used to keep all my shoes in boxes, clearly labelled ‘Turquoise Snake Slingbacks’ or ‘Pink Satin Peeptoes.’  This was a convenient method until I moved to my studio style apartment.  Boxing shoes works for Kimora Lee Simmons and her ilk, but for those of us with limited space, hanging shoe organizers are key.  I like how I can see all my shoes which makes dashing out the door very easy.
  • Victoria Secret Up In The Hizzo – If you’re picking up what I’m laying down and you don’t think I’ve gone beyond the edge of reason or think I’ve been hit with the crazy-stick, you would die to see my lingerie drawer.  Boy shorts, lace hipsters and thongs folded in pocket squares and lined up in neat rows.  It is my pride and joy. 

Always wondered why I took Colour Theory in university. Fashion school pays off.


May 17, 2010   No Comments

Nuit Blanche Post Mortem

Nuit Blanche was conceived in Paris 2002 as a means of bringing contemporary art to the masses.  Translated as “Sleepless Night,” the event has a dynamic cultural impact as it brings art and people together in public spaces.  Toronto was the first North American city to host this event in 2006.

Nuit Blanche celebrates the Toronto artistic community as well as those exhibits and commissions visiting from abroad.  It’s a fun sunset to sunrise Art Crawl that makes art appreciation affordable and accessible for people who may be intimidated by strolling into a Westside hipster gallery, for young people who may never have the opportunity to visit museums or to view one of a kind art installations or performance artists. 

If you missed this year’s festival, here are a few tricks to getting the most out of your Nuit Blanche experience for next year…

  • Plan Ahead – The number of exhibits and independent works can be overwhelming for those unsure of where to start.  Log onto the Nuit Blanche website, to view works by zone.  You can also use new navigation applications on your iPhone or Blackberry. 
  • Travel on Foot or the Red Rocket – Torontonians by nature are walkers.  The city alive with energy is up all night and hitting the sidewalks.  If you plan on visiting many different zones, try using the TTC which offers a one-night special pass with unlimited use for $9.
  •  Ponder your interests – If you have a fancy for music, try to choose an exhibit that integrates sound.  If you love paintings and sculpture, enjoy a free admission to the AGO or ROM.  Are you interested in learning more about up and coming artists, try 401 Richmond. 
  • Choose wisely – Although you can attempt to view as many works as humanly possible, it can be difficult to get to each before sunrise.  And the late-night crush of people is unavoidable and at times frustrating.  To enhance your art crawl, be selective about which destinations you choose.  It’s not about the quantity of art, it’s about the quality of your experience.
See, see. No touch. Admire history's finest shoes at the Bata Shoe Museum

See, see. No touch. Admire history's finest shoes at the Bata Shoe Museum

I took my own advice this year and chose to stick within the Yorkville area.  This year’s NB had an interactive quality (much appreciated) which had patrons engaged in some part of the exhibit.  My grey suede boots with pink and purple triangles (crazytown London purchase) were photographed at the Bata Shoe Museum and I wrote a few words on where my shoes had been during the day.  Photos were hung all around the museum with spoken word artists reading out selected submissions.  I leisurely took in the four floors of shoe history noting the cute factor of the Native Indian exhibit which featured fringed and furry mukklukks and beaded Minetonkas – very Fall 2009.  Later at the Toronto Reference Library, I watched as a crowd of 100 learn a Bollywood choreography to Jai-Ho from Slumdog Millionaire.  Love Art!


October 4, 2009   No Comments

"She is my Style Icon."

Last fall, as I prepared to visit my friend in jolly England, I wondered what the fashionable british birds were wearing down the cobblestone lanes of London.  I asked my friend A and she sent me a link to a fashion blog, “Alexa Chung is my style icon.”  “Who the heck is Alexa Chung?”, I asked.   She balked at this response and pasted a collage of clip art into an e-mail so I could fully appreciate her style icon. Miss Chung is England’s hottest It Girl/TV presenter (this is what they call tv show hosts or VJ’s), dates the lead singer of the Arctic Monkeys (everyone needs a rockstar boyfriend) and has recently transplanted to New York City to host her own MTV show “It’s On”.  From her outfit selections, I think she is the Brit answer to Kiki Dunst (pre-rehab). I would classify her style as quirky understated cool.


Alexa Chung, Brit style import

Alexa Chung, Brit style import

As a fun surprise, A arranged for a Style Advisor at Topshop to pull a rolling rack of clothes and shoes based on my lifestyle needs (“I’m very social. I like to dress up.”).  When asked whose style I could identify with most, I said “I love Rachel Bilson”  who is petite, wears a blend of vintage and young designers (Philip Lim or Zac Posen).  She’s trendy but not over the top and wears a variety of bright colours.  Key pieces were vintage dresses, chiffon prints and statement shoes.  I adored hot, hot, pink platforms with 6 gi-normous bows and I did marinate on them for a prolonged period of time.  But alas, they were not meant to be mine – the platform was higher than five inches (no exaggeration) and I deemed them too “crazytown” for North American tastes (basically they would get lost in translation).

Rachel Bilson

Well played R-Bils. Printed mini dress with camel gladiator sandals

In a last ditch effort to save the Shoe portion of my style spree, we made our way to the very busy shoe section.  A gasps, “Ohhhmigawwwd!”  Who was standing there, all legs, amid the hooker boots?  It’s her style icon – Alexa Chung!  As a favour, I asked her if she wanted me to bump into her ‘by accident’ and strike up a random conversation on shoes.  She replied no because she would have died of embarrassment or turned beet red.  

And since I believe the universe is all about reciprocity, when A arrives in Toronto this October for a visit, I believe we will likely bump elbows with R-Bils in the shoe section of Holt Renfrew.  Full circle.


August 26, 2009   No Comments