Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fashionista Hits Montreal

I'm back! Yours truly had a fabulous time in Montreal. We scoped out the fashion scene at some of the offbeat boutiques and some major retailers as well. But first things first, where to lay our weary (from too much shopping) body. Sure we could have chosen to stay at one of the city's trendy boutique hotels. You know, the ones where the bathroom fixtures can double for sculpture and it takes forever to figure out how to turn on the taps. I preferred to skip the hip factor in favor of my favorite hotel, the Queen Elizabeth, which boasts the friendliest, most efficient staff around. A special thanks go to my "friends" in the President's Gold Club. It's true, Canadians really are the nicest people around.

Enough about the accommodations, I'm really here to tell you about the fashion scene. Number one on our list was the special exhibition of Yves Saint Laurent at the Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibit ends on September 28th so do whatever it takes to get there, it's that fabulous. We were given insight into the master's innovative creative process and body of work that encompassed a 40 year career at the forefront of fashion. In addition to over 160 fully accessorized garments, there were also videos of Saint Laurent's final runway show and a behind the scenes look in the couture workrooms. Some of the standouts: a gorgeous black velvet coat with red sequin "lips" embroidery made for Marisa Berenson in 1971, the iconic black wool crepe Le Smoking tuxedo from 1970, a black suede tunic with gold sequined mesh sleeves atop a jersey dress ordered by the Duchess of Windsor in '67 and a timeless ivory and black shantung cocktail dress worn by Princess Grace in '64. We could go on and on about the exhibit it was that breathtaking. One caveat however, THERE WAS PRACTICALLY NOTHING TO BUY! If this exhibit was put on at NY's Metropolitan Museum you can bet there would have been tee shirts, tote bags and line-for-line copies of the jewelry/scarves for sale. When it comes to marketing, Canadians are just too laid back.

That takes care of the "couture" portion of my blog, now for the "crap" which as I've already explained refers to more wallet-friendly prices. One of Montreal's trendiest streets is St Laurent Boulevard crammed with graphic design houses, hip boutiques and chic coffee bars. Preloved was a boutique I sought out. What the design team does is recycle vintage garments to create terrific one-of-a-kind pieces. Kitsch 'n Swell's window caught my eye. This funky store is a treasure trove of vintage stuff, from clothes and accessories to '50s kitsch. For more upscale vintage shopping I headed over to Sherbrooke Street and the Styl Gallery. Owner Eva Jamroziak's tiny jewel box boutique was filled with vintage designer jewelry, antiques and collectibles at prices to match. For true bargain hunters nothing beats the vintage stuff found at the variety shop in St. James' church on St. Catherine Street. Held every Wednesday from 10:00 to 2:00, it can be hit or miss but this time around I scoped out a sleek camel suede tunic with rib knit sleeves and turtleneck from the '60s for a song. Other trips have yielded a white gab coat, a beaded evening purse and a leather jewel case. Worth checking out if you're into vintage.

That's it for now. Signing off, C&C.

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Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row