Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Canada Dry

No I don’t mean to imply that Quebec is a “dry” province, quite the contrary in fact. Montreal is full of trendy watering holes. Nope, I meant the sunny, albeit cold weather spell that I had on my yearly vacation up north. This time I brought a friend and fellow shopaholic with me and we stayed at my home away from home, the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel right smack in the heart of downtown Montreal. Frankly, I’m starting to sound like a pr flack for the hotel but I ADORE the staff, especially my favorite waiter Shamsu and concierge Francois Pascal.

Now back to the important stuff – shopping! To cut to the chase, Montreal’s like any major city in that it has all of the known fashion brands, from the Gap and BCBG to H&M etc. So instead I always go for the unexpected sources. This trip took me to St.Laurent Boulevard (think NYC’s SoHo neighborhood) and the three best vintage boutiques around, and at prices that are much friendlier for a clothes hound like myself. My absolute fave was Kitsch’n Swell (www.kitschswell.ca). This relatively tiny shop has something for everyone from authentic Hawaiian shirts to ‘50s roller skates and a fabulous costume jewelry selection. I snagged a vintage sailor pin for a mere ten bucks while my friend opted for an authentic’40s cheese grill contraption – don’t ask, I couldn’t even begin to explain what it looks like but it brought tears of joy to his eyes.

Next stop was the Boutique Cul-De-Sac right next door. Here was where I found the handbag buy of the century- no not an Hermes - a vintage ostrich top handled, framed handbag from England in perfect condition for $35! No way would this bag been that cheap in Manhattan. Sorry I don’t have an email address but the phone number is 514 529-0557.

My next choice for those of you into new designer duds I recommend U&I a hip boutique (www.boutiqueuandi.com) on the same street. There were some cool , slightly pricey clothes for both sexes but I’d recommend that shoe fanatics check out the new ‘40s inspired range. Very tongue-in-chic and different in a good way.
Back on St. Catherine street the best shoe boutique is Felix Brown (e-mail them at felixbuyingco@hotmail.com). I found labels that I never came across before and some of the best looking, stylized patent loafers in unique color combinations. Prices are high but worth every cent.

As far as the other shopping goes, I’ve already spoken last year about Simons on the same street for a fab and affordable selection of sweaters for both guys and gals, La Senza for the Canadian version of Victoria’s Secret (only cuter and cheaper) and Jacob, Montreal’s answer to Banana Republic.

Lest you think I did nothing but shop I must tell you about a fabulous exhibit at the Eaton Center; TITANIC, The Artifact Exhibition. To quote the brochure, “the Titanic takes you on a journey back in time to experience the legend”. The galleries feature over 288 real artifacts recovered from the ocean floor along with room recreations and personal stories, each highlighting a different chapter in the poignant story. This is truly a must see exhibit. If at all possible try to catch it in Toronto where the exhibit will be when you read this post. Log on to expotitanic.ca for more info. One of my most treasured souvenirs has to be the necklace that contains an actual piece of coal used to stoke the Titanic’s furnace. The proceeds from every one sold will go to preserve artifacts from this great and tragic ocean liner.

Talk to you soon, I’m still recuperating from my vacation, C&C.

More Coming Attractions... Heck, Some Might Be Here, Already

According to all the so-called fashion experts, during this recession, women will be spending their dollars on accessories rather than rtw. While in theory this is a great way to stretch a wardrobe and save a bundle on over priced clothes, what I’ve found is that a lot of times investing in a good bag, piece of costume jewelry or
(especially) shoes can run into big bucks.

While I can’t promise that some of the designers I’ll list are on the very inexpensive side, I can promise that you’ll get more bang for the buck with the following fall 09 collections, This go round I’m focusing on hats and shoes, in other words, top and bottom.

These are some of the latest fall trends in headwear: knit caps, berets, molded driving caps, cloches, fedoras, floppy brims, plus all sorts of interesting and fun imbellishments. I especially love the designs of Brooklyn-based milliner, Cha Cha, founder of Cha Cha’s House of Ill Repute. Her eclectic creations combine vintage charm with modern hip styling. Cha Cha (love that name) has recently partnered with well known firm, San Diego Hat Co. to broaden her customer base – the result is a line of affordably priced casual millinery that’s sure to stand out in the market. Judging by the traffic at her booth at the Accessory Show I’d say this will be a hit with customers.

For more info on the extensive collections call 212 420-7450 or go on line at www.chachashouse.com.

By this time you all know that platforms, spike heeled stilettos and gladiator monstrosities are still keeping the terminally trendy fashionistas in and out of emergency rooms and podiatrists in clover, I’d rather focus on some more practical ins interesting options, boots and comfortable (now there’s a concept) shoes.

My first pick is Re-Mix, a whimsical, unique line of sexy updated vintage-footwear with looks taken from the ‘20s. ‘30s and ‘40s. Don’t panic, they’re all new shoes not recycled stuff. Styles range from open-toe platforms to two-toned spectators and t-straps and much more. This line is perfect for the fashion individualist of any age. Find out more from the main man at the company, Philip Heath by e-mailing him at philipheath@sbcglobal.net.

The Frye Company is a name known by everyone who ever lived through the 1970’s and didn’t we all own a pair of their famous boots? Well, time marches on and the firm is still racking up sales with a terrific line of ruggedly chic boots with that fashionably broken in look. Tops on my fall hit list, the “Cindy” button boot in cranberry washed goat leather or the soft antique leather “Cindy” slouch boot in dark brown.

Also chic is the antiqued suede “Dorado” in grey. All of the above are available in other colors as well but these are my faves. E-mail John.Smyth@Jimlar.com or phone customer service at 866 929-3793 for retail outlets.

I’m off to Montreal to see what’s new in my fave happening city up north. Until next time, C&C.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Girl About Town

O.K. so I’ve used the term “girl” loosely, I certainly ran around town like someone half - alright, a quarter – of her age and it was worth the effort.

Ann Taylor - Fall '09

First off I must talk about one of the best press events I’ve ever attended, Ann Taylor’s fall 09 fashion preview.

Here’s the deal. The event was held in Ann Taylor’s gigantic full floor showroom, complete with staff coffee bar and cafeteria. Not too shabby and certainly better than any office I ever worked in.

Now to the best part, the fall collection was GORGEOUS and beautifully tailored. There were stunning deceptively simple sheath dresses, sophisticated pencil skirts and jackets to die for. I’m not kidding, the stuff looked better than most designer clothes at quadruple the prices. With the addition of lovely silk georgette tops with feminine ruffles or pleating details, this collection can go non stop for years. Even the accessories were fab. If you buy nothing else this fall get the beige patent mid heel pumps with rounded toe. They will go with everything day of night. Forget wearing black shoes with black, these are much chicer, trust me. Also terrific are the necklaces, especially a chunky rhinestone twisted number (very Vera Wang) that I’ve already gotten compliments on. In a smart move, the design team went back to Ann Taylor’s archives dating back to 1954 so that should give you an idea of the refined aesthetic updated for today’s woman – and at affordable prices.

Every outfit was shown on mannequins so I was able to get up close enough to touch the fabrics and make note of the styling, all the while as I was stuffing my self with scrumptious truffle grilled cheese sandwiches and champagne that was being passed around. You might as well know that most fashion editors never eat at these events so I felt it was my duty to lighten the waiters' trays.

Moving on in another room there was the Loft collection. More sporty in feeling, with an emphasis on the introduction of Loft Lounge, a line of cozy activewear including sweaters, leggings, layering pieces etc. While the intended purpose is to wear these items on casual weekends you can easily work these into your everyday wardrobe. Prices run from $14.50 to $69.50 so check it out. More high fashion oriented is the exclusive, limited edition collection of fashion forward necklaces designed for the Loft by Lisa Salzer of Lulu Frost, a media darling in the design world. These will be in-store beginning August 31st.

Left Coast Loot

While I’m on the subject of jewelry, I want to take this opportunity to give a plug to a dear friend, college chum and old traveling buddy from years past, California designer/ graphic artist/Renaissance woman, Arline Wolfson of Studio Arli and her line of hand crafted artisan jewelry. The Relics collection consists of toggle bracelets crafted with fine sterling silver elements “reminiscent of the ancient Dead Sea scroll fragments” to quote the designer. Arline combines carnelian, amber or lapis beads with interesting results that make each piece unique.

You can reach Arli at arligraphic@aol.com or call 619 449-9036.

No Witty Comment, Just a Logo and Some Great Jewelry!


So, maybe you’re not ready to fork over some bucks for fall just yet, then consider Sag Harbor’s must-have black seasonless Slimming Solution pull-on pant in, what else, black. It features a unique, comfortable built-in body shaper, guaranteed to make you look sleek and trim. Lets face it, not everybody’s a size zero so these are a God send for real women who actually like to eat food. These are a steal at $48. Find them now – and hopefully- at JC Penney, Kohls and Sears.

In addition to the pants, I got a preview look at the rest of Sag Harbor’s fall line, Again, the prices won’t break the bank and there were some terrific sportswear pieces that you might want to consider for you wardrobe needs. Personally, I’d opt for the $70. exploded plaid/Donegal tweed (better looking than it sounds) zip front jacket with detachable faux fur collar or the chic black double breasted pea coat – a great buy at $64. Both jackets are part of the Manor House collection.

Sag Harbor - Your Ship Has Come In!

Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row