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.

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Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row