SHOP TALK: Holts out, J.Crew in as downtown shopping scene continues to evolve

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.

Coveted handbags are a big draw at Holt Renfrew.

Coveted handbags are a big draw at Holt Renfrew.

Shopaholics were aghast at the news that high-end retailer Holt Renfrew would close its Ottawa location in early 2015. And while it’s always been one of those “aspirational” destinations, here at SHOP TALK we were pretty bummed. If shopping can be compared to art, then a visit to Holts was akin to stepping into the National Gallery — it wasn’t so much about filling gaps in our wardrobe as it was about stimulating our fashion senses. And for that, Holts will surely be missed.

That, and the stellar work they did with their window displays! I don’t know who is going into that retail space, but it’s safe to say that corner of Queen Street will never be the same.

From J. Crew's Spring/Summer 2015 ready to wear collection

From J. Crew’s Spring/Summer 2015 ready to wear collection

We reached out to our contacts at Holt Renfrew — ICYMI, Prada pumps featured in our September 2013 issue — and learned that the Sparks Street store that housed Holt Renfrew for 78 years was actually too small to accommodate it long-term. And so we say adieu to Holt Renfrew…

And allo! to J. Crew. One week later, On September 3, J. Crew opened its doors in the Rideau Centre. SHOP TALK attended the breakfast opening and got a better understanding of the brand we’ve heard so much about. And though it’s doubtful we’ll ever get to shop the pieces from that J.Crew showed earlier this week at New York Fashion Week, or even from it’s beautiful ready to wear collection (see left) we were excited to see the diversity of offerings — I had seen it as a preppy brand (no objections there!) but was happy to see some more casual pieces as well.

Sarah Fischer, who has shopped J. Crew before in the U.S., was excited about the fun prints. The Tick Tock blouse, which we spotted on a few staff, spoke to her love of classic pieces — that don’t take themselves too seriously!

Love this blazer!

Love this blazer!

And we loved this blazer — good to see camel staying strong for fall, it’s such a versatile and classic colour.

 

 

 

SHOP TALK: ByWard Market gets a boost with the opening of two hip stores

This week, SHOP TALK welcomes guest blogger Ashleigh VanHouten. Ashleigh is a freelance writer and editor, as well as the force behind lifestyle magazine, milieu.
Drake General Store.

Drake General Store.

Beautiful, bustling, and full of eclectic local shops, the ByWard Market also has the reputations among locals as a bit of a tourist trap. We get it — it’s easy to ignore some of the more charming offerings in the area when you’re stuck behind the crowds at the Beaver Tails stand. But two new boutiques opened recently that will give visitors and locals alike a reason to revisit the area.

Canadiana items like this blanket are sold at Drake General Store.

Canadiana items like this blanket are sold at Drake General Store.

The Opening: Drake General Store
The first non-Toronto outpost of the uber-Canadian Drake General Store is located in the back of the main floor of Hudson’s Bay. It’s a big, beautiful space, chock-full of Canadiana finds from lifestyle brands like Arborist, Held In Common, and Malin & Goetz. The shop has that hipster-welcoming mix of high-end modern and rustic-chic design, and its offerings reflect the same tongue-in-cheek style: baconaise, maple-scented candles, and novelty mugs sit alongside luxury skincare and high-end sweatshirts. Tourists can pack bags full of Ottawa-themed t-shirts, gourmet Drake-branded granola, and toffees, while locals will find great gifts in handmade jewelry, coffee table books, and cocktail accoutrement.

The Backstory: The original Drake General Store opened in 2008 as a gift shop in Toronto’s hip Drake Hotel. Founders Joyce Lo and Carlo Colacci began collaborating with the Bay after selling the retailer their now-popular Caribou throws featuring the iconic Hudson Bay stripes, and the Ottawa shop is their second retail space in the Canadian department store (they’re also in the Bay’s Yonge Street location). 

Isabelle on Dalhousie sells

Isabelle on Dalhousie sells

The Opening: Isabelle
At 238 Dalhousie St., in the former Wunderkammer space, visual artist and all-around renaissance woman Isabelle Gauvreau has opened a luxury women’s boutique featuring classic, feminine clothing and jewellery from Italian designer Sarah Pacini and French clothing outfit Saint James. She’s making the most of the small, cozy space, opening it up for an almost gallery-like feel with clean white walls and black highlights. Isabelle is decorated with Gauvreau’s own paintings; the gorgeous, textural pieces made with ink, charcoal, and gold leaf often explore the female form.

The Backstory: Gauvreau is excited to be in the ByWard Market, saying it’s where she likes to spend off time with her family and that she enjoys the eclectic mix of visitors. She’s confident that Ottawa is a good market for her decidedly European sense of style: “People in Ottawa are very international. They’re well-travelled. I’m excited to introduce even more people to these quality designers.” A personal stylist as well as an artist, Gauvreau hopes to introduce more young women to higher-quality clothing, as well.

Gauvreau says customer response has been wonderful so far, and hints at more to come: a German clothing brand next spring and more jewellery, as well as special events like wine tastings, charity jewelry sales and art shows starting this fall.

 

SHOP TALK: Etsy Roadtrip comes to LeBreton Flats

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.

Photo courtesy FASHION Magazine.

Photo courtesy FASHION Magazine.

Cascais dress by Tangente. The local eco-friendly designer Tangente will be at the Etsy event on Monday, Aug. 4.

Cascais dress by Tangente. The local eco-friendly designer Tangente will be at the Etsy event on Monday, Aug. 4.

 

We’ve been hearing a lot about the revitalization of LeBreton Flats, but other than Bluesfest the area still seems like a bit of a dead zone. But what’s this … the Etsy Roadtrip is coming to town, and setting up shop at the Flats? And since we also hear that the online shopping site is planning world domination, perhaps the time has come for this storied part of the city to shine.

With The Merry Dairy, Streetside Curry, and Bridgehead on board, it’s certainly worth checking out. Another nod to the event is the involvement of Campy Home — that’s the new endeavour by Handmade Harvest co-founder Emily Arbour. Cute candles, nice packaging — seems like a good hostess gift for that next barbecue!

And there’s music! Kelly Sloan and the Claytones. We’re just getting wind of this event now, so not sure about the schedule of events, but it seems like a reason to take a bike through that part of the Ottawa River pathway.

Read more about the tour from our sister mag, FASHION.

Etsy Roadtrip pop-up shop. Monday, August 4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Lebreton Flats

 

 

 

 

 

SHOP TALK: Arrive in style with lightweight layers and colourful accessories

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.

Photo by Marc Fowler.

Photo by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio/http://www.metropolisstudio.com/

 

Panama via Oahu
Keep cool and stylish this summer with a deLux Panama hat ($44.50). Made with eco-friendly ethically sourced materials, it’s a timeless topper (that happens to be on trend right now). Stand out while you sit back: this RJC Hawaiian shirt ($69.50) was made on the island of Oahu and promises a touch of aloha.
Fab Gear, 1112 Wellington St. W., 613-725-1964.

On Deck
A modern update on the classic deck shoe, the Ecco Eisner ($195) features a flexible sole and breathable lining that absorbs moisture — say bon voyage to sweaty feet! Rich leather uppers make it a perfectly acceptable choice for almost every summer outing.
Letellier Shoes, 146 Rideau St., 613-241-6557.

In Vest
This long sleeveless vest is a simple and avant-garde way to add a splash of colour to an outfit, making it a hot commodity for jet-setters. Made of Egyptian mako cotton, the Toni ($295) is substantial without restricting movement — in short, a perfect layering piece.
Ça va de soi, 459 Sussex Dr., 613-789-2828.

Take Note
Inspired by rare finds in the American Museum of Natural History Library, this Natural Histories journal ($15.95) is sure to make writing that next poem (or to-do list) an act of grace. In addition to the eye-catching owl cover, the diary features 192 ruled pages and a ribbon bookmark.
Paper Papier, 18 Clarence St., 613-241-1212.

In Bloom
This colourful Silk Route scarf ($128) is a light wrap that’s sure to brighten up any outfit. Printed with flowers and butterflies, as well as the season’s ubiquitous black-and-white stripes, it’s a versatile accessory that protects shoulders from the sun on hot days and offers practical warmth on chilly evenings.
Clothes by Muriel Dombret, 1258 Wellington St. W., 613-798-0167.

2 Comments

MALL MADNESS! The details behind Rideau, Bayshore, and St. Laurent renovations

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.

With the opening of the Rideau Centre food court Dining Hall later this month, and the excitement buzzing around such openings as Express and Victoria’s Secret at Bayshore, SHOP TALK surveys the big players — and fine details — in Ottawa’s mall scene.

Rideau Centre - Exterior

Rideau Centre

How much will the renovation cost:
Total value of the redevelopment project is $360 million, including Nordstrom (opening March 2015), the new Dining Hall (opening August 2014), interior and exterior renovation, and the expansion area that is due to open August 2016.

Size of redevelopment in sq. ft:
Adding 230,000 sq.ft. of new leasable area in the expansion

What big brands will you be bringing in:
Simons, Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom, J.Crew, Zara Kids and Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, Express, Purdy’s

What’s cooking in the new food court? 
Dining Hall will feature 16 units and 850 seats, as well as a new design. Environmentally friendly features include reusable dishware, cutlery, and glasses, and full recycling facilities, including organics.

Fancy details:
All new Italian quartz flooring in the common area. Tile imported from Verona, Italy

Any environmentally friendly aspects to the new building?
In addition to the Dining Hall features mentioned above, the expansion will be LEED Certified

Things you won’t find anywhere else:
9,000 sq.ft. of original artwork commissioned for the building exterior, installed on three facades and illuminated at night

Any new parking spots?
Approximately 550 new underground parking spaces below the expansion

MOST WANTED: The Ottawa Fluevog

Photo by Luther Caverly

The Ottawa Fluevog. Photo by Luther Caverly

When celebrated Canadian shoe designer John Fluevog opens his first boutique in the national capital, one style is sure to sell out fast. The Ottawa shoe (above) is sensible and sophisticated, with an ankle strap and a short heel. Only 30 pairs will be made — and they’re available only in the new ByWard Market store at William and George streets. And to make the scramble just a little nuttier, that store opens its doors on Canada Day. Serious shoe lovers and city devotees, mark your calendars.

$270. 61 William St.
613-241-3202, fluevog.com

 

SHOP TALK: Pink Palladium shoes for summer

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.

Palladium2

Love this look! Check out more Flex Collection stylings at http://www.palladiumboots.nl/look-book/flex-collection

Let me say off the top that I’ve always been wary of colourful shoes. While I have yet to do the Middleton nude pumps, I always figured that black, brown, or metallic shoes offered more bang for your buck. At my desk I keep my “work shoes” — right now I’m looking at three brown heels and one pair of black flats. (Can you say bo-ring?)

Flex Lace Palladium shoes in Pink Lemonade

Flex Lace Palladium shoes in Pink Lemonade

So when the kind people at ZOI agency offered to send me a pair of the new summer canvas kicks from Palladium, I balked at the colour choices. I admire people who have the guts to embrace colour, I just question how to wear colourful shoes. Do you try to match? Do you make them the highlight of an outfit? It’s the kind of wardrobe detail that makes one late for work! So I put them aside.

That was, until I broke my toenail. I won’t bore you with the details except to say it didn’t happen in any cool way and I swore a lot. But the darn thing didn’t fall off, and I’m not one for self-inflicted pain (unless, perhaps, there’s a prize to be won). So I bandage and soak — and walk carefully to prevent the whole thing from falling off.

Pink and green feels like spring!

Pink and green feels like spring! Photo by Sarah Fischer

In this case, physical pain overrides wardrobe anxiety and I looked to my pink Flex Lace Palladiums. With a nice big toe box I was even able to do some lunges without bashing that tender big toe, and they put a smile on my face. (In truth, having  a little girl to dress has endeared me to pink.)

And, as often happens when we’re forced out of our comfort zone, I found these shoes added a skip to my (albeit cautious) steps. They made me feel like a kid again — I grew up at a time when canvas shoes were the thing to wear in those perfect last weeks of school. And most of all, I found they went with everything from girly summer dresses to jeans to shorts. Sure, I take a moment to colour-check, but mostly I’m having fun pushing the envelope with these fun flats.

See how my pink shoes match so nicely with my kid's hoodie-dress? She's wearing off on me.

See how my pink shoes match so nicely with my kid’s hoodie-dress? She’s wearing off on me.

SHOP TALK: Worn Journal celebrates release of first book at Victoire

 Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.
I won’t claim to have read every issue of Worn, the alt-fashion bi-annual publication that mixes pop culture and personal essays, feminist theory with straight up quirk. But I have seen it, and right away something resonated. Then, years later when it went from a zine to a more polished book, and the accolades starting pouring in, I started to look for it. (Not the kind of mag you find at the grocery store, but that’s part of the fun. A search for Worn will take you to all sorts of fun shops.)

Images from The WORN Archive courtesy Drawn & Quarterly

Images from The WORN Archive courtesy Drawn & Quarterly

And when I heard it was releasing a book of highlights from the past few years at Victoire, well, I needed to know more/spread the word/get the book.
Herewith, a glimpse of The Worn Archive, which editor Serah-Marie McMahon describes as “a 400+ page manifesto” comprised of chapters that focus on various aspects of fashion — its fun side; fashion as art, identity, politics; and most of all, that fashion is a personal medium for self-expression.
To pick up a copy — and meet other “Wornettes” — swing by Victoire this Saturday.

Vintage Tunes & Stiff Drinks: a cocktail and vintage record listening party 
Victoire Boutique, 246 Dalhousie St.
Saturday, May 24
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

And for a sneak peek inside the book, click on the thumbnails below.

 

SLIDESHOW: The life cycle of a road trip

STORE PROFILE: Curiosity shop Wunderkammer expands to feature more home decor, jewellery, and other quirky treasures