Montrealers are known for their style – and I swear it isn’t just because I am one that I’m saying that. There’s something about the city’s multicultural spirit that blends Parisian sophistication with New York edginess, and nothing expresses that better than our garb…
Our Shop Hop guides are designed to help you scope out the most fashionable finds in town by suggesting easy-to-walk excursions through the city’s nicest neighbourhoods. Not only will you get a feel for Montreal as locals experience it, you’ll also come away with souvenirs that’ll remind you of your magical trip to la belle ville every time you wear them. First up: women’s designer ware in Outremont – and slightly beyond.
Outremont is among the city’s greenest and most picturesque hoods, and its main shopping drag, Laurier Avenue West, shines as a beacon of world-class designer clothing. Plus, you’ll find amazing options for either weekend brunch (mile-high French toast at Lémeac), lunch (steak-frites at Chez Lévesque), high tea (macarons at Esprithé) or cocktail hour (anything at Baldwin Barmacie), to rest between stops. So let’s get to it!
Starting at Laurier’s western tip, on the corner of De l’Épée, you’ll find local designer Isabelle Élie’s eponymous boutique, home to beautifully tailored blouse-and-skirt sets and dresses. A lover of brightly coloured silks and interesting mixes of patterns, Élie offers both prêt-à-porter and bespoke fashions at this second-floor shop/atelier.
Across the street heading eastward, Henriette L. has been a mainstay on the strip for over three decades, and for good reason: the moody, high-design store houses a judiciously chosen collection of international labels including Sonia Rykiel, Yohji Yamamoto and Jean Paul Gaultier. Think black, sculptural pieces punctuated by bursts of colour – you’ll spot the vibe from the amazing window display.
Down a couple of blocks, both Tristan & America and BCBG are more casual and pocketbook-friendly street-wear labels that are worth a stop. BCBG is designer Max Azria’s international line of office and flirty party threads, while Tristan is special in that it’s a Quebec-born Canada-wide chain specializing in work-friendly wear like sweater dresses and pantsuits.
Get a shot of European glamour eastward at another cornerstone, Mousseline, where you can find an exuberant and unique mix of James Perse, Nolita, Twin-Set, Virginia Johnson and Odd Molly. The window of their narrow storefront is always a beacon of layered textures and colours.
François Beauregard’s boutique a few doors down brings us back to local designers – his clothes are easy-to-wear, conceived-in-Montreal basics that prioritize comfort and casual sexiness. (His camis have fans citywide!)
The impressive, two-story Une île en Amérique is a mecca of Quebec design, uniting the best of everyone from Denis Gagnon to Marie Saint Pierre, Nadia Toto, Yves-Jean Lacasse, Melissa Nepton and Joseph Helmer. It also acts as an art space, with roving exhibitions that keep the space constantly renewed, and offers an impressive collection of local jewelry as well – you’ll find your made-in-Mtl souvenir here, guaranteed.
By now you’ve reached the limits of Outremont, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend a couple of store on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, just around the corner in what is officially Mile End. When you reach Laurier and St-Laurent, turn north and within the first block you’ll find Unicorn. Lovers of all things black, well-cut and sedate, the folks behind Unicorn bring lines from Sweden and Australia that no one else carries in town. They also boast young Montreal designers like Marie-Eve Emond (of Betina Lou) and Ève Gravel, whose dresses you’ll fall in love with.
Northward, Montreal duo Tavan & Mitto have their atelier/boutique, where you’ll find sophisticated fine wool overcoats, jewel-coloured silken gowns and draped blouses perfect for the office – if you happen to toil in a fabulous workplace. Finally, just across the street is Les Étoffes, a venerable last stop for this fashion excursion: their impeccable collection of internationally-culled labels presents everything that’s just-so and perfect for that season, be it boyfriend pea coats by Rachel Comey or leather bags by Deadly Ponies. All you need to strut, Montreal-style.
Isabelle Élie, 1090 Laurier West, (514) 276-1568
Henriette L., 1031 Laurier West, (514) 277-3426
BCBG, 1020 Laurier West, (514) 274-6719
Tristan & America, 1001 Laurier West, (514) 271-7787
Mousseline, 220 Laurier West, (514) 878-0661
François Beauregard, 204 Laurier West, (514) 508-0772
Une île en Amérique, 102 Laurier West, (514) 878-0661
Unicorn, 5135 Saint-Laurent, (514) 544-2828
Tavan & Mitto, 5334 Saint-Laurent, (514) 279-1212
Les Étoffes: 5253 Saint-Laurent, (514) 544-5500