Deluxe Boutique has been a quiet West Queen West fixture for many years, after weathering the 2010 fire that ravaged the apartment above the shop. After a necessary closure, some interim pop-ups, and a re-opening almost a year later, Deluxe is now flourishing, with luxe and hard-to-find labels filling every available square inch of rack space in the narrow store.
"The store has been completely renovated and restructured," owner and buyer Kasha Milewski tells me. When asked what's changed, she gamely replies, "Everything."
The interior is virtually unrecognizable, from the reclaimed wood fixtures evident on the shelves which bear shoes, bags and men's denim, to the benches in the back, to the narrow cash counter. The walls are covered by large-scale graffiti photography artwork by Joel Stevens, an artist that Milewski has brought in.
With the rebirth of the store's interior, many of the menswear and womenswear brands she carries have changed as well. You'll find the streamlined, French-inspired designs of Virginie Castaway, Designers Remix coats and shoes, as well as contemporary draped looks from Vancouver's Obakki. Deluxe also carries a wide variety of menswear brands including Tiger of Sweden, and is one of the few shops in the area where you can pick up full suiting looks.
The particular stretch of West Queen West between Bathurst and Shaw being what it is (a bit of a brand incubator), you'll find Toronto designer Tania Martin's coolly androgynous line Pink Cobra (which was also available at Carte Blanche down the street).
Milewski has recently started stocking hand-picked vintage accessories, such as jewellery, hats, and bags. The cost of vintage bags ranges from $70 to $200 or $300 for vintage Valentino or Chloe, while jewellery runs from $29 for earrings to $100 for necklaces.
Deluxe also carries Dean Davidson's contemporary jewellery, and Milewski is planning to soon introduce Arielle de Pinto's stunning braided pieces. Shoe brands include Tiger of Sweden and soon to arrive Dico from Copenhagen, with prices ranging from $150 to $600.
The price range for new items reflects a very wide range, from $50 to upwards of $900 for coats. With Labour Day just around the corner, and the inevitable (but much-dreaded) dips in the centigrade, Deluxe is already stocking fall collections in the back, with an array of rich fabrics and dark tones, including Pink Cobra's leather motorcycle jackets.
Greatly anticipated for the coming season is New York's SAM Coats, from the designers of Andrew Marc, and reflecting deeply modern approaches to the classic idea of luxe outerwear (think down and puffer jackets that actually showcase your silhouette). Also expect Montreal's Bod & Christensen, whose leather-accented coats, wraps and shirts are sure to be a hit, Prps' military-inspired Japanese designs, and J. Lindeberg for spring of next year. "We do really well with Swedish brands," Milewski tells me, and a quick peek at the womenswear also reveals a strong aesthetic that still retains femininity.
"The fire was a shock," Milewski tells me, "but it allowed me to take a break, re-group, and re-structure things, and my customers have all come back. In some ways, it was good." Gauging by the variety of brands in store, both local and international, I'd agree.