Jonathan + Olivia
Christmas came early this year for me.
Each year, when I wing my way back to Vancouver for the holidays, I make sure to set aside an afternoon to visit my one of my favourite stores in the country, Jonathan + Olivia.
The store is pretty much perfect: an impeccably edited selection, excellent service, and chic decor.
This year, I don't have to wait for my trip home to enjoy the top-notch retail experience Jonathan + Olivia has to offer, because since this summer the store has a new Toronto location, situated on the east side of Ossington north of Queen Street West.
Owner Jackie O'Brien joined the ranks here as, she said, "Ossington Avenue in the West Queen West part of Toronto felt very similar to the Mount Pleasant (SOMA) area Jonathan + Olivia is located in Vancouver, surrounded by art galleries, new restaurants and furniture stores. I'm excited to be a part of this new community."
Full disclosure: I much prefer the original location. Its warm woods and smaller space give off a more welcoming vibe than the sterile-feeling stark-white environment of the new location, where the prices also seem higher.
Even so, Jonathan + Olivia still brings something special to the Toronto retail scene. Like the recently opened Fawn just across the park, the clothes here are the perfect mix of femme and edge: there's plenty of neutrals, but the detailing, draping, and occasional wacky pattern or texture of the pieces make for clothing that looks on-point for now, but can live for a lifetime in your wardrobe as a well-loved classic.
Such longevity comes at a price: the prices range from at least $100 to over $1000. But, while my two gray cashmere Vince sweaters (along with a raw cream silk Vanessa Bruno Athe top) I bought at Jonathan + Olivia may have been a small investment up-front, they are two of my staples, definitely getting enough wears to justify a little more coin.
The Toronto location follows the current trend of a gallery-like space, with racks lining the walls, and Rachel Comey shoes and denim from Cheap Monday, Superfine, Earnest Sewn, and Acne artfully arranged on an island in the middle of the store. This makes browsing a little more time-consuming, but there be riches here.
CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Alexander Wang is a new addition to the Jonathan + Olivia line-up for the Toronto location (as is APC), joining Sweden's Hope and Whyred; Justice + Surface to Air and Les Prairies de Paris from Paris; and Pamela Love out of New York City.
The pieces here all have an effortless cool about them, like Tsumori Christo sweater dresses ($560), coral silk Whyred tunics ($325), slate-blue Preen sweater dress with black lace peeking out at the hem ($675), plaid frocks from Isabel Marant ($550), and Alexander Wang's black silk and gray flannel shift ($750) and black tank-dress with chain snaking around the neckline ($435).
Much of the clothes here can elevate an outfit instantly, like a wooly black Praires de Paris cardigan with gold buttons stuck on askew ($525), a sharp Surface to Air pinstriped blazer that buttons at the bottom ($550), or a red wool APC cape ($525).
The shoe and jewelry sections are a little bland, but the clothing selection well make up for it, what with the Maria Cornejo, Opening Ceremony, Chronicles of Never, and Mike & Chris on offer, too.
Menfolk are covered as well: they can pick up Oliver Spencer wool pants ($320), sturdy Hope jackets ($799), cool cardigans from Hyden Yoo ($255), Engineered Garment sweater jackets ($465), and military-styled peacoats from Helmut Lang ($850).
It may not be the Jonathan + Olivia closest to my heart, but I'm glad there's one closer to home.