Magnolia Toronto
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Magnolia

How refreshing--as I plucked out the labels from the beautiful clothes hung in the new uptown boutique Magnolia, a flush of pride spread over me at all that Canadian talent. Arthur Mendonca . Izzy Camilleri. Lucian Matis . I've gotten so used to writing about American and European lines that it's a treat to see a new store betting on homegrown labels.

Spain's Hoss Intropia joins the other three lines to round out Magnolia's offerings. Together, they form a lovely selection of rich, sturdy, ladylike clothes with the occasional playful kick, a la the patron saint of sensible loveliness, Miuccia Prada.

Magnolia

My favourite Canadian designer, Arthur Mendonca, is well-represented here, like the delicate polka-dot blouse ($295), the shiny green-grey accordioned silk bubble-hemmed shift, the knee-length black matte brocade pencil skirt with an elasticized waist and roomy pockets, and the strapless pewter silk cocktail frock with a bodice that comes up in points. His pieces put to shame the idea that Canada is lacking in visionary designers.

"It's not just the label, but the quality," said boutique owner Juan Carlos. He wants the clothes he sells to be as timeless as possible.

Magnolia Clothing

It shows. Even the newest kid on the block, Lucian Matis, also brings some lovely pieces to the store. Perhaps in line with the somberness of the season, his pieces are more restrained, but still ultra-feminine, including the fleecy black lapel-less blazer or the dark synthetic full skirt with peekaboo beading ($445).

(And, while I'm glad Canuck Izzy Camilleri's clothes are carried, they're not for the faint of heart--think thick blood-red crocodile-stamped leather jackets.)

As the foreigner in the mix, Hoss Intropia does bring something special--it's a city exclusive, and contains plenty of pretty pieces (the designers do all their own prints and hand-bead everything). Favourites included a ribbed gray skirt with a studded belt, a sheer jersey sheath, and a mulberry silk blouse with a ruffled collar ($225).

Magnolia Eglinton

As I left the store opening, my eye was drawn to a mannequin posing in an alcove, high above the assembled crowd. Topped with a feather headpiece by LaKrause Headwear , it was clad in a stunning strapless saffron crushed-velvet gown with a black elasticized belt and organza bodice.

When I asked who it was by, "Arthur Mendonca" was the answer.

"I thought so," I said. "How wonderful."

For all of us.

Photos by Nicole Andrews.


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