Rue Pigalle is, in fact, a transplant from Yorkville. The move down to West Queen West was natural, owner Isabelle Fish tells me, as she believes the consumer base will better understand her products. It's easy to appreciate what Fish is doing--she's the exclusive Canadian carrier of women's accessories from the European fashion capitals of Paris and London.
Originally, the location belonged to Igor Kenk, Canada's notorious bicycle thief, then it was briefly a restaurant, and now it's been transformed into a white-washed space with built-in cubicles for bags and jewellery, elegant fixtures, and exposed ducts--a look that showcases the products' bursts of colour, and innovation in materials and design.
"The designers that I bring are really small and independent, and they specialize in their techniques," Fish tells me, "I don't do brands, at all." Fish visits Europe 4 or so times a year, and has developed relationships with a network of designers that are independent by choice--some have worked with the likes of Chanel, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Karl Lagerfeld.
It would be predictable to say that Fish exudes Parisian grace, but well-deserved. Against a simply-cut striped dress and bold, pink flats, her silver accessories are given ample room to shine. "I'm conservative today," she laughs. Fish was a lawyer for 15 years before she moved to Canada with her family, but her passion for accessories is long-standing. "Every day of her life, my mother wore silk scarves. When she passed away, my sister and I divided them up, and now I wear them, too."
You'll find the bracelets, rings and belts of Tzuri Gueta, whose mix of silk and silicone resemble playful sea anemones, as well as the elegant, retro-tinged bags of Phillipe Roucou, and the clean lines of Louis Quatorze purses.
Her space in Yorkville was quite small, and the move has allowed her to branch out with a small selection of home decor including gilded cups, a stunning trio of large ceramic vases, and delicate filigree-like bowls ($1,000-1,700).
There are silk scarves, sunglasses and headbands, but the show-stoppers are invariably found amongst the jewellery. From the stupendous floral necklace constructed from recycled plastic bottles and sea sponge, to modern, architectural rings--they're statement pieces, one and all. As of now, there are no plans to bring clothing into the mix. "Gaspard is just down the street," Fish explains.
The average price is $300, Fish tells me, with some earrings available for $90--"a nice little pick-me-up"--and scarves coming in around $200. As well, the majority of the current collection of bags falling between $400 and $1,000.
Fish speaks of her clients as though they were close, valued friends--she only orders one piece of some of her pricier items, because she doesn't want her customers "to run into someone wearing the same thing on the street." Her net of clients extends beyond Canada, particularly when it comes to bespoke orders, which she arranges between the customers and the designers, and she also works closely with bridal parties to create a unique look.
Fish offers a discreet and personalized shopping service for men seeking something for the women in their lives, in which she hand-selects and delivers pieces to their home or place of business, complete with roses and a card. She also offers complimentary champagne for shopping parties, with a purchase discount of 10% for the hostess, and her quaint back patio is a shaded space in which to finish an evening, or sip a coffee after you've browsed her ever-rotating stock.
"I love the vibe here, and Queen West is young and vibrant," Fish tells me, "And this is almost a new venture." While it might seem risky to move a shop of this ilk to a neighbourhood notorious for skewing towards a younger, trendier demographic, Fish is excited. "As you get older, it's important to surround yourself with young people. It keeps things interesting."