Fashion Crimes, a mecca for all things strange and sparkly, hardly needs an introduction. The spacious womenswear boutique once stood just east of Spadina Avenue on Queen St. West, its iconic scissor-shaped door handles welcoming any and all to a fashion-centric version of Alice in Wonderland. It withstood the tests of time and corporate retail development for 30 years - before up and leaving for a more modest space further west on the street.
I walked up to the boutique sitting pretty on the corner of Manning Avenue, the sunlight making it glimmer before I even stepped in. Pam Chorley, the owner/designer, greeted me with the amount of excitement you'd expect from somebody who thinks up designs as eccentric as hers.
I know it's rude to add salt to a presumable wound, but I asked how she felt about saying goodbye to her home of three decades. "I feel amazing!" she exclaimed as I breathed a sigh of relief. Apparently, the skyrocketing rent wasn't the game-changer; it was the customers.
They plagued what was once the hippest neighbourhood in town and demanded lacklustre, mass-produced styles at affordable prices - and, having to churn out this volume stunted the creativity Pam recently regained at her new digs. "We cut down the stock with a massive sale, so now we only sell the fun stuff!" she piped.
And she wasn't lying. I took a good look around and nothing was low on the fun scale, even if it wasn't my style. Rows and rows of colour-coordinated racks hold over-the-top party dresses, including a sheer maxi with metallic embroidery ($499), an overlay made of hand-crocheted beer tabs ($599), and a whole slew of tutu dresses with beaded sweetheart bodices perfect for prom ($50 - $199). There's even a kid's section that packs just as much glamour into pint-sized garments, like a faux fur shrug ($59) and a rosette shift dress ($149).
The accessories scattered throughout the store on display stands and glass cases are a smidge more practical - some even wearable on a day-to-day basis. There's fur stoles straight outta Quebec, unique locally-made jewellery, and enough rhinestone-dazzled baubles to bathe in. There's even Jil Sander-style veiled toque ($49) made especially for the beanie-clad Torontonians of West Queen West.
So, the next time you're looking for something kooky to wear, follow the blinding sparkle. I guarantee you'll find it here.