Guys and Dolls Toronto

Guys & Dolls

Guys & Dolls, a designer pop-up on Queen St., has decided to stick around for a while. Three months ago, Gian-Paolo Mazzotta (and his own "self-titled" brand of custom suiting) began sharing temporary space with local designers, Brazen Hussy , and importers of the UK brand, TFNC . The collective was intended to be temporary. Mazzotta asks, therefore, that I don't judge the aesthetics of the space.

Keeping in mind that Guys & Dolls didn't set up shop with plans to stay, the layout is easy to shop and the design is clean, if (forgivably) not exactly consistent. I promised I wouldn't judge, though. My criticism instead lies with the merchandise. Separately, each of the three lines deserves its own merit, but together, the collection doesn't make sense. High-end made-to-measure suiting clashes with "classy skank" club frocks, and unique affordable cocktail dresses. I don't get it.

I remind myself again, that a pop-up shop evolving into permanency may need my patience while they iron out the kinks. In the meantime, let's focus on the positive.

Guys and Dolls

Guys and Dolls

Mazzotta comes from a manufacturing background, and cuts out the middle-man between his top-secret Canadian manufacturer (he's "not telling") and the shop floor. That means that amazingly high-end suits can be had at a deal.

His collection, gianpaolo, consists of off-the-rack pieces, and bespoke, custom and made-to-measure contemporary suiting. He can do "pretty much anything" (within reason), tailoring ties to desired widths and shirts to your pick of fabric and size. An off-the-rack oxblood velvet blazer ($500) with delicious black paisley lining showcases the expert craftsmanship of the line.

Guys and Dolls

At the front of the shop, the two women's lines are mixed on the racks. Superhero-esque "dresses" by Brazen Hussy would barely cover my girly-bits, but then again my 5'10" frame does need a little more fabric. They're insanely tight and short. And shiny. But, if you're ballsy enough to pull one off, they're actually quite current and stylish. I do love one of the line's bestsellers - a plunging chain-back ultra-mini dress available in a range of blinding neons ($249).

Guys and Dolls

For the more modest, my favourite item in the whole shop is a bride-of-Beetlejuice beauty. This black boat-neck Brazen Hussy dress with architectural shoulder pads and lace cuffs is equal parts creepy and sexy and enchanting.

TFNC (or Time For New Clothes) rounds out the trio with well-priced cocktail frocks from UK's Top Shop line. The star is a $95 draped one-shoulder number (in cobalt or black) with metallic beading and - wait for it - pockets! A cocktail dress with pockets. Yes. Also noteworthy is a 2-in-1 cotton bubble dress that converts to a longer A-line style with a few clever ties.

Guys and Dolls

Mazzotta offers me a drink while I poke around. But water isn't on the menu. "I only have vodka." He's serious. On a table at the front of the shop are more impossibly tight clothes, including "I (heart) vodka" tees. Doesn't anyone here know that booze and lycra don't mix? But wait, I guess that's why they're also selling Spanx.

Guys and Dolls

Photos by Dennis Marciniak .

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