Home to designers like Denis Gagnon, Renata Morales and Andy Thê-Anh, Montreal is Canada’s original fashion capital. Where to go? Old Montreal, bien sûr, for Old World ambience spiked with cutting-edge style, the west end for designer boutiques and the Plateau for friendly bistros and the best hipster sightings in the city.
Start and end the day in the elegant civility of Old Montreal’s cobblestoned streets. Housed in a 19th-century building, Hotel Nelligan is a boutique hotel with exposed brick walls and a rooftop terrace where you can sip an espresso overlooking the nearby Notre-Dame Basilica.
Shop and stroll
If your aesthetic runs toward the moody and minimal, check out Boutique Reborn, which offers carefully selected pieces from designers like Rad Hourani and Alexander Wang. More of a vintage fan? Visit Sharyn Scott, a consignment shop in Westmount that offers investment pieces at H&M prices (think an Hermès scarf for $100). While in the west end, stop by accessory boutique Mona Moore: With its French furniture and peerless selection (Lanvin, Haider Ackermann), it’s fit for modern Marie Antoinettes. For chic shoes that are made in Canada, drop by La Canadienne’s gorgeous new flagship store, housed in a spacious converted loft.
Dine and drink
The Plateau area has the city’s liveliest 5 à 7— the daily after-work happy hour. At Au Pied de Cochon, order the spicy house beer and appetizers like Maple Syrup Smoked Mackerel, courtesy of celeb chef Martin Picard, who sparked the nationwide trend of putting foie gras on poutine back in 2004. (He also recently opened his own cabane à sucre in Saint-Benoit-de-Mirabel, north of Montreal. Sample the results in the delicious Sugar Pie for Two.)
Liverpool House, the new restau- rant from the owners of Joe Beef, is Montreal’s culinary belle du jour. The mostly Italian menu changes daily and features local ingredients like fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella from the nearby Atwater Market, the city’s premier destination for fashionable foodstuffs.
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Jonathan & Olivia
Toronto the Good is on its way to becoming Toronto the Great: The Art Gallery of Ontario is preening, post-Frank Gehry make- over, and the film festival is a world- class event. Yorkville is a perennial hot spot, and Leslieville—in the east end—is heating up, but go west (Queen West) for the best bookstores, galleries and vintage shopping.
Tucked away on the 32nd floor of the Hilton, the Margery Steele Signature Suite pays tribute to a Toronto fashion icon. The director of the St. Regis Room, Steele was the first to bring designers like Geoffrey Beene to Canada. Her good taste inspires decor that is both elegant and welcoming: pumpkin-coloured chiffon curtains, a mirrored walk-in clos- et and vintage photos of Steele on her international buying trips.
Shop and stroll
Browse best-sellers at Type Books, which is as well curated as any designer boutique, then settle in with a latte and a ginger cookie at the White Squirrel coffee shop, named after the albino squirrel in Trinity Bellwoods Park. For cutting-edge labels like Isabel Marant and Marc Jacobs, stop in at Jacflash and Jonathan Olivia. I Miss You has the best vintage accessories in the city (think YSL pumps and Chanel clutches), while Toronto designer Virginia Johnson’s eponymous shop is an explosion of turquoise and watermelon prints on dresses, scarves and bags.
Dine and drink
At the always-busy Pizzeria Libretto, try the Duck Confit Pizza with Bosc Pear, baked in an oven imported from Italy. Foxley is the perfect neighbourhood bistro, featuring a tapas menu of dishes like Crisp Lamb and Duck Prosciutto Dumplings. Reposado, the city’s first tequila bar, showcases the sophisticated side of the mythic liquor: Order a flight of sipping tequila while admiring the servers. (Just say that you were checking out the stained-glass window behind the bar.)
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