Tucked away just north of Trinity Bellwoods Park you’ll come across a tiny, quaint store with the words “Armed” labeled on the window. The store, no bigger than 200 square feet, is owned and operated by a young girl named Desiree Girlato, only 22 years old.
I met Desiree for the first time as I entered the store, I ended up staying a while and chatting, asking her some questions about how she got started and why…
When did you open Armed? Late August of 2011. It was only jewelry then, I brought in clothing in September, because I felt like the store needed another component. The vintage clothing is all sourced by my partner, Amanda Phuong.
-Partner, Amanda, makes & studs all jean shorts.
So I should first mention how Desiree came about this opportunity. She was looking for an apartment downtown, and eventually rented the space behind her current store. Once she had moved in, she asked the landlord what they were doing with the space out front on Dundas Street. He said nothing, so she decided to take a chance and open up a very small scale store where she could sell all the jewelry she had been making over the years. Although not trained for jewelry design, she is design and fashion oriented, doing it simply as a passionate hobby up until now.
Why did you open the store? I always wanted to have my own store, and when the opportunity presented itself, I took a leap of faith and decided to give it a try. I’m not afraid of the idea of failure. I have no expectations, so if it doesn’t work out I would just move on to something new. But I love making jewelry, therefore I love what I’m doing.
As I learnt her age, and the fact that she was both in school and working full time, I wondered where she found the time to not only study, but work in the store, make jewelry, and travel to source pieces for her jewelry. Her latest work venture was to Arizona, where her most recent jewelry line takes inspiration from. She’s been working often with semi precious stones like Turquoise and Amethyst, and loves finding vintage pieces which she dissects then reconstructs. She likes the idea of the old and the new, having somewhat of a story or a history. As Desiree only makes 1 to 2 of each piece, she enjoys that they will remain both unique and special.
What is the reason behind the name of your store? ”Armour” was the initial name of my first jewelry collection (She then pulls out one of her old pieces which would sit shoulder to shoulder, hanging heavy along the collar bones, merging both apparel with jewelry design). I like it, because it does not signify a gender and is quite flexible.
What do you hope to bring to the community, what is unique about your store? Well the combination of vintage and new jewelry for starters, and I have sourced all the decorative items within the store from a variety of places including the neighbourhood. Everything from the rug to the wall pieces have been found, not bought. It brings in character.
-board with hooks was once her old fence, natural ivy vines still remain.
While I was interviewing Desiree, a young boy kept running in and out of the store, staring at us and giggling. I asked her what he was doing. She mentioned that he was the neighbour and that he had Autism. We then started to discuss the topic and I soon learnt that she was in fact starting up a fundraiser to bring awareness to this disorder. Between the months of May to October of this year, she will be donating proceeds of store sales to Autism Awareness, as well as creating hand made flower crowns to sell during the event’s launch in May.
Have people been responding well to your business? Yes! We also host pop-up shops from time to time, and was recently a part of Plaid Magazines: Vintage Night Out. I felt so honoured to be involved with staples like 69 Vintage. (http://69vintagetoronto.tumblr.com/)
Do you aspire to grow or remain small & personable? I love how it is for now, although I’ve always been really into furniture and design (she has a vast collection of chairs upstairs), so I’d love to one day grow in terms of store space. Maybe I could eventually sell furniture and larger pieces that I have sourced. I’m also hoping to sell park wear soon, as in blankets, picnic baskets etc..considering my close proximity to the park!
Shop owner, Desiree Girlato
Store Location: closed monday & thursday
1024 Dundas Street West,
A sad sad day my friends… Chasse Gardeé, one of the local favourite shoe stores on queen west, has decided to close down come March 31st. Owner Daniela (shown up top) hopes that everyone can understand her decision, and make sure to stop by the store before hand in order to clear out the remaining inventory, this usually means SALE. Thanx for being such a great store owner and bringing a sense of community into this area! Good luck on new adventures! (Maggie Chu will miss you dearly)
1084 Queen Street West
So proud of this brother sister duo, who also happen to be friends of mine! David & Elise Commathe started making music last year on a whim and what do you know? Now they currently reside in London UK, have signed to a label and are starting to tour around the US with a stop in South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, on march 16th.
Fun fact: This press release was shot in my tiny apartment. Styling by Andrea Leigh, Photography by Liam Cushing.
So glad I could see them over Christmas, Good Luck on the tour Au Palais! Love your music. You can download their EP on ITUNES now!!!
Check out the article complete with interviews for Dazed Digital HERE .
And new video for Tender Mercy HERE.
For fun: Found these atelier pics I took while shooting some vintage goodies. Great sewing studio, minus the pigeons that were trapped in the ceiling!
Wouldn’t it be lovely to be an heiress of any kind?
One could only dream…
Well for Miss Daphne Guinness (yes the beer) it’s a reality. Individuals who could say they know a little about fashion, should know who this creative woman is, if you’ve never heard of her, you’re going to wish you had her life.
Best known for her love affair with haute couture as well as her obsession with armour, Daphne doesn’t have an ounce of hesitance when it comes to her choice of outfits, a true Fashionista.
Imagine having the means to buy literally every piece off a couture runway, then probably wearing it all regardless of how large, heavy, high or stiff it is. Her couture wardrobe ALONE comprises of 2,500 garments, 450 pairs of shoes, 70 hats, and 200 handbags, a vast collection. In 1994, she was named International Best dressed in the Hall of Fame, and in 2010 she bought the late Isabella Blow’s (also a fashion icon) entire wardrobe simply to “prevent Issie’s possessions becoming mere morbid memorabilia… to preserve it.”
Prominent in the fashion world, Daphne lives between London and New York, has three children, was married to a greek shipping heir, is close friends with every designer on the roster, and has designed everything from clothing, to perfume, to heavy jewelry, and has had cosmetic lines for both NARS and MAC dedicated to her, and her unique style.
Daphne Guiness at home
Ever been in a situation where you just can’t find a pair of sunglasses that you like??……………..cuz I HAVEN’T!!! (sorry Brooke)
It begun at an early age for me, my love for sunglasses, and along the way I’ve grown to appreciate a well crafted pair of frames opposed to the lesser. Some people will say I’m crazy for having 15 pairs, or that I would ever pay hundreds of dollars for them when I could just go to Kensington and pay 5 bucks for what they’d call “the same style”. Well clearly if you think this way you’ve never experienced or bothered to try on a pair of decent, hand crafted sunglasses..or should I say “face jewelry”.
Check out my triangular frames with neon pink sides: Seattle circa 1992
Over the years the quality of designer sunglasses has shifted….unfortunately for the worse. With parts now being manufactured in China and then only sometimes being assembled in Europe, this system proves to be of a lower quality then that of the past. For this reason, Jon James, the founder and curator of Aeroplane Vintage Eyewear, decided he would start his own eyewear business.
Jon James and his partner/ product designer Christian Sugiharto launched Aeroplane in only May of 2011, yet the company and it’s product have already been turning heads. Their only location at the moment is situated within a large showroom downtown Toronto, open anytime by appointment only.
Jon has collected vintage eyewear personally for years before his business begun, and it wasn’t until he started to notice there was a lack of uniqueness in the selections at most eyewear stores, that he decided he wanted to show people the possibilities of both quality, as well as originality. What’s also apparent is that most of the new frames today are in fact based on old styles to begin with, so why change a good thing?
Aeroplane is about the experience, it’s essentially a museum of eyewear where the client is immersed in them, not only trying them on, but learning about them and their past. They carry roughly a thousand pairs of frames within the store, while they keep thousands in storage, importing hundreds of frames from Europe at one single time.
Other than Aeroplane there’s only two other businesses in Canada that do what they do, but what is fantastic about them is they also do CUSTOM LENSES finished with the Aeroplane seal of quality in the corner, what more could you ask for!? They can customize any fade, any colour, or any shape into the frames you just purchased.
Brands include: Christian Dior, Cazal, Rayban, Cartier, Dunhill, Yves Saint Laurent, Carrera, Porsche Design, Alpina, etc. Many being handmade while including features such as 18K gold, Swarovski Crystals, and Mother of Pearl…can’t complain ; )
-Yves Saint Laurent
-Cartier 18k gold frames with natural transition lenses, brown aviator fade
-Art Piece by Talwst Santiago
-The mystery man: Jon James and his frames
I was curious to know how many pairs of sunglasses Jon owned in his personal collection. I had assumed it would of been well over 50, although his response was simply 12, which he keeps on rotation. The only pair he claims he’d never get rid of were his Porsche Design frames which feature weathered brass sides and a wood grain lense border. Unfortunately he didn’t have them on him so I couldn’t snap a pic, although he showed me a similar style, very classic.
-Drawers and drawers filled with frames! I was like a kid in a candy store.
During my visit to the showroom, I understood the difference while shopping around (obviously I had to try things on while I photographed!) It’s just you, Jon and whoever it is you bring to tag along. This allows you to really get the chance to try on things you normally wouldn’t try without embarrassment, while Jon educates you on where the frames came from, what country they were made, and what year they were made. I left feeling more knowledgable about what I was intending to buy, and that I needed to snatch them up quick because there’s only the ONE pair! So let’s be honest, you feel somewhat special knowing that you’re not going to see someone else walking down the street with the same wicked pair of shades on, true?
Over the winter Aeroplane is scheduled for three pop up shops in Toronto, email Jon for dates if you are interested, they will be held at Blackline Studio at King and Portland, OOG Gallery at Harbord and Spadina, and the last one at Spadina and Richmond.www.aeroplanegallery.com
email - email@example.com
main # 647-932-6565
As a lover of both extremely high heels and wickedly soft T-shirts, it only makes sense that I’d get excited for the new collaboration between LA based lines Wildfox Couture and Jeffrey Campbell to create a shoe line for next spring/summer.
And although we’re still waiting on even the fall stock to arrive at our frequent shoe stop Chasse Gardée (1084 Queen street West, Toronto ), we’re already wondering what kind of Spring heights they will come up with for their launch in February of 2012.
soooo now we wait!