Toronto Star Luxury Guide - May 5, 2010
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Toronto Star Luxury Guide - May 5, 2010

Retail Therapy in Toronto’s Best Shops 

By Rita Zekas

Today, luxury refers to everything from designer burgers (blame Daniel Boulud, who kick-started the pricey ultra-gourmet burger phenom in New York in 2001 with his $27 combo of foie gras, black truffles and red-wine braised short ribs served with a side order of attitude) to Bentleys.

Luxury means not taking public transit. Conspicuous consumers have the driver and the Bentley; a limo is too P. Diddy.

Big spenders live large in residences like one of the new condo/hotels springing up in the city faster than celebs in rehab. Entry level in the Ritz-Carleton Residences is $1.595 million escalating to over $11 million; Shangri-La is $550,000 to over $13 million; Trump International Hotel & Tower is $885,000 to over $14 million; and at $30 million, the West Penthouse at the Four Seasons Hotel Private Residences is the most expensive condo in Canada.

Even if it’s pie in the sky, odds are they won’t be baking it themselves from scratch. Some condos are deliberately designed with minimal working kitchens: “Hello, room service.” All the condo hotels have restaurants attached and there is always upscale take-out from Pusateri’s Fine Foods or The Shops at Summerhill, formerly known as The Five Thieves because of their outrageous prices.


The opulent nest still has to be feathered and that’s where high-end decor stores come in. Preferred destinations include Studio B, Klaus by Nienkamper, italinteriors, Teatro Verde, Ministry of the Interior, Art Shoppe, South Hill Home, Hollace Cluny, Living Arts Design, ELTE, Avenue Road, Powell & Bonnell, Industrial Storm, Ridpath’s Ltd., Stanley Wagman & Son Antiques Ltd., and Robert Noakes International Ltd.

How welcoming to have home base smell like money. Noor at 176 Cumberland St. carries Terra Cotta amber balls, gourd-like globes perforated and stuffed with amber resin. They are available in five sizes; range from $90 to $550; make for popular hostess gifts and are exclusive to Noor.


A girl can never have too many shoes, cashmere, chocolate, champagne or black. They are all easily assessable at the Mink Mile, the rarefied strip of surreal estate bordering Bloor and Yorkville and home to big-ticket names from Prada to Escada.

Consumers are targeted from infancy. Trust-fund babies would love the ride ’em farm boy life-sized sheep ($495) at Auggie Boutique next door to big sister Augustina at 138 Cumberland St. in Old York Lane. Their $45 leg warmers for little tykes aged 1 to 6 are bargains compared to the $795 Alexander McQueen leggings for the grown-up girls around the corner at 119 Corbo, 119 Yorkville Ave.

Yorkville is a centipede’s delight. High-end footwear is everywhere, including Holt Renfrew (50 Bloor St. W.), Davids (66 Bloor St. W.) and George C at 21 Hazelton Ave.

George C’s most expensive number is a pair of Rocco P. snakeskin booties at $1,595 and his best seller is Le Silla’s 5 ½ inch spiked-heeled platform bootie with stretch leather which flew off the shelves at $1,295.

Well-heeled men are wild about Harry and Sydney.

Hipsters blow their trust funds at Sydney’s at 795 Queen St. W. on Rick Owens’ drop-crotch cotton shorts for $895, his $3,995 kangaroo leather jacket or a pair of five-pocket linen trousers with hem cut on the bias from edgy line M.A.+ from Rome for $1,695.

Although women do shop at Sydney’s for Rick Owens tees ($290), they are heading over to R.A.D. (which stands for Research and Development) in the new über cool section of town at 899 Dundas St. W., carries the women’s version of Owens’ legendary black waxy Detroit-cut jeans that sell for $450.

Harry Rosen at 82 Bloor St. W. is the go-to for deep-pocketed gents who have no problem dropping $2,495 for a spring/summer Dolce & Gabbana lightweight suit, $350 for a shirt and $215 for a tie.

Rosen’s is appealing to the younger demographic with rugby shirts priced from $98 to $200 that are ringers for the ones at the GAP.

For Madam, The Room at The Bay’s Queen Street location (176 Yonge St.) is one-stop label-shopping.

All the high-end, hot lines are there including Halston, Armani, Rochas, Erdum, Moschino, Sonia Rykiel, Ungaro, Roland Mouret, Proenza Schouler, Matthew Williamson, L’Wren Scott, Alberta Ferretti and Jasmine De Milo, daughter of Mohamed El Fayed, whose $3,500 black beaded cocktail dress is a big seller, though not quite as huge as Wayne Clark’s army-green ruffled silk gown that has sold out at $2,495.

Clark has only enough fabric for three more gowns, and then it is finito!

The ruching at the waist makes Clark’s creation forgiving for most body types and ruching is also prominent in Tomas Maier’s bathing suit, reminiscent of Norma Kamali’s glam-girl suits in the ’80s. It can be snapped up for a mere $740.

Egads, don’t get it wet.

The $1,175 Balmain military booties in khaki canvas are to drool over as is the must-have line’s military motorcycle jacket priced at $5,925.

And it sells, even at the price of a trip to Italy. “There is always a customer for it,” we are told.

A Balmain “not your squeegee kid” cargo camouflage pants for $1,950 might be a harder sell.

Mama’s always gotta have a brand new bag. The Hermès Birkin, wait-listed at Hermès 130 Bloor St. W., is “the holy grail of handbags” and can go to $15,000.


But does Mama want to buy a bag or look like one? Never mind putting on a happy face. Women want to put on a tight one.

Will women spend $1,000 on a face cream? They’ll spend $1,200 on one, according to Tracie Chiarella, skin-care buyer at Holt Renfrew, whose luxury brands are La Prairie, Sisley, Creme de la Mer, Cle de Peau, Amore Pacific, Revive and Darphin.

Top of the line is La Prairie Cellular Platinum Rare priced at $1,200 for 2 ounces; White Caviar Illuminating Cream at $570 for two ounces; and Cellular Radiance Cream for $725 for two ounces. The Platinum Rare provides hydration and adjusts to temperatures, which makes it ideal for hot flashes.

Are women buying into it? You betcha. In 2009, Holt’s sold 296 pieces of Platinum Rare at $1,200 a pop. The jar lasts four to six months. Sisley Supremya is $850 for two ounces and is a night cream. They sold 94 units from August to January when it was first launched so it is considered performing well. The jar lasts two to three months.

Crème de la Mer, formulated originally to heal scarring, is $300 for two ounces and Holt’s top performer in the luxury line. In fact, Chiarella says that in 2009 despite a shaky economy, La Mer, Sisley and La Prairie beat their sales figures from the previous year.

These skin care lines are topical. And now for the knife styles of the rich and famous, where plastic surgeons do the nip and tucking. An alternative for the knife phobic are the non-surgicals performed by dermatologists like Dr. Lisa Kellett of DLK on Avenue at 108 Avenue Rd., who “refresh” skin without slicing and dicing.

DLK is a skin-care facility dealing with everything from birthmarks to stretch marks. Be gone unsightly wrinkles, acne, cellulite, sagging skin and tattoos.

The most popular procedure says Kellett, is Botox: “Fast, simple and easy with no down time.” Botox for crow’s feet is $300 and lasts three to four months.

A summer tune-up of cellulite treatments is $800 for a series of eight — just the thing for that new $740 swim suit. Injectible filler in crow’s feet and cheeks is $5,000, still less than a Birkin or a pair of Christian Louboutin boots, and lasts six to eight months.

For overall pampering, the money baggers luxuriate in spas like Vikaspa at 88 Avenue Rd.; Stillwater Spa at the Park Hyatt, 4 Avenue Rd.; Clarins Skin Spa at 87 Yorkville Ave.; and Guerlain Spa & Institute, 110 Bloor St. W.


Skin plumped up and glowing, it’s time to rehydrate with a glass of wine at Opus, 37 Prince Arthur Ave., where owners Mario and Tony Amaro preside over a wine cellar of more than 50,000 bottles. Their priciest bottle of wine is a 1961 Petrus magnum for $45,000.

The most expensive wine recently sold was a 1989 burgundy Romanee Conti. On a routine night, Opus sells $300, $900 and $1,000 bottles of wine without any fanfare. After the nightcap, Madame can settle in at home in her jammies from Avec Plaisir Lingerie & Swimwear at 136 Cumberland St. and shop online at Net-a-Porter.

The Balmain military wool jacket is going for $9,235 – but it comes with hardware including brooches and badges, beaded fringe epaulets and an embellished hanging cross. All free with purchase. Who can resist such a bargain.

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