Yesterday my friend Carolyn and I attended the Toronto trunk show of one of my favourite designers, Muriel Dombret, whose boutique, Clothes, is based in Canada's capitol, Ottawa.
Muriel began her designing career in Belgium, and her styles echo the relaxed, playful aesthetic of Anvers or Dries van Noten.
You can see sketches of various seasons on her site; what's not evident is the quality of the fabrics: for summer, subtle jacquard linens, a linen with a bit of metal to lend crinkle; supple printed jersey and Italian cottons.
She brings her seasonal line and fabric swatches to her friend Sydney's home twice a year.
Though you could buy a piece from the trunk show, the most-appreciated feature is Muriel's eye for your body: she can change a sleeve length or bust dart, adapt the shape of a jacket... the clothes will fit, and it's not as great a leap of faith as peering at a dress pattern and a bolt of expensive fabric and hoping it works out.
Trying a dress, pausing for champagne and strawberries, now this is shopping. Carolyn chose a chic charcoal linen/metal knee-length skirt that dips slightly lower in the back, and a fluid knit dress in slate blue, perfect for summer parties.
I replaced an over-loved matte jersey skirt, and am feeling the tug of a linen bell-sleeved jacket.
The quality, flexibility, attention from the designer and lack of pressure create clothes-shopping paradise.
A close second is having a beloved boutique to yourself on a quiet morning.