There are a lot of things I love about my job at durand's. For one, I get to spend my time surrounded by objects of sheer beauty - meticulously crafted and perfectly executed. And while I know that material things don't make for happiness, I do get great pleasure out of conveying my personal style. At it's best, I believe fashion can be a sincere, artful means of self expression. That you can say so many things about yourself without saying a word & that style should be approached with a sense of play.
Lucky for me, this is not the only avenue of joyful expression my job allows me! When it comes to constructing our seasonal window displays, I feel like a kid again, with glue, glitter & paint EVERYWHERE. For instance, we had discussed a tropical bird theme in the past but couldn't think of how to execute it. Until...
...Halloween! I found the idea for this flamingo costume made of feather boas in a parenting magazine. Which is only weird because I don't have children.
And voila! A bright, bird-filled window was born!
Seriously. I can't believe I get to come to work in my mid-thirties & spend the day playing with hot glue & feathers. This is totally my jam.
How could you be unhappy while making these adorable creatures?! Although there is one Important lesson: be sure to occasionally unplug the glue gun to keep it from getting lava-hot. Learn from my mistakes, please.
Speaking of child-like wonder, our candy store window display was also a riot to make. What could be better, as that kid-in-a-candy-store feeling is so common here?
From lollipops made from dollar store frisbees...
To luscious looking cupcakes crafted from styrofoam, spackle & spray paint. Yum!
My favourite all-time window display has to be the stylish doll mansion we did up a few years ago. The inspiration came from a display the boss saw on a trip to Palm Springs, at the vibrant Saguaro Hotel.
I was beyond excited - this was right in my wheelhouse. I could make little, tiny doll scenes all day, every day. For instance...
Should Barbie relax in her handmade hot tub? Or on a bearskin rug by the fire? Or in her wee, candlelit bedroom? Ooooo. It's just too delightful!.
For me, this was the best of the best:
Barbie poker game! Complete with miniature cards, cocktail glasses & cigars. Kills me every time.
The devil was in the details with this one. Needless to say, whether I was woodgraining tiny paper furniture, making bowls of popcorn out of beads or fashioning figure skates out of safety pins, I was endlessly amused. I still have some of these pieces decorating my own home!
I smile every time I think back on this. I'm sure I'm bound to remain a child at heart for years to come. And I'm so happy I get paid to keep acting that way!
For all of our fashionista friends -
A guide to getting your shoe game on point for spring/summer!
Wondering what's heating up runways and stylish soles this season? Check it out...
1. Slides, slides and more slides
You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a slide these days (where did that turn or phrase come from anyway?) Slides are a key look. And what's not to love? Easy-peasy, slip on and go, go, go. Flats or heels, casual or dressy, closed toe or sandals, in every shade of the rainbow and then some. Slide fans rejoice!
We think special attention should be paid to this stunning style by Spanish designer P. Monjo. Truly original, with supple, dark-denim finished leather and a rounded, white washed heel. Our personal favourite slide of the season! So singular and beautiful.
3. Tie-Up Detailing
Let's face it, by now everyone has had enough of winter. No more snow, please. Enough with the bundling up. And for goodness sake, it's time to step out of the drab and into something bright and fresh. We are completely enamoured with the soft, sweet and colourful palette of spring's hottest (and coolest) shoes!
Pretty pastel blues are the shade of the season. What's not to love? Reminiscent of sunny skies and ocean waves. Easy to pair with just about anything. A real breath of fresh air after a winter of dark tones.
We are absolutely mad for this flattering, feminine hue. Pale enough to be worn like a nude but so much more lovely and without the worry of pairing to you skin tone. A beautiful neutral for adding a soft touch to virtually any look!
3. WEAR 'EM & PAIR 'EM
Even better, we love how these colours play together!! Why can't we all just get along?
There's so much visual appeal in mixing like tones! No need to match them, just think colour family. This season's styles should integrate flawlessly into any summer wardrobe - one pair can go a long way to updating your whole look!
Some clever designers are even doing the work for you using both colours in one fetching pair. Well done, FLY London.
Sneaker or sandals, dressy or casual, metallics are one of our favourite neutrals. Always glamorous and wearable with absolutely EVERYTHING. They are an utterly beautiful no-brainer. And so...
Don't be afraid to mix your metals! These days, anything goes but metallics are a timeless failsafe. You just can't go wrong! If you want to kill two birds with one stone...
...consider a blue metallic!! Like these crazy beautiful H by Hudson booties. Yum.
So many fantastic options this spring/summer! How is a girl to chose? I'm sure we'll find a way;)
Every day clients come in asking when spring stock is arriving. It's always been a funny phenomenon to me that people are always anticipating spring sandals while snow swirls on the ground. To me it's the wonderful optimism and excitement fresh, new stock incites in all of us.
I sit here on the edge of my chair in anticipation of the next delivery van pulling into a spot in front. It must be for me! As they pull away, I feel like a dejected child at Christmas when he doesn't get the coveted gift. Ahhhh but when I see the boxes piling up and the delivery person heads towards my door I'm gleeful and giddy.
As you can tell from the pics, no one is more excited by new arrivals than the durand girls. It's like Christmas for us, day after day those shipments arrive and we bust into those boxes.
Luxurious leathers, sumptuous colours, delicious details, all for us to soak in. Heels, flats, sandals, booties, espadrilles, it's sensory overload. Yum, we have to restrain ourselves as we check for flaws and imperfections, crossreference the orders and THEN the BEST PART...we get to try them ALL on
Finally, we've used all the restraint we can and now we slide our feet into the supple leather and pause, just pause. It's that first moment of utter appreciation for the amazing craftmanship and beauty of the shoe.
Yes, we are all waiting with bated breathe for spring shoes to arrive.
We live in a climate where when you step outside skin can freeze in under a minute. Seriously...to endure we must bundle up like a a version of the Michelin man OR you could wrap yourself up in one of our stunning winter jackets.
Rudsak, the iconic Montreal brand, is the answer to your winter woes. Sumptuous leathers, accentuate the sleek silhouettes of these down filled coats. Fur trimmed hoods keep out those bitter winds. Edgy, urban design have kept this company on the fashion runways for over 20 years.
I personally own 5 of these beauties and continue to covet the new designs each season. If you have to suffer winter's hardship at least you can do so in style!
New to durand's this season are the Geox fall and winter jackets and vests. Now if you want technology this is THE brand for you. This amazing outerwear is thermal regulated, water repellent, lightweight and windproof. AND it breathes.
Warm and snuggly, is how you feel wrapped up in the jacket featured below. The hardest choice will be the aubergine or the navy!
Let us make your holiday season bright - and painless - with our
Easy Guide to Gift Giving (and Receiving)
'Tis officially becoming that time of year! Are you ready?! I hope you're further along than I am (although I do have one Christmas gift in the bag) I always admire those clever shoppers who start buying their holiday gifts early in the fall. Such forethought! Does that mean I have learned to follow their wise lead? No. No, it does not. I do know exactly what I'd put on my wish list... Being surrounded by exquisite beauty day in and day out ensures that.
As someone who is always cold, I've got my eyes on some cozy winter gems by Rudsak. Their fur eternity scarf is the very epitome of luxury and practicality. It feels as delicious as it looks and is oh so warm!
Pretty sure it would look AMAZING with my fall-ish Rudsak jacket and help extend it's wear into more seriously winter weather.
While a picture may be worth a 1000 words, what the pictures don't tell you is how buttery soft Rudsak's Gita gloves are and how glorious their full fur lining is. Mmmmm. So cozy. So warm. What's not to love?
Artifact's Pom Collars! We don't even have these in store yet and they are still super high on my list. I am so excited for them to arrive. Eeek!
So irresistibly adorable; a must have. Fun fact, the pretty lady in the photo is also Artifact's designer! She's lovely inside and out, which makes her awesome jewelry even better.
Opelle's Pochette bag in gold lamé is absolutely perfect for season's festivities. It's just the right size to hold everything you need for a evening out and the metallic leather is both party appropriate and neutral. Bonus: they're handmade in Toronto. Yay Canada!
On second thought, emerald green might be just the ticket! We've got 8 different colours to chose from, so I change my mind every other day. Any which way, I'm a huge fan of the brass wristlet. Just slip it on and you've got nothing to worry about all night. Fantastic, if like me, you are prone to misplacing things.
Love. Enough said.
Finally, because no good wish list is complete without shoes, the Coclico Oki. Really, anything by Coclico. But the fit, feel and finish of these little numbers haunts my dreams.
Other than raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, those a few of my favourite things. If you're looking for more Christmas gift ideas, stop in and see us! We've got all kinds of covet worthy wonders.
Or maybe you want to start a wish list of your own. We can certainly help with that! (We also gift wrap, so let's make the holiday season really, really easy for that special someone, while you get just what your heart desires! Win, win.)
A four day trek on the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu, just like the Incas used to do. A dream trip! And one of the more ambitious physical challenges I've undertaken. However, like any good Boy Scout, I came prepared. OK. I've never been a Scout. Or a boy. But you get the idea.
We had a lot of rather intense terrain to cover, but first things first, an early morning bus ride into the mountains. Unless you consider 4:30am still night, as I do. Either way, we eventually disembarked, strapped on our day packs and began the great ascent. On taking the first steps of this amazing journey, I couldn't help but think...
The air up there is so thin, so lacking in oxygen, that ANY physical exertion leaves you gasping for breath like an elderly, pack-a-day-smoker. This was disconcerting. But since our experienced, local guide was suffering the same, the only thing to do was accept it as the new normal. Onwards and upwards. And upwards and upward and upwards
There were lots of snack breaks. A gal needs energy for this business.
And one minor injury. Nothing a knee brace and a walking stick couldn't remedy. (To the man known only as RaisedinSwiterland LivesinGreece, thank you for kindly offering one of your walking sticks. I'm sorry our paths never crossed again. We looked for you in Aguascalientes but never found you. I'm pretty sure I'm owed some bad karma on this account. Or maybe you have something wonderful coming your way. In fact, let's go with that!)
Because this. This was the highest point of our trek at 4600m. And we had the place all to ourselves. Unreal. And, of course this...
Our ultimate destination. That place, that energy, that light! Neither words nor pictures can truly do it justice. Worth every hard-fought step, if you're ever considering it!
Plus you never know who you'll meet along the way!
Finally a moment to relax, tired but exhilarated. I've got say that my Geox Nebula's were just the ticket for this adventure. We put on some seriously rugged miles. They took everything I threw at them, from jungles to mountaintops, and survived beautifully. Without even giving me a single blister. I'm off to Ecuador in January and you can bet they'll be in my bag. If that's not a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is.
To wind it all up, a celebratory cheers! And of course, a quick summary of what I learned on my trek:
1) We are capable of more than we know.
2) The right shoes will take you to the most amazing places.
3) While going up is hard, going down - especially on loose gravel and rocks - is much worse. And if you are clumsy like me, keep your eyes on your feet and not the view. Boo.
4) Roasted guinea pig, while an interesting gourmet experience, is not for me. It's good knowledge to possess. But never again.
A question I often get asked is "What is your favorite shoe in the store?" Well I cannot tell a lie, I truly love all my beauties but I have my personal picks this season. It's more the lines that pull on my heart strings than a particular shoe although I may have to do an all-time faves from my archives one day.
Coclico; timeless, classic, clean, so very very. I remember the first time I went to detail this line, I could barely breathe I was so enamoured with their beauty. I could not believe I was going to carry these works of art in my shop
Leather that molds to the foot to become a weightless extension of you. My passion for the coclico brand is unwavering and intensifies each season as the new collection arrive. I unpack each piece with bated breathe. Ahhh coclico, the love affair continues...
Let me count the ways...
Fiorentini + Baker; uncompromising,edgy,effortless,oh I covet. They are the epitome of European cool. Decades of wear, quality beyond compare, this brand leaves me speechless. Yes I know, hard to do.
I want them ALL! Their attention to detail for a shoe devotee like me is spine tingling. The minute crosses on the straps, the embossed toggles, the fur lining, these are things my dreams are made of.
I love thee to the depth...
P.Monjo: experimental, exclusive, bohemian, the creme de la creme. This brand is so unusual and interesting in design. One of my all-time favourite pair of short boots EVER is from P.Monjo.
I cannot retire these boots to my shoe closet. We call them the PERFECT boot for a reason. Oh Pep, the things you do to shoes! The fact that this brand is more obscure appeals to me even more. So special...
I could go on for days and nights as my passion for footwear is unquenchable. I think with regret of all my sweet ones I did not include but I shall save them for another day.
This summer has been amazing. Bucket list amazing. I've always wanted to visit Peru and in July I got to go with one of my dearest friends. Heck yes! (First lesson learned: It is winter in Peru in July. Bring scarves, wraps & sweaters. Not much need for sundresses & shorts. Dang.)
One of the big highlights was, of course, trekking to Machu Picchu. A must. Although, many of my family and friends expressed concern about the whole trekking aspect. I am a natural klutz and am always covered in an amazing pattern of mystery bruises simply from navigating day-to-day life. One of the last pieces of advice I got before I left was not to fall off of any ruins/mountains/temples/cliffs. Fair enough.
Oh, also, my mom advised me not to contract flesh-eating disease. OK, mom. No flesh-eating disease.
Obviously, for a gal like me, footwear is always an important travel decision. Now, what will stand up to mountains, ancient stone steps, riverbeds forests and jungles? Hmmmmm....
Nope. Definitely not. These cute little fold-up flats were ideal for the streets, beaches, restaurants and bars of Lima. And took up next to no room in my pack. But, in no way trek worthy. I needed something to withstand some serious stress. We had a lot of work ahead of us...
I'm sure some people thought I was going to attempt this journey in a pretty pair of heels. "You know you have to dress practically, right Michelle?" Hahahaha. C'mon! With all of the resources I have working at an utterly amazing shoe store? And with full knowledge of my innate lack of body/spacial awareness? What kind of fool do you take me for?
Enter the Geox Nebula. Lightweight. Super flexible with a cushy rubber sole featuring perforations that let moisture out but not in. Not to mention a net breathing system that wraps the entire foot. And leather. Always leather. It's my favourite colour, smell, feel, everything. And feet love it. Good, practical choice, me!
Which, for the record, can still be made to look cute and fashion-y. By this adorable fashion blogger at melinspired.com. And me. I just love this particular look! So fresh. And I'm already plenty present enough in this blog. How adorable is this girl, though?
So how did my Geox & I fare? More to come... The first step in many, many, many steps (but only a couple of blog posts)