STYLE MAP: The Cat’s Meow

Owner Louise Cooper in The Cat’s Meow (Yes, that is a lettuce print on her dress.) Story by Justine Iaboni. Photography by Brendan Adam Zwelling.

The Cat’s Meow (180 Avenue Rd., 647-435-5875, thecatsmeowcouture.com)

Most people know The Cat’s Meow as the lovely vintage store whose window displays are probably the number one cause of fender benders on Avenue Road just before the lights at Davenport. What most people don’t know about the Cat’s Meow is that it’s the closest thing we have in Toronto to a fashion archive. Owner Louise Cooper knows just about everything there is to know about vintage clothing. Case in point? She can identify an original Schiaparelli by matching the engraved initials behind the buttons of a sweater with the French buttons the designer often used.

Your window displays are legendary.  Can you let us in on the behind-the-scenes of creating them?

“Lisa does all the merchandising for us—she has a fantastic eye for what goes well together. Our windows bring in about 80 percent of our business. Vintage never really looks good on the hanger—the dresses come alive on a mannequin. And we’ve had a couple of fender benders out front! Three or four times I’ll hear a crash outside and when I go out to look, it’s a woman who’s rear-ended another car directly in front of the windows!”

In fashion, the classics are being reclaimed by much younger generations—20-year-olds are wearing the Chanel flap bag. Do you find that your clientele reflects these changes?

“Definitely—we get young teenagers coming it to buy Chanel bags. I find that the younger generation really reflects what’s going on in the fashion world. Even 12-year-old bat mitzvah girls come in here and know exactly what they want—and that takes a real education and real confidence. These young girls come in and say, ‘I wanna look like Audrey Hepburn.’ I have to stop myself from saying, ‘How do you even know who that is?’”

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