Story by Caitlin Agnew. Photograph courtesy of Arlene Dickinson.
Starring in Dragons’ Den is no easy task, but Arlene Dickinson manages to do it with professionalism, grace, and impeccable style. As the CEO of Venture Communications, Dickinson provides marketing services for the likes of Toyota, Unilever, and the LCBO. With an astute eye for the next big thing (she was the first Dragon to start a Twitter account back in 2008), she’s the image-savvy dragon, and arguably the one with the best (and most fiery) head on her shoulders.
Dickinson shared a few of her favourite places in Toronto with The Style Notebook.
What’s your favourite place to go for a drink during the week (and what’s your drink of choice?)
“I enjoy the patio and lounge at ONE (116 Yorkville Ave., 416-961-9600) for people watching and doing business. Belvedere vodka and soda with olives, please!”
To go for a drink on the weekend
“At my cottage. If I’m in the city there’s so many options—I have a commitment to visit a new bar/restaurant every month so I can explore them all and mix it up.”
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?’”