THE IT: Sarah K of catl takes us vintage shopping

Sarah Kirkpatrick, of the Toronto band catl, which has two songs in the Jonathan Sobol movie, A Beginner’s Guide to Endings. The movie stars Harvey Keitel and Tricia Helfer and premieres at TIFF tonight. More details at the end of the post!

We spent an amazing day vintage shopping with Sarah in Mirvish Village. Story by Caitlin Agnew. Photography by Brendan Adam Zwelling.

Sarah Kirkpatrick is no stranger to the spotlight. As the vocalist, organist, and percussionist of Toronto blues band catl, she’s a veteran of both the stage and stage style.

I first met Kirkpatrick at The Butler’s Pantry on Markham Street. It was the morning, or rather, afternoon after her band’s biggest show to date: opening for the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at Lee’s Palace. She sat down next to me, lowered her yellow sunglasses, and ordered a Coke, joking afterward on how it made her feel better, like “less of a dirtbag.”

A Pilates instructor by day, Kirkpatrick knows her body—very well. She doesn’t follow trends or designers and prefers buying quality vintage, using the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly as guides: “I’m more concerned with shape and lines and the clothes actually fitting properly.”

We decided to spend the day vintage shopping in her favourite neighbourhood, Mirvish Village, where I witnessed first-hand just how a rock star chooses her look.

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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