Luxe Montreal Shopping Strip Features Local & International Design
Belonging to an elite handful of upscale shopping destinations in Montreal is Laurier Avenue West, from de l'Épée to St. Laurent (map), located at the confluence of two decidedly different neighborhoods. One is Outremont, a well-to-do community top-heavy with affluent professionals and Hasidic Jews, and the other, multicultural-cum-hipster district the Mile-End, which includes a concentration of creative careerists, students, and the Hasidic Jewish community.
Laurier Avenue West has the makings of a sartorial playground, one brimming with full service, high-end boutiques showcasing racks upon racks of couture icons. Think Michel Brisson's ready-to-wear men's lines starring Costume National, Jil Sander, Dries Van Noten and Neil Barrett, Ça Va de Soi's outstanding quality knits made from cashmere, merino wool, silk and Egyptian cotton, 5e Avenue's womenswear featuring designs by Marc Cain, Michael Kors and Airfield or even Les Enfants Deslongchamps, a childrenswear boutique housing brands—Hugo Boss, Burberry—that would have celebrity stylists drooling in retail ecstasy.
And Montreal designers are no strangers to the luxe strip, with Iris Setlakwe and Isabelle Elie each in possession of their own shops, both catering to career women looking for that perfect fit, the former offering streamlined classics with modern twists and the latter dosing the conservative with pops of color, particularly lush reds.
Deals & Steals
But what I didn't realize until spending hours exploring the stretch's commercial offerings on a crisp December day is that fashionistas on a short budgetary leash have options too. Take Boutique Billie's perennial discount rack in the back of the store with lines like Robert Rodriguez, Cynthia Steffe and Madison Marcus at 50% to 70% off.
Note that staff, from what I observed, are authentic and warm, so don't worry about feeling embarrassed or judged for making a bee-line to the back.
Another boutique to consider is Bijoux Nanou's jewelry store, which is remarkably accessible, price-wise. Yes, they've got $200+ gems (no pun), but you could also walk out spending less than $20 on a necklace. They design one-of-a-kind pieces as well, so if you spot the perfect choker in a magazine, bring the image with you to the store and staff designers will recreate it using materials to suit your budget.
Laurier Avenue West Eats
Then there's the food.Try bistro Chez Lévêque, who does a laudable job of democratizing French cuisine with its $21 three-course menu offered every day after 9 p.m. It is also one of the only places in Montreal where you can get snails to go.
Finally, saving all that money has its benefits, particularly when you spend it. An $80 one-hour Thai yoga massage at Laurier's DermaLounge springs to mind.
In line with About.com's and the New York Times Company's full disclosure policy, readers should be aware that Evelyn Reid was provided with complimentary samples of Chez Lévêque fare as well as free retail samples for review purposes, a common procedure in the publishing industry. Also note that the latter gratuities have not influenced this review. For more information on full disclosure at About.com, please consult our ethics policy.
Note that prices as listed may change without notice.