Village people

Anchored by the iconic Honest Ed’s, Mirvish Village is a haven for foodies, coffee lovers and shoppers seeking vintage finds


On a Monday night in late July, more than a thousand people fill the short block of Markham between Bloor and Lennox. They aren’t here for a standard, city-sanctioned summer street festival or to queue for a coveted patio table at the Victory Café (581 Markham, 416-516-5787). They’re here for a book launch. A Scott Pilgrim book launch, to be exact.

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At midnight, author and comic book artist Bryan Lee O’Malley starts signing hundreds of copies of his latest title at the Beguiling (601 Markham, 416-533-9168). Next door at the Central (603 Markham, 416-913-4586), bands SISTER, Hurry Hard, Chang-A-Lang and Soft & Wet entertain the crowds.

At Rocco’s Plum Tomato (585 Bloor West, 416-539-9009) up the street, the soundtrack for the Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World video game premieres. The movie’s music previews at Butler’s Pantry (591 Markham, 416-535-9868), and a costume contest takes over the former home of David Mirvish Books.

It’s the biggest spectacle the sleepy Mirvish Village block has seen in a while, almost rivalling the flashing lights and boastful signage at landmark Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor West, 416-537-1574) around the corner.

Mirvish Village made its transition from residential to restaurants, galleries and retail in the 60s after Ed Mirvish bought up the block but abandoned plans to replace its lean Victorians with a parking lot for his discount-shopping mecca. Today, its tenants sell vintage furniture and graphic novels in the houses’ converted living rooms, and fill their paved-over front yards with sculpture and racks of retro clothing.

Vintage fashion is one of the area’s biggest draws. Harlow Black (594 Markham, 647-346-7899) is known for its chic salons overflowing with 50s frocks, while Twice Found (608 Markham, 416-534-3904) mixes in collectable costume jewellery by names like Sherman and Weiss.

Next to Honest Ed’s on Bathurst, find Love Me Two Times (760 Bathurst, 647-896-8033) and Vantage Ground (758 Bathurst). Coal Miner’s Daughter (587 Markham, 416-629-6610) carries both new designs and reworked vintage. And down a half flight of stairs, just north of Lennox, is Cher Thornton’s the Refinery (588 Markham, 416-818-1104).

Thornton arrived in the neighbourhood in 2007 when she bought Vintage Bride (587 Markham, 416-530-0025) across the street. She still sells once-worn wedding dresses there by appointment, but launched her second store two years ago to house non-nuptial stock.

Accessories stand out, including a chic hat covered in pheasant feathers and caramel-coloured boots with rounded platform soles. For guys, there are leather bombers and tuxedo tails.

She’s also showing reworked vintage pieces created in collaboration with designer Evan Biddell, including a Mohawk-topped aviator cap and a twisted trench with ballooning short sleeves.

Above the Refinery, Karen Wilson’s window is full of a recently discovered cache of handsome vintage luggage and briefcases, though her KarenFoundIt boutique (588 Markham, 416-535-7432) is known for its vintage furniture and housewares. There are jam cupboards, trunks and filing cabinets, plus her best-selling collection of rings, bracelets and key rings created from silver flatware.

This stretch of Markham is also home to Posies Flower Shop (590 Markham, 416-588-9061), Dragonov Studio for Fine Jewellery (606 Markham, 416-530-0553) and a long list of galleries and artist studios. Pick up a DVD at Suspect (605 Markham, 416-588-6674) or Vintage Video (604 Markham, 416-538-9927) and don’t miss dining at Southern Accent (595 Markham, 416-536-3211).

On Bathurst, you’ll also find Trove (793 Bathurst, 416-516-1258), A Different Booklist (746 Bathurst, 416-538-0889), Lettieri (581 Bloor West, 416-516-1655), Kidstuff Toy Store (738 Bathurst, 416-535-2212) and the Bathurst Street Theatre (736 Bathurst, 416-924-2243), home of the Randolph Academy of the Performing Arts.

The neighbourhood also stretches across Bloor from the edge of the Annex to the stone gates at Palmerston. Here you’ll find bra spot Secrets from Your Sister (560 Bloor West, 416-538-1234) and the area’s newest arrival, Snakes & Lattes (600 Bloor West, 416-500-2911).

Ben Castanie and Aurelia Peynet’s coffee-house-slash-board-game-bar is full of comfy found furniture and café tables ready for caffeinated foursomes to spend a few hours playing favourites like The Game Of Life or the more strategic The Settlers Of Catan. Cover charge is a fiver, so you can demand a rematch without feeling guilty about not ordering another shot of espresso to save your seat.

fashion@nowtoronto.com

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