Carte Blanche, 758 Queen West, 416-532-0347
Fashion's quick-change shtick means that second chances are always in vogue. ("Black is the new black" ring any bells?) Dan Augustino did the retail thing at 758 Queen West once before with his trend-setting Pink Cobra store, and now he's back with partner Tania Martins and Carte Blanche, where black's classic cool-kid status reigns supreme.
Pink Cobra earned its fashion stripes bringing fluorescent boxing boots and metallic laméd everything to Queen West's clothing-conscious masses. Carte Blanche's look has an eye to the 80s, but softer fabrics and tailored silhouettes mean animal-print blazers and easy separate skirts aren't reserved for neo-Debbie Harrys and white-pump princesses.
Black enters the equation in Carte Blanche's in-house line, which combines leather, linen, silk, satin and other natural fabrics exclusively in shades of the midnight tone. It's a tricky proposition for the hood's mix-and-match-happy shopping set, but we bet they're style-sophisticated enough to get it. Carte Blanche picks: Belted cheetah-print silk chiffon dress that mixes 50s cocktail party and Studio 54 looks, $195; layer ruched zebra mini-dress, $165, over a pair of sleek slacks; a black-and-white striped jersey dress, très franais, $165.
Look for: A store expansion into their backroom atelier, already in the works to make space for new lifestyle products (think chic Carte Blanche pillows, cards and CDs), and the arrival of coveted Montreal cult designer Denis Gagnon 's (www.denisgagnon.ca) collection for fall.
Hours: Monday to Saturday noon to 7 pm, Sunday noon to 6 pm, or by appointment.