Used clothes, boutique quality: Rescue Vintage opens on the Ossington strip

Rescue Vintage, the newest boutique to hit the fashion-friendly Ossington strip, combines high-end vintage clothing and jewellery with items from contemporary designers — all of it hand-picked by owner Renee Kaylor.

Born in California, and having spent time in New York, Kaylor noticed that Toronto was suffering from a serious dearth of upscale vintage boutiques compared to its urban counterparts south of the border. So Kaylor aimed to fill that gap, rescuing her favourite finds and bringing them to her Ossington storefront.

“There are a lot of places in this neighbourhood where you can find casual vintage,” Kaylor says. “But I wanted to have a place where people could come in and pick up something for a special occasion, with more high-end, unique pieces.”

So Rescue’s vintage, all of which has been gathered from shopping trips to New York and L.A., tends to be dressier than your average pre-loved Ossington fare, with prices for the goods — sourced from Chanel, Dior, Hermès, Versace, Chloe, Pucci and the like — ranging from $200 to as much as $2,000 (for the Chanel, obviously).

Knockouts include a yellow, Clueless-style ’80s Chanel dress ($1,950) paired with a Roberto Cavalli fur shawl ($750). But not all the dresses have such big names attached; many of them are noteworthy less for their brand names than for their one-of-a-kind wow factor. A sequinned, starry, blue and white mini-dress with shoulder pads ($350), for example, scored on one of Kaylor's outings down south, just “screams L.A.” Another of her favourite pieces, a retro-fab silk gown from the ’50s (also from L.A.), reminds us of something Betty Draper might wear ($425).

Yet while the ’40s music and vintage decor might make you feel like you’ve stepped into your grandmother’s closet (that is, if your grandmother is an uber-chic, Versace-wearing fashionista), Rescue also boasts an impressive selection of contemporary lines, many of which are unavailable elsewhere in the city.

In creating the store, Kaylor sought to emulate her own fashion sense, which is an eclectic fusion of vintage and contemporary. So she brought in a number of designers and labels to complement her retro finds, including Jenny Bird, Beyond Vintage, Sam and Lavi, Heartloom and — for the first time ever in Canada — New York’s Pinkyotto. Kaylor also has five more contemporary collections planned for fall. The modern lines are priced more modestly, with some casual pieces thrown in to the mix, and range in price from $50 to $800.

Kaylor points out a pair of jewelled earrings by Eliza ($120), a local label that that takes vintage pieces and updates them with modern details.

“That fusion of contemporary and vintage — it kind of encompasses what I do,” Kaylor says.

The store is a passion project through and through, as not just the clothing, but the décor, too, is all hand-chosen by Kaylor and designed to evoke her personal style.

“I built the shop pretty much from scratch. Everything was custom designed by me — except the walls and the floor.”

The space itself is tucked away from the street by a spacious, plant-lined brick patio. When you step inside, a series of old cameras indicate Kaylor's photography background. She also points out a fantastically ornate 1904 Singer sewing machine as one of her prized possessions, noting that her mother was an avid collector of the line.

With other touches including an authentic Addison radio — manufactured in Toronto in the ’30s — and a pair of ’70s porcelain perfume bottles from Portugal (fitting in this Portuguese area; so fitting, in fact, that one of her neighbours coincidentally outed himself as their original manufacturer) Kaylor evokes a bygone era that resonates with the surrounding neighbourhood.

“I wanted to bring nostalgia to the Toronto community,” she says.

Judging by the response Kaylor has received in the short month she's been open, it seems that Torontonians are eager for this blast from the past. With items already flying off the shelves — including numerous requests to purchase elements of the store's interior decor — we have a feeling that Rescue has a bright future in its new Ossington home.

Rescue Vintage, 102 Ossington Ave., 416-533-0443

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