I like being at the right place at the right time. In the early afternoon of an unseasonably warm September day, I sensed a desire for aesthetic inspiration and a curiosity to visit the luxury retailer Louis Vuitton at its new Yorkville, Toronto address. I also knew that I would experience Canadian artist-darling Shary Boyle‘s Breaking Boundaries which had been unveiled there last week in an inaugural celebration of the flagship’s opening. Boyle is definitely one to watch, more so now that she’ll represent Canada at the Venice Biennale in 2013.
The eye-popping, brand-sparkling two-storey maison which opened after Labor Day is designed by architect Peter Marino and outfitted with textured, sumptuous furniture and accessories which beg to be caressed and, at half a dozen break-out seating areas throughout the store, can be livably enjoyed by both customers and design enthusiasts. Whether it’s mens’ or womens’ apparel and accessories that you want, even need, no longer is a quick trip to New York or Paris required because this store has joined the upper ranks of the LV family and as such is fabulously merchandised.
At the main entrance, in a tall and slender glass vitrine, is the treasure troupe of pastel-colored, gold-toed, porcelain damsels by Boyle. It is a true delight to the eye and mind — for its exquisite craftsmanship and bold wackiness, luxe and folly perfectly matched — which humoured and charmed me so! Continuing my once-around walk-about, I acknowledged the unintimidating retail team: with one saleswoman I chatted about Yayoi Kusama‘s whimsical, happy collection and with her colleague I pointed to an unsightly group of dead bugs in a cubed glass casing that needed steadfast attention, dare I say, a clearing. “I guess they died after they found out the price!” remarked the LV employee. A quick retort, but he was embarrassed nonetheless.
Carrying on, I ventured over to the mens’ department where I would end up having the first of three separate chats with Martin, a proud luxury sales associate and member of the LV family since its 2003 Toronto opening. Here, we talked about the sleek, reclining twin chairs. Note to reader: Go to see them. Moments later, we discussed Vancouver-based James Nizam‘s gorgeous duet of color photographic works, hanging way up high where the average eye normally cares not to look. Note to reader: If you’ve been to Paris you’ll know always to look up! Do the same here.
Heading out the door and, with an interest to document my retail experience, I told myself that I should enquire about the possibility of taking snaps of Boyle’s contemporary artworks. At the same time, another person was already clicking away. She looked awfully familiar: I had seen her before.
“Do you think it’s allowed?” I asked.
“Well, I am,” she said rather confidently, “I am the artist.”
Serendipity! We went on to introduce ourselves and shared a few laughs. I commended her serious talent as I’d been following her work since a couple of years and was delighted to be able to tell her so in person. Only a day earlier, I had read about Shary Boyle in an online piece by my friend and critic Daniel Baird for The Star. He had posted the article to his Facebook profile and my first comment to this post was: “She’s omnipresent!” My second (re)action was “Like”.