Friperie Saint Laurent
By Robert Ravensbergen

Practice Makes Perfect

“I’ve always had a love for vintage clothing,”admits Didier Duran in a manner replete with swarthy charm as he thinks back to when he first started scouring vintage markets as a 15 year old in his native France. “I find there’s nothing new in fashion—everything that you may think is new was tried before, and probably tried better, with better materials, more purity, and more personalized flourishes.”

You can find Didier in his shop, which he founded in 1994, most days of the week—that is, when he’s not travelling and seeking out the best and most distinctive items, whethert they be a pure mink coat or cashmere sweater from the 1950s, or a singular waistcoat dated to the Napoleonic Wars. He has a ceaseless energy and humour to his work, which comes across whenever he speaks. “Sometimes you may find things that belong in a museum, but most often, if you can find something with effortless style, that’s enough.”

On occasion we do have some stars here, but this store is for everybody, because everyone is unique enough to find something they can appreciate. - Didier Duran, owner

Timeless Quality

Didier will admit that there are some compromises when it comes to vintage clothing—there’s not enough of it! “I can’t go through enough as I search. I like to keep the shop full of colour and the different eras that interest me.”

Collector’s items above the everyday racks include German leathers from the late 1940s, Gabardine jackets from the 1950s and silken gowns from the 1960s and ’70s, in addition to the assurance that almost every item you find on the $10 rack is out of production, if not one-of-a-kind.

The style of each piece contributes to the ease and elegant insight that seems to flourish in this unique shop, attracting the trendiest of trendsetters from all over, some of Didier’s favourites being Brigitte Bardot, Lucy Liu and Charlize Theron. “On occasion we do have some stars here,” he says, his ceaseless energy ever-palpable, “but it shows how this store is for everybody, because everyone is unique enough to find something they can appreciate.”

Things Come Full Circle

Aside from celebrity sightings, Didier can attest to his share of eerie and joyful experiences. Among his favourite to recount shows the strange power of attraction the quality vintage good he works with seem to possess, “My brother-in-law had travelled to Greece and, in a pinch, sold one of his favourite leather jackets, superior quality and all, to an American. Much as that helped my brother-in-law get home, the American didn’t seem to like it and discarded it when he returned to the United States.”

A smirk begins to creep across Didier’s face, “One day I was in Toronto, scouring outlets for new pieces, when I came across this very jacket, his handwriting on the lining behind the left waist pocket. It had toured halfway around the world, all to make it back to my brother-in-law. He was overjoyed!” Didier takes it to mean this: when you have clothing that lasts, and with good fortune it finds its way back to you, you might have something more personal than you could ever imagine.

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