Your presence is requested at The Montreal Christmas Village at the Atwater Market

 A look behind the scenes at what brings you the Christmas magic.

Nov. 24 marks the opening of the sixth edition of The Montreal Christmas Village at the Atwater Market. Open until Dec. 18, this year’s edition of the market will surely not disappoint.

The Concordian had the opportunity to speak with Carole Balas, one of the organizers who helps make the Montreal Christmas Village at Atwater Market.

Balas is the coordinator of volunteers for both the Montreal Christmas Village as well as The Great Christmas Market at Places-des-Arts. Launched on Nov. 19, The Great Christmas Market is already in full swing. 

“Along with being responsible for the volunteers at the market, I am a part of the communication team and I am also responsible for the photography and the videography team,” Balas explained.

In terms of recruiting volunteers for this year’s edition of the market, Balas was unsure if they recruited enough volunteers. She explained that every week on their social media, they have been posting advertisements to get volunteers. 

“I do meetings with them [the volunteers] and I explain to them what the non-profit is. I would say most of them are really excited to get started,” Balas said.

The Jean-Talon Christmas Market will not be getting volunteers this year because it is at a much smaller scale and won’t need as many helping hands. As The Montreal Christmas Village continues to grow, it was all hands on deck in order to get ready for the opening on Nov. 24.

“The volunteers will mainly sell food and drinks at the food chalet. They will also help with putting up some Christmas lights but we don’t make them focus on that as much. The merchants rent their own chalets at the Montreal Christmas Village and they are pretty much responsible for themselves,” Balas explained.

A worker at the food chalet at the Christmas Village in the Atwater Market. Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN

This is Balas’ third year on the team. She got involved with the team back in 2019, as a volunteer. 

“When I first started off as a volunteer, I was there almost every weekend. I was one of the people that was there the most and I loved it,” Balas recalled. “I spoke to my boss and I told her that I do videos, that’s my job. Then the next year, I actually did the official video for the market.”

Looking at the other side of her responsibilities, Balas is tasked with taking photographs and videos alongside the media team.

“So this year, in terms of marketing the markets, we are much more organized than years before. In the years before, I was the only one shooting videos for promotion of the market. Now we have a whole team of photographers and videographers,” Balas said.

Balas went on to explain that this year she has put together a short list of specific themes that the photographers and videographers should abide by. 

“Some of the themes include food, decorations, volunteers, merchants, and animals. Animals are important to capture because we get the question all the time if animals are allowed at the markets,” she said.

Even with a full plate managing both the volunteers and the media team, Balas is still looking forward to all the magic the market has to offer. 

“I think the decorations are what I am looking forward to seeing the most at the market. We have two yurts, one of them is going to be filled with beautiful decorations of elves and huts. The other yurt is a bar, we had it back in 2019, but this year it’s back,” Balas explained.

With the return of Atwater Christmas fan-favorite decorations and artists, this year’s edition of the Christmas Village will be the spot to visit for the holidays.  If Balas hasn’t peaked your curiosity enough about the magic of this year’s Christmas Village event, visit the market’s website.

The food chalet at the Christmas Village in the Atwater market. Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN

Holiday gift ideas for a conscious shopper

The Holiday season hasn’t been about religion in a while – it’s about gifts now.

I love the holiday season as much as the next Starbucks-peppermint-mocha-loving gal — but I will admit that I feel a tinge of guilt when heading out to my local Simons, or checking out a loved one’s Amazon wishlist.

The trendiness of anti-capitalism is growing. Coupled with the swelling pressure to purchase, I’m led to find a more responsible way to give gifts to my favourite people.

Buying presents for loved ones is a pleasure that compares to inhaling your first batch of gingerbread cookies. The warmth experienced when you see that special someone genuinely smile can be achieved without selling your soul to the season’s Lucifer, Jeff Bezos.

So, here are some of my recommendations for conscious holiday presents.

The Facebook Marketplace route 

This is my personal favourite — browsing through Facebook Marketplace is the best pastime, and the most rewarding! You can set your filters, get precise with your search words, and find the most random stuff. Since most of your Marketplace finds will be in your area, you can also turn this shopping experience into an adventure, discovering new parts of your city while picking up your hidden gems.

I find that the “miscellaneous” category has some of the best finds — vintage memorabilia, posters, outdated technology or even fun coffee table books are a surprising delight.

This season, I snagged a 1980s Porsche phone for my dad — who always dreamed of owning his own supercar one day. The small red phone will be a perfect addition to his collection of strange knick-knacks.

This may seem random, but lamps are also great to look for on Marketplace. Ambient lighting can upgrade a space with the simple flick of a switch. However, a nice vintage lamp, or any ambient lighting is not something people often spend their own money on. I’ve always enjoyed giving lamps out as presents. I recently found a green glass lamp that would’ve fit great in my sister’s office, but I wasn’t quick enough to snag it.

You will have to make split-second decisions on Marketplace. Especially in the holiday season, items can disappear as quickly as you’ve pressed the “Is this still available?” message. When I get in contact with a seller and I’m sure of my decision, I try to put a deposit down to secure the item — something small like $5 to $10 depending on the final cost of my purchase.

If you see something has been listed for a while, feel free to try and offer a lower price: you may get lucky! Just make sure to secure the transaction before getting your hopes up. Time after time, people willing to pay the listed price will sneak in and get the goods at the last minute.

The handmade route

A personalized, homemade gift is a hit or miss. The key with this technique is to play to your strengths: don’t draw someone a portrait if you have the drawing skills of a 4-year-old (unless your friend has a good sense of humour).

All I want to illustrate is that you should utilize your talents. If you can knit, make some coasters or hats for your friends and family. If you can paint, maybe a nice painting of a meaningful object or landscape. If you’re a writer, maybe a funny letter mailed to them with a note to open on Dec. 25th, or even something more heartfelt for that special someone. 

Knitting or crocheting doesn’t have to be intimidating — there are simple patterns you can learn if you are a beginner. Go ahead, use winter as an excuse to pick up another grandma hobby.

I recommend thrifting your yarn since it costs a fraction of the price. There’s something so fun about thrifting materials — that feeling of saving something from a landfill and creating it into a meaningful gift for a loved one. I’ve even found most of my knitting needles in thrift stores.

If you’re an artist, maybe try looking for fun objects to use from the aisle of random bags located on the back walls of most thrift stores. I’m sure you can find some paintbrushes, crayons, pastels, or interesting fabrics.

While you’re at it, you can always pick something up from the houseware section at the thrift — a fun book, a CD or cassette (for decoration or nostalgic purposes), a funky throw, some vintage pyrex, candle holders, novelty mugs… get creative.

Now that you have the tools, go on, get! Go find the most creative and heart-warming gifts of the season. Remember: It’s not about the price tag, it’s about the thought behind the gift.


Feature graphic by James Fay

Perfume – (In)conspicuous consumption?

If you spent $425 on a bottle of Baccarat Rouge 540 but didn’t get a compliment, did it ever really happen?

I never used to be someone who cared much about fragrance — I probably owned three Bath & Body Works body sprays my entire teenage life, and since then, I’ve pretty much been a shower and out-the-door kind of gal. But, while others were baking bread or practicing their French in the latter half of the pandemic, I was starting down a much less productive, and much more expensive, road.

Recently, I’ve been falling deep into the spending hole that is perfume. Ever since stumbling on the #Perfumetok hashtag on TikTok, a new consumption-based hobby has taken hold of me, and I can’t say I’m mad about it.

I do largely blame TikTok for this (among many of my other ills). The platform is nothing if not amazing at selling you a very specific aesthetic goal over and over again. If Emelia, aka Professor Perfume, tells me that all I need to do to radiate “femme fatale” energy is to wear Mugler’s Alien — well, she makes a good point.

In this way, fragrances function just like any other branded commodities — you buy them for the name and bottle as much as you buy for scent. According to Allure, in some cases, the perfume is actually developed with the bottle’s shape and colour in mind before the scent inside is even formulated. Fabien Baron, the designer, photographer, and filmmaker behind Calvin Klein’s CK One fragrance told Allure that a perfume’s image is generally more important than the scent itself when determining the success of a fragrance launch.

Further, with the perfume industry being largely dominated by premium (ie. designer and niche house) perfumeries, there is a lot of money to be made from a good branding strategy to go along with your product. 

However, as the consumer, once you leave Sephora and actually begin to wear the perfume in your everyday life, are you actually communicating this expensive purchase to anyone else?

Sure, I could clock a sniff of $166 By the Fireplace by Maison Margiela walking down the street, but I admit that my perfume nerdiness is not the default. Even when wearing the most famous and luxurious perfumes, to most people, you’re just someone who smells nice, not someone with $210 to throw at a bottle of Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford. With that being said, is perfume necessarily a conspicuous consumption? 

It’s hard to say. When I think of why I like to buy perfume, it’s difficult to find a distinct answer. If it was just about smelling nice, surely I would be okay with just buying some essential oils off of Amazon and calling it a day, right? But I don’t, I have to buy Glossier You.

It’s not that I even like Glossier as a company. I find many of their makeup products to be overpriced and underperforming, and their corporate governance has been marred by controversy. I know that the millennial pink branding and Instagram full of cool influencers’ impossibly “clean” glowy skin is simply a marketing strategy. Yet, I still paid $60 USD for their Glossier You perfume.

Despite the fact that maybe one out of hundreds of people would know that when I walk down the hall smelling of a faint, powdery, peppery musk, it is in fact due to Glossier, I still feel trendy wearing it. And that’s tied to the name more than the scent itself.

So here perfume becomes both conspicuous and inconspicuous — you’re always influenced by the bottle and marketing strategy, even when you are not outwardly advertising your purchase to anyone. 

While I pat myself on the back for being a conscious consumer, aware of branding strategies and the power of influencer marketing, this recent trip down the financial rabbit hole that is a perfume addiction has shown me that we’re all a bit susceptible to the hype. But, that’s not going to stop me from visiting now is it?


Feature graphic by James Fay

Where to get the goods

A look into Concordia students’ passion for fashion

Over the past few years, trend cycles have accelerated exponentially. A combination of fast fashion, social media and capitalism has created a whirlwind of trends for us to stay on top of, adapt to, and incorporate into our own personal styles.

This week I thought it would be fun to take an adventure and see what people were wearing around Concordia’s downtown campus. Keep in mind there are nearly 50,000 students at our little university, so this is what I saw while I was at the downtown campus, sitting in the Hall Building for a couple of hours.

If you saw me standing awkwardly staring at people’s outfits, no you didn’t.

Many people are leaning into an academic vibe for the return to school: think lots of trousers, loafers, white tube socks and funky button-ups.

If you are in the market for some trousers, I think the best place to find them is a thrift store, such as Renaissance (Montreal’s Goodwill) or Value Village, though it is a little pricier. Additionally, you can always go walking on Saint Laurent Blvd. in between Sherbrooke St. and Mont-Royal Ave., where many independent thrift stores can be found.

Loafers are a staple in any fashion forward wardrobe, and have taken the place of the Doc Marten Jadons as the ruling shoes this fall. Recently, Geox Spherica loafers went viral on TikTok and generally sold out, apart from a few select sizes. Other good places to find loafers are at the aforementioned Doc Martens, as well as Vagabond, or even better, thrifted! I’ve found three pairs of platform and non-platform loafers at thrift stores around Montreal just this past month!!

Good button-ups can be found everywhere, but especially in thrift stores! This may seem redundant, but the patterns that you are looking for from House of Sunny, Jacquemus and higher-end fashion all take inspiration from vintage designs. I suggest taking your time in the women’s blouse section, and playing around with sizing. If you’re looking for a “shimmy shake top,” definitely go for a more oversized piece. If you’re going for a fitted, cinched vibe, then more true to size will work.

If you’re more into the early 2000s era, you’re probably very familiar with thrifting already. You’re looking for low-waisted, straight or wide-leg jeans with embroidery, top stitching and a funky graphic design. You’re looking for halter tops with beaded details, matching tracksuits and platform shoes. I highly recommend checking out La Vegan Baddie’s website (coming soon), a Y2K reseller located in Montreal, with a world of hidden gems . You can always take the time and thrift these finds yourself, but I do not recommend giving into the fast fashion replicas of this era. It gives me… unauthentic and middle school vibes — but you do you.

Fashion is always changing and growing, and so does your personal style. So let’s all keep in mind to grow our styles instead of replicating the entirety of an aesthetic you saw once on TikTok and sorta liked. Learn to isolate the elements that bring you joy, and that “make the outfit.” From there, incorporate that aesthetic into one that’s all your own.


Feature graphic by James Fay


Spending money for money

“I just bought that private Island, land ho!“ yells a white millennial man in a khaki-coloured research hat, while gliding towards shore on a small boat. He flashes the papers to prove it, and later we’re told that the land cost $730,000.  We’re now less than a minute into the video, aptly titled “I Bought A Private Island,” by YouTuber MrBeast.

MrBeast, a.k.a. Jimmy Donaldson, has made a career off of this type of content. A quick scroll through his YouTube page will show you dozens of titles reminiscent of the aforementioned private island video. “I Spent $1,000,000 on Lottery Tickets and WON,” “Lamborghini Race, Winner Keeps Lamborghini,” “Spending $1,000,000 In 24 Hours” — the formula becomes obvious.

To those unacquainted, Donaldson’s content may seem like a mishmash of neon thumbnails and immature bragging. However, MrBeast content is highly planned and researched and fits squarely within YouTube’s newest vice — flex culture.

The term comes from the idea of flexing — to show off or boast, first popularized by rap and hip hop artists before it trickled into wider popular culture.

Flexing has found a home for itself on YouTube with influencers making mass amounts of content specifically about their consumerist tendencies. Gucci shopping sprees, opulent vacations and closet tours filled to the brim with Birkin Bags have become a genre of their own, where influencers shamelessly flaunt the vast fortunes they have amassed on the platform.

To understand this phenomenon, it’s important to take a look at the current influencer market to understand why creators would be interested in producing “flex” content.

YouTubers now have more revenue streams than ever. Up until just a few years ago, Adsense — the Google program that allows YouTubers to make money from ads run on their videos — was the primary way YouTubers gained an income. But now that social media influencing is seen as a lucrative business, more parties are involved financially. Due to third party partnerships, which can come in the form of corporate sponsorships and affiliate links (not to mention income from merch and Patreon), creators are less beholden to their audience.

On the one hand, having multiple income streams can be creatively freeing, as ideally you would be less compelled to shape content simply around increasing the amount of eyeballs you’d get on your ads. However, for many already ultra-successful creators, the cushion of third party income can diminish the importance of viewer satisfaction. In other words, if you’re already making hundreds of thousands of dollars from sponsorships, how many people like and comment on your videos really doesn’t hold as much weight.

Furthermore, many creators who make “flexing” videos are ones who rose to fame on the basis of their personalities alone. While some gained their success through makeup tutorials, such as Jeffree Star, many have risen to fame through simply their demeanor and conventional attractiveness. The concept of “being famous for being famous” has existed since the reality TV boom, and arguably earlier. However, with the democratizing features of social media, the saturation of this type of celebrity is higher than ever.

So what do you do when you have achieved wild online success for no discernible talent and you have more money than you know what to do with? You make the money itself your content.

However, flex content doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Many of these YouTubers have young fans who have yet to develop a mature understanding of class and money. So, for these viewers, the sheer indulgence of these flex videos may just seem aspirational, not shocking.

Additionally, these sorts of videos promote unhealthy views of consumption. Luxury haul videos, for example, normalize the mass consumption of unnecessary goods. While haul videos from fast-fashion retailers like H&M and Shein can be found all over the internet, they’re often slammed as problematic for their promotion of unethical brands. However, luxury brands’ practices can be just as bad, as they also outsource their production to countries with less worker protections. And that’s all before you even factor in the major price markup. Needless to say, no matter where you shop, “hauling” goods can never be sustainable.

Flex culture is not likely to go away anytime soon. As long as we live in a society with major wealth disparity, some people will have massive fortunes, and others will like to live vicariously through them. Many of us are financially suffering and trapped at home, where it’s easy to spend all day staring at social media. It could be fun in these times to escape into the lavish lifestyle of others. However, at the end of the day, it only serves to further the divide as these creators get richer and richer.


Graphic by @the.beta.lab


Uniqlo enters Quebec’s retail market

Canada’s 14th and largest Uniqlo opens in Montreal


Downtown Montreal — nearly empty since the beginning of the pandemic — is finally experiencing some excitement. The Japanese retailer Uniqlo opened its largest Canadian store in Montreal’s Eaton Centre on Friday.

Its entrance in Quebec’s apparel market did not go unnoticed. Between construction and security officers, hundreds started lining up before the opening at the corner of Ste-Catherine St. and Robert-Bourassa Blvd. The waiting time was between 40 minutes to an hour long.

Customers line up on the street outside the Uniqlo entrance.

Police officers weren’t too far away, overseeing the scene and enforcing social distancing.

The opening was eagerly awaited since the CEO of Uniqlo Canada, Yuichiro Kaneko, announced the brand’s arrival a year ago. The 32,000-square-foot store offers a wide range of clothes for men, women, and children, as well as a small selection of home products. Additionally, the Japanese retailer has  a reading corner for children and will feature a flower shop display with the creations of Montreal floral design studio Bell Jar Botanicals until Nov. 15.

“I’ve been waiting for this opening for a long time now! Whenever I go to Toronto, I need to stop at an Uniqlo store. I’m used to ordering online but it’s always better when you can see the products before buying them,” said shopper Caroline Chicoine as she waited at the check-out line.

While opening during a pandemic demands more preparation, Uniqlo made sure to implement strict health and safety measures to create a safe shopping environment: plexiglass protective screens at the checkout counter, hand sanitizer available at the entrance and at cash registers, entrance and exit located on two different levels, customers having their temperature taken before entering. Masks were also mandatory in the lineup and only a limited number of people were allowed inside the store at a time.

As many as 115 employees work at the two-story Montreal location. They started preparing the opening the last week of August, receiving and organizing the merchandise as it arrived. Staff member Jessie Khov said she was eager to welcome the customers on opening day.

“Everyone is really proud of the hard work. We [started] preparing a month before the opening. Seeing the beginning of nothing to something like this today, it’s pretty special,” she said.

Moreover, the city hopes the excitement over the new retailer will also benefit local businesses, bringing Montrealers out of their homes to make a shopping trip with a few other stops along the way.

“We should come and shop. If we can’t [go in person], we can buy online. But how about we go direct[ly] to those stores. I think it’s a good way to support our small businesses,” said Mayor Valérie Plante, present at Uniqlo’s opening for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Up until now, the interest for the new store has been clear. It’s likely Downtown Montreal hasn’t been this alive since the pandemic forced people to work and study from home, reducing more than 90 per cent of the regular downtown traffic. People were seen daily lining up outside during the retailer’s first opening weekend.


Photos by Axelle Viramontes de la Torre


Simply Scientific: Every spree comes with a fee

Picture this: you’re having a crappy day. You missed your bus, spilled coffee down your front and forgot to print out your assignment that’s due in half an hour. To make matters worse, you skipped out on concealer this morning and now look like an extra in Tim Burton’s ‘Corpse Bride.’ (Side note: this scenario may or may not be a projection of my own experiences).

To make yourself feel better, you pop into Simons to buy yourself a new pair of jeans, a sweater and a couple small accessories. By the time the cashier hands you your receipt, the pit of anxiety in your stomach has melted away. You know this purchase is outside your budget, but hey! you’re treating yourself! You’ve had a bad day, after all.

If this sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. A 2018 survey published by Finder, an online information service for consumers, found that out of 2,000 Canadians, 63 per cent confessed to shopping impulsively in the last year. In the age of mass marketing, online shopping and hyper-consumerism, it’s easier than ever to fall into the trap of impulsive spending. But these impulses go beyond Boxing Day sales and free shipping. According to science, part of the blame can be placed on our biology.

When your brain anticipates a new purchase, it releases a flood of dopamine – that same neurotransmitter associated with drugs, really good food, and really good sex. One study published in Neuron, a neuroscience journal, found that the brain’s reward centre lit up after subjects were shown a desirable product. So, in short, ‘retail therapy’ can serve as a legitimate pick-me-up after a rough day.

But just like food, sex and drugs, shopping can be highly addictive. A study published by the Society for the Study of Addiction gathered data from around the globe and found that shopping addiction affects roughly five per cent of the population. What’s more, research from Cambridge University has shown that up to 68 per cent of compulsive shoppers suffer from an affective disorder such as depression or anxiety. Experts recommend that those afflicted seek the help of a mental health professional.

For the occasional impulse shoppers out there, the next time you’re tempted, ask yourself: is it me or the dopamine talking?


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Don’t damage the earth when getting dressed

How fast fashion negatively affects our environment and how we can do better as consumers

I know that as a student, it is hard to keep up with the fast-changing world of fashion trends that incite our consumerism while on a tight budget. We tend to buy from the stores right around the corner from our homes. It’s close, it’s cheap and it gives us access to more. But, have you ever stopped and thought about how damaging these stores are for the environment?

Fast fashion is characterized by the mass production of clothes and cheap prices, to the extent that some stores have around 52 different seasons every year, according to the documentary The True Cost. That means new clothes coming in every week, which hooks consumers and attracts those who are more money-conscious. It sounds great in theoryI mean, who doesn’t like variety and low prices? However, the reality and the manufacturing ethics behind these products are not so great.

Behind these clothes are starving women and children who work long hours and for little money, according to The Guardian. Not only that, but these workers are abused in order to meet unrealistic deadlines, according to the same article. According to The Independent, these factories mostly operate in Asia and are known for their use of toxic chemicals, large amounts of material waste and contamination of one of the most precious natural resources: water. Large amounts of water. Thus, fueling the overheating of our planet, according to BBC. Since clothes have become even more accessible than before, we buy more, we use less and we waste on a larger scale.

If you are vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian, you probably already have a grasp on how harmful agriculture is for the environment. But did you know that, according to Forbes, the second largest industrial polluter world-wide is the fashion industry? If you are committed to minimizing your consumption of animal products and you are already interested in being more environmentally conscious, why not apply this living ethic when it comes to shopping?

Montreal is known for its styleI’m sure you know what I mean. The further you wander out of downtown and into the Plateau-Mile End, the more evident this becomes. Thrift shops also start clouding your vision, as there are plenty, and some are really worth checking out. Buying second-hand clothing is an amazing step towards being more sustainable: you help small businesses, you reuse, and it is affordable (unless you’re shopping in the Plateau). Plus, it has its advantage beyond the environmental questionyou won’t be wearing what everyone else already is.

Some of my favourite items in my wardrobe have been found in thrift shops, and surprisingly, I purchased them from Value Village. It is a huge store and can be a little overwhelming, but if you have a good eye and some enthusiasm, you will find some valuable treasures. Another one of my favourite thrift stores is definitely Ruse Boutique; it is a consignment store that always has unique pieces from renowned brands at unbeatable prices. If you are not already sold by these two suggestions, you should try Annex Vintage, Cul-de-sac, Citizen Vintage, Eva B,  Empire Exchange, Bohême Friperie, or just walk up St. Laurent Blvd.

If thrifting is not your thing, you could start being more conscious when you shop by selecting only products made with recycled materials, non-toxic dyes or organic fabrics. Although these small changes won’t fix the global environmental issue at hand, they do make an impact that multiplies as more people adopt them. If this article sparked anything in you, I would highly encourage you to watch The True Cost (available on Netflix), investigate and stay away from the most damaging mass production brands, like Zara, H&M, and Forever 21. Reusing makes you feel and look better. And more importantly, will help the environment. It’s a win-win situation.

Graphic by @spooky_soda

Student Life

Local designer gives a taste of past decades

With this year’s spring/summer 2013 trends that are bold and daring from head to toe, you can’t go wrong stepping into the trendy and sassy Lustre Boutique. Yasmine Wasfy, the designer behind it all, brings it all, from extravagant prints, to geometric shapes and stripes.

Photo by Madelayne Hajek

The boutique looks like a beautiful and sophisticated designing studio and the name itself describes what the store is all about. Unlike others, you get the dizzying feeling of a time traveller, from the British Invasion to the Rococo Era, from rock and roll to Mad Men.

Wasfy established Lustre Boutique in 2006. She has taken her playful and vintage-inspired designs outside of Montreal, bringing them to Toronto, Halifax, Ottawa and Edmonton. Though in the beginning, most of Lustre Boutique’s pieces were finely-made dresses for the romantic and confident woman, it now carries feminine tops, bottoms and locally made accessories and shoes with a rocker twist. Not only does Lustre offer unique and tailored pieces, it also takes special orders.

We sometimes have an inner urge to rebel and that comes through in our choice in clothing. The pieces we wear help define us, and that is exactly the energy that Lustre brings.

The collections are extremely modern, but what shines through in every one of Wasfy’s pieces is the way she embodies different eras through her designs. Wasfy blends many different styles from different decades into one piece of expertly tailored clothing.

Her wholesale line and retail collection all aim to please the feminine and chic woman who loves to play dress-up, but Wasfy is aware that certain fits and fabrics are not made for everyone, so she offers custom fittings.

The material for her unique designs consists of rich European fabrics with a vintage look at a budget-friendly price.

Her pieces are made for the everyday woman who appreciates fashion, as well as the career woman who often needs pieces to help transition from day to night.

Another quirky detail is the names Wasky gives to her designs, such as “Backwoods Barbie Dress”, “Prairie My Heart Dress” and “Edge of Seventeen Dress”.

New pieces are added weekly, each with their own twist. If you are looking to find one-of-a-kind fashionable and wearable pieces, look no further.


Lustre Boutique is located on 4068 St-Laurent Blvd.


Photos by Madelayne Hajek

Student Life

Step back in time and get lost in a nostalgia shop

Courtesy of Kitsch n Swell

Brimming with quirky relics from decades past, Kitsch’n Swell is a treasure trove waiting to be scavenged. Though sandwiched in the middle of several similar stores, Kitsch’n Swell is as unique as the items it houses, and is not to be missed.

Unlike many vintage stores, which can’t seem to stifle the lingering smell of mothballs, Kitsch’n Swell welcomes visitors with the subtle aroma of incense, automatically giving the space a warm feel. The décor is overly cluttered in a completely charming way, with everything from Christian-themed oil paintings to Elvis memorabilia to 1940s feathered caps hanging off the bright walls. Every square inch of the place oozes with personality, and it feels like each item has a story.

Most importantly, this isn’t just another frippery.

“Everything we sell is genuine vintage,” said Amélie Thériault, who owns the store with her boyfriend Richard Goulet. All items sold hail from sometime between the 1940s and ‘80s, so you’re not just re-buying a discarded Christmas sweater from three years ago.

“We’re constantly searching for interesting items,” said Thériault. She explained that they get their merchandise from a myriad of sources, often enlisting the help of a “picker” who is essentially an expert vintage hunter.

Most of their stock comes from within Montreal, but an occasional expedition elsewhere in Canada has proved fruitful.

“Some of our prized items are a collection of 600 pairs of pants we found in New Brunswick, all from the 1960s and never worn,” said Thériault.

Another one of their treasures is a slew of 1950s glasses, all completely new, which they retrieved from a closed-down optometrist’s old stock. There are hundreds of pairs of horn-rimmed and bejewelled cat-eye frames and, of course, I simply couldn’t resist trying on every single one. The new-old frames are all sold for $124, while ones that were previously owned come in slightly cheaper at $99.

Some of my favorite items were the 1960s grey-blue typewriter, still in its original case and the functioning 1940s dial phone. Scrounging around the magazine rack, I rifled through old issues of Life and Paris Match magazines, the oldest of which was from October 1937. Amongst them were some iconic editions, namely the Life issue that came out the week after John F. Kennedy was shot. Of course, there are also plenty of sartorial finds for vintage aficionado—I dare you to leave without a perfectly granny-chic sweater in hand.

Prices vary depending on the item, how old it is and its condition. Generally the clothing seems to fit into the $35 to $60 price range, meaning that these timeless pieces won’t set you back any farther than the average shopping trip to Zara or H&M.

Thériault and Goulet opened Kitsch’n Swell five years ago, and have since opened a sister shop, Rokokonut, one door over. In there, you’ll find a similar vibe with a racier edge. Vintage Playboy magazines sit on racks next to gussets and garters, but it also houses a more extensive collection of pants and dresses.

Both stores are definitely worth a visit if you’re in the market for kitschy knick-knacks, an authentically retro wardrobe revamp, or if you simply want to take a step back into the days of olde.


Kitsch’n Swell is located on 3968 Saint-Laurent Blvd.

Student Life

Travel back in time to 1861

On Ste-Catherine and St-Laurent — two of Montreal’s trendiest streets — there exists a true girly-girl’s dream; the romantic, vintage-inspired and feminine Boutique 1861.

You cannot help but drag yourself into this boudoir-style shop, especially with its one-of-a-kind clothing, which are all so carefully

1861 is located on Ste-Catherine W. St. and 3670 St-Laurent Blvd. Photo by Maddy Hajek

displayed on their mannequins. Whether it is the accessories, dresses, skirts or blouses, every item is placed in a particular fashion.

Owner Castle Ho says that since she was a child, she has always adored Victorian decoration, and has been attracted to intricacy, which inspired her to share such elegant and classic creations with others through her shops.

“It was like a dream, I wanted to make these dreams come true, and bring some magic to life,” said Ho. It comes as no surprise that a woman like Ho, with so much class and elegance, would open these two stylized stores.

Upon walking into 1861, you truly feel like you are in woman’s closet in the Victorian era. You could spend hours simply admiring interesting accessory pieces and hand-selected garments. The comfort and design of the store, with its stylish carved loveseats, mirrors and shades of pink and white, all reflect the clothing and accessories in the boutiques. You immediately get the feeling that you are in the Rococo period.

They carry pieces from local and international independent designers such as Arti Gogna, Coccolily, Toronto-based designer Jordan de Ruiter, Pink Martini, Californian label BB Dakota, MINKPINK, Darling from the U.K. and much more.

When searching for clothing and accessories with a vintage touch, the goal of 1861 is to make sure that customers always find the most affordable and unique items for their clients. They make a constant effort to satisfy their customers and ensure they will leave with something special, without having to worry about breaking the bank. Every piece in this store is so magnificent and chic, priced between $50 to $250.

1861 is located on Ste-Catherine W. St. and 3670 St-Laurent Blvd. Photo by Maddy Hajek

Ho and sales associate Sophia Trozzo insist that building a relationship with their customers, and ensuring clients leave the store with an outfit in which they feel confident is the most rewarding part of their job.

“Our clients are mostly women that love and appreciate fashion, and enjoy being a woman,” Ho said.

The glamorous store has many loyal, and fashion-savvy customers, along with many new clients who are lured into the boutique by their breathtaking and out-of-the-ordinary window display.

“My favourite part would be playing dress-up with the clients,” explained Ho. “I had always known that I would not stop loving playing dress-up since my first Barbie doll.”

1861 has exclusive and retro-chic designs to suit every woman out there, from more sophisticated pieces to old-world glamour.


1861 is located on Ste-Catherine W. St. and 3670 St-Laurent Blvd.

Student Life

Skip the store hopping and start online shopping

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan.

With the holidays just around the corner, it’s nearly time to layer on your winter gear, heat up the car, and find your way to the mall on a Saturday morning. That means driving in circles around a packed parking lot, followed by the slow and awkward drive behind someone walking towards their car.

We’ve all been there; going to the mall during the holidays is a nightmare. So this year, it’s time to shake things up. Forget about elbowing your way through the hoards of Christmas shoppers and resist falling into the same gift-giving rut.

Instead, curl up with a warm cup of hot cocoa, wrap yourself in a blanket, and turn on your computer, because online shopping beats store hopping any day. Here’s some of the web’s best spots for holiday giving, so you can cross everyone off your list without ever leaving the comfort of your own home.


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Any girl would swoon over a gift from Home to hundreds of designer labels, the site has the perfect selection of shoes, accessories, handbags and clothing for the fashion-savvy woman in your life. Whether she’s been coveting an Alexander McQueen scarf, Marc by Marc Jacobs earrings, or a Tory Burch iPhone case, Shopbop literally has it all. Don’t let the word designer turn you off. Although many of their items have a steep price tag, a lot of the accessories are more than reasonable. They also have a killer sale section.


For those who would rather have an original piece of art or handmade jewelry there’s It’s where small business owners go to sell their original products: art, jewelry, clothing, tech gadgets, and more. Plus, the prices are pretty reasonable, making it the perfect option for those on a budget. It’s a wonderful way to support local designers without heading out into the cold.


The tech nerd we all know would love a gift from They sell a variety of computers, tablets, and accessories at discounted prices that would make the perfect gift for your electronic enthusiast.


For the beauty-obsessed there’s always Choose from a variety of pre-made sets that are ready for gifting, or select individual items from some of the industry’s best brands. If choosing makeup is too overwhelming, there’s a huge selection of fragrances, many of which come in convenient holiday sets. Sephora also carries fragrance and skincare for men.


For fair-trade gifts that make you feel good about spending your money, visit Selling handmade items from artisans in 38 countries, the company is one of the world’s largest fair trade organizations.


Pairing designer taste with a student budget doesn’t always work out, except when you log onto or, where they specialize in selling amazing products at reduced prices. From watches to bags, sunglasses to home furnishings, there’s something for everyone. Sales are categorized by item and usually last about two to three days. Check-in daily for new deals or sign-up for emails to see upcoming bargains. Also, be sure to get your purchase in fast, because like anything else, the good stuff always goes first.


If you want to make gift-giving a little more personal, is the perfect site to check out. At Zazzle, you can “make any product, gift or occasion a custom work of art.” From personalized mugs to t-shirts, laptop cases to aprons, everything is customizable. If you’re not sure what to design, they offer shopping by brand, like Harry Potter, DC Comics, and South Park.


Stumped as to what to get the man in your life? Take a look at, a site full of fashion, tech, and gadgets that are as unique as the person you’re buying for. It’s a digital magazine for the young, modern, materialistic man, and it allows you to purchase anything you like with just a click. If you’re still at a loss, check out Although not everything featured on the site are for purchase, you’ll definitely find some interesting ideas.


So there you have it, a complete shopping guide that’ll help you shop for everyone on your list. So, skip the mall and hit the web, where there’s sure to be no line-ups, no crazy holiday shoppers, and no parking lot blues.

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