The Hameau de la Reine was a corner of the Versailles castle where Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France, could pretend to be a peasant. And so it is at the “clothing swap” meets organized by the Xchange Collective! Forget boxes of jumbled, moth-bitten polyester sweaters being foraged through by indigents under the watchful eye of church-going dowagers hoping to make a quick buck. The Spring Fling, as today’s event is known, is an occasion for Montreal’s bourgeois-bohême fashionistas to put down the amex and pick up a Found object. It’s an opportunity to rummage with a mimosa in hand. And if you want to be truly disgustingly decadent à la Sun Court, the catering is fit for royalty. It’s running until 10pm at 3795 #2 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, should you happen to read this in time (April 22).
It was billed as a clothes swap, but the wardrobes were almost a side attraction. This was high-tea with a purpose. Em & Seb boutique traiteur of Monkland Village provided orgasmic-grade treats, with Emma Cerulli (Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, Vancouver) herself at hand to help rationalize away the calories. Trained in the art of la bonne tradition de la cuisine française, Emma’s sweets are indeed both a rare find and a reminder that Montreal is a culinary oasis. I’ll only say one more thing about it: Miniature, hand ground hazlenut macarons with blueberry buttercream.
Afternoon treats are taken with tea of course, and luckily Rony Karam of Pure Tea was able to compliment Emma’s offerings perfectly. This is not tea as you know it however - perfectly matched organic blends with incredibly subtle and complex flavours. The good news is that while the mix of ingredients entails expert craftsmanship, preparing it is as simple as adding hot water (or half hot water, then half ice for iced tea). I don’t believe you can describe taste through words anymore than you can taste words through descriptions, so you should check both out.
Getting back to the clothes, the shelves were thick and just as much was being pulled off the hangers as being put on them. Your correspondant happened to overhear a very heartening conversation - “I need some new pants, man, all mine have holes in the crotch,” said a hipster to his friend, before pulling a pair of beige Banana Republic trousers off the rack that I had brought. “What size are these? 31… oh,” he lamented, putting them back. I also saw a woman leaving with an H&M white business shirt that I had bought in my days as an intern in Paris, many years ago. There is something very pleasant about new life being given to a formerly cherished item!
There were some new items for sale too. Geneviève Savard, a fashion designer, and Citizen Vintage, a boutique that specializes in rebirthing found clothing, were both represented. Geneviève was selling AWESOME broches made of gilded plastic dinosaurs… for $5!
Montreal cosmopolitisto and founder of the Xchange Collective Timothy Webber promises there will be more to come. “I wanted to do something high-end. Next time it will be a two day event. Come and have a mimosa - it’ll be great!”