In the 1960s, Yorkville was referred to as a “festering sore in the middle of the city” by MPP Syl Apps, due to its population of beatniks, burnouts, barefoot hippies and folksy singers (Joni Mitchell and Neil Young were known to hang out there during the neighbourhood’s bohemian era). But Yorkville now is far removed from its gritty days, with choice shopping at every turn, high-end restaurants, five-star hotels and Toronto’s only Whole Foods. For this week’s Street Style, we sought out Yorkville’s ladies who lunch—we imagined we’d encounter the kind of women who carries a status bag, sips chilled pinot grigio on a patio and, um, doesn’t work. But we found Yorkville isn’t solely a mecca of Real Housewives types who pile on labels: we met some quirky gals with even quirkier style, and some impossibly smart-looking ladies (obviously, those were the ones in their 60s and 70s).
Some ladies (and one gentleman with a toy dog) did wear the uniform we had imagined: an ostentatious, label-heavy outfit accessorized by a Celine purse and an armful of shopping bags from nearby boutiques. But we also met marketing professionals in sensible outfits who were skipping lunch in favour of client meetings, and a cool shop girl who spent her lunch break shopping for groceries. Of course the gentrification of Yorkville has its critics (a pair of women passing through, dressed in the bohemian uniform of the ‘60s, made it very clear to us that they weren’t “Yorkville women”), but we found the neighbourhood was a much more inclusive environment than it’s often perceived to be. It’s the home of wannabes, glamour girls, the fabulously rich and gaudy, and sophisticated 70-somethings—we even spotted someone who could have easily been in the cast of Hee Haw.