Nestled in Toronto’s ritzy Yorkville neighbourhood, home to Chanel, Versace, Hermès and other luxury retailers, Cabine is an anomaly. It’s housed in an unassuming brownstone identified only by its bright pink door, and gaining entrance is by invitation or appointment only. The intimate Cabine retail experience was founded by fashion veteran Nicholas Mellamphy and officially opened for business in 2018. Mellamphy brings one-of-a-kind pieces from the runways each season right to his clients — a small group of women from around the world who just happen to include celebrities and royalty (he doesn’t divulge names).
Previously the creative director of The Room at Hudson’s Bay, Mellamphy was instrumental in bringing fashion visionaries, fresh talent and even a few Hollywood A-Listers through its doors. During his tenure, Hudson’s Bay transformed from a stuffy department store to an innovative fashion destination. “It’s so much easier to be fearless,” he notes. “People think it’s hard, but if you’re honest and truthful with your taste, ideas or vision, it’s easy.”
After leaving Hudson’s Bay in 2016, Mellamphy took time to think about his next chapter and Cabine was born. It’s a well- crafted strategy that this fashion insider has always done best — combine his discerning taste and a keen understanding of the client’s personal style with a deep-rooted respect for designers and their craft. While the focus is on fashion — he works with 70 or 80 brands “to give access and opportunity to clients, so their wardrobe isn’t too brand-heavy” — Cabine also curates an ever-changing, tightly edited collection of accessories, furniture and art. “It’s a marriage of Moda Operandi and [The] Apartment by [The] Line, where everything is for sale,” he explains. His own MO? Finding standout items his clients will love, delivered with exceptional service. “I want it to be organic and fluid. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring — that’s what the world is — so why not be open to change and expressing your ideals for that moment?”
Cabine (he prefers calling it a salon) is like stepping into Mellamphy’s own home. “I didn’t want it to look like a Yorkville brownstone and then inside [to] feel like we’re on Fifth Avenue.” Black-and-white checkered floors and jewel-toned velvet curtains adorn the living room. And in addition to a dining area, wet bar and powder room, there’s a fitting room large enough to accommodate racks filled with pieces from Prabal Gurung, Peter Pilotto and Brandon Maxwell (the designers change depending on the client). Almost everything inside is for sale, from fixtures to furniture, along with the art in rotating exhibitions from galleries and photographers such as Caitlin Cronenberg and Craig McDean. “It’s all selected by me,” says Mellamphy. “There’s nothing that doesn’t have my fingerprint.”
By appointment only. 30 Hazelton Ave, Yorkville; cabinebynicholasmellamphy.com
02 RIZZOLI BOOKSTORE
Mellamphy’s penchant for coffee table books led him to this famed bookstore in Manhattan. “I would stop in for inspiration after a long day of market appointments.” Located in the storied Beaux Arts Saint James building, Rizzoli houses a broad selection of tomes, from fashion and art to architecture and interior design. The stylish interior channels the city’s historical libraries with its high ceilings, cherry-wood bookshelves and elegant chandeliers.
133 Broadway, New York, N.Y.; 212-759-2424; rizzoliusa.com
03 EDITIONS DE PARFUMS FRÉDÉRIC MALLE
“Scent is so important for me and Frédéric Malle has some of the most exquisite ones,” Mellamphy points out. His favourites are Geranium pour Monsieur for the a.m. and Carnal Flower in the evening. According to Mellamphy, beauty is in the details — elegant branding, flaçon shape and the store concept. There are refrigerated perfume cabinets, a gallery wall that pays homage to the perfumers behind the scents, and smelling columns that allow visitors to sniff without interference.
21, rue du Mont Thabor, Paris, France; +33 1 42 22 16 89; fredericmalle.com
This Milan-based multi-brand luxury retailer is located in a 17th-century palazzo in the artistic district of Brera. The 6,400-square- foot space features marble, plexiglass, brass and velvet against a backdrop of distressed walls. “[It has been] a fashion pit stop for as long as I can remember, [and founder] Antonia Giacinti has built a fan club of clients and designers by presenting collections with a fearless edit. My visits become more surveillance-like as I try to figure out the equation for why Milanese women are so chic,” says Mellamphy. “Stay here long enough and you get to figure it out.”
Via Cusani, 5, Milan, Italy; +39 02 8699 8340; antonia.it
05 DOVER STREET MARKET
“It’s Rei Kawakubo’s world and we just live in it!” says Mellamphy of Dover Street Market (DSM) in London. “DSM was a game changer in retail when it opened 15 years ago. It’s curated in a way that makes you feel instantly cool and part of the tribe just by being there.” This sleek multi- retailer highlights of-the-moment brands, purveying them via creative installations that respect designers and their distinctive visions.
18-22 Haymarket, London, U.K.; +44 20 7518 0680; doverstreetmarket.com
By Mishal Cazmi – *This article originally appeared in INSIGHT: The Art of Living | Fall 2019