From hunting for fashion treasures in Toronto’s Kensington Market in her teen years to snapping up covetable designer vintage as a globe-trotting stylist, Amanda Lee Shirreffs has come a long way — literally — in amassing a wondrous wardrobe of exuberant printed pieces.
Every time she touches down in a new city, she quizzes locals and friends for information about where the best vintage and thrift shops are (although she’s not travelling now because of the pandemic). “It weirdly centres me; I feel comfortable in those kinds of stores,” she says. In addition to Canadian favourites like Shrimpton Couture and Montreal’s Featherstone Vintage, Found and Vision — located on Portobello Road, where she lived while attending the University of the Arts London — is a must-visit.
There’s also a close-to-home familiarity tied in with the heady nostalgia of the eye-catching retro looks that appeal to Shirreffs — those that remind her of style icons like Diana Ross and The Rolling Stones’s Brian Jones. “My introduction to vintage was hand-me-downs from my mom,” she says, adding that while her mother and aunt saved some pieces from their adolescence, they “didn’t think to hold on to” their older stuff. Now, Shirreffs clings to the items in her closet and pays close attention to rare finds for her collection.
The loud pieces she has an affection for range from offerings from lesser-known brands to the punchy print work of Marimekko
and Malcolm Starr; the graphic knitwear of Missoni also resonates with her both visually and personally, given that her mother grew up in Italy.
Ultimately, though, it’s the inner power Shirreffs derives from wearing her selection of striking items that keeps her coming back for more. Designers at the time were working with newly liberated customers — those who had just been released from the shackles of the previous era’s prim and prohibitive styles, she says. “The pieces represent who was wearing them — someone who was confident. I love the freedom in them.”
Photography by Daphné David. Hair and makeup, Vanessa Ashley for Teamm/Milk Makeup and Fenty Beauty.
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