About 10 months ago, the owners of Oliver and Lilly’s, Leighann Boquist and Darren Bold, were visiting Paris when they spotted their muse in the stylish ’hood of Saint-Germain: an elderly gentleman wearing a perfectly tailored, olive-green corduroy suit with a matching briefcase and fedora.
You won’t see that exact suit or hat in the South Granville area boutique’s fall collection, but there was something about the look that dictated everything the husband-and-wife team brought in this season.
“I was just so inspired by that,” Boquist said at a recent fall reveal of the store’s fashion offerings, and of the studied curation process behind them. “That’s kind of what Oliver and Lilly’s embodies: quality pieces, the foundation of having one garment.” It comes down to investment pieces.
“We said, ‘How do we take that Parisian way of dressing and fuse it with New York cool and then bring that to the West Coast?’ ” said Boquist, who, not coincidentally, followed her French trip up with a stop in the Big Apple.
So that corduroy suit—and the idea of bringing together those three urban cultures—became the guiding force for what may be the shop’s most exciting collection yet in its seventh fall. Fittingly, these days the boutique finds itself surrounded by like-minded shops at its location at 1575 West 6th Avenue: there’s the Parisian-inspired croissant heaven Beaucoup Bakery and the Heather Ross In House atelier around the corner, and the back-to-foundations simplicity of Farmer’s Apprentice just a few doors away.
At Oliver and Lilly’s, the approach translates into Paris’s clean-lined A.P.C. laying the season’s groundwork. (“It’s kind of our DNA,” Boquist said.) This fall, these dependable, timeless basics range from soft navy pea coats ($640) to tailored tweed blazers ($610) to vintage-paisley-print dresses ($385)—classics you’ll still be able to wear a decade from now, and beyond. On the feet? The always-in-style, polished Francoise lace-up granny boot, bien sûr ($545). You’ll also see lots of stripes—an essential in the Oliver & Lilly’s wardrobe and a chic French staple since Jean Seberg turned heads in Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless. Check out A.P.C.’s simple boat-necked sweater in black and white ($195) or the new Heidi Merrick dress in the same hues ($356).
From those standards, the boutique has branched out into the subtle whimsy of luxury lines like fair-trade-minded Chinti and Parker, a cotton and cashmere collection from Britain that puts punch into classics: think scarlet-orange stars dancing across a beige cashmere crew-neck sweater ($588) or navy trousers with a wool-flannel waistline ($324).
Even more playful is the store’s new Ilana Kohn line, which is based in New York City. Its standouts are gorgeous contemporary-geometric-print silk frocks in black against dusty turquoises and greens (from about $300 to $450). “You can throw them on and go, or you can add a belt or a blazer if you need more structure,” Boquist said. Ditto for Kohn’s deep-blue silk jumper with three-quarter sleeves ($345).
And yes, there is one piece that’s a direct tribute to the septuagenarian gentleman spotted on that stylish Saint-Germain street corner: a black oversized fedora by Italian designer Reinhard Plank (about $300). It would look as suave in the Marais as it would in Manhattan, but its wide brim seems like the perfect, stylish foil to Vancouver drizzle, too.