Canadian Fashion Connection – Siren

PVC and net Goth fetish look by Siren, 1995

Siren boutique opened at 463 Queen Street West in Toronto in March 1988. It began as a subculture gift store and grew into a record shop that specialized in alternative music, like The Cure and Souxie & the Banshees. By the early 90s, Groovella and her new partner Morpheus (aka Karen and Stan) Blak, were carrying Lip Service stretch black jeans and imported vampire-inspired Goth fashions from London’s Kensington market. As macabre films like Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and Interview with the Vampire (1994) were released, the Goth movement grew in popularity. When fetish wear became big in the mid-90s, Siren’s frilled shirts, black capes, and velvet frock coats were sold alongside latex corsets and PVC platform boots. A second store ‘Cathouse’ was opened across the street to handle the overflowing success. However, by 2005, Morpheus and Groovella had divorced and online sales of cheap knock-offs were making it difficult for the store to maintain profits. The store was sold to longtime manager Sarah Khokhar who renamed the shop Hell’s Belles and expanded the stock to appeal to a broader range of interests. The re-gentrification of Queen Street West forced Hell’s Belles to close in February 2013 when the building was sold and the new owners raised the rent from $3,600 per month to $10,000 per month.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.

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