1. What was your first vintage acquisition and where is it now?
My first vintage acquisition from a vintage clothing shop was back in 1972 and it was a silk satin embroidered bed jacket. I used to wear it with a Danskin leotard and my favorite jeans. My first article of vintage clothing though was a bit earlier than that...it was when my grandmother gave me her 40s shoes (which I wore to death) and a lovely 40s length jacket and a 1940s coat with a striped
muskrat fur collar. I still have everything but the shoes.
2. What was your favorite or best buy ever?
I have had so many wonderful buys over the years, I have always found my best buying was done from ladies who had never married, even more so when they were sisters who had lived together over the years. They tended to keep everything and generally took great care of their clothing.
There was one lady in particular, that my husband had known since he was a boy and had done yard work for her over the years. He brought me to her old Victorian home in a quaint suburb of Montreal and introduced us. She had been quite a pack rat all her life, I asked her about clothing as I spotted a beautiful old silk & lace parasol in her vitrine cabinet and a lovely antique pair of boots but at that time she was not ready to part with anything. Well, a few years later she called us and brought us upstairs to the bedroom closets. My heart went all aflutter when I opened one of these doors, as I could see all these beautiful garments.Victorian silk outfits, 1920s beaded and sequined treasures, lush velvets, silks and satins. I could not believe my eyes. We bought a few pieces that day and went back again and again. The rest she still could not part with...about two years later she passed away and her nephew got in touch with us to let us know that we should come back to the house to buy up the rest.
We went back and all that was left in the house were the garments (a few had been removed by the niece, as I remember quite vividly what had been left behind) everything else in the house had been removed, it felt so strange to be there in the empty home with only the clothing there waiting for me. She had kept her word as she had told me so many times that once she was gone the rest were to be mine. There was definitely a bond between us, she knew I had a great respect for these items and that I would take care of them and find them good homes.
3. What was your most unusual buying experience?
That's a difficult question, I have had a few that were rather weird. One time, we went to meet a lady who was living in a very upscale downtown apartment in Montreal. She came to the door and we had a bit of a fright as she honestly looked like the Baby Jane character that Bette Davis had portrayed in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, rouge on the cheeks, dark lipstick all askew. She was there with her son, who lived with her and frankly they were both extremely peculiar people. In the end, I only left with one pair of 30s shoes because even though she had a lot of lovely items for me to see...she really was in no way ready to part with her things.
Then there was another lady that we had known for well over 20 years as we used to meet her when we stood in line for bazaars. She always bought so much and we used to wonder what she did with it all. She always said she did not sell anything and that one day she would invite us over and maybe sell us a few items. Well the one day finally arrived and we met her again...her husband had passed away about 6 months earlier, he used to drive her around, so she asked for a lift and we brought her home. She let us in and I have never seen anything like this. She was a true hoarder but of good things. Glass, porcelain, paintings. Not much clothing though as that was not her thing. But when it came to glass, pottery and porcelain, it was unbelievable what she had. Unfortunately, another dealer had met her shortly after her husband had passed away and she was letting him buy most of it. Anyway, throughout the whole of the house and the basement there were literally little mountains of all of these beautiful and fragile items. No matter where you were in the home there was only a very narrow foot path and you had to place one foot in front of the other to get around and hope nothing was going to topple over, we heard the sound of glass breaking more than once. Her bedroom which we only went into twice was where she kept the jewelry. You cannot even begin to imagine how much jewelry she had...unfortunately, I did not get to buy much of this either as she did get very ill shortly after our second foray into the jewelry den and this other dealer got to buy it all out from the nephews...she never had children of her own.
4. If you had a time machine which decade or year would you choose to go back to and bring back some clothing or jewelry ?
Definitely the 1920s and early 30s, I just adore the fabrics and designs from that period. The garments, accessories, jewelry, all of it!
5. What are your favorite, most helpful reference materials/sources?
All the resources we have here of course at the VFG and I do have quite a good selection of books on clothing and jewelry that I do refer to from time to time. I do have all of Jonathan's publications as reference materials and a lot of old magazines and some catalogs too.
6. What item were you most tempted to keep that is available in your shop right now?
Actually, I am very fond of this 80s Thierry Mugler suit as it is something that is more practical and easy to use, I would like to wear it with the quirky KOKIN hat.