Toronto Vintage Clothing Show vendors tell the stories behind their favourite finds

By Jean Grant| Photography by Jenna Marie Wakani

The Toronto Vintage Clothing show wrapped up for another year on Sunday, but the vendors who participated peddle their collections year-round. We caught up with the show’s antique dealers and boutique owners and asked to hear the quirky stories behind their coolest pieces—how they were procured, who they belonged to and where they may have been worn:

Victoria Dinnick

Gadabout Vintage


“This dress is by Charles Worth, an English fashion designer who was known as the father of haute couture. This is an early Worth piece with his name stitched onto the waist, which dates the piece back between 1850 to 1897. It’s museum quality and I’m selling it for $2,000.”


“The gold gown is a 1937 piece made by Bonwit Teller in New York. It was a swanky department store that catered to the carriage trade. Wallis Simpson would have worn something very similar. It weighs about three pounds and I sell it for $1,900.”



Margaret Piltzmaker

Petticoat Lane Antiques


“This is a 1940s full-length sheared beaver coat. I got it at an estate sale for the Eaton family’s caretaker. It belonged to the caretaker’s wife and so we think it might have been a gift from Lady Eaton.”



Clara Gold

Life of Manek


“I found this 1980s orange suede coat at an estate sale. Estate sales are funny because you see so much of a person’s life and kind of put the pieces together. I imagine the original owner wearing this jacket on a crisp autumn night, either going out to dinner with her husband or buying a pumpkin. Now, it could pass for a Celine coat. It’s $85.”



Nicole Manek

Life of Manek


“This is a vest we made out of a 1980s fox fur coat brought in by a customer, along with a bunch of other things that belonged to her aunt. We put a cap sleeve on it and now it’s way cooler than your average vest. It’s got a bit of a cavewoman vibe. I’d like to imagine someone grocery shopping in it. We sell it for $285.”



Lori Marsden

Breathless Vintage


“This Simpson’s hat was provided by one of our customers. She came in and gave us a massive Birks hat box filled with awesome finds. This hat is from the 1940s or 1950s. Ladies would wear it to church or tea. It’s $69.”



Jason Jones

The Jones Collection


“I’ve been collecting for 30 years and just started to sell. This is a very rare Russian icon piece. I bought it in Vancouver at an auction house 20 years ago. It’s from the 18th century, and would sit around the house for worship. It depicts the story of St. George slaying the dragon, and my price is $1,200.”



From left: Roberta Hirschberg, Julia Hirschberg, Donna MacDonald

Mahonia Vintage


MacDonald: “This is a vest that was given to execs of the Westinghouse Electric Range Company to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1964. It was probably worn on the day of the party and then put away in an attic. If the company still existed it would be over a century old. It’s $100.”


“This is a 1940s film noir dress. At the time it was very flashy. It’s a size minus two and has this gorgeous fishtail peplum and the silkiest velvet. There’s a matching opera coat with real fox fur accents. It’s a real diva dress that I’m selling for $400.”



Judy Hrabb

Star of India Antiques, Orangeville


“This is a very rare sterling silver perfume chatelaine. It’s French and clips onto a waistband. Chatelaines were a vital part of the Victorian period. On top of perfume chatelaines, there were tea chatelaines, sewing chatelaines and others. This one dates back to 1875 to 1880. It was hand-tooled so a silversmith must have hammered out all these beautiful scenes. I believe I purchased it in Europe. I’m selling it for $1,200.”

Toronto Vintage Clothing Show vendors tell the stories behind their favourite finds

“This is another extremely rare piece that would clip onto someone’s pocket. It has a ladies’ watch attached to it that hinges open. I’ve been doing this for 35 years and I can count on two hands the numbers of chatelaines we’ve come across. This one is also from France but from a bit later, around 1860. It’s $898.”



Richard Moorhouse

Earthly Possessions


“Here’s an authentic Art Deco cigarette and drink stand. It would sit beside a chair in the 1930s during cocktail hour. I bought it at a market in Montreal and sell it for $110.”


“These 1970s West German pottery vases still have the Eaton’s receipt inside. They were 59 cents and now I’m selling for $35 each.”



Devora Bellaiche


“When we bought this dress, it had a list pinned to the crinoline of all the parties and dates where the previous owner had worn it, so she wouldn’t wear the same thing to the same party twice. For instance, she wore it to Hamilton to a Christmas party in 1967 and to Syracuse over the holidays in 1969:"



Suzanne Carillo

Vintage by Suzanne


“I bought this dress from an estate sale—I was actually bidding against another vendor who is here. It’s such a unique 1970s piece. The woman who owned it was a real fashionista. I imagine she must have worn it to real boho ‘70s parties where everyone was smoking pot.”



Andrea Lalond

NouveAu Riche


“My grandmother used to work in charity shops, and so I get most of my favourite finds from her friends. One of them saved this 1960s wedding dress for me. It’s made with the kind of lace you don’t come across unless it’s French. You can get married in it or wear it with boots. It’s $525.”



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