Category: lifestyle

My Many Fine Vintages

Of all my beautiful dresses, I have to say, that my vintage pieces stand out best, for their beauty, timelessness, intricate craftsmanship, and flawless fit. Well, the fit may have a little to do with the tweaks I offer each piece, at the Labl studio, but the construction of garments produced before the economic trend of overseas factories of the 1990’s, were cut and designed to be altered for each client to their individual measurements.

Walking into vintage stores today, there are many pieces a well seasoned shopper such as myself will recognize, amongst these such designer labels as Lanvin, Pucci, Christian Dior, and Halston, but not only. It seems that more and more clothing racks seem to filling up daily with big shoulder pad jackets and gathered taffeta skirts: when did 80’s fashion become vintage?

vintage collage 001


To define vintage is a tricky task, because it really depends on who you ask. To an eighteen year old girl, 80’s fashion is “totally retro”, but to a mature woman who shopped during the 80’s, it is simply an era of bad fashion and teased hair.

Over the course of more than a decade, Labl studio has worked with many popular vintage stores in Toronto, Canada, such as Shrimpton Couture, I Miss You Vintage, 69 Vintage, and Stella Luna to name a few. It is the opinion of the vintage connoisseur that “true vintage” pieces are found from the 1920’s through the late 70’s.

These pieces were made in a different time, when people’s wardrobes did not extend into a separate room, but were housed in true wardrobes, a piece of furniture spanning a whopping 5 ‘ wide maximum. Ever wonder about these tiny closets you find in older homes? Yes, they were for real. These were times when women had a few casual dresses, a couple of good dresses, a good suit, and a good winter coat.

The art of clothing construction in these times was truly an art form; from cut and sleek design, to the beading examples, to the expert hand sewing, and finally the sharp fabrics of the era.

Today these pieces can not be replicated for the most part. Because the fabrics no longer exist or the labour costs alone would bankrupt any business today or simply the skill set is almost extinct. This is the cache of true “vintage”.

At Labl Studio, vintage recreation and restoration, is a true labour of love.

I have dedicated mad hours studying dresses and garments from these eras of fashion past, and I am always amazed at the incredible stories they reveal. I have perfected many skills required to construct these garments, such as adjusting seams, concealing and repairing tears, the insertion if new panels to replace torn panels, hand beading, etc.

Vintage is a true passion for me because if its’ beauty and mystery, one that may never truly be revealed to me, and so my passion burns on and on and on..



defining : couture

Couture   /ko͞oˈto͝or/

  1. The design and manufacture of fashionable clothes to a client’s specific requirements and measurements.
  2. The interpretation of a client’s individual needs and wishes in the conception, design, manufacture and fit of a specific garment.
  3. Labl is the creation of Elizabeth, a  professionally trained and celebrated couturier.  In the Labl Studio and all her personal consultations, Elizabeth’s clients couture needs are understood and then realized.

What’s a Wedding Without a Ring?

sound ring 001Custom can be such a daunting idea. So for as much as Labl caters to its custom clients, there are times we become the client ourselves.  One such experience was in getting wedding rings made.  After much thoguht, some disappointment and a lot of big airy ideas, we found a jewelry designer Danielle Crampsie of Made You Look Jewellery:what a fabulous experience.  Danielle was not typical, she offered a twist in her design that we loved.  The process took time and forethought and allowed us to personalize our rings in a manner that went beyond the aesthetic.

We have each other’s voice patterns in the design of our rings.  To think of making your wedding ring while recording your voice.  Or as my husband wanted; my laugh! I can still recall the two of us at the Made You Look studio. My husband making me laugh take after take until the sound waves were detailed enough to get a suitable print.

The experience was fabulous and it did not end with the rings.  Danielle has been great at helping perfect the fit of my husband’s ring long after we bought them. The whole process, as much as the finished product, has been memorable. It has also helped us keep touch with how to support our clientele.  It great to step into your client’s shoes every once in a while.  It was sheer bonus that it was wonderfully memorable too.



Labl has More Than Words at the 2014 IPMA

This past weekend Labl went International. On March 21st and 22nd Labl supported the International Portuguese Music Awards in providing gowns for the International Portuguese Awards Host Natasha Dos Santos.  Labl fit Miss Dos Santos in two gowns for the awards show which she co-hosted with Ricardo Farias at the Zeiterion Theatre.

Miss Dos Santos was scintilating in a black and silver gown and after some mid show wardrobe changes she appeared in a elegant floor length vintage black gown.  Here are some photos from the event that included performances by Nuno Bettencourt, Gary Cherone and Maria da Barros amongst others. Be sure to look back for more photos (especially the one with Miss Dos Santos, her Labl dress and Extreme guitarist, Nuno Bettencourt).

  IPMA 004 IPMA 005


Forbidden Prom – Labl Joins the Party

Labl at Forbidden Prom 2014

Labl ‘s Curling Golden Age

Labl is not just about dresses, we truly do cater to the individual; or in this case, the team.  Labl was approached to design and create a set of vintage inspired curling jackets.  Not your usual request, but Labl proved to be up to the task.  The right choice of fabric to move well and still keep warm while capturing that look of the golden era photos that hang in the Burlington Curling Club lounge was the success of the day. 

Custom Curling Sweaters

Labl Curling Sweaters

 ¨…The jackets are fantastic. They are warm, comfortable and they move well. We get lots of compliments (and giggles) when we wear them….
 Here is a photo from a recent bonspiel we did in Kingston. In fact, people were mentioning how vintage they looked in comparison to some of the team photos hanging in the club from the 1960s.¨

Jane Hamilton

A Sweet Thank You

It is always a pleasure to receive something like this in the mail. Congratulations Sasha & Adam. Thank you for making me part of your special day.

Sasha Melnik Bridal Thank You 001 900x300

@ Tiff with Freida Pinto : the work, the experience, the girl.

The lovely and talented Freida Pinto in a outfit altered by Elizabeth - Labl StudioI first met Frieda Pinto on a Friday, two days before her big event at TIFF, representing L’Oréal. She has been one of their style icons for some time now.

I was shown many outfits and was asked to pick those that would best exemplify Freida’s beauty and would appear brilliantly on camera. Our fitting session went well beyond the planned two hours, but in the end we chose some spectacular pieces. Now the I was asked to make them fit perfectly in less than 36 hours.

My experience with Freida was very successful. After another fitting, another hug and a few laughs, the pieces were dropped off to her hotel before midnight, just hours before her appearance. Such is the nature of the biz.

Freida Pinto first appeared to many of us in the Oscar winning Slum Dog Millionaire in 2008, followed by Immortals in 2011, amongst many others. Freida continues to work in Hollywood and Bollywood while also having recently added  film production to her already impressive career. One particular project is a film she will be producing, which for Freida is a manner of addressing a critical social issue plaguing many women in Asia today.

Frieda is a professional actor and producer. She has razzle dazzled us on the screen, but what is she really like? She has a smile that embraces you at first sight. She is gentle and kind. I will always remember this lovely young woman with great fondness.




Shania’s Juno Dress – Working with a Canadian icon


When a woman typically states, “the Dress”, she refers to her wedding dress, but if you have followed the Labl blog and Labl studio Facebook page, you might guess the dress worn by Shania Twain. I met Shania Twain the weekend she was inaugurated into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, but it was not to be a simple task; this dress was quite the drama situation.

It all started the Friday night, a day and a half before the big event. The call came in at midnight. On the other end of the phone was a stylist panicking to the point of tears, it seemed, and in a desperate voice asked if I would come with her to fit a client the next morning. She explained that the client did not live in Canada, but had travelled to Toronto two days before, was receiving an award, and needed to be fitted to perfection. She said that she had tried pinning the dress, but with all the beading, she realized that this was a job for the professionals, and so was asking to put it my hands. She asked if I was up to the task: rush jobs, personalized fittings, hand beading, and any other complex tasks. I assured her that Labl studio had been doing this for over 10 years, “but one question”, I asked, ” who would I be working with?”, “Oh, Shania Twain”. The next day bright and early, I was at her hotel, with the stylist, as we waited to be called up to Shania’s room. I had come as prepared as one can be to an impromptu fitting. Not having seen the dress, I sat in the lobby, only to imagine every possible issue a dress can have and the possible solutions. After a 20 minute wait, we received a call from Shania’s manager, Shania’s sister, “We are ready for you.”

Arriving at the suite, I could not help noticing all the people present and the different clothes that had been brought for Shania, some dress options for her big event, others, wardrobe requests from the singer/songwriter for her next travel adventure down south immediately following her Toronto stay.

It was a calm experience being introduced to a personality that I had always seen in a 2 dimensional way. Shania was shorter than I expected, a mature woman in her forties, but very kind eyes and great smile. Once she had tried on her gown, I went to work. The dress was too big in the sequence encrusted bodice and so the alteration had to be equally distributed between the side seams and the centre back seam, where an invisible zipper was placed. Also, the hem was far too long, needless to say.

I made an appointment to return the gown later that afternoon for a 2nd fitting, excused myself, and was off to work. Arriving at my studio, I addressed the work required: in order to alter the dress. I first had to remove all the sequence beading around the side seams and cd (centre back) seam by hand, while also affixing the remaining beads. Because removing one sequence beads leads to all the surrounding beads falling out, this task required firstly that I take a picture, then, deciding which sequence stayed and which were to be removed and then stitching down all the sequences to remain at a 3″ perimeter, then I began the task to remove all the remaining beads, while safely keeping all the beads in a safe place.

This task was very painstaking, I can assure you as the fabrication was a soft netting, so avoiding the creation of holes with my seam ripper was very crucial. Hours later, I was ready to alter the dress, seams were altered and the zipper was removed and re sewn. With minutes to spare, I packed up the gown and made my way back the the lobby I had found myself only hours before. Once again with Shania’s stylist, the minute we got the call up, we were off.

For the second time, standing with Shania Twain in her gown, we both accessed the alteration and the look she wanted and made a few more changes. The dress fit like a glove, would be hemmed perfectly, for her 5 1/2″ heels and to everyone’s delight would be ready for 8am that Sunday morning. Everyone was happy, but I had a dress to hand bead: it was going to be a long night. Back at the studio I tweaked the final changes to “the Dress” , referred to the photo I had taken of the beading earlier and started my task that would last long into the night and into the wee hours of the morning.

At 7 :10am, I placed the last sequence bead in stitched the last stitch. This incredible journey was almost at its’ end. As I packed up the gown, I lamented the fact that I had no time for a shower, new outfit, or make-up. I had little time to make it for 8am and so off I went. On my third visit to the hotel, I knew the drill too well. I got comfortable in my seat, laid the dress on my lap, as to not to crease it, and put my smile on. When we were called up this time, I felt an excitement surge inside me and passing off the dress to Shania Twain was a thrill. I had shared my artistry with a wonderful artist and she was going to show case my work to all of Canada and the world.

Later that day I received a call from a woman congratulating me for my work. She represented the store where the gown was purchased in Cumberland Lanes. What a crazy ride, of turns and twists with a surprise ending.

I loved every minute of it.

Labl makes Blog TO’s – “Best Seamstresses in Toronto”

Today is the way one likes to wake up. A great weekend behind you and the promise of a full and rewarding week ahead. The icing on my cake today is that Blog TO has decided to name me as one of Toronto’s best seamstresses.

Labl Thread BoardIn a blog posted by Bianca Venerayan / JULY 26, 2013
Toronto’s Best Seamstress (excerpt)

The best seamstress in Toronto is hard to find without a little help, and there’s no way in hell you’d willingly approach a dressmaker, hoping to change the neckline of your grandmother’s bridal number, without a little research. Thanks to some readers suggestions, we’ve zeroed in on eight women with the magic touch, none of whom are found in the back room of your local dry cleaner.

So, whether you’re in a panicked frenzy over an ill-fitting dress a week before your big day or you’re looking to bring your dream prom garb to life (multi-coloured sequins and all), these home studios and storefronts are tried, tested, and true.

Here is where you can find the best seamstress in Toronto.

Labl by Elizabeth Oliveira
52 Seaforth Avenue, 416.504.1504
Though her Queen West Style Lab closed over a year ago, Elizabeth Oliveira still offers her custom made, repair, and alteration services by appointment only in Parkdale. Eager to fill the void left by off-the-rack average sizing, Elizabeth studied design in Portugal before diving headfirst into her passion for well-fitting garments. With past clients like Shania Twain and Ron Sexsmith, it’s clear she’s good at what she does.

In addition to this news, the blog review  added further pleasure to my day as the articles photo was taken of the Labl StyleLab – Thread board.

“Happily Ever After” Starts Here – Bridal Beware

Bridal online is big business. For a fraction of the price of retail shopping, a bride can order her bridesmaid dresses for under $200 from the comfort of her own home. More often than not, this seemingly stress free experience becomes its own snow ball of disaster. Here are some realities;

– First of all the fit is the most obvious. Bridal websites offer great prices, but not great fit charts, so typically not only does the hem have to be done, but extra fitting must be done for each dress. The most difficult situation is when the dress is too small. To rectify this is a complex process, that requires new fabric sourcing and extra fittings, as well as a considerable alteration fee.
– The next issue is styling. While the picture on the web site looks quite beautiful on their size 2 model, the reality is that their polyester creation often disappoints and the unassuming bridesmaid often feels a bit frumpy beside the perfection that is the bride, creating an atmosphere of resentment.
– Another issue is timing. I can’t begin to recount how many last minute and hysterical bridesmaids I get calling me, complaining of just receiving their dress a few days before and with the wedding a week and a half away, they need to find someone to help make it presentable.

With all these issues, my tip for brides and bridesmaids is know what you are buying. A custom made gown can be made of more affordable material, in a very flattering style that the bridesmaid can be proud to wear for the bride, and then look forward to wearing it again. A happy bridesmaid is a helpful bridesmaid.

If timing is an issue and the dresses are arriving close to the wedding date, to avoid rush alteration fees, have a set appointment with the alteration professional standing and the project accounted for. No surprises is a good thing in planning a seamless wedding day.

If budget is the concern, discuss the alteration fees with your alteration professional before you buy, especially if you have bridesmaids of extreme sizes, as some dresses may suit the silhouettes of some bridesmaids and not of others, leaving your bridal party looking unfinished. Alterations, while effective, can become expensive and a serious issue, if unaccounted for. Do your homework. Is the cheapest way, really the inexpensive route, or the beginning of a huge expense?

In looking forward to a beautiful day, focus on what matters to you most and ask questions to the professionals. We know our stuff and are here to help

416 504 1504

A New Wave of Fabrics

Well, my trip was amazing.
Three days into my shopping trip in Paris, the weather warmed up to a tropical paradise. I finally was able to wear my summer dresses and off I went looking for inspiration. I admire the French woman in their dress up casual look. Simple silhouettes, lux fabrics, great fit. I love this ease of dress and so, I spent every day walking around this beautiful city  looking for the best it had to offer. I brought back wonderful examples of Parisian bliss: jersey knits, silk cottons, silk linens, brushed chiffons, wool and cashmere, and a few surprises.
Wave of Fabrics 002 600x300As always, my visits to the fabric stores are an opportunity to see old faces and continue past conversations. Just as in Toronto, the vendors of such beauty are like old friends and there is always news to share. This year, I introduced my Tristan: my son, world traveller extraordinaire, who wears a great smile and has an even better disposition.
It is my joy to constantly bring my passions together and so this is just the beginning. I am currently working on a collection of spring light jackets that would entice the smartest of French beauties.
I look forward to growing my shopping list for my clients.Please contact the studio
for a consultation to shop for beautiful fabrics and styles in house.

416 504 1504

My Heart Skips a Beat (or two) in Rue Clery

Paris Fabrics 400x300My search has taken me far and wide, but I found my answer in Paris.   In a small Fabric shop, in the wholesale textile district of Paris, I found a very selection of vibrant coloured silk chiffons and organza, but I felt as though I had been there before. Images of beautiful dresses came to me and then all at once I realized that I recognized these fabrics from run way shows and magazine layouts from Lanvin, Chloe, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel.

My hunger for these treasures had me peruse the store’s stock for over an hour, until I made an incredible discovery: the true gems were kept up above, at their 3rd story warehouse room.

Dear friends, I walked those steep steps with fervor and walked into a land of cashmere and silk, where great designers had gone before me.

When in Paris, I make this sacred journey. I start early in the morning and take my time. I really enjoy seeing the family that runs this store and catching up. While I typically have looked for fabrics by myself, I will have the pleasure this year to bring along my son and show him the 8th wonder of my world.

This year my trip to Paris is scheduled for early June, and I have no doubt that I will bring back all kinds of wonderful, either samples of fabric or full pieces. If amazing is what you are looking for, 

Labl studio will have something for you.

To Peplum or not to Peplum?

4-_MG_0458Not since the 80’s has the peplum been so popular. Gone are the days of the typical silk ensemble, with the padded shoulders and the supper gathered peplums. The new peplum is sleek and fitted, but it is it for everyone. I have to say if properly tailored, of course, but off the rack beware!

I have to say that almost 80% of ready to wear garments feature a very long torso and so, when any additional accents are added below, it is a mess. A very typical alteration at the studio is to make the waist fit the client correctly. This alteration, not only accentuates the smallest part of the body, but by creating the proper waist, we can then achieve the “hour glass figure” that most woman love. Further more, when the waist is located well below the client’s natural waist, the garment will wrinkle very badly and the only solution it to professionally alter it.

Now with the additional peplum, a further adjustment may be required towards the height of the peplum, if the client is a petit figure. Just as widths can be tightened and widened, so must the length of the bodices. Typically, the focus is on the hem to create the correct length of a garment, but this is incorrect.

Too technical? Let’s simplify; if you look wonderful is some dresses and awful in others, it is the proportion of the design and cut. Typically a professional tailor can adjust this, by pinning out the excess material. If you feel too dumpy, then the garment is not well balanced for you and a professional can access the work to balance it for your particular figure.

If a garment looks good, but features far too many wrinkles than you can bear, or the back zipper is not flat, a professional can alter your garment to make it look seamless.

The next time you go shopping, be fearless because you too can peplum.

Rush Jetset Restoration for the Cannes Red Carpet


Rush Stephanie Von Pfetten Vintage Dress Restoration for the red carpet @ Cannes

Rush Stephanie Von Pfetten Vintage Dress Restoration for the red carpet @ Cannes

I first met Stephanie Von Pfetten on a dark Friday afternoon. She had just bought a blue beautiful sequenced dress at Toronto’s well known vintage store, I Miss YOU Vintage and she was panicked.

She was on her way to Cannes, France for a film festival and had collected three other dresses for this event. So, why was this blond beauty panicked? Stephanie is a Canadian film and television actress perhaps best known for her roles as Captain Marcia “Showboat” Case in the Battlestar Galactica series or as Dr. Daniella Ridley in Cracked

She didn’t know what to wear. Stephanie wanted to look perfect for this very special event, but found herself overwhelmed with too many options and her search for the right look led her to the labl studio.  I met with Stephanie and looked at all her options: a couple of designer loaners and two vintage buys. In meeting with Stephanie, I accessed her preferred looks and doubts. We discounted the designer loans first because, while “in mode” one did not show off Stephanie well enough, and the other showed off a bit too much. Next, we looked at the two the vintage pieces and finally “The Dress” was chosen. It was the beautiful beaded gown that brought out the glorious blue of her eyes and the old world glamour, which she could strut so well. While the dress offered so much, it completely lacked in fit; not a small feat, as it would have to be altered and re beaded by hand along the complete length on the dress, from the underarms to the hem.

There was one glitch: she was leaving for France in less than 24 hours!!!

Now, at Labl, I have seen it all, so I was not too worried. Did I mention I was 37 weeks pregnant? I wanted Stephanie to wear the dress she loved and so, I began my labour of love that evening.

With any other beaded garment alteration, I would set up two distinct appointments, one to pin the alteration and the next alteration to fit the before it was complete. These steps are very important because the garment has to fit perfectly before the beading can be reapplied. With Stephanie’s dress there was no time and so I had to pin so precisely that no pin was sparred for this most difficult feat.

Later that night….

Seams were pre basted, beading was removed, French seams were undone and recreated, and finally the beading process was started and went on and on and…. Oh, by the way, did I mention I had to mimic a very distinct beaded design from the hip to the hem, while resizing this dress down a couple of sizes?!

Saturday morning came before I knew it and a few finishing touches were applied just before Stephanie arrived. Right on time, I greeted Stephanie at my door and led her to the studio to re introduce her to her new dress. She was silent at first and then expressed delight at the seamless perfection of her “new” dress. While, I would not be at Cannes to see her walk her walk, I did have her try on the dress for me and I can assure you now as I did my sleepy self then, the dress fit Stephanie like a glove! My “Tahdah!” moment of the week and all before lunch.

Stephanie Von Pfetten is a distinguished actress who was looking for the impossible, but at the Labl studio, we make the impossible, possible.

I Love Paris in the Springtime

La Tour Eiffel

There is something about Paris.  It is a brand for all things; chic, romantic, beautiful, mysterious, luxurious (and of course indulgent).  Two years ago, I was introduced to some of this wonderful city’s secrets.  Though my love of art and architecture would possibly have lead me to some secret gallery, garden or museum; this I found a treasure trove of fabrics, the likes of which I have never found in New York, Montreal or Toronto.

Some of my most successful pieces have stemmed from these discoveries.  So each year I return to carress, collect and carry home a selection of these wonderful silks, synthetics, wools and more.  This year is no different.  The first week of June will have the Studio closed for my annual pilgrammage to the City of Lights.  Where in addition to purchasing new fabics for the Fall season I will be; studying tennis fashion at Roland Garros (be sure to catch my blog from the clay courts of the French Open), looking for some further inspiration in the Left Bank’s best vintage stores, and catching the overall vide of what remains one of the best dressed cities in the world.


Princesse Tam Tam ~ Fall Winter Collection Preview


The time has once again come to gaze into the future and “Undress like a Princesse”

Labl Studio is proud to present the Princesse Tam Tam 2013-2014 Fall/Winter collection for your viewing and advance purchasing pleasure.  Be sure to catch this exclusive preview of the very best of modern iconic French lingerie, swimwear and nightwear.

Available by appointment only

April 30th – May 3rd ~ 9 am – 9pm

Contact the Labl Studio to arrange your private shopping experience while there are still sessions available.

416.504.1504 –

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