Category: vintage

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..



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


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

Reviving Past Treasures – The Warmth of Fur

Something vintage, Something borrowedOh, the love of all things vintage: the bias cut gowns, the beading, the
Pucci, but what about the vintage fur?

For years I have enjoyed sourcing and collecting vintage clothing.  For the most part, my collection has always offered me a great variety of dress and endless inspiration, but what about vintage furs. More and more,my clients have posed the question: can I wear the fur?

Being a darling of the eighties, I was highly influenced by the constant protest of the decade, but as I have grown into adulthood, I have become conscious of the constant disposal of clothing. Reviving, recycling, and repurposing my wardrobe into the treasure trove it should be brings all sorts of satisfaction.

In the last decade,  I have amassed a small collection of furs, some  sourced and some inherited from family.  They are elegant pieces that add glamour, style and warmth to evening looks.


Very recently, I worked with a bride that required fine beading work on her bridal gown.  While it was a gorgeous, delicate,
gown, her fairy tale wedding was set in Iceland, in the heart of winter. My mind went to one place: vintage fur.
In exploring this possibility, I brought out my collection, and offered her a rental option.

For the affordable price of a rental, this client can enjoy the look and warmth of a fur stole, without having the task of shopping or caring for a fur; including yearly storage and cleaning.

Icelandic Fur

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.

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.

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