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Victoire’s vintage sale: It all started with Miss Canada 1954

By Karen Diepeveen on April 16, 2013

Twice each year, vintage clothing lovers line up outside of Victoire Boutique down on Dalhousie Street. Usually filled with Canadian-designed goods, the boutique transforms into a vintage emporium, displaying racks of dresses from days of yore. With the spring edition of the vintage sale happening this weekend, we’ve got a treat for you: a sneak peek into the fashions available, and an interview with Victoire owner Régine Paquette about how this all got started five years ago.

Apartment613: The vintage sale is now a staple for retro-clothing lovers. How did you guys get the idea to do it in the first place, five years ago?

Régine Paquette: The way it all started is actually kinda funny and a magical series of events… One day in 2008 we received a flyer in the mail addressed to us about an auction in Cornwall of Miss Canada 1954’s estate. Katie & I had never actually been to an auction before, so I have no idea how we even got on that mailing list, but our curiosity was piqued, so we decided to make the trek out to Cornwall just for the heck of it.

Once we got to the auction, we were sucked in… we got the fever, auction fever! Now we’re hooked! There were all of these amazing pieces from her wardrobe up for auction, including some beautiful pageant swimsuits and amazing Canadian-designed dresses made for her during her “reign” as Miss Canada, so we couldn’t help but bid on some items. Before we knew it, we had been there over 10 hours, and had a car full of dresses and swimsuits….we didn’t even have a plan for what we would do with them, we just knew they were too good to pass up. So we had our first sale around this collection, and it was a huge success. That and the thrill we got from discovering all these past gems motivated us to keep looking for more beautiful vintage dresses for our customers, and now it’s a semi-annual tradition! And it all started with a mysterious invitation in the mail…

Photos by Claire Dam Photography.

Photos by Claire Dam Photography.

Where do you find these treasures? 

The main reason we only do this twice a year is because it really is a lot of work to uncover these puppies! We’ve developed contacts in the Ottawa Valley & Montreal, but we also travel quite a lot. We’ve been on scavenging trips to New York State, Detroit, Portland, California. Most of these dresses are 50+ years old, and that is really old for textiles. The pool of dresses is just getting really small. We find ourselves falling in love with a piece to feel that it’s already disintegrated beyond repair. That is always so sad!

There are always epic lineups at your store when you have these events. What do you think draws people to the sale?
Because of the nature of vintage, it’s literally different every time and you never know what you’ll see – but you can be sure you’ll see beautifully constructed pieces with lots of handiwork that is really hard to come by these days! Katie and I are really choosy about what we buy, so I think the quality and styles we bring in keep bringing people back. And it’s also almost like a glimpse into fashion history as well – to see how styles come back, how things were made of such a higher standard. They truly belong in a museum! Plus it’s kind of like playing the lotto – when you find something totally unique that you fall in love with and it’s in your size, well, there’s no better feeling! It feels like destiny (ha ha 🙂 and that’s the best feeling!
Photos by Claire Dam Photography.

Photos by Claire Dam Photography.

Have you ever come across a piece that you just had to keep for yourself because you loved it too much? Tell us about it!

Katie got legally married years ago in a sweet little vintage dress that she wears every year on that day. It’s not the most beautiful dress or anything but it could never be sold. We are also suckers for beautiful lace work – it’s a dying art and it’s very very very hard to part with those pieces.

What are some of the great pieces people can expect this year?

We’ve got a couple of sun suits and bathing suits which are always a special find. And more vintage wedding dresses as well! There is nothing more thrilling than outfitting a bride for her special day with something so special and one of a kind, so we set our sights on finding even more wedding dresses since those were so popular last year.

Victoire’s To The Nines vintage dress sale takes place this Friday from 4-8pm and Saturday from 10am-7pm  at 246 Dalhousie St.