Luggage upcycling

I have been taking a break from this site for a while, but I’m back! I sold a vintage suitcase to Brian McCourt few months ago on Kijiji and he told me that he’ll be using it in one of his upcoming shows on Cityline. I was really looking forward to the show, and I have included the link below. I hope that it will inspire you to create and look for old suitcases at the next garage sale or charity shop.







Gina Fratini vintage silk dress

vintage-wedding-dressIf you know Gina Fratini it means that: You are over 40 and/or  you know a lot about fashion! She’s famous for designing the wedding dress for Liz Taylor second wedding to Richard Burton (see photo below). The dress was sold at a Christies’s auction on Dec 14, 2011 for $62,500! It has a patchwork silk bodice and floating pastel chiffon ombré sleeves and skirts, with long, beaded, feather trimmed streamers.


Gina was born in Kobe, Japan, and spent most of her childhood in India. She studies at The Royal College of Arts in London and set up her own business in 1964. became one of the top British designers of the early 1970s, winning the dress if the Year award in 1975. London was such a happening place in that era, I’m sure she has some very interesting stories to share! If you visit the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, make sure to look for her garments from that era.

So if you are not able to afford a vintage dress from a celeb, there are many other options! The lovely silk and lace vintage wedding dress featured above is still available on my etsy shop at:

Happy Shopping and feel fee to comment or ask me any questions!

Isabelle V.

Recipe for a successful ‘vintage garage sale’

I organized a Vintage Garage Sale this weekend, and I’m happy to report that it was quite a success!

Advice #1: Promote your event

  • Use social media to let your network know about your event: Facebook, Twitter, your local coffee shops, and of course, don’t underestimate the old fashion posters on the post!
  • I also made a huge poster on a neon yellow sign that  I attached on my front gate. It read ‘Elegant Vintage Garage Sale’, with the dates and times and a listing of the main items. I wanted to warn future buyers that it wasn’t going to be just your regular garage sale!

Advice #2: Organize your items

  • I had a clothing rack for my vintage clothes and I hanged them buy types. I put all of the vintage dresses together, then tops etc…but you can also organize by size or by era’s.
  • I used one of my vintage suitcases to display the vintage purses (it was a very nice visual! Of course, people kept asking me if the suitcase was for sale! Isn’t that always the case!)
  • I displayed the other items, such as cameras, collectibles on a large table with a nice tablecloth. It’s important that the items are easy to reach. Who wants to bend down on the ground to go thru boxes?!

Advice #3: Ask people about their emails!

  • Ask your buyers if they would be interested about attending your next garage sale! One of the buyers asked me if I had already plan another garage sale. SO don’t be shy, and have a ‘sign up sheet’ ready and ask anybody that stops at your sale if they would like to share their emails in order to get an invitation for the next sale. Maybe you could even have a draw for a gift certificate for anybody who sign up!
  •  One of the buyers was so excited about the vintage clothing (she bought 5 dresses!) that she took tons of photos and posted my sale on Facebook while she was there.

Do you have any other tips that you would like to share? Thanks in advance!

Isabelle V.

Nostalgia moment: using a View-Master again…

photo (13)

I bought a View-Master and a large box of reels a year ago at a Vintage auction, and I finally took the time to go thru them. I forgot how much fun it was! I like the 3D effect as well as how vibrant the colours are…The ViewMaster was born in 1938 in Portland, Oregon. The two creators were William Gruber and Harold Graves. It was originally targeted at adult education, but it quickly became a success with children. Even the military purchased large quantities of View-Master, and created some reels to educate their troops about aircraft identification during World War II.

In 1966 View-Master was purchased by GAF (General Aniline & Film Corporation), a company focused on  film processing and cameras. In 1981 the company was sold and renamed View-Master International Group (VMI). The View-Master is now under the umbrella of Mattel after few sales and acquisitions in the 80’s and 90’s.

As it turn out, Mattel has recently introduced the modern version of the View-Master, adding Virtual Reality  (VR) to the equation. The snap-on plastic goggles,  which are compatible with Google’s Cardboard VR platform have been popular enough that there are the first VR accessory to appear at Apple retail stores.

Everything old is new again…Did you have a ViewMaster growing up? Do you still have it? If you do, share it with your family and go thru those old travel reels!

Isabelle V.

Be colorful!

Flower market in Cuenca, Ecuador

I watched a fabulous English documentary few years ago called ‘Fabulous Fashionistas‘, and I still remember one of the lines. “I never wear beige, beige is the color of death!” The documentary is about the life of 6 women who have an average age of 80, and who don’t let their age determine how they should behave and live their golden days!

Here is the link on YouTube, and please share it with all the amazing women in your life:

I love to wear black, but I also love to wear bright colors. My favourite are purple and orange. My purple obsession is a bit of a joke with my family and my friends. When my eldest son was about 5, I came home one day wearing a fake fur purple coat. My son was so excited and shouted: “Mum, you look so pretty, you like Barney!” (yes…the big purple dinosaur!). If you are afraid of bright colors, at least try to wear a white shirt with your black pants, and maybe add a bright accessory.

What’s your favourite color? Do you have a color obsession? I always love to get your feedback!

Isabelle V.







Collector or hoarder? Time to downsize…

Collector: a person who collects objects because they are beautiful, valuable, or interesting

Hoarder: a person who collects and keeps a lot of items, even things that appear useless or of little value to most people (according to the International OCD Foundation)

How is hoarding different from collecting? • In hoarding, people seldom seek to display their possessions, which are usually kept in disarray. • In collecting, people usually proudly display their collections and keep them well organized.

I recently had a great conversation with someone who is an avid collector. He collects a wide range of items: from vintage newspapers, to vintage…cars! He admits that he never sells anything!

I collect vintage cameras, custom jewelry as well as suitcases…and handbags! I sometimes sell them, usually when I need money (to buy another item) or because I’m running out of room! (My kids joke about me becoming a hoarder! I got scared after watching the show ‘Hoarders’ on television!)photo(15)

  1. Selling online: for heavy or large items, I would suggest to sell locally on sites such as craigslist or Kijiji. For smaller items, you could list them on ebay, etsy or even on Facebook (many local groups to choose from for selling clothing to decorative items)
  2. Garage sale: it’s my last option, as people are not willing to spend money, even for quality items.
  3. Trading/swapping: you also have the option of trading with other collectors – Some of the online sites give you that option. You can also visit the specific shows (cameras collectors show, paper ephemera show etc…) and try to exchange it with a dealer or fellow collector.
  4. Donating: depending on which kind of items you are collecting, you could donate it to a charity (and you would get a tax receipt!), a gallery, a school…

 Isabelle V.

Information about hoarding on the International OCD Foundation website:

Looking for vintage treasures while travelling…

I love to travel, and I always try to combine travelling with my passions: hunting for vintage and antiques, photography as well as sampling the local food…During my last trip to France, I always had to keep in mind how much room I had left in my suitcase…Every time that I saw a sign that said ‘Brocante’* or ‘Foire aux puces’*, I could feel my heart beat faster!* (*it would be the equivalent of a flea market or garage sale, except that some of the sellers at the brocante are antique dealers or ‘brocanteurs’)

Window in Guerande
Window in Guerande, France

As we were driving thru the area of Guerande, in the South West of France, we saw a poster advertising a brocante for the next day. The area is very famous for their sea salt, and you can now find it in most supermarket all over Europe and North America. Sorry, I digress, but I have to share this information as it’s a perfect destination (and a best kept secret!) if you are a gourmet.

So we woke up early the next day (well, not that early…) and after a stop at the bakery, we walked to the brocante. I was totally overwhelmed by the gorgeous location,  as well as the quality of the items. The sellers were spread out around an old church, and I fell like I was in an episode of the Antique Roadshow!

Flea Market in France
Antique market in France


I bought some old magazines and newspapers (as it’s very light and doesn’t take much room in the suitcase!). I enjoy reading the articles, looking at the old advertisements and illustrations. Two of the magazines I bought were called ‘L’Illustration’ and were dated from Christmas 1913 and Christmas 1916. It’s interesting to observe the difference between the magazines: the 1913 edition is a bit more entertaining, and the 1916 edition obviously more dark as it was in the middle of the First World War.

French ads 002

The main topic in the earlier magazine is about art. It contains a lot of illustration, and the advertisements are about perfumes, watches, fabric, furnitures and alcohol.  One of the ads that caught my eye was from A. Lancel. The company was founded in Paris in 1876 by Angèle Lancel. ‘La Maison Lancel’ as it was then known, was producing clocks, lighters, luggage, glasses, tableware and purses. The luxury brand is now focusing on leather goods only and is famous worldwide for their purses, luggage and leather accessories.

The 1916 edition obviously has some more serious topics. Some of the testimonies of the soldiers are very touching and heartbreaking at the same time. They were ill equipped and a lot of soldiers thought that it was going to be a short war, and a bit of an adventure. Unfortunately it lasted 4 long years.

Most of the newspapers and magazines now have an online version and a lot of them don’t have a paper edition anymore. But I think it’s important to enjoy those old fashion newspapers (listed under ‘paper ephemera’ in most online sites).

The ads were about chocolate, perfumes (it’s war, but the French like their perfumes!), cars. cameras and even prosthetics!  (yes, you read correctly: artificial limbs). The ad that I noticed was about Burberry’s coats.French ads 001.JPG

The translation of the tag line would be: ‘Overcoat for the Winter that are light, warm, comfortable and very practical.’

The British fashion house was founded in 1856 by Thomas Burberry. In 1880, he introduced the ‘gabardine’ fabric, which was a waterproof, very resistant and yet breathable fabric. In 1909, the first Burberry store  in France opens in Paris. In 1914, Burberry was commissioned by the War Office to adapt the officer’s coat to be able to stand the weather condition during the war. And that’s where the name ‘trench coat’ comes from!

What was your best vintage find while ‘on the road’?

Isabelle V.