It is with great pride and pleasure that I introduce you to a most beloved companion and partner of mine, Elvia Lahman! Elvia has been in the vintage business for over fifteen years and has worked the vintage department of companies including American Rag, Urban Outfitters and American Apparel (where she was my boss). She has provided me with endless amounts of inspiration, laughs, food and made me the muscular broad that I am today (that is, until a giant crate fell on me and she took over the heavy lifting for awhile and stole all my awesome muscle powers). She is, simply put, amazing. It's so tempting to launch into a long-winded entry detailing generosity, humor, imagination and determination but I'll let you find that out on your own!
1. What was your first fashion-related creation?
6th grade, I didn’t like shopping at the mall where my family did most their shopping. I would go to the junkie swap-meets with my brother, who was a mechanic looking for car parts. I would buy vintage remnant fabric for 50 cents a yard. It wasn’t vintage back then, well it was, but the word "vintage" wasn’t used like it is now. Just old. I liked old stuff, I still do. My mom had one of those super old timey pedal sewing machines not because it was that long ago (ahem) but because momma was so old timey Mexico. She grew up in a tiny town without toilets or electricity. She just felt more comfortable sewing on it than the electric ones. I learned how sew on it as well but I was much more modern than she and bought a used 60’s turquoise one at the swap-meet (1982). The pedal sewing machine hurt my dainty ankles too much. Anyhoo, I made a full calf length skirt from an old 50’s pattern (Black with green paisley print, 60’s. I had a green beret that matched the green in the fabric perfectly). I thought I was so cool and super 5-0 looking (not at all)! After that I was nonstop. Mini skirts from 70’s plaid pants and a billion more full skirts. Lately, when I go through the wool skirts, I think I spot my homemade ones.
2. What or Who inspires you?
Old things. I can’t explain it but I get really excited about stuff! Pumpkins too. I think it’s the details when it comes to clothing, like a double stitch instead of a single stitch, funny little pockets that are slanted, buttons, METAL ZIPPERS, bias cuts, prints, conservative lady looks, big hair, music with a beat that I can dance to, old department store catalogs and girlie mags ( Wink, Cabaret, Mr., Frederick’s of Hollywood). Movies like The Women, (1939, not 2009!) Blue Velvet and Pillow Talk that changed my life as a teen and pointed me to the very spot I’m at now. I think "inspire" and "like" are the same for me! My brain works really fast when it comes to ideas (usually). I think my brain gets excited therefore I get inspired? Does that make sense? Also, Hannah Metz. Finding things for her to wear and get excited for! My husband, a Barber, who encourages me and is as crazy into old stuff and shopping as I am. Bouncing ideas and continuing to add onto them until they explode then my mind explodes and gets worn out like I actually already lived it.
3. Biggest sartorial blunder?
Too many but I feel it’s a good thing. Super tight outfits that I busted out of without wearing underwear and the time I was proud that I wore my work-out clothes and no make-up to the bank.
4. If you had to have a uniform for this season what would it look like?
Every year for fall it’s the same for me. The idea of what I WANT to wear everyday... (although I don’t and sometimes can’t because of my job digging and getting dirty and being on my feet all day)
I’m a suburban housewife. It’s overcast and just a tad bit cool. Black short sleeve cashmere sweater, pencil tan, black and blue plaid side zipped skirt just over the knee, short camel cashmere jacket, no buttons with some funny little brooch(es), black elbow length gloves with a dangling bracelet, super amazing hat sitting tilted towards the left side of my head, one of my Jenette bras, the Sheer Delight pantie (part of the TLO collection), 2” basic pointed black heels (50’s/60’s NOT KITTEN just practical). My Suburban Country Lady Bag. My hair big and bouncy, NARS nude lipstick, my regular eyeliner and mascara'd eyes, heavy on the brows but not à la Crawford, (Joan that is). Vintage hands (hehehe) and million dollar red nail polish. Ok, now top it off w/ a gin gimlet straight up.
5. Any words of wisdom for people wishing to follow in your footsteps?
My footsteps are hard to follow. You don’t want to follow me and if you are I will have to kill you.
Listen, watch and learn. You’re not the first nor was I. You have to learn to get in line. Also, vintage makes you crazy. Really! Most “true” vintage people are slightly off. It’s the love of vintage that makes us that way.
Man, Elvia, I miss you so bad!
up next: Nicole of Fashion Forestry!