Fashion is very much alive in Vancouver, you just need to dig a little deeper. This month we talk to Liz Dubney, set supervisor within the B.C. television industry. At 22 years old, she stands to have 19 television affiliations to her name. She graduated a year early from her Victoria high school, winning a prestigious Leader Cup for the outstanding contribution to her school and high academic achievements.
Vancouverite Liz Dubney turns heads with her original vintage dresses, pieces specifically from the 1920s to 1960s. Having a strong background in textiles from creation to production, we are privy to a glimpse into a custom-makers closet of couture dresses and spectacular vintage finds.
Dubney, as of April 15, is stationed in Victoria, B.C. filming for the HUB – a children’s series called Spooksville – where she will be spending the next five months shooting and traveling on the Island. It has been noted by Canada.com (Lexi Bainas), that the production Spooksville will bring in an estimated $14 to $15 million dollars into the B.C. economy this year, with rumors of even more seasons to come. This is great news for the local film industry.
We sat down with Dubney on a mellow Monday evening, she invited a small gathering of friends to her North Vancouver apartment. Friends included Vancouver burlesque performer August Wiled and the hostess’ dear friend Willow Doran, they chatted kindly about a painting on the wall from the 1920s, exposing family secrets of art and passion. Dubney shares with us her love for vintage dresses and her craft of costume making.
While home in North Vancouver, Dubney hosts a generous spread of delicious cheeses, meats and vegetables alongside bottles of chilled white wines and freshly cut fruits. What we like to think of as a ‘home picnic’ – an alternative for a unpredictably wet city. The apartment was cascading with yards of tulle, fabrics strewn across her sewing machine, anticipating the creation of a fairy God Mother character. A custom piece for Jacqueline Breakwell of the Grimm Girls burlesque, Breakwell is the costume designer and a show performer.
We now move from the living room to the bedroom (always a good sign that the host likes you), and we find a wall showered in vintage dresses – circa 1920s to 1960s. Immediately your hand begins to trace the fabrics hanging from the wall, fine silks and tapestries draped to the carpet. Astounded by the volume and rich collection of dresses, we had to ask – just how many dresses are in here?
“Last I counted there were about 75, I have definitely collected more since then. Not all fit me…but I feel the strong urge to hoard them.” Dubney said as she sat in her 60-year-old floral dress, as though she had been born of another era.
What is your favourite era to collect from?
“Oh tough question! I love the 50s because that is what fits my body. But I also love the 60s, particularly the furniture and architecture. Partially, I think, because that is my boyfriends favorite era. . .I don’t collect past around 1965 or so. I’m not as interested in that.”
The sun has gone down now and the room glows from antique lamps. The thick copper pipe affixed to her bedroom wall is strong enough to carry the weight of 75 dresses – a clever “boyfriend-weekend-project” and a fashion-lover’s dream. The most interesting part are the stories behind every dress, making you dream of times gone by, ladies of leisure, ladies of war and now ladies of the modern world.
What is your favourite era of clothing, one you could not live without?
“I think my favourite era may be Edwardian, specifically 1910 to 1919, because clothing kind of changed overnight, in the scale of history. . .and Coco Chanel sort of single-handedly brought clothing into the 20th century.”
When you go out in Vancouver, where do you wear your dresses?
“Kitty Nights at the Biltmore!”
Dubney is an avid audience participant in Kitty Nights burlesque, the East Vancouver burlesque show held at the Biltmore Hotel, Sunday nights at 9 p.m. Kitty Nights is a fun and playful evening with the lovely and talented Burgundy Brixx. Dubney , who has a strong fascination with the sultry nature of burlesque and the details behind costumes, can often be found cheering on the artists.
Although beautiful and sassy in her own right, her place admittedly is “behind the scenes.” Kitty Nights burlesque is the perfect venue to showcase her attire, her craftsmanship and celebrate with other members of the burlesque community. We love watching people doll up in Vancouver, especially when they have put great thought and effort into the procurement of their vintage fashions.
If you are looking for a place to show off your creations or vintage dresses head down to Kitty Nights and catch the show, make some friends and have a little dance!
Follow Liz @Ldubney
Photo credit: 2 and 6 – by Amanda Flagg Photography
Connect with Garth W. Jackson on Twitter @gjaxluxe.