Vintage dreams come true

Mélyna Langevin. Photo by Pier-Alexande Roy

Opening up an online business was unintentional for self-schooled seamstress Mélyna Langevin — it was something that just kind of happened.

As a result, Langevin has skipped the traditional steps of selling tailor-made pin-up wares — at a boutique or at local fashion events — to sell directly to an international vintage-loving, kitch-obsessed market.

Mixing original vintage patterns from the 1950s with Star Wars or Disney Princess prints, elegant evening gown designs with Moroccan or African textiles from local shops, Langevin has a fascinating wardrobe and she can custom-make just about anything you want in practically any print. Langevin offers made-to-measure vintage wear, and with 20,000 followers on Instagram, she gets all kinds of orders from all over the world.

“I couldn’t go to Viva Las Vegas last year because out of nowhere I got an order from Mexico to make 12 red sequin dresses identical to the ones Marilyn Monroe wore in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” says Langevin, who makes a habit of representing herself at national and international pin-up/rockabilly events.

Her star ascended quickly, beginning with a Facebook page in March of 2016. Less than two years later her online store and social media following have attracted an audience well beyond the sphere of Quebec — the bulk of her orders come from the U.S., England and Australia.

“At first it was just for fun and to connect with vintage fashion lovers like me. The objective wasn’t to start a business or anything like that. I love Instagram, because I can post pictures of my creations or an ongoing garment and ask for insights, recommendation or comments on the dresses I made for myself,” says Langevin.

Because her work was so elaborate and uniquely themed, it began to garner a lot of attention. When “Gertie” or Gretchen Hirsch’s Blog for Better Sewing (whose patterns are sold through Butterick Patterns) reposted one of Langevin’s Christmas-themed dresses, the photo got about 1,000 Likes within 24 hours.

Things accelerated after that, as her Gorgeously Vintage Facebook page was suddenly getting offers to purchase the homemade dresses she had posted pictures of — that’s when Langevin began taking orders.

At the same time, however, she decided to keep her day job as an assistant brand director in marketing at Starfrit.

“I am not in a hurry,” she says. “I love my marketing job and I love to be a seamstress, so I am planning to continue the way it is, if I can! Right now, I design and sew 40 to 50 hours a week, during nights and weekends, and I have my full-time job during the day. Basically, I have no life, but I love to be super busy.”

A longtime fan of old Hollywood glamour, the diva designer said that while she has a degree in fashion marketing, it was actually her grandmother who taught her how to sew and much her learning process has been trial and error. The attraction to the pin-up movement is about what a lot of women see in it: timeless beauty, as well as what she calls “the ultimate demonstration of femininity.” She loves the curves in 1950s clothing and the effect of the period’s structures on a woman’s body.

“You cannot not feel gorgeous in a 1950’s-style dress. This is where I got the idea of my business name, Gorgeously Vintage,” says Langevin.

As for her seemingly endless amount of Disney-themed clothing, she says she is just a huge Disney fan, given that the aesthetic is so colourful, busy and youthful. These are elements that she tries to recreate with Disney fabrics, and when she went on a Disney World vacation, she felt it necessary to have a different dress that would match her environment each day. And she did. ■

See Gorgeously Vintage on Facebook or Instagram.

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