In September, I went to Just for Laughs and found an adorable shop on Bloor near Ossington. Rosie the Rebel is run by Elle and specializes in retro-inspired style. We walked in and I honestly expected the prices to be way out of my price range and I fell in love with a coat, I was worried. I walked up to this beautiful coat and flipped the tag and was actually presently surprised, it was only $125. I don’t normally spend a lot on my clothes but this coat was worth it, plus, we live in Canada, it was a reasonable investment. I asked Elle a few questions about her store and the retro style:
What inspired you to open the store?
Opening a store has always been my dream. When I was about 10 I walked in to a shop in PEI called “the mad hatter”. The owner (I assumed) was sitting behind the desk hand sewing something and looked so happy, I fell in love with the idea of being a shop owner at that moment. A lot of people ask me this question, as if opening a store is something I just thought of one day, but it’s the only thing I dreamed of in life and i truly feel like one of the lucky ones to be able to live out my dream. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of fun ‘ups’ and unexpected ‘downs’, but I think that struggling to achieve what you want in life makes it that much better once you have it.
My best advise for anyone who wants to open a shop is: just do it! Don’t “what if” yourself into not doing it. The only thing that separates business owners from those who work for others is they go for it, they take the risk, just believe in yourself and give it a try.
Where do you get your style ideas?
I started collecting vintage when I was about 12, I had an obsession with 20s and 30s, especially Louise brooks. My collection consisted of mostly accessories but I always had a keen eye, even at 14,15,16 I was picking items that I later found out were collectors items.
My grandmother Doris was also a massive inspiration, I can still remember going through her closet with her excitedly dreaming about someday being able to dress that way myself. My personal love for vintage evolved into 40s and 50s style when I started doing costume design for Toronto burlesque dancers around age 23. My vintage collection at this point had grown so large that I had to rent a two bedroom apartment, one room just for my vintage.
Even now I continue to obsess with anything vintage pre-dating the 1970s and it’s that obsession that allows me to pick great classic funky and alternative pieces for my boutiques, and having spent my life fluctuating from S-4X and back again means I understand all body types when I’m buying.
On top of being inspired by what was, I’m also inspired by what’s current, I love people watching on queen west, seeing unique styles emerge and start to be a trend.
Why do you think the 50s style has proven to be timeless?
50s is timeless because of the body type it caters to, a classic womanly hourglass. And if you don’t have an hourglass, these garments can create one for you. Most decades were hit or miss, the drop waist of the 40s or the shapelessness of the 60s, but the 50s hit the nail on the head. Pulling out if WW2 the ‘new look of Dior’ in 1947 really defined what we now know as “50s”, a cinched waist and an exaggerated hip creating a perfect hourglass, a silhouette that hadn’t been praised for decades.
Style icons like Audrey Hepburn really sealed this look as ‘classic’ because it showed the womanly figure in a confident-classy way, and who wouldn’t want that look?
What would you consider (two?) staples to creating a vintage look?
A swing style dress and red lipstick (I’d recommend sephora cream lip stain in ‘always red’ for a perfect matte look and ultimate wearability)
I would definitely recommend checking out this store, the styles were amazing and the prices were very reasonable. I was also very happy that Elle shared the same love I have for the sephora cream lip stain.