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Video: Starlotte Satine Vintage breathes new life into a beloved heirloom

Marion Gunther shares the story of how her mother's keepsake became her own thanks to one vintage-inspired seamstress

Fashion may not be a subject on everyone's mind, but for some, it is a way to express their personality, explore their identity, or connect with a loved one, culture, religion or country.

But what happens when these keepsakes or their owners begin to age and evolve with the changing times?

This was the question life-long Sudbury resident Marion Gunther asked herself, after re-discovering a beloved family heirloom originally purchased by her mother Helga Gunther in the 1950s. 

Being one of 11 children, Helga said her family did not have a lot of money growing up and what they did have was not often allocated to luxuries such as new clothes. Which was why when she moved from a small town to a big city in Germany, she anxiously waited for her closet to evolve along with her. 

Helga began working at what she described as a high-end coffee shop, with big windows, white linen table cloths, and ladies draped in the dresses of her dreams. But it wouldn't take long for her dream to become a reality. 

During one of her outings spent window shopping, Helga found what she still believes decades later to be the perfect dress, hanging in the window of a clothing boutique. She said she knew almost instantly that it was the one.

After months of saving every dollar she could from her job at the coffee shop, Helga was finally able to purchase this very special dress and bask in the adoration of all that saw her in it. It even became the favourite of her boyfriend, she said, who would insist she wear it when driving around town on his motorbike regardless of how many had seen it before.

When Helga moved to Canada years later with that boyfriend, who would become her husband and Marion's father, she brought this special dress with her, although when asked why this was she admittedly can't remember. 

When life became more comfortable for their growing family, Helga's special dress fell out of rotation and into the hands of a younger generation. Her children repurposed it for games and make-believe.

While loved along the way, Helga said it wasn't until Marion packed up to go to college that the dress returned to the light of day.

"It was the perfect dress," said Marion, who added that while it could be dressed up or down, her favourite thing was punking out this floral flock with a pair of Doc Martin boots. 

Now a grown woman with a child of her own, Marion re-discovered the dress and asked her mother whether she could have it altered for it to become hers permanently, a request Helga was only too happy to fulfill. 

In searching for a solution Marion found Starlotte Satine Vintage and Consignment, where Kitt Vallieres operates Kitt On a Box Sewing and Alterations in addition to acting as the resident seamstress. After making minor adjustments to the design and adding a bit of material here and there, Vallieres was able to fit the dress perfectly to Marion's evolved physique. 

"It was a match made in heaven," said Marion. 

Starlotte Satine is a fashion and accessory boutique located in downtown Sudbury that features vintage and vintage reproductions from the 1920s to the  1990s and "all the little odds and ends in between," as described by Starlotte Dressen, store owner. In addition to celebrating the world of vintage, the store is dedicated to reducing the waste produced by the fashion industry by recycling and repairing as much product and material as possible. 

"Kitt On A Box performed magic with this dress," said Marion. "I am wearing my mom's dress, but it has a new lease on life, and I feel like the princess my mom must have felt like when she was 19."

"Thanks to Starlotte, and to Kitt, and to my mom that brought this whole story full circle. Today, at 54, I'm the proud owner of this dress."

Find more information on Starlotte Satine's here and more information on Kitt On A Box here.


Keira Ferguson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Keira Ferguson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

A graduate of both Laurentian University and Cambrian College, Keira Ferguson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, funded by the Government of Canada, at
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