Through these pages you can explore the vintage fashion collection of Lori Knowles. When she was just a little girl, Lori bought her first Victorian bodice at a garage sale. It wasn’t a museum piece by any stretch of the imagination, but to a little girl who wanted to be Laura Ingals Wilder, it was a wonderful link to the past. It was many years later when she began collecting Victorian and Edwardian fashions of a higher quality. Her real vintage collection started with a black silk Edwardian dress found by her husband, Matt, in an antique shop. Over the next 35 years the collection has been added to with purchases from more antique stores, many trips to the Vintage Fashion Expo in San Francisco, donations and purchases from friends, and recently, by scouring Ebay. Lori’s collection now includes over 150 garments and spans 100 years, from the 1840s to the 1940s. The primary focus of the collection is women’s Victorian and Edwardian clothing.
To most people, collecting extremely old vintage clothing is a weird hobby. Most people collect things so that they can use or display them. However, due to the fragile nature of Victorian and Edwardian clothes, they must spend most of their time being stored wrapped in acid free tissue paper and conservation quality boxes. Occasionally the boxes must be opened and the clothes refolded, but the collection is mostly enjoyed by looking at photographs of the pieces. However, Lori also enjoys being able to see the construction and details of the garments and uses them as inspiration for her fashion and costume designs.
Since most Victorian women were very petite, and their corsets made them even smaller, it is hard to find models to wear most of these clothes. Heather, the model in the photos on this page, gave us the chance to see how some of these clothes really looked (and sounded) when being worn. Since then we have been helped by other models and we are always looking for other models to photograph some of the new items in the collection. If you are 5′-0″ to 5′-6″ and have a 26″ waist or smaller, live in either Humboldt or Mendocino counties and would like to model some Victorian clothes, please contact us.
A note on the dates used throughout this site: Unless specifically stated otherwise, the dates used are approximations based on researching the particular style. Some garments such as bodices can be dated pretty close, while other garments such as lingerie are harder to pinpoint exactly. Please keep this in mind as you view the collection.