What is the oldest piece of clothing you wear on a regular basis, or has a special place in your life where you just can’t seem to discard it?
For collector Mackenzie Patrick, a geologist who lives in St. John’s, it’s a jacket from 1870.
Patrick’s collection of vintage clothing holds hundreds of pieces that range from the 1830s to the 1960s. But, it took years before she began to invest in the antique clothing which she says she first fell in love with as a child.
It was during the height of the release of the movie Titanic in 1997, the Hollywood imagining of the sinking of the unsinkable cruise liner, that sparked her interest, at first, in Edwardian-era clothing.
“I was obsessed with Titanic and the styles. It was just so elegant and feminine,” said Patrick.
“As a child I wasn’t aware you could actually get antiques, like in this day and age, but I used to actually reproduce the dresses that Rose wore on my Barbie dolls — which is ridiculous, I know.”
A small club
Patrick said she believes she’s on her own in Newfoundland and Labrador in terms of her collection and hobby, which she shares on Instagram with her 1,500 followers through @lady.elizabeth.vintage. She also takes all of her own photos, with a tripod and self-timer.
She said there are small pockets of like-minded people found elsewhere in the world who focus on different eras, but none of which, that she knows of, are in this province and have a collection that can compete with local museums.
“It’s a pretty small group of people,” Patrick said.
“I think I’m the only antique clothes collector here locally that I know of. Unless they haven’t found me yet, or I haven’t found them.”
Patrick said the community may not even exist in Newfoundland and Labrador at all, something she believes is due to the province’s harsh climate.
“The climate here is just not conducive for the preservation of clothing. At all. The moist air is not good for clothes. You need to have a special environment in order to preserve that,” she said.
In fact, most of her items come from antique dealers around the world — a large percentage coming from the United States and England.
One private collector in Idaho has been Patrick’s go to source since the beginning.
“She has the hugest collection, and she will only sell to me,” said Patrick.
“There’s a lot of high-priced items out there, and if you know who to go to, and you wait until the time is right, then you can usually get some good