Deluxe Redux met with Liz Meyer, Chicago-based professional stylist and owner of vintage boutique Silver Moon. Silver Moon offers one of the country's largest collections of vintage bridal gowns and accessories dating between 1890s-1960s. Just as impressive is her mint condition collection of daywear and formal attire through the 1980s.
Liz's discerning eye for style, art and detail resulted in a fascinating journey into the worlds of celebrity styling and vintage fashion. We discuss how she became a vintage bridal specialist and her plans as a designer in the bridal industry.
Liz was born in Chicago and raised in the northwest side neighborhood of Jefferson Park. Liz's mother significantly influenced Liz's interest in fashion and sense of style from a young age. Liz recalls visiting stores like Sax Fifth Avenue and Marshall Field's throughout her childhood. It was also a common occurrence to be dressed in fully accessorized outfits complete with patent leather shoes, white tights, a hat and white gloves. Her mother also introduced Liz to Hollywood's Golden Age by watching the Turner Classic movies together.
Liz always loved the glamour, style, history and romance behind black and white movies and musicals. She trained as a figure skater since age 5 for 12 years and designed costumes with her mother. Many of her skating productions were based on the old Hollywood movies. During this period, Liz learned more about fabrics, embellishments, and the design process.
Liz's mother taught her how to appreciate fashion, how to identify quality pieces and how to put looks together. Over the years, Liz continued to develop her individual fashion sense and became more interested in fashion design.
In high school, Liz started shopping at thrift stores. She enjoyed the hunt of finding cool vintage pieces without needing to spend a lot of money. She worked the clothing into her wardrobe, or took it apart and learned how to sew them into new pieces.
Through thrifting, she developed a stylish wardrobe of unique pieces for clubbing. She watched music videos with her best friend Lisa for style inspiration. They designed looks similar to their favorite bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees.
Introduction to the Fashion Industry
Liz had an interesting introduction into the fashion industry. Liz attended Columbia College and studied Accessory Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). After college in the late 1990s, she was introduced to her sister's friend, a celebrity rock and roll chef. He was looking for someone to work on decor and wardrobe on the Lillith Fair tour for the summer.
Liz loved the styling and touring experience and developed a reputation for her styling skills. She then worked on costume and wardrobe design for Ricky Martin's Living La Vida Loca world tour in 1999 through 2000. Liz learned the process of turning street fashion into dancewear. Liz was unafraid to take clothing apart and put them back together in a way that would be useful for performers. For example, she would take beaded Armani gowns, cut them up the back and insert zippers for dancers' quick-changes.
She continued her journey working as a wardrobe stylist for Aerosmith and then for Steven Tyler exclusively for almost ten years. While working with Steven Tyler, she purchased Silver Moon in 2003.
Liz retired from styling after working with Aerosmith to focus on developing Silver Moon’s bridal business. However, in 2009, a production manager asked if she would be interested in working on Paul McCartney’s tour for two months. Liz agreed and the two months turned into six years!
Paul McCartney's tour has a more sporadic, short-term schedule allowing Liz to work both as a stylist and operating Silver Moon. When asked how she manages between both careers, she stated "It’s a nice transition to be able to walk away from the store every couple of months and go refresh. I always come back so inspired by visuals or design...It's good to come back and work on bridal, bead, sequins and frilly things. This is a nice combination of two different worlds.”
Tari Costan, the original owner of Silver Moon, opened the boutique in 1976. Tari was considered by some to be the “Queen Bee” of vintage in Chicago since the 1970s. She carried high-quality vintage fashion and also sold pieces from the turn of the century. Silver Moon's first location was on Halsted Street in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood.
Liz was a loyal Silver Moon customer since her high school days, even purchasing her prom dress from Tari. When Liz was in college, she began working for Tari restoring clothes. This working relationship eventually developed into a friendship.
After a day of shopping at the store, Tari mentioned to Liz that she was planning to retire and asked Liz if she would be interested in purchasing the inventory and her business. At this time, Liz was on the road touring as a Stylist but did not want to pass on this opportunity.
Liz purchased Silver Moon from Tari in 2003. She hired a good friend to manage the store while she was on the road touring. In the beginning, her manager, her mother, and her sister assisted Liz in overseeing business operations. Liz’s husband also helps, so it has become somewhat of a family business.
Liz stayed in Lakeview for two years before noticing the neighborhood changing with a surge of bars and restaurants. In 2005, Liz moved to the current location in the Wicker Park neighborhood and focused more on women's wear.
Silver Moon Services
As with all clothes and especially vintage, fit is essential. Altering vintage to achieve the right fit or modifying the style can modernize a piece. Silver Moon performs all alterations in-house. Modification and restoration services are available for vintage whether or not purchased at Silver Moon.
Silver Moon sells mainly bridal, black tie and cocktail attire. Liz enjoyed the bridal dress process when she married that she steadily increased the bridal dress design business from 10% to 75%. Silver Moon has become one of the largest stores in the country specializing in vintage bridal.
For vintage that may run a little small, Silver Moon can increase a dress size to approximately three sizes larger with unique construction techniques developed over the years while still maintaining the integrity of the vintage.
Silver Moon offers "Heirloom Reimagined" services. Many women want to put some of their personality in the bridal gown. They may want to add an embellishment seen in a contemporary bridal magazine to modernize a vintage dress they already have.
Women bring in their bridal gown passed down to them from prior generations. Many times, the bride’s mother and grandmother help redesign the dress with the bride. Witnessing the special emotional connection is one of Liz’s favorite experiences as Silver Moon owner.
Sometimes, it can be overwhelming for customers to consider all the bridal gown options. Most people are visual, so Liz believes it is more helpful to see samples of the potential redesign. She displays sample pieces allowing customers to see and touch the fabrics and embellishments firsthand. Customers may also understand the range of redesign possible from simple to extreme using textiles.
Liz also offers custom-made gown designs. The main fabric of the dress is usually new, and the embellishments and trimmings are vintage. Liz may ask women to bring in inspirational photos or their favorite dress to get an idea of the dress style they feel good in and like. The custom design process includes the concept sketch to the finished dress with vintage elements that may include lace, buttons, or adding something old onto the dress.
Liz is able to see textiles and quickly visualize dress patterns that would look good and work well with the fabrics. She purchases vintage pieces strictly for the fabric and creates from it a one-of-a-kind gown. It’s difficult to find the design, customization, and alterations for the price point Silver Moon offers.
As Silver Moon grows, Liz plans to incorporate a separate workspace to perform the services offsite. Liz is also in the process of designing and manufacturing a collection of bridal wraps. It is the first time Liz is utilizing a manufacturing source in the United States.
The bridal wrap collection will be named Circa under the Silver Moon business with designs based on different eras. Vintage patterns will be modified to include detail and craftsmanship matching the quality of Silver Moon's bridal gowns. Liz hopes to expand and add a wedding gown collection eventually.
Silver Moon has always evolved naturally and progressed with changing times. Liz would also like to look into expanding into a 2nd location in Los Angeles within the next few years.
Chicago Vintage Fashion
When Liz started in the vintage fashion business, she felt more people were interested in wearing cocktail dresses and evening gowns. For example, Silver Moon used to generate more sales during the holidays for Christmas and New Year's parties.
Over the years, she noticed that young women started dressing more casually than in the 1980s and 1990s. Liz has seen a cycle of some women who grew up with vintage and still love it. Now they are older but may not wear it as much as the past.
Liz felt that Chicago's interest in vintage was gone for a while. However, with the internet and media, Liz has noticed that interest has been on the rise within the last few years. When celebrities wear vintage, it gives some women the confidence to give it a try. This is particularly true with designer vintage. She is seeing more women becoming interested in the history of fashion, obtaining facts about pieces and building a collection.
Favorite Vintage Eras & Designers
Liz appreciates all eras but has consistently loved the 1930’s for the decade's allure, dress shapes, the way women looked in the garments, the biased cut gowns and the idea of 'effortless second skin' mixed with glamour. She loves art deco, intricate craftsmanship, and ornate pieces.
She believes 1920s & 1930s dresses could be tricky silhouettes to wear, especially for the physique of today's woman. The intricate pleating, patterns, and the dress bodice shapes from the 1940s make for a more wearable vintage era for women today. Liz also loves the 1950s and 1960s because of the contours. This era enhances the female figure making it a great look for women with curves.
Silver Moon doesn’t carry a lot of vintage from the 1970s and 1980s, but there are some designer pieces they will sell such as Becky Bisoulis, Vicky Tiel, and Hattie Carnegie. Her favorite designers include Chanel, Vivian Westwood, and Valentino.
Liz loves customers who appreciate vintage. But it is always an especially delightful experience for Liz to work with clients who are interested in vintage but hesitant about it. Liz enjoys helping people learn about and ultimately enjoy wearing vintage.
Silver Moon's high-quality vintage, textiles, and services make women feel unique and inspired to try something different.