I had the pleasure of meeting Elvia Lahman while at Tiki Oasis this past Summer. She was vending at this spectacular event and I was immediately drawn to her booth when I saw beautiful Vintage Kimono fabrics everywhere! Could this be real? Pinch Me! Squeal!
While I love a good Kimono and do own quite a few, sometimes I feel they get in the way while I am puttering around the house, or making dinner, or they are just a little too formal for snuggling up with the puppies and watching my latest Netflix binge. Elvia’s designs solved all of my problems!
Elvia Lahman created the “Cocktail Hour” and her wonderful vintage kimono sets. The sets are upcycled/re-purposed from vintage kimonos. These kimono sets (in her own words):
“…take you from the boudoir to the bar. Slow fashion for fast girls. Lovingly and ethically crafted in California from vintage kimonos and 100% recycled materials.”
Of course I could not resist! I purchased one of Elvia’s sets. After my purchase, I contacted Elvia because I thought her designs and line were simply brilliant and I had to share these with our readers!
Interview with Elvia Lahman (The Cocktail Hour)
We at Eccentric Dames Society were grateful to receive a couple of sample sets from Elvia and will add our review at the end of the interview. Read on to find out more about Elvia and her Cocktail Hour line.
Eccentric Dames: What inspired you to start your line, The Cocktail Hour?
Elvia: As soon as I get home every day, I change into a slip and throw a kimono over and apply more lipstick. It makes me feel more productive and glamorous (not like the true dirty gal I am underneath from working in a raghouse all day). I have always thought kimonos were the ultimate effortless-glam item. I was originally inspired when I found the perfect pair of satin PJ pants in a vintage bale. I thought – this and a matching kimono for fall would be the perfect loungewear combo! So I made a few for myself. My husband would get home and find me lounging around and would ask if we were going somewhere. It was a hit! I feel so top-drawer in it! I have a Ladies Club (LSD, Ladies Social Drinking club) and our annual Pink Elephant Holiday Dinner at Tam-O-Shanter was coming up. These ladies mean the world to me and I wanted them to feel the same glamour I was experiencing. I made them all a set to match their unique personalities and styles, and the rest is history!
Eccentric Dames: How did you get into fashion design and what advice can you give to up and coming, aspiring designers that want to start their own businesses?
Elvia: I never thought I was really designing. More like altering. I became obsessed with the cut, fit and quality of old clothing at around age13. Back when there would be a rack of 40’s rayon dresses to choose from for $1.49 at any thrift store and I could only afford 2 dresses at a time. I would also buy plaid poly pants and make them into skirts and funny things like that. I learned to make patterns and sew from my mom. She was tired of altering/making me clothes since I never liked what was at the mall. I would make my patterns from brown paper grocery bags. I still do that occasionally. I learned how to sew on a pedal sewing machine. Not electrical. Super old-fashioned! I also loved buying books on sewing and crafts from the 1940s to 1970s. I learned a lot from them. All this and a chip on my shoulder of knowing that vintage was so much better than new is how I landed certain jobs. Plus crazy good work ethics. CRAZY GOOD! I guess my advice would be to allow yourself to indulge in your weird nerdy fantasies. Hone them! Feed your curiosity and interests. Before you know it, they will be a specialized skill. And passion is always the best fuel for becoming an expert at anything.
Eccentric Dames: What are some of your favorite style inspirations and fabrics to work with?
Elvia: I love them all! I appreciate all eras! I’m not a “true vintage” snob, I just like quality. I like the bizarre and boring too. I always find something to get interested in, no matter what it is. Vintage kimonos are great because it’s essentially the same core item but with a different gorgeous print for each one, giving you a different emotion. Then there’s their fabrications, little details like the closures – and different surprises inside the linings! The color and pattern combos never cease to excite me. Some are moody and romantic, some happy and bright, some modern and severe. Very exciting stuff! I have little beauty contests for them in my head and they all become my favorite.
Eccentric Dames: What advice would you give to women over the age of 40 when it comes to fashion?
Elvia: For any woman of any age – have fun and don’t take yourself so seriously. Unless that’s your thing. Have a thing! Find your thing! What makes you happy when you look at it, put it on? What makes your heart beat a little faster when you find it on the rack? I don’t like giving fashion advice. If you like it, great. I really don’t care. I used to have a vintage store and I was always surprised when folks would say “I love it but where would I wear this to?!!!”. I would always respond, “Where wouldn’t you?!!!!!!!! The market, to brunch, to work, to play! You decide!” No one holds anyone back from having a personal style except themselves.
Eccentric Dames: As a female, independent small business owner, what are some of the obstacles you face, and what are some of the benefits of being a small business owner?
Elvia: Honestly, the biggest obstacle is not being to afford to pursue it full time. Having to work a “real” job to make my fantasy job happen. But I don’t think that’s just for females. That’s everyone, that’s just reality. As far as benefits…the creative outlet of turning fantasy into reality. I will always pursue my creative projects even if I can’t really afford them because I can’t live without them. It’s a matter of life and death!
Eccentric Dames: If you could travel back in time and be any famous woman in history who would you pick?
Elvia: Diana Vreeland, for obvious reasons. Kay Starr, because my dream profession is to be a torch singer/dancer/actress. And Jan Morrow (Doris Day’s character from Pillow Talk)!
Eccentric Dames: Do you have any future exciting news or exciting plans for The Cocktail Hour that we should know about?
Elvia: Kimonos have always been just the beginning. Something DIFFERENT and EXCITING will be happening for the holidays (I hope!) and I’ve been working on a very hush-hush collaboration with a couple LSD members: painter Suzi (AtomiKitty) and Victoria Wordsworth that we hope will be spilled early 2019!
Eccentric Dames: What is your favorite quote?
Elvia: “You either BE or want to BE. I just BE” — me
The Cocktail Hour — Product Review
We received two samples from Elvia and her line. Both sets included her signature cropped Kimonos and one set had longer satin lounge pants and the other had satin lounge shorts. I have to say the fabrics are gorgeous — beautiful rayon crepes with silk linings in both! The length of the kimono is so versatile — just perfect for casual lounge wear, yet I also can use it as a jacket to wear with some trousers or even as a topper for a vintage dress or with a modern dress for a uniquely sophisticated look that is truly unique!
I immediately felt elegant and glamorous! The pants and shorts were also comfortable and what I really like about them is that Elvia trims them with matching fabric from the Kimono. This little touch is nice. The fact that the Kimonos are lined in different kinds of vintage satins and silk is also remarkable; it gives each garment a unique personalization and the stitching and work that goes into each piece makes you feel like you are truly wearing a piece of couture!
I think what I love so much about The Cocktail Hour is that all of these wonderful pieces are from 100% up-cycled, re-purposed materials. I really feel great about not wearing something that is primarily made from plastic and doesn’t come from a sweat-shop. I know there is a piece of history behind what I am wearing, and often wonder who wore it before me and what their history was. I also really like how versatile the garment actually is. It is perfect for wearing over a slip, nightgown, with the matching shorts or pants, or for using as a jacket. The fabrics and prints are so beautiful they immediately add a statement to any outfit.
If you want to check out Elvia and her fabulous line you can connect with her on Instagram, @The_Cocktail_Hour_Clothing, or on Facebook. She is hoping to launch her own website in the future and also sells at many pop-up shows in the Southern California area as well as larger events and shows. You won’t be disappointed with your wonderful new Kimono Set and will feel like a DIVA extraordinaire!
The Cocktail Hour will be permanently vending starting in November 2018 at:
1288 South La Brea
Los Angeles, CA 90019
If you are interested in sharing your product with the Ladies of Eccentric Dames Society and think it will be a good match for our audience, just contact us: we’d love to review it!
Eccentric Dames Society Rating
(4.5 / 5)
Great price point and overall value, professionally stitched/styled, great material and one of a kind items.
by Cheryl aka Sassy Morris
Sassy packed up and left the gray gloomy skies of the Pacific Northwest along with her ungratifying, soul-sucking corporate job and moved to the sunshine and desert breezes in beautiful Southern California. Canadian Ex-Patriate, Wife, Mother, Fur-Baby Mother and Entrepreneur, Sassy now sells Vintage for a living after a life-long love and passion for rescuing old things. Sassy, sometimes serious, always honest and usually outrageous, she is embracing the “silver” years with a sense of humor, adventure, and seeking that path to enlightenment along the way. Visit her Etsy shop!