Crushing on The Damzels

interview and photography by Zorianna Zurba
Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood is home to The Doll House, a boutique filled with sassy and smart dresses by the Damzels, accessories, and even some baby attire. Worn pays a visit to the delightful design duo behind Damzels in this Dress Rory Lindo and Kelly Freeman at their store.

What does the dress mean to you?

Rory: The dress is a staple.
Kelly: It is everything is our world. Its a way to instantly look put together and stand out in a crowd.
Rory: Its great if you’re lazy. You can put on a Damzels dress and look pretty cute instantly.
Kelly: We’re fans of vintage and the ultimate hunt and putting together the ultimate outfit. But the perfect dress for everyday is easy, and doesn’t need to compromise your style.

Any comments on the re-emergence of the dress in fashion this year?
Rory: Everything is cyclical. We saw that huge boom in the 1990s, so it was time.
Kelly: Fashion got lazy. It went extremely casual. We have new fabrics that are so comfortable like bamboo. So, you can feel like you’re wearing sweats when you’re not.
Rory: And you can wear comfortable things without having a quote on your ass.

I’ve had my Damzels in This Dress Roller Dress for nearly six years and it has really stood the test of time. What makes a dress stand the test of time?
Kelly: We get that a lot. The store was a chance for us to connect with customers and hears stories about our dresses.
Rory: We’re never out of style, because we’re never really in style. Our merchandise doesn’t really follow style.
Kelly: We don’t believe in style with an expiration date.
Rory: We want people to have a real chuck for their buck.
Kelly: We want people to adopt the flavor of the season without making it rule their world.
Rory: Our girls have style. They know how to do that.

How was your participation in Toronto Fashion Week?
Kelly: Not our first year, but a hiatus. Our first in three years.
Rory: Three-four.
Kelly: We did it a few years back when it was at the Liberty Grand. That was our swan song for a while. We made a zombie film when we did [the show] at the Carlu.
Rory: ..leaving everyone with a good taste in their mouth.
Kelly: But, we wanted to focus our energies on a retail store. A lot of people we’ve talked to said that [the zombie show] was the first show they went to, and it turned them around.

Zombie film?

Kelly: Yeah, we’ve shot two films. Rise of the Damzel Swamp Zombie in 2003, which was the last time that we did Fashion week. It was a film about flesh eating zombie girls.
Rory: We were the first people to put zombies back into popular culture.
Kelly: We brought that back again this past fashion week. We ended with a film and started back with a film Day of the Dolls, Dawn of the Damzels (2007). Its a kind of Pinocchio story about a couple of zombies who find a home in our boutique here in Leslieville.
Rory: But, there is a little bit of killing along the way.

We often hear about Parisian-women, but what about Toronto women? Do you think that there is a Toronto-woman?
Rory: Toronto women are more vintage inspired. We have a lot of good vintage available, which why they like our line because we have a lot of vintage-like stuff.
Kelly: People tend to say that we’re so New York or so L.A. But, people from Toronto are not really from Toronto. Its more that…
Kelly: yeah… they’re adventurous. Livin’ large. They want to make the most of it
Rory: Women here have good hair cuts.

Who are your top 10 damsels to put in Damzels?
1 – Ginger from Gilligan’s Island
2 - Kelly Ripa
3 – Tura Satana

4 – Liz Phair
5 – Maggie Gyllenhaal
6 – Betsey Johnson
7 – Ann & Nancy Wilson
8 – Sophia Loren
9 – Dita Von Teese
10- Sarah Silverman