At This Place, It’s ’80s All The Way

Post Image

Madam Vintage offers fingerless gloves, other items to channel your inner Madonna

The Toronto Star Dec. 12, 2009
by Keith Beaty

The ’80s are back in fashion in a big way. It’s all about leggings, padded shoulders, over-the-knee boots and fingerless gloves.

Cara Leslie has it all covered at Madam Vintage & Nearly New at 168 Gladstone Ave., just south of Dundas.

It is well worth the schlep.

In her night job, Leslie is the female swing on Toxic Avenger, at the Danforth Music Hall through Jan. 3, taking over for leads Brittany Gray and Louise Pitre should they be indisposed or have auditions in New York.

Gray and Leslie bonded over a mutual love of vintage. Gray is at the shop auditioning New Year’s Eve dresses.

“I love vintage glamour,” Gray says. “In the ’40s and ’50s, they knew how to be women. I love that era’s class and elegance.”

Gray is rocking a $125 black sequined number with ruching, crinoline and poofy sleeves. Ivana Trump called and wants her dress back.

Leslie hails from Alberta so she has a great stock of cowboy boots. There are also houndstooth leggings, vintage Le Ch√Ęteau paisley jeans, Madonna T-shirts, red plaid shirts, football-shouldered blazers, beaded gowns and a brown leather trench coat marked at $20 that is very Al Pacino in Carlito’s Way.

“It is beaten up and needs a few stitches,” Leslie explains.

So does Pacino these days.

Prices start at $5 and go to $300 for a white fox fur coat. Bags range between $35 and $45. There is a good collection of eel skin purses.

Leslie picked the ’80s not because it is in the zeitgeist, but because no one else is carrying specifically ’80s vintage and she is a big fan of the look.

“I grew up in the ’80s and I have been collecting so long,” she says.

“I like the colours. It is k.d. lang meets Bob and Doug meets Dynasty.”

(Coincidentally, Mike Deschambeault, stage manager of Toxic Avenger, owns the vintage shop Style Commission in Welland.)

Gray loves to shop for skirts, tights and cowboy boots.

“I’m a boot girl. And I love ’80s shoulders,” she says.

She also loves leopard and zebra, something she inherited from her mom.

“Mom has amazing style. She is my go-to person on advice on what to wear. Her thing is, don’t leave the house without heels on. You’ll never catch her in flats.”

Gray shops at Zara and H&M for staples. You’ll also find her at Winners, Value Village, Kensington, Yorkville and Queen West and she and Leslie discovered Danforth shops such as Alchemy Fashions, Body Blue and Room 507 Clothing since they started working in the ‘hood.

Gray plays Sarah, the sexy blind librarian who falls for the lead character, Toxie. They say love is blind. He tells her he looks like Brad Pitt. He looks more like Arm Pit.

“She falls in love with the toxic avenger, who is a 7-foot-tall green superhero,” Gray says. “He tells her he is a Frenchman.

“Sarah is a blond, who is sexy in a nerdy way,” adds Gray, a brunette.

Unlike Gray, Sarah has no fashion sense.

“She can’t see, so everything she wears clashes. She dreams of being an author and wants Oprah to promote her book.”

Gray dreams of having a career like Kristin Chenoweth’s.

“She can do both theatre and film and goes back and forth.”
Gray, 23, hails from Pickering. She has been dancing since age 3 and made her professional debut at age 15 in the film Chicago.

“I was dancer/singer/ensemble in the `Cellblock Tango’ number with Catherine Zeta-Jones and with Richard Gere in `All I Care about Is Love,'” Gray says.

“Catherine Zeta-Jones was very motherly all the time. She sent us all individual Christmas cards.”

They didn’t know she was only 15.

“They were looking for late 20s to mid 30s,” she recalls. “I looked 23; I went in full makeup.”

Gray is a whiz at makeup and has her own makeup business Fancy Face (

“I hire freelance makeup artists and we do weddings, parties, photo shoots, head shots … You have to have something on the side to balance the desperation of being an actor.”

Gray also danced with Hilary Swank in a commercial sequence in the film Amelia; with Carol Burnett and Tracey Ullman in Once Upon a Time on a Mattress; was Case Model number 5 in Howie Mandel’s Deal or No Deal; and landed her first villainous role as Hive in the Disney series Aaron Stone.

“She is part bee, part human and tries to take down Aaron Stone,” Gray says.

“It is a lot of fun and so different from Sarah in Toxic.”