How Toronto label Local Woman’s dresses became an instant classic.
Anyone would feel like a lead character if they were wearing one of the dreamy, ultra-feminine frocks from Local Woman—a.k.a. Sarah Gregg Millman. The Toronto-based costume designer’s vision for the label started to take form on the set of a short film she was working on early this year. After many years in the industry, she had made a long-awaited pivot to the director’s chair. She still ended up making the costumes for the project, however, and created airy gowns to accommodate the main characters’ pregnant bellies and to allow for unrestricted movement. While the premiere was postponed due to the pandemic, the true star turned out to be the costume design. “When I would show people the film, they’d say, ‘Oh, that’s good, but where can we get those dresses?’” says Gregg Millman.
For her, the uniqueness of the collection lies in the fabric. A lifelong obsession with vintage shopping inspired a focus on one-of-a-kind materials—end-of-roll floral-print organzas, deadstock silks, weighty velvets. This means that once a dress sells out, it’s gone forever. But, as Gregg Millman says, that’s part of what makes each one special.
VISION “My eyes are trained from working in film to scan quickly for something I like and recognize it without even having to touch it. I want [the fabric] to be something that I haven’t seen anywhere else.”
SENTIMENTAL DETAILS “In old photos of [my mom] from the ’70s, she had a very bohemian vibe, which [aligned] with my childhood in Nova Scotia. That feeling is in the poetry of the [garments’] movements.”
WHENEVER, WHEREVER “I make these dresses for women to feel like they can live in them. You can wear them anywhere you want—on a dinner date or to pen your novel. I just want people to feel free in them.”