Susie Kosovic of Poupée Rouge
Susie Kosovic immigrated from England to Toronto with her family in 1957. She dropped out of high school and took a sales job at Eaton’s department store.
At the same store, she met Marilyn Brooks who was about to open a clothes boutique called The Unicorn. Marilyn invited Susie to come and work for her as a combination designer-seamstress. The Unicorn, with its “crazy camp style”, rapidly became a success.
She met and married her husband when she was 19 years old. This afforded her the opportunity to open her own boutique in Toronto in 1964 called Poupée Rouge. Her midtown Yonge Street store, a converted house painted pink, was a huge success and became a mod fashion destination with young and colourful clothing. It attracted celebrity clients including Joan Baez, Genevieve Bujold and Sylvia Tyson.
In a November 1966 article for MacLean’s magazine Vidal Sassoon was quoted as saying about Susie “I spotted her at a party in Toronto last spring. I couldn’t miss her – she was wearing an exact copy of one of my hair styles and this marvelous wild dress she’d designed herself. I was tempted to call her Canada’s Mary Quant. But that’s not right because Susie has her own thing.”
She was the first Canadian designer to be featured on MacLeans cover. She was just 22 at the time. The article mentioned that “What makes Susie good news is that her clothes are feminine without fussiness, arresting without being bizarre.”
The following spring, Vidal Sassoon was set to have a big hair and fashion show in Toronto and use clothes created by three designers — Mary Quant, Rudi Gernreich and Susie Kosovic.
By 1968 Poupée Rouge had grown to two locations in Toronto, one in Montreal, four store-within-stores of western branches of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and one shop in Montego Bay, Jamaica, with plans for branch boutiques in New York and Miami.
However, by the late 60s, her business was struggling as knock-off copies of boutique dresses were being manufactured en-masse. Many boutique owners had the same problem, including Betsey Johnson in New York. They closed their stores.
In 1969, Kosovic began to design a unisex line for the Fairweather department store chain, and during the mid ’70s, opened a store called “John Alexander”.
She changed her name to Susie Hayward and went on to have a long career in the fashion industry.
We are lucky enough to have one of her dresses in the shop.
Link to full MacLean’s article:
Wayne Clark is a Canadian evening wear designer. Originally from Alberta, he studied fashion in Oakville, Ontario, graduating in 1973. After this, he apprenticed with Saville Row icon Sir Hardy Amies in London for 18 months. On his return to Canada in 1977, he worked with manufacturer Aline Marelle before eventually starting his own company in 1989. He became one of the first Canadian designers with international stature.
He is big on glamour, sophistication and a perfect fit. His designs are often spotted on the red carpet, worn by such celebrities as Jane Fonda and Cindy Crawford.
He was honoured in 2008 for his involvement in Canadian design at the annual Night of Stars gala in Toronto.
We have two fantastic 80s Wayne Clark dresses in the shop. 100% linen black & white bustier sweetheart cocktail dresses. Check them out!
Korean-born Sunny Choi made her mark in Canada’s fashion scene after she moved to Toronto from Seoul to continue her studies at OCAD. She became a painter and illustrator, and eventually moved into fashion design after 1985. She was known for formal dresses and skirt suits, and was in demand by celebrities for red carpet gowns. We couldn’t find many photos, but her gowns have been worn by Susan Sarandon, Daryll Hannah, Sharon Stone and Alison Krauss to name a few!
She had a 20 year long career designing clothing, selling in Saks and Nordstrom and many other boutiques across North America. She eventually opened her own boutiques in 1997.
She has since retired from fashion design and has continued her art career with painting.
We have a few of her pieces available including two blazers and two skirts.
By age 18 Yvonne had a staff of six working for her dress-making business in Hong Kong. She married in 1973 and they moved to Canada in 1975 where she took a job at GWG Clothing. Following that, she worked for Macy's and later opened a tailoring and alteration shop just below the store. She opened Yvonne's Tailoring and Design Boutique in 1979 specializing in tailored fashions. She won contracts for provincial and even national uniform designs for hotels, airlines and businesses as well as numerous design awards. In 1983 she opened Yvonne Yuen School of Design [in Saskatoon]. This was the first-ever fashion and floral design school in the prairies. In 2005 Yvonne sold her design school to semi-retire and spent the next few years between Canada and Europe. She passed away in 2016.
An Yvonne dress we sold earlier this year.
Vicki Lynn Bardon
This week’s designer spotlight is pointed at Canadian talent Vicki Lynn Bardon. She founded Suttles and Seawinds in 1973 in her hometown of Mahone Bay in Nova Scotia. She had studied design in New York and started the business originally as a way to provide employment to local women. It helped initiate the International revival in quilt making. Initially her products were home decor but she eventually branched into clothing. Soon, Suttles and Seawinds quilts and clothing were selling across North America in such stores as Saks Fifth Avenue, Holt Renfrew and Bloomingdale’s. She was a very popular label in the 80s, using only natural fabrics. Her trademark became quilted vests, patchwork dresses and printed Summer skirts and sets.
Suttles is a local word for scraps of fabric. Seawinds reflects the links between Nova Scotians and the sea. The two words were combined to honour traditional, local crafts & skills. Vicki became a world renowned designer and her shop in Mahone Bay a fashion destination in its own right.
A Suttles and Seawinds set in our rentals collection.
Charles Cooper was born in Toronto but his career started in New York. He had been designing since 1927 when he was written up in a 1940 edition of Harper's Bazaar. He was known for his fluid design and crepe dresses in the 1940s.
He moved to California in the early to mid 50's. He dressed stars in the late 50's and 60's, especially Joan Fontaine. His designs were regularly featured in Vogue magazine.
From ‘New York Fashion’:
"By the 60s, Charles Cooper for Cooper Couture had established itself as a California design entity. Despite its name, it featured ready-made clothes, which, at $100 - $300, were not the most expensive ready-to-wear. Cooper specialized in clean, bright colours like orange and mint green and in peppy prints, perhaps of black and white. Like most American designers of the period, he used wool fabrics for cocktail and evening clothes..... "
He died at the age of 69 in 1969 at his home in the Hollywood Hills, which signalled the end of his design house, Cooper Couture.
A Charles Cooper dress we sold earlier this year.
Izzy Camilleri is one of Canada’s leading and most celebrated fashion designers, and has built a strong reputation designing high fashion for over 38 years. She is also a pioneer in adaptive clothing.
Through the mid to late 1980’s, Izzy’s name sake collections were gracing runways and stores across North America, earning her glowing reviews from the fashion community and consumers alike. During these years, Izzy developed her trademark style that has influenced her throughout her career.
Izzy first ventured into the world of accessible clothing after initially doing custom work for a wheelchair user in 2004. It opened her eyes to the huge necessity for this type of clothing in the world. in 2009, Izzy pioneered and launched her most important fashion collection to date. The revolutionary clothing line IZ Adaptive, designed specifically for wheelchair users, has changed the lives of people all over the world and is recognized globally.
Izzy has received awards such as CAFA’s Womenswear Designer of the Year Award, and her adaptive line has been featured in the Royal Ontario Museum. For more than 30 years, she has designed custom clothing for an international clientele, crafted gorgeous collections featured in fashion magazines from Vogue to InStyle, and dressed celebrities like Daniel Radcliffe, Mark Wahlberg, Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie and David Bowie.
Arnold Isaacs was a Canadian Fashion designer, born in Montreal in 1930. He studied at the Cotnoir-Capponi School of Design in Montreal and completed his studies at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne. He apprenticed with the House of Paquin before moving to New York to work with Charles James.
In the early 1950s, his work began appearing in print publications. Under advice to give himself an Italian flair, he reversed his last name and Isaacs became Scaasi. Under his new name he achieved the December 1955 cover of Vogue, which led to his starting a RTW line the following year.
He won the Coty Fashion Critics Award in 1958.
Scaasi opened a couture salon catering to a clientele of socialites and celebrities in 1964. He was noted for his tailored suits and glamorous evening wear and cocktail dresses trimmed with feathers, fur, sequins, or fine embroidery.
Barbra Streisand wore his sheer overblouse and pants ensemble to collect her academy Award for Funny Girl in 1969 and he became a household name overnight! He later designed costumes for a number of feature films including Streisand’s ‘On a Clear Day You Can See Forever’.
He also dressed many First Lady’s including Mamie Eisenhower and Hillary Clinton.
Scaasi was presented with the Council of Fashion Designers of America Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. Over the years, major retrospectives of his work have been presented at various venues including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
He is the author of two books: ‘Scaasi: A Cut Above’ and ‘Women I have Dressed (And Undressed!)’.
He passed away in 2015 at age 85.