Canadian Fashion Connection – Peggy Claire

Twenty years ago I was asked to sit on the founding committee of the Seneca College Fashion Resource Centre by Claire Becker, who was the keenest proponent for the creation of a teaching collection. One time, during a discussion about something or other, I commented that it was too bad there wasn’t a book about Canadian dressmakers and milliners, because, for example, I didn’t know who the milliner ‘Peggy Claire’ was (a hat label I happened to see earlier that day), to which Claire Becker responded ‘that was me!’

The label was the amalgam of two women’s names, Peggy, who taught millinery at Delta Collegiate in Hamilton Ontario, and Claire. They started their millinery business in 1958 and by 1960 had a shop in downtown Hamilton. Some of their early work included making fur hats and bridal headwear on commission for Hamilton area shops. 

Faux leopard hat and muff set by Peggy-Claire, c. early 1960s, recently donated to the Fashion History Museum by Sue Peacock-Edmondson

In 1965 they opened a store in Toronto, with Claire managing the Toronto location and Peggy remaining in Hamilton. Four years later they were invited to rent space in Harridges, a high-end women’s clothier in the Colonnade shopping plaza at the heart of the fashionable Bloor street shopping strip of Toronto. Despite the general abandonment of hats in the late 1960s, ‘Peggy Claire’ did well, but when the lease was up for renewal at double the rent in 1972, Peggy and Claire decided it was time to dissolve the partnership and close up shop. Claire headed off to teach at Seneca College, where twenty-years later she would be busy founding the Seneca College Fashion Resource Centre.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
This entry was posted in Canadian dress, Fashion History Museum, millinery and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Canadian Fashion Connection – Peggy Claire

  1. Lizzie says:

    I loved this story, Jonathan. Sometimes it really does pay to make off-hand remarks!

  2. Belinda says:

    I came across a Peggy Clarke hat when clearing out my late grandmother’s apartment. It does not suit me and I’m wondering if it has any value or if I could donate it to a fashion museum. It feels like fur but if it is faux fur, I’m surprised at the quality for that time period. I’d appreciate any feedback anyone has to offer!

  3. Jennifer Wickman says:

    I have a peggy claire hat and as a matter of fact.. I think i have 3 more.. they are missing the tag.. but im quite sure they are all of the same designer.. I love them althought i wish i knew the actual fur type of each.

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