Canadian Fashion Connection – VALI

Valerie Dubsky began her career sketching designs. However, when the communist putsch of 1948 closed off Czechoslovakia from the west, she fled her homeland for France with her husband John, and child. John soon received a visa for Canada to work in a hat factory, but when the year-long contract ended, the family went to New York where Valerie resumed working in fashion.

Vali dress, c. 1967

By 1959, the family had returned to Canada and Valerie worked for various Montreal manufacturers until 1966 when she founded her own clothing company Vali Design Inc. She produced four collections per year: ‘at home’ leisurewear, clothes for cocktails, sportswear, and coordinated accessories, as well as importing her own perfume from France.

The Vali look became known for its femininity, fluid lines, and often floral prints. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis purchased several Vali outfits through Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, which carried the line. Margaret Trudeau also wore Vali designs, most famously for a state visit to Washington D.C. in 1972.

Valerie Dubsky (left) with models, c. 1972

In 1973, Valerie gave fellow Czech-born Ivana Zelníková (a tall, 24-year-old former Olympic skier) a job as a model. Ivana was soon modelling for many Montreal designers until she moved to New York, where she met and married Donald Trump in 1977.

Vali Design Inc., was officially dissolved in August 1985.

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.

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