Canadian Fashion Connection – The Ideal Dress Company

Moe Lupovich arrived in Canada as an immigrant from Romania in 1912. Unable to find jobs Moe and his brother Samuel began selling rags and saved up for a sewing machine, which enabled them to make aprons and sell them door to door. In 1917 they founded the Ideal Dress Company and in 1923 opened at 446 St. Laurent Blvd., where they manufactured cotton house dresses. They’d sell the dresses at $5 a dozen to retailers who sold them for $1 each. By the 1930s, Ideal was housed in an 8-storey factory and seeing 3 million a year in revenues. They grew during the Depression because they were making the lowest-cost dress in North America. 

The brothers split off a second division called Morsam Fashions (a combination of their first names) during the 1940s to manufacture bathrobes and house coats (dusters) and two extra factories were opened in Sorel and Hawkesbury. When Moe’s son Norman, completed a commerce degree in the 1950s he decided not to follow his father and uncle into their business, and instead, set up White Sister Uniform, his own company that made nursing uniforms. Norman ended up buying out his father’s shares in the Morsam company in the 1960s. 

In 1982 Norman’s son Steve joined the firm. In an effort to keep the company profitable, the company was consolidated under the Morsam name and two of the three factories were closed. In 1984, they ceased manufacturing in Canada, reducing the staff from 300 to 8, and started importing terrycloth robes from China. The robes were a hit, but by 1990 the market was saturated. Morsam survived by diversifying their bathrobes and sleepwear lines which by 2007 were being sold under the labels Jasmine Rose, Celeste, Monty, and Morning Glory. Today, Morsam licenses the brands of Danskin, Buffalo, and Jones New York.

Steve Lupovich and Ginette Wood of Morsam Fashions, Montreal, 2007
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Been a Bit Busy…

It’s been a while since I have added a post because I have been busy pulling together the new exhibition Made in France at the museum. It also appears that the site has been hijacked and that many people are getting warning signs that my blog is not a secure site. We are a secure site, but someone has wormed their way in and are asking us to pay money so that visitors don’t get a message that we aren’t secure. I will try to sort that out sooner than later, but it may mean I have to shut this site down or move to another provider…

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Oscar Favourites

Some looks I thought were worth noting:

I wish they would let the ‘red carpet’ be symbolic rather than literal… a white carpet would have shown the clothes off better…

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Canadian Fashion Connection – Trans-Canada Shoes

Founded in c. 1954 (the logo was registered that year), Trans-Canada Shoes was a retail chain, headquartered in Quebec, that sold Canadian-made footwear, primarily from Quebec manufacturers. The chain was mostly located in strip plazas and suburban malls. The company didn’t weather the early 1990s recession and closed in c. 1991.

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Karl Lagerfeld, 1933 – 2019

Karl Lagerfeld died earlier today of pancreatic cancer at the age of 85. Rumours of failing health surfaced a few weeks ago when he didn’t make his end-of-show-bow at the Paris Chanel show on January 22.  

Karl Otto Lagerfeldt was born in Hamburg, Germany to a German mother and Swedish father on September 10, 1933. By 1952 he had moved to Paris and in 1954 he won a prize for a sketch of a coat that led to an offer to work as a design assistant at Pierre Balmain. In 1957 Lagerfeld left Balmain to take on the position of art director at Jean Patou where he remained until 1963. He began designing for Fendi in 1965 and Chloe in 1966.

In 1983 he took on the role of artistic director at Chanel where his successful revitalization of the atelier was spectacular. The following year Lagerfeld launched his own label, which he sold to Tommy Hilfiger in 2005.

In the 1990s Karl was known for wearing sunglasses at all times, as well as carrying a fan. Shortly after the turn of the century Karl kept the glasses, but dropped the fan, as well as 93 pounds. He began to wear the slim gentleman-vampire chic of Hedi Slimane, designer for Dior’s menswear. Karl became known for his look of leather pants, tall collars, mitts and beads.

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As Seen In: Lee Radziwell wearing Halston, c. 1976

I just heard that Lee Radziwell, younger sister of Jacqueline Kennedy, passed away two days ago. Radziwill (1933 – 2019) was known for her impeccable style and was even entered into the Best Dressed Hall of Fame in 1994. While I was reading up on her I rediscovered this photograph of her in 1976 wearing the identical hammered satin dress by Halston that we have in the FHM collection.

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Fashion in Song – Fashion Is Danger (2009)

This 80’s send-up is by New Zealand comedy team The Flight of the Conchords.

L-l-l-look look look

I’m the edge, I’m the chic, I’m the taste
I’m a larger than life with just a hint of lace
I’m avant-garde, I’m the heir, I’m the vogue
I’m the she she ohh hee hee, I’m the man a la mode

Pr-pr-president reagan
Thatcher th-th-thatcher

Ooh ooh ooh ooh
You think you know fashion, well fashion’s a stranger
You think fashion’s your friend, my friend
Fashion is dangerposing at the bar

(Posing) posing sitting down
(Posing) posing in the distance
(Posing) posing with my arm
(Posing) posing with my leg
(Posing) posing like a swan
(Posing) posing for a portrait

Hey! Hey-Hey! Hey! Yeah, Ooh

You think you know fashion,
Well, fashion’s a stranger
You think fashion’s your friend,
My friend, fashion is danger

Moscow, Berlin, Paris, London, Tokyo, Wellington, Rome, Geneva
New York City
New-New-New New York City, ooh

You think you know fashion,
Well, fashion’s a stranger
You think fashion’s your friend,
My friend, fashion is danger


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Canadian Fashion Connection – The Woodward’s Jingle

If you grew up in Vancouver in the 1960s and 1970s like I did, you knew this tune – the $1.49 Day jingle. I blogged about Woodward’s, the Vancouver department store that was in business from 1892 to 1992 a while back, but I didn’t mention their famous advertising jingle.

The tune was written by Australian-born Tony Antonias on February 17, 1958 while he was the creative director of the Vancouver radio station CKNW. He had just returned to work after a Christmas holiday in Australia to find a new typewriter on his desk, and an unwelcome assignment on his work plan. He was to write a creative advertisement for Woodward’s. When he hit his computer in frustration, the machine made a couple of ‘dings’ that started the tune in his head.

The ‘$1.49 day’ ad was used to promote a number of specials that always made Woodward’s the place to be on any given Tuesday (I recall stockings, underpants and bath towels were commonly promoted on Tuesdays.) Three years after the jingle was first aired in April 1958, Tony received an award from the Hollywood Advertising Club in California for creating one of the world’s best radio advertisements. Like it or not, it sticks with you!

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Grammy Wowzers

Like I said in the post about the Golden Globes, I don’t watch any of these shows anymore, but I do like to see the red carpet frocks and there were some real show stoppers at this year’s Grammys. Edgier than most awards shows, the Grammys offered some fun pieces that I thought were worth noting. Some of the overall trends included LOTS of shoulder, vintage cowboy, 60s retro, and for some reason — hats…

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CAFTCAD First Annual Awards

Last night was the first annual awards for CAFTCAD (Canadian Alliance of Film & Television Costume Arts & Design). The national organization promotes, networks, and shares knowledge with Canadians involved in costume design in film, television and other forms of media.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

About 200 gathered at the Aga Khan Museum (most dressed creatively – as one would expect from the crowd), to honour some of the many talented people who work in the costuming industry. Kenn and I were delighted to be asked to each sit on a panel that picked nominees for the various categories. The nominations were then voted upon by the general membership to decide who would be recognized for excellence at the awards event.

Sgawaay K’uuna – The Edge of the Knife

Entres nous, some of the categories were really hard to decide who should be singled out, but I did have some favourites. It was hard not to notice Debra Hanson and her team’s brilliant work on the Daphne Guiness inspired styling of Schitt’s Creek. Also, the building, breaking down and creative designing for A Series of Unfortunate Events and the tiny budget used to recreate the traditionally-dressed Haida community for Sgawaay K’uuna were stand-outs for me. All of these took home awards for excellence – for a complete list of nominees and winners, check out the CAFTCAD website.

Schitt’s Creek – Moira Rose channeling Daphne Guiness…

Excellence in Crafts – Costume Illustration: A Series of Unfortunate Events– Season 2 Illustrator: Keith Lau 

Excellence in Crafts – Textile Arts:  A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2 Key Breakdown Artist: Sage Lovett, Breakdown Artist: Chance Lovett 

Excellence in Crafts – Building:  The Shape of Water Cutter: Tamiyo Tomihiro, Seamstresses: Ying Zhao & Sylvie Bonniere 

Best Styling in Commercials & Music Videos:  Woods Canada “Is There” Stylist: Marie- Eve Tremblay 

Best Costume Design in a Web Series:  Chateau Laurier Costume Designer: Joanna Syrokomla 

Best Costume Design in Short Film: ROPEd Costume Designer: Joanna Syrokomla 

Best Costume Design in Low Budget Feature: Sgawaay K’uuna – The Edge of the Knife Costume Designer: Athena Theny 

Best Costume Design in TV – Contemporary: Schitt’s Creek Costume Designer: Debra Hanson 

Best Costume Design in TV – Period: Anne with an E Costume Designer: Alexander Reda 

Best Costume Design in TV – Sci-Fi/Fantasy: A Series of Unfortunate Events Costume Designer: Cynthia Summers 

Best Costume Design in Film- Contemporary:  Hold The Dark Costume Designer: Antoinette Messam 

Best Costume Design in Film – Period: The Shape of Water Costume Designer: Luis Sequeira

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