Canadian Fashion Connection – Sarah Clothes

Red and black caftan, late 1970s

Sarah Pouliot began as a costume cutter at The Stratford Theatre Festival in 1953 but when she and her family moved to Ottawa in 1961 Sarah began her own dressmaking business. By 1967 she had moved her work to a storefront at 46 Elgin street. Tired of the tailored mini dresses she was hired to make, Sarah began to create comfortable kaftans and billowy skirts to sell in the shop. A trip to Thailand in 1972 resulted in her coming home with bolts of fabric, silver jewellery, and raw silk scarves to sell in her shop. In 1975 she discovered India and the nature of her business changed…

 

Sarah Pouliout at her home in Jaipur

In 1977 Sarah began a wholesaling business designing clothes made in India using natural dyes made from pomegranates, indigo, and saffron, printed in patterns created from wooden blocks cut by hand. Her daughters Andree and Madeleine joined the firm, Andree with designing, and Madeleine with business. Sarah Clothes was soon wholesaling to boutiques across the country, and internationally as well. Around the same time, a branch store was opened in Toronto’s toney Yorkville neighbourhood.

The shops were closed in 1996, although Sarah continues to design from her home in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Her daughter Andree re-established a wholesale line in 2016, that sells similar designs to local boutiques. If you want to keep up with Sarah Pouliot – her facebook page is here

Pouliot at her desk at 68 Elgin street, c. 1968

17 thoughts on “Canadian Fashion Connection – Sarah Clothes

  1. Thanks for this fascinating backstory. I well remember Sarah Clothes’ Yorkville shop, especially their long cotton-gauze skirts, which were twisted and knotted while damp to create a DIY, budget Fortuny effect when unrolled. (I think they may also have had a shop on Front Street near St Lawrence Market at some point.)

    • I remember the one in St. Lawrence market in the mid-late 80s, but I didn’t find any reference to it in any of my research – and I DEFINITELY remember the cotton skirts a la Fortuny!

  2. I bought beautiful clothes from Sarah Clothes on Elgin Street in Ottawa in the 80’s. I still have a long, vest/coat in hand embroidered green with cinnamon inside that I wear as a work of art and love, on occasion. And many happy memories of her store.

    • That’s the beauty to clothes like hers – they aren’t trendy, so you can wear them for years.

  3. I lived in Ottawa for many years and bought your clothing. I now live in Bradenton FL and could use your fashions and cotton more than ever. How can I get youdierdrer fashions again???

  4. I just want to emphasize you are needed here in Baedebtin st Petersburg and Sarsota area on the Gulf Coast of central Florda
    I can not find anything g compatible anywhere

    • Hello Dierdre
      I hear your plea! This is Andrée in Ottawa, Sarah’s daughter.
      Sarah’s magnificent collections of clothes can never be re-created, she had a special genius and fashion styles were much more romantic and whimsical then. There was more disposable income too!
      I am happy to report that I have kept up a thread of the family business and I create and import fine cotton clothes to Canada. I came late to this contact thread, but hope you will find this note and get back to me. You can find my clothing line at my new Shopify store http://www.andreejaipur.com Best wishes!

  5. i came to Ottawa in 1982 and Sarah’s clothes were to me, an immigrant mother, a dream… I loved the Bank st store, eventually i bought my most expensive piece of clothing then- a padded kaftan, lovely memory…
    Lively patterns… i missed the stores…

  6. Thanks for the info! I just found one of her fabulous Ahokhi Indian dresses and will be selling it shortly. Miss seeing you at the Toronto Clothing show this year:(
    Kelly ~blackrosevintage

  7. Loved Sarah Clothes- I had several pieces, but, unfortunately I loaned some to someone, and it was never returned. I still have 1 piece- I’m 80 yrs old, and I loved her colours and style-very much to my taste, then and now!

  8. hi, is this clothing still available? was looking at a very old Victoria Magazine and saw their ad. sounds lovely.

  9. Dear Jonathan
    How wonderful to find your post! And a great delight to read of all the fond memories in the replies above. Hello former customers! You are remembered and missed. I have a bit of upate news. Sarah is getting on in years, and now living safe and sound in a quiet long term care residence in Ottawa. She is an avid reader. Sarah’s professional history has been told in a newly published book, the hardcover catalogue for the current Royal Ontario Museum exhibition, The Cloth that Changed the World
    India’s Painted and Printed Cottons, curated by Sarah Fee. The exhibition was cruelly closed down by the second wave of the pandemic. The catalogue is very interesting for textile history buffs and a beautiful production, and Sarah has a whole chapter written by ROM curator Alexandra Palmer. You can have a virtual tour at http://www.rom.on.ca, see exhibtions On Now.
    Other news; My apologies, I have not been updating Sarah’s facebook page lately. The pandemic has pushed my small business from season popup events (Sister Bazaar, in Ottawa and Toronto) to a whole new venture, I now sell my own line of clothes online at http://www.andreejaipur.com in Shopify. Have a look! As Jonathan kindly mentioned, I began importing my collections to Canada in 2016. I produce my own hand block printed fabrics and garment patterns in Jaipur India, at Soma Blockprints, which I co-founded in 1984. My Andree Jaipur brand is about hand block print, sustainable and repsonsible production, cotton garments handmade with quality and care. Sarah’s flair and romantic fashion statement, her immense imagination and talent are remembered and loved by many. My own contribution is a heartfel homage to what she taught me, what I went on to learn and practice in my hand block print specialization, and my commitment to supporting and celebrating the finest skilled craftspersons of India.
    I welcome all your Sarah Clothes memories, clothes-stories (and can supply some fine cotton clothes too!), contact me at andreejaipur@gmail.com
    Thank you Jonathan!

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