When design piracy began to become a problem, organizations that controlled, protected and promoted original fashion design began to appear. The first and most famous of these was Paris’ Chambre syndicale de la couture, which had its roots in the 1870s but was redefined in 1911 with a more vigilant mandate and membership requirements. By the early 1940s similar organizations had been created in Spain and in the U.S. for New York’s Seventh Avenue high end manufacturers.
The effectiveness of the haute couture syndicate was apparent with the revitalization of the Paris couture industry after World War II. Although Canada did not have a strong couture industry, there were enough couturiers and high-end designers that, brought together, could create a similar organization. A source for funding this organization was the Canadian textile industry. Leading fabric manufacturers would supply their yardgoods to Canadian designers and in exchange promote the Canadian designers through semi-annual fashion shows that would travel across Canada and around the world.
In April 1954 the Association of Canadian Couturiers (l’Association des Couturiers Canadiens) (ACC) was formed. The organization was based in Montreal, the seat of the Canadian fashion industry, under president Raoul-Jean Fouré, a Montreal designer since the late 1920s. Other initial members of the association included: Jacques de Montjoye, Germaine et Rene, Marie-France de Paris, France Davies, Bianca Gusmaroli, Jacques Michel, Louis Phillippe de Seve, Federica of Toronto, and Tibor de Nagay. The membership was capped at twenty members, and those wishing to join had to make their living as a designer and then be vetted by existing members.
In September 1954, the Association produced its first all-Canadian couture collection fashion show at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Montreal. The show was repeated in Vancouver and Ottawa before travelling to New York, where it was shown at the Hotel Pierre on December 7, 1954. The Association continued to present semi-annual shows adding more designers including: Rodolphe Liska, Lore Marie Weiner, Angelina Fabro, Di Nardo, Cornelia, Colpron D’Anjou, Lise Gaulin, Louis Beral, Marie Paule, Marcel Martel, and Frances Stewart. The collections were not always well received, garnering complaints of being too plain, too fancy, or too similar to designs already shown in Paris. Designers were frustrated by the limitations of using Canadian-made textiles, which meant a plethora of plain synthetics, and some designers were not fond of being shown alongside other designers whose work they considered of lesser quality, taste, or workmanship. The group disbanded in 1968.