There is very little history, either written, photographed or in an existing labelled garment, to tell us much about the “Couturier” in the early years of 20th Century Canada. The Dry Goods Review and The Canadian Home Journal did discuss those in Paris, and London, in giving us fashions latest direction, but neither publication listed a Canadian designers name, it was too soon.
With the advent of Mayfair magazine in the late 1920’s, we did get to see the ladies of high society in their finery. They were almost always listed as “Mrs Smith”, the wife of” Mr Gerald Smith” and if “Mrs Smiths” clothing did get a mention, which was not often, it was a description of the cloth, cut and colour, not the maker. The ladies of the era were very discrete.
Mayfairs fashion pages did introduce us to the clothing made by “Martha” aka “Madame Martha”, a Toronto couturier, in it’s editorial and ad pages. They also, on rare occasion, began to list the name of the “designer” who was responsible for the clothing in certain department store salons. They did not, however, take column space to tell us anything about the designers themselves. They were not yet a part of the society that they dressed, they were still considered a part of “The Staff”!
Along with Martha, you will find Gabby Bernier, Ida Desmarais, and Jean Fourre, the ladies and gentleman of 1920’s Canadian couture, under the Designer section on the “clothingcanadafashion” website. The pull down lists 1920 and when you hover over it the designers names will appear to the right, click on each one to see what I have been able to find so far…