Ottawa can genuinely be called the fashion capital. It is the hometown of many popular brands and prominent designers who have made Canada famous far beyond its borders with their fashion creations. But, the concept of a fashion designer is more modern. In the old days in Ottawa, they were called couturiers or, in a simple way, tailors. The local fashion industry wasn’t so well developed. For the most part, all the clothes were imported from France or England.
The first couturier appeared in France back in the 19th century. The rapid development of fashion design took off when the range of fabrics, threads, fittings and sewing machines began to expand. The peak of prosperity for designers in Ottawa came at the end of the 20th century. Since that time, a large number of Canadians have started thinking outside the box. They started expressing themselves, so their sense of style and fashion began to emerge. Also, at the end of the 20th century, the residents of Canada seized a keen desire to dress differently. At this time, the number of designers skyrocketed. For Ottawa, the emergence of designers was a good sign, as it encouraged the purchase of quality and unique locally produced goods.
In the 21st century, not as many designers are based in Canada’s capital city as in the other major cities of Toronto and Montreal. Find out more at ottawanka.com.
Stacey Martin, a designer
Among Ottawa’s successful designers is Stacey Martin, who opened her first luxury clothing boutique in the early 2000s.
Stacey Martin worked for a long time in a different area as a dancer, after which she thought about creating her fashion brand. She implemented her business idea in 2009 by opening a boutique and naming it KANIA Couture. Subsequently, she changed the name of her fashion brand to Stacey Martin Lifestyle. She not only creates quality clothing but also positions herself as an eco-designer. In her activities, Stacey Martin advocates for the environment and supports women and people of color in their leadership. She promotes a healthy lifestyle, positive body image and self-love.
The store where Stacy Martin sells her designer clothes is located in downtown Ottawa on York Street. It’s not just a store but an entire studio of 46 square meters.
Moreover, the designer Stacey Martin went beyond the usual framework and gave the clothing sizes their names:
- XS – Baby Love
- S – Pure Love
- M – True Love
- L – More Love
- XL – Real Love
- XXL – Xtra Love
- One Love – oversize.
Erica Wark, a fashion stylist
Before becoming a famous designer, Erica Wark was a model in America for a while, a manager at Michael Kors and a TV presenter. Only after that, she started her career in the fashion world. Her journey as a stylist started at the beginning of the 21st century. She was able to become one of the best and most sought-after stylists in entire Canada. She has a website where she blogs about fashion and picks up stylish images. Erica Wark constantly advises celebrities regarding their style and fashion. You can hear her fashion advice on such television shows as TV Ottawa, Etalk and The Marilyn Denis Show.
Frank Sukhoo, a designer
Another Ottawa based designer is Frank Sukhoo, who has been involved in fashion shows for years. He has a luxury clothing store. Moreover, Frank Sukhoo has been working with the images of Canadian celebrities and political figures for many years. Among the most famous personalities served by Frank Sukhoo are Amanda Forsythe, Michaëlle Jean, David Johnston and others.
Frank Sukhoo is one of Ottawa’s most successful and distinguished designers. His studio is located in the heart of Canada’s capital city, at the intersection of Dalhousie and Cathcart streets. His studio store is different from other design studios. It is reminiscent of the old days when fashion was focused solely on the client and, directly, the creative process itself. At Frank Sukhoo studio, everything is done with simplicity but with taste. It doesn’t have a social media coordinator, a coffee shop, or any other accustomed things that other design studios have.
Besides all that, Ottawa’s designer Frank Sukhoo has been cooperating with various local and national charities for many years.
Justina McCaffrey, a designer
Before she became a world known designer, Justina McCaffrey received her education at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. Her name thundered across the world at the beginning of the 21st century. She is widely known not only in Canada but outside its borders. It’s all thanks to her talent. She creates incomparable evening and wedding gowns. Her creations have repeatedly appeared on the covers of the world’s magazines and newspapers. Moreover, her client list includes many celebrities from Canada, the United States and other countries. Her dress collections have been presented at Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Kleinfeld Bridal in New York and Novarese in Japan.
Her store of fashionable dresses is located in Ottawa. Justina McCaffrey has been a top performer in the wedding and evening gown market for many years.
Farah Studio is one of the first fashion design studios to open in Ottawa. The fashion studio was opened at the end of the 20th century by an immigrant woman from Iran.
For a long time, Farah lived in Iran, a country where the craft heritage is quite rich. Young Farah’s love of sewing began when she was a child. Due to the political situation, however, Farah could not stay in Iran and had to flee. Fate took her to Italy. That’s where she continued her life’s work, gained experience and opened her first dressmaking studio. She was selling exclusive items to luxury boutiques in Rome. Soon Farah decided to move to Canada. In 1994 Farah and her entire family moved to Ottawa, where she continued to operate her business. She opened her designer store on Sussex Street in 1997.
Madeleine Cormier, a designer
Ottawa is a perfect place for the hat business. It is home to numerous embassies and hosts an enormous variety of events for which the elite require different headwear. In the 1990s, Madeleine Cormier successfully carved out this niche, turning it into one of the best hat designers in Ottawa in the 21st century.
Madeleine Cormier is the owner of the Chapeaux de Madeleine boutique. She creates fashionable and multifunctional headwear.
Madeleine’s family contributed significantly to her future career as a designer. In particular, her career and development were highly influenced by her aunt, who was a milliner in the 1940s and 1950s. She reminded Madeleine of Coco Chanel.
When Madeleine Cormier received her high school education, she went to Montreal to pursue her dream. There, she studied haute couture at the École Cotnoir-Capponi. She gained invaluable experience in pattern making, draping and sewing.
After Madeleine Cormier graduated, she also took specialized courses as a milliner.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that Malden and her husband moved to the Canadian capital city and settled there. Before becoming a famous designer, Madeleine worked at the Ottawa airport. But this job didn’t stop her from pursuing her dream. Madeleine had an incredible passion for sewing. She sewed all kinds of hats at home after work in the evenings and went to sell them at the Ottawa markets on her days off.
Over the years, her business became so successful that in 1995, Madeleine opened her headwear store at ByWard Market.
Madeleine mostly customizes hats for women, but men also order headwear from her. People of all ages order hats, from the very young to the elderly. Madeleine Cormier also works with hats for brides.
Among the celebrities who have ordered headwear from Ottawa’s designer Madeleine Cormier was Sophie Gregoire, the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.