Fabric and fashion designer, Peach Berserk, and daughter Digby, age 12
There is a dress that, I don’t know my daughter’s opinion on it, but a dress that I would definitely give her. It’s a Peach Berserk dress from those days — a black slip dress with pink felt on it that I wore a million times, so it’s kind of ragged but in a cute way. And I used to wear it with her all the time … I just think it’s a good memory of what a crazy mom she has. Because I want to leave her with the right opinion of me in my old age. So it’s cute, and I think it’s perfect because not only did I wear it all the time and wore it to a ton of fun things, and with her, but I also made it. So it really describes me well and it’s a good way for her to remember her old mother as I get older. I actually had a dress I made her that sort of matches, from when she was totally little. I kept a lot of her little dresses.
A clutch of purses, perfect for mom
Senior public relations manager, Gap Canada
I think of her style more than a particular item. For example, she likes colour all the time to match her vibrant personality, but growing up I remember structured jackets, pencil skirts, tie neck blouses and shift dresses as she trotted off to the office looking super-chic. She is short, so super high heels were and are still the norm. I would always stare into her closet at the enormity of her shoe and bag collection. And jewellery, great jewellery. I am still trying to get my hands on a very ’70s heart-shaped champagne-coloured topaz that dangles from a long, thin gold-link chain. I think the way to describe that necklace would be very “disco-era ’70s” as opposed to just ’70s. Love that piece. It was actually framed in gold and multi-faceted. Gorgeous! I love her pictures from the ’70s and ’80s, too, with high-waisted pants and asymmetrical tops. So glam!
Divisional vice-president, communication, Holt Renfrew
I believe it would be my mother’s “going away” suit that she wore as she departed her Victoria wedding reception in December 1965, a lovely Chanel-style suite in soft heathery pink/green boucle. She was 19 years old and tiny. Of course, it doesn’t fit me, but I am somehow averse to altering it. As to why it is my favourite: It just seems to capture my mother and an exciting moment in her life — 19 and fearless, elegant and gentle, but with such great style, spirit and joie de vivre.
Laura de Carufel
Executive editor, ELLE Canada
Piece that I’m coveting: My mother’s gold-and-sapphire costume jewellery choker. When my mother was a teenager growing up in Quebec, her British grandmother, with whom she exchanged letters, sent her a costume jewellery gold choker adorned with teardrop sapphires. As a kid, I remember watching it sparkle on my mom’s tanned skin — she often wore it on her wedding anniversary, in July — and in her red-velvet jewellery box, where it rested like a call to grown-up glamour. It looked exotic amid the other pieces, and a little dangerous. The pearls, for example, may have been real but they didn’t have the shiver-inducing power of that choker necklace.
Kim Newport Mimran
Designer, Pink Tartan, and daughter Jacqueline (Jacqui), 11
When I got my first big promotion I saved for a black Hermès Kelly bag — it was such a classic. I loved the design the workmanship and Grace’s famous style. I am saving it for Jacqui when she graduates university.
Decorator and host of HGTV’s Summer Home
Oh, my mom has so many — she had this white angora dress with a deep
V-neck and angora belt, so Dynasty minus the shoulder pads. And then there’s the black silk clutch with a faux diamond set off-centre on the front.
Editor-in-chief and associate publisher, Flare magazine
Unlike me, my mother didn’t carefully store her fashion. She hacked up her bridal gown into a day dress and was quick to dump things out of her closet. But there was one piece she stored meticulously in a grand box with tissue — a strapless corseted ball gown in black shot taffeta (it shimmered red when she danced) with a crisp white underskirt. My mum wore it when she was a secretary at the U.S. Embassy in London. That glamorous career was cut short when she and my dad moved to Vancouver. I wore the gown to my high school graduation. As my friends paraded about in long frilly white and pastel gowns, I walked in (wearing makeup for the first time) in Mum’s gown. It fit like a glove. I felt like a screen star. I can’t remember what she thought about me wearing it, but I’m sure it brought back some cherished memories. Mum died 18 years ago. I still have her gown (if only it still fit!) and will never part with it.
Fashion director, Dealuxe.ca
While you may not call my mom a style maven, she has a few standout mid-century pieces that need to migrate, ASAP, from her closet to mine. She’s never thrown a thing out and has a cedar closet full of covetable ’50s sweater-girl cashmeres from her college days, and a double face rounded cream coat that I swear inspired Raf Simon’s Fall 2012 Jil Sander collection. But it’s her lipstick-red kid leather stilettos, circa 1962, that really get my heart aflutter. Family folklore has it that while traipsing around the house in them at the age of three, I peed on them, dribbling all over their perfect pointy toes. As quintessential today as they were then, I’m on my way to her house right now to poach them.
editor-in-chief, More magazine
The only thing I can think of is my mother’s pearls, which are not only beautiful, but meaningful: When her parents received reparation from the German government after the Holocaust, they used some of the money to buy their daughter this gift.
Bridal designer and managing partner of mother’s business, Ines DiSanto wedding gown
My sweetheart mini-gown that I wore on my wedding day, Aug. 25, 2008, was something I inherited from my mother! An original vintage lace from 1952 was used over a skin-tone fabric and we added different size pearls at the hem of the gown to create some texture. My mother bought it in Leon, France, during a trip in 1984 and was saving it for a very special occasion.
Editor-in-chief, FASHION magazine
My favourite item from my late mother’s closet is a pink floral Chanel scarf I gave her one Mother’s Day. My mom was very easy to buy for. As long as it had a designer label or came in a box from Holt Renfrew, she was happy. This scarf was pink, pretty and Chanel — a winning combination. As predicted, she loved it. Now it’s mine and I think of her with a smile whenever I wear it.
When I graduated from high school, my parents gave me a beautiful gold bangle bracelet and engraved it. My first memories of them are jewellery — my sister and I went to Kenya in the seventh grade and I got two emerald-cut tourmalines. When we got back to Philadelphia, where I’m from, my mother took us to where she designed a lot of her own pieces, and we were each able to make something. I made a gold ring and my mother made herself a very pretty interesting mounting for an emerald-cut diamond. She designed and made a heavy bezel setting that wraps around the finger into four prongs. Maybe I’ll get it some day! Together, my husband and I have four daughters — 17, 19, 23 and 26. For our wedding, I designed a rolling ring of two bands signifying the two families coming together. One band was pink gold, the other was white gold, and I put two diamonds in it. I gave one to all the girls.
Shopping editor, Loulou magazine
My mom lives in Norway and is a magpie, like me. She’s been collecting jewellery for years and years, so anything in her jewellery collection is usually something sparkly and something gorgeous. In particular, there’s a ring that I always gravitate towards. It’s a huge aquamarine ring, but I don’t think they make aquamarine that large any longer, or if they do it’s well outside of my price range. I think it’s the size of my eyeball, it’s absolutely stunning. And that’s always been one of my favourite pieces in her closet or in her collection. Whenever I think of my mom, and my favourite piece that she owns, it’s always her jewellery and particularly that ring. The colour of it is so intense, you’d almost think it was topaz, but it’s not. My sister and I both go, “Oh Mom, love your ring! And you’re wearing it today!” Also to note, when I got married I proudly wore that cocktail-size aquamarine ring as both my “something borrowed” and “something blue.”
The ring was a gift for my confirmation when I was 14. I had been looking at the ring every week for months and months on my way home from school. I think the jeweler was truly fed up with me coming in just to look at the same ring week after week, month after month. It was, after all, a one-man shop, with a jeweller’s workshop at the back and retail at the front. I am not sure if he made it himself. I remember how upset I was when it had been sold. Had no idea my mum had bought it and almost fainted when I opened the gift.
Founder and head of production, Cinematastic fashion events and marketing consultancy
I have always been a huge fan of vintage fashion, and in 2004, I bought the most beautiful and perfect dress I have ever seen at a Value Village just off Main Street in Vancouver. It’s a stunningly handcrafted cheongsam in ivory organza embroidered with oversized gold irises (my favourite flower). It has a tiny little waist so I knew it would never fit me, but I bought it anyhow because I hoped one day I would have a teenage daughter to give it to. I have had it hung on my bedroom wall like art ever since. When I look at it I dream of my daughter Violet (now two years old) wearing it as a young woman on a special night. I’ve also got a shocking pink and black faux fur bomber jacket that I am saving for her. It’s a quirky Todd Oldham piece that looks like it came straight out of the wardrobe truck from the film Clueless. It’s truly a bit mad but that brand was so iconic when I was first coming into my own with fashion that I could never bear to part with it.
Co-designer of Comrags, and daughter Sally, 15
For me, I’ve always had a collection of little vintage house dresses. And just recently Sally started wearing one of my favourites. I love vintage clothes because when I put them on I think, “There’s some history here.” Or I wonder who wore this dress, what their life was like. So giving it to Sally and passing on another layer of history was fun, because when I see her in the dress it reminds me of a really great road trip to North Carolina [with] my friends … just the kind of music I was listening to at the time. She’s 15, so it’s really hard for me, that love of the ’80s that’s been revived. For me it’s like, “Why are you wearing acid wash?” But then just the other day she went to a party and she wanted to wear a dress, and when she described the dress she wanted it was very similar to one we had done in the ’80s, so I used an old pattern of ours, adjusted it a little bit, and she wore new vintage Comrags. One of the dresses I loved of my mom’s — I don’t know where it is now but I did inherit it and never really wore it that much because the waist was so tiny — was a silk floral shirtdress that was her honeymoon dress. And it just really has that feeling of tradition, it was custom-made for her at Hudson’s Bay, and it’s just a really beautiful dress. I don’t think it’s necessarily her style that I’ve picked up. I’m way more relaxed, way more grungy, I guess. But she definitely taught me how to sew, so that part of fashion we had in common — making clothes.
Co-designer of Comrags, and daughter Georgia, 22
My mother used to sew all the time, and in the ’60s she would make my sister and I dresses to match her dress. But our dresses always had waists on them, and hers always had a seam under the bust. I’ve given my daughter two pieces recently that I used to wear all the time, that I wore practically to death, and she’s started wearing them now because they’re both so great on her. One is an old Dries Van Noten dress from one of his very first collections when he was just starting out, and it’s a long black floor-length sleeveless dress with a big slit in the back. And I did save it for Georgia from the time I realized she was going to really like it. The other thing that she wears now that I just recently gave to her is an old Zapata dress. They were big Canadian designers in the ’80s. It’s a black sheer georgette dress with a rubberized floral print on it, and it looks totally modern and totally current. So both of those things are what she wears now of mine. My mom always made us versions of what she was wearing. And so for me I grew up never really needing to covet anything of my mother’s because I had it all. She was the one that taught me to sew. We always had the same dresses, same fabric, same silhouette. We all dressed alike. It was me and my sister and mom, all looking the same.
Design director, Roots
My most coveted items are one from my mother. In particular, my George Jensen ring, circa 1950, which my father gave to her and she wore her whole life. I will pass that on to my daughter. As well, my mother-in-law’s Hermès Kelly bag from 1952 that she gave me. It’s a little beat up but that’s how I like it.
Guest stylist, CityLine
I’ve mostly always hung on to my favourite pieces for a lot of years, just [so] they might go to the kids if they were interested. But the truth is that I just ended up giving to a second-hand store to sell virtually all my old good Saint-Laurent pieces, and stuff I’d really been hoarding for years. I just realized, as much as you can love these things and hope your kids will love them, the truth is that the way of fashion, technology changes. And probably one of the biggest changes in technology we’ve seen with fashion has been fabric. And the old fabrics, many of them were lovely but they just don’t work with today’s lifestyle as well.
The things I think I will keep and pass to the kids are my coats. I love coats; I never seem to want to get rid of them. I always think there’s another opportunity somewhere, maybe because I like colour, but I also think that coats have personality, and they can just be the top layer to something. So even if what’s underneath isn’t wonderful, if you’ve got this great coat on top, it can work.
I think I’ve amassed probably more than I should, and it’s not that any of them are so over-the-top fantastic, but they’re all unique, and they all hold a special place for me. My girls are both very tall, and as a result they can carry the more exaggerated shapes that perhaps have gone through the years.
My eldest daughter is in fashion, and she’s going through — as we all are wont to do in fashion — a very black phase because it just works, and it’s a good backdrop. So she gets creative with her black, which is fun. It’s great for me, because when I pass on stuff it’s usually got some colour to it, so it can add that little extra punch into something.
The other things I’ll keep for the kids for sure are the great pieces of costume jewellery I’ve amassed over the years. I inherited some from my mother and grandmother and have loved it. And I think it’s just wonderful that you wear them differently from how your grandmother or your mother wore them. But it’s always special because when you’re wearing them you’re wearing a piece of them. So hopefully the girls will feel the same way when I pass stuff like that on to them.
Sisters Natalie and Celene Gee
Gee Beauty, on mother Miriam
Because we grew up so close in age, we always were in our mother’s closet at the same time! When we were little girls, it was always our mother’s lipstick and jewellery that we played dress-up with! Such a fun memory, and there’s nothing more glamorous than playing with her vintage gold Chanel jewellery and bright red lipstick — a classic ’80s beauty look, obviously! But now, we go into her closet for her great jackets, her scarves and her inspiration. Celene loves my mother’s vintage Chanel tweed black and white jacket. And I love her leopard scarves. Always sophisticated and sexy.
Designer and yarn importer, Americo Originals
I had to think about an answer only to realize that now that my twin daughters are “grown-ups,” we tend to share most of my closet almost all the time. Many times my favourite items spend more time away with my daughters than they do with me. I end up giving them their own pieces to enjoy without borrowing in the hope that they’ll give me a little break and I can selfishly have my closet to myself for a while but alas, it never works out that way. They still want to borrow.
Annie, the host of the Food Network show From Spain with Love, got away with a Miu Miu washed chocolate leather jacket that she wears all the time when weather permits (I wore it two to three times at the most) and a wonderful pair of Dries Van Noten blush closed-toe wedges that she took with her to Spain. When she was filming one of the episodes, the director asked her to walk on a gravel road when she had those shoes on and she told him, “There’s no way I’m going to ruin my mom’s shoes, please find another way.” As a compromise, she ended up walking barefoot and the director shot the scene of Annie from the waist up. So I let her keep them as a memento.
Claire, a reporter for Reuters, is obsessed with my ballet flats, which are practical for her to run around on assignment in. She usually borrows a couple at a time and her favourites are Marni and Lanvin. The last ones she got were a pair of Marni nude patent leather flats and olive kitten-heel Lanvins, and I think my Louis Vuitton espresso shawl is on its way. When my girls were little, there were a few items that I thought of saving, but now it’s all about living for the present and sharing our passion for well-made, beautiful and timeless pieces every day. All three of us are about the same size (lucky for me that I like my shirts a bit oversized and they don’t).
Fashion and beauty editor-at-large, Canadian Living
My daughter Montana Labelle is my true style partner, since she has been surrounded all her life by my love of all things trendy. I quickly decided my designer purse collection would be the perfect thing to hand down to her. I wear now, she wears now and later! The quintessential bag (purchased in 2001) is the Louis Vuitton Speedy with Graffiti by Stephen Sprouse. I know years from now, she will wear it and remember me.
Halifax milliner and designer, Oh Dina!
My mother is a big accessories person, so it’s funny what I ended up doing with my life. She always got me jewellery, and there’s her charm bracelet that I absolutely loved. And when I moved to Toronto she gave it to me, and it just has little bits of her life. I remember as a child looking at that all the time and playing with each charm, and asking her questions about it. But it’s funny, my mom when I was growing up, she always made sure I had a matching hair bow or hair accessory with every single outfit I had. And I was thinking about it this weekend, and I was like, “Wow this is actually what I end up making every day, is hair accessories.” She’s pretty conservative but her accessories are always artsy and whimsical. The most coveted thing in my mother’s entire closet was that charm bracelet. When she gave it to me there was a little charm from when she went to Toronto when she was 16, and so that’s why she gave it to me. It’s kind of like looking at their history.
Communications and press manager, HM Canada
My mom and I are great friends and it was hard to narrow it down to just one thing from her closet that I covet. I started to think about where life has taken us over the years and what piece was the most special and I got to thinking about all the incredible adventures we have been on together. I landed on this red bamboo print dress because it reminds me of our very first big trip together when we moved, just the two of us, to Abu Dhabi. My mom wore this dress when we lived there (13 years ago) and it will always remind me of her and the amazing time we shared there together.
Jennifer Woo and Shirley Wong
Owners of Luxe Label in Winnipeg
Jennifer I’ve always coveted my mother’s set of eight 24-karat bangles that she only wears for special occasions! It’s beautifully made with an ethnic motif that reads timeless, elegant and classic. Gold will always endure.
Shirley I’ve always loved mohair because of the feel and richness. In my mother’s closet she has a beautiful black shawl collar mohair vintage coat, which will fit into my wardrobe perfectly.