Couture and Commerce

The Transatlantic Fashion Trade in the 1950s

Table of contents



1 The Paris Couture Structure

2 The Purchase of Haute Couture by Private Clients

3 Buying and Merchandising European Couture in Toronto

4 Couture, Fashion Shows, and Marketing

5 Alternative Sources of Imported Couture 6. The Value of Couture

7 The Couture Society Wardrobe As a Model of Taste


A. Toronto Boutiques Selling Couture, Copies, and High-Priced Ready-to-Wear, 1945-63

B. Toronto Retail Prices of Second-Hand Couture, 1951-60

C. Toronto Retail Prices of European Couture and Boutique Imports, 1950, 1955, 1960

D. Toronto Retail Prices of Couture Copies and Adaptations, 1950, 1955, 1960

E. Canadian Client Records from the London Couture House of Lachasse, 1951-66

F. Biographies of People Discussed or Interviewed


Selected Bibliography




The 1950s were the golden years of haute couture, captured by iconic
images of glamorous models wearing dramatic clothes. Yet the real women
who wore these clothes adapted them to suit their own tastes, altered
them to extend their life, and often could not bear to part with them
long after the dresses had outlived their use. This gorgeously
illustrated book demonstrates why so many of these designs are still in
existence and why we are fascinated by them fifty years later.


  • Winner, Tom Fairley Award, Editor’s Association of Canada 2002
  • Runner-up, Alcuin Citation for excellence in book design in Canada, Alcuin Society 2001
  • Winner, Clio Award (Ontario), Canadian Historical Association 2002
  • Short-listed, Raymond Klibansky Prize, Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Science 2002
  • Short-listed, Millia Davenport Award, Costume Society of America 2002