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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Couture and Commerce

The Transatlantic Fashion Trade in the 1950s

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.

420 pages

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



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