Claire Haddad is a woman of ‘firsts ‘. Her roster of successes is lengthy, but most notable of the 14 awards received are the prestigious Coty Award and the Order of Canada. She was the first Canadian designer to be recognized by Women’s Wear Daily and Vogue magazine.
“ When I started in the business, I was one of the few housewife mothers in the work-force. When I got home, the first thing I wanted to do was strip. I wanted to be comfortable, feminine yet practical. I don’t own a housedress. I don’t own an apron, but that’s me … that’s my comfort.” Claire believes that many women dress for absolute strangers rather than for their families and themselves. “It’s nice to have your kids growing up thinking that mother isn’t always associated with nighties that hang around her ankles, under short robes and rollers in her hair.” Claire’s vision of women – their needs, their fantasies and their femininity – is exemplified in the originality of her garments. Her designs range from the simple caftan (which many people believe she invented) to the totally exotic. Claire Haddad was the first lingerie designer to take the luxury of loungewear and transform it into “something that’s flexible, functional and feminine.” She maintains that clothes must be flexible and move with the body. “It’s a lifestyle thing and it’s up to each woman to do what she wants with it.”
Claire believes that a glamorous-looking woman presents a total look. This must encompass grooming, a tasteful understanding of dressing and use of makeup. “She doesn’t necessarily have to be physically beautiful, but she must look fascinating. I think that glamour is a feeling that comes initially from within … Beauty is the natural endowment of extraordinary physical features.” As with most successful people, when it comes down to their own personal needs, Claire admits. “ I seem to be the last person to look after myself. This must sound odd because of the business I’m in, but I never have enough time. However, Saturday afternoons are mine.” The experience of the photo session took Claire from behind the drawing-board and the fashion runway and put her in the spotlight. “Itwas a fun experience, but I couldn’t help thinking of all the things I had to do and getting back to the office.”
After 16 years Claire and Albert Haddad, are now reaping the benefits of their investment. Against all odds, they were among the first in Canada to export fashion merchandise to the U.S. and are now featured in many of the top New York stores. “We are very pro-Canadian because of who we are and what we’ve started. We’re out there trying to promote Canada and we’d like to think that every designer invests time, energy and hard money in showing collectively as Canadians. Its our identity.”
Claire Haddad is dedicated to the future of her industry and her country. In her unpretentious and gracious manner, Claire commented, “I’ve been designing all my life and trying to upgrade this industry, but I still feel that we haven’t done enough.” ~MARY E. McCLEOD
The preceding article is an interview my Mary E. Mcleod from George Abbot’s book “Women of Canada” published by Rotovision 1980. ISBN 1-88046-017-4.
Links to online articles:
Claire Haddad: A Canadian Fashion Icon (1924-2016) – Seneca Canadian Fashion Resource Center blog.
A Canadian Fashion Dynasty- Albert and Claire Haddad – Seneca Canadian Fashion Resource Center blog.
Contemporary pop star Lady Gaga in her vintage Claire Haddad Marabou coat. Another article about Lady Gaga wearing her Claire Haddad coat
Claire Haddad – a designer who made glamour comfortable. Globe and Mail 2016
Book features :
Women of Canada by George Abbot & Gordon Hay, 1980.
Pricetag – Canadian Women and Stress Success by Marilyn Froggatt & Lorraine Hunter.
Who’s Who in America, 1980-81, 41st Edition.
Northern Lights : Outstanding Canadian Women by Marguerite Senecal, Lynda Green, Joan Palazzi, 2003.