A 1935 graduate of the École des beaux-arts de Montréal, Roger Larose, known as Régor, was a designer of haute couture and ready-to-wear. He completed his fashion training in New York City, studying at the Traphagen School of Fashion in 1941 and again in 1948, the Pratt Institute in 1942 and the McDowell School in 1955. As a teacher of fashion history and design at the École des métiers commerciaux from 1946 to 1962, he helped train Radio-Canada’s first costume designers from 1950 to 1955. He later returned to teaching in the 1970s, this time at LaSalle College.
A devoted champion of Canadian fashion, Régor wanted to show that it was possible, with Canadian-made fabrics, to create garments that were just as interesting as those produced by the French and Americans.
He tried to develop fashion with a Canadian character, enhanced with elements inspired by fashion history.
Régor led a multi-pronged career. He created collections of evening gowns and wedding dresses as well as lines of sportswear, like those he made for New York-based American manufacturer Davidow. In 1935, he designed a collection of garments specifically to showcase textiles from the company Celanese. He was a consultant for the Montreal Dress Manufacturers Association in 1945. His collections were presented in fashion shows at the craft fair organized on St. Helen’s Island in June 1940, at the Théâtre Saint-Denis in September 1954, at the Pakistani embassy in Washington DC in May 1955, and at the Windsor Hotel in October 1957.
In addition to creating custom couture pieces for private clients, Régor devoted part of his career to designing costumes for the theatre, television and film.
In 1943, for example, when he was working as a draftsman for Canada’s war industries, he created the costumes for the musical revue Hi Sailor presented in Halifax. He also did the costumes for Heaven on Earth, staged in Boston and New York City in 1948, and those for the play La nuit des rois, which ran in Montreal in February 1956. Some of his costumes could be seen on the television shows Rose Latulipe and Les vivants. In 1953 and 1954, in addition to having a hand in some short films for the National Film Board, he worked on three full-length movies for Frontier Pictures and an American feature film.
His efforts to promote fashion based on Canadian identity led him to develop a project of regional costumes inspired by traditional materials and decorative themes. Régor was very active creating costumes for parish festivals: he created some for Montreal’s 300th anniversary in 1939, the Fêtes du Bas-Saint-Laurent in 1942, the Longueuil and Boucherville tricentennials in 1957 and 1965, respectively, and the Alma centenary in 1966.
He also designed uniforms for the Clarke Steamship Company and several hotels and restaurants. When Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel opened in 1957, the staff wore clothing with the label Régor de Montréal. He generally signed his drawings R.L. Régor or simply Régor. Roger Larose left his archives to Library and Archives Canada.
Fonds Roger L. Régor, Archives nationales du Canada.
Fonds of the Ministère de l’Industrie et du Commerce, Archives nationales du Québec.
Nathalie Hamel, Dicomode
Cynthia Cooper, McCord Museum