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Réjane Allaire (Réjane de Montréal)

Born in Saint Ours, 1933

Designer

1959 - 1978

Hat (detail), Réjane de Montréal, about 1965. Gift of Carmen Doyon Ward, M996.63.3 © McCord Museum

A self-taught milliner, Réjeanne Allaire created her first bespoke hats when she was 21 years old. Driven by a strong entrepreneurial spirit, in 1959 she opened a workshop-store at 6202 Somerled Avenue in Montreal. Slightly modifying the spelling of her first name, she created the Réjane de Montréal label for her creations. When she opened her store, she took out ads in The Gazette newspaper and became a member of the Montreal Fashion Group. Her talent and enthusiasm soon gained her an extensive clientele and, in 1964, she moved her shop to 1529 Sherbrooke Street West.

She created hats for the Nouvelle Orléans shop in Eaton’s and filled orders from Evans Furs in New York City for hats to go with its coats. Réjane became famous for her fur hats, a renown that she maintained by organizing at least one fashion show every year to present her latest creations to the fashion press and the Montreal public. She sought out models who wore her hats with natural grace, notably Élaine Bédard, Chantal Gagnon and Georgette Cognac. Her shows were staged in major hotels like the Ritz-Carlton and Château Champlain. Photographer June Sauer produced her advertising photos, which enhanced the prestigious image of her collections.

In 1969, The Gazette fashion columnist Wini Rider recognized Réjane for expanding her creative pursuits to include a wide range of couture items “from shorts to bridal gowns.”

The journalist noted that Réjane’s hat-making expertise enabled her to create complete ensembles that offered an impressive “total look.”

Creations by Réjane were worn by Quebec stage and television celebrities, including Jeannette Bertrand, Christine Chartrand, Renée Claude, Suzanne Lapointe, Renée Martel, Danielle Ouimet, Edith Serei and Claude Valade. In the 1970s, her workshop employed as many as eight workers at a time. A media darling, Réjane was asked to appear on the TVA show Bon dimanche several times a year. Her creations, particularly her remarkable wedding outfits, appeared in the Quebec magazines Fiancés, Maison d’aujourd’hui, Madame, Mon mariage and Marie-Ève.

Although she was very successful, Réjane ended her fashion career in 1978 to honour the promise she had made to her husband Jacques Prévost at their 1971 wedding. Réjane de Montréal is remembered as a versatile artist, with a keen eye for finding the perfect hat for every face.

Sources

Le Grand journal illustré, “Le gala des artistes 1971”, from June 14 to 20, 1971, p. 13.

Rider, Wini. “From shorts to bridal gowns. Milliner pioneers own total look”, The Gazette, 19 February 1969.

Publication date

01/10/2004

Author

Dicomode

Editor

Cynthia Cooper, McCord Museum

Last edited on
01/02/2019 Suggest an edit

© McCord Museum 2019