Obituary: Eveleen Dollery
Toronto, August 16, 2011 - There aren't many women who still look fabulous at 90.
Eveleen Dollery did.
Even at the elegant dinner last June to celebrate her birthday -- although no one dared utter the number 90 -- Dollery, the long-time fashion and beauty editor of Chatelaine was her trademark picture of style and grace.
Despite months of failing health, she looked radiant in a fuchsia Ferre jacket, black pencil skirt and, of course, high heels, as she greeted dozens of friends and family
Dollery, a beloved Toronto socialite, champion of up-and-coming fashion designers and tireless volunteer at the ROM and Canadian Opera Company, died Aug. 4.
"She was Canada's own version of Diana Vreeland," says interior designer and friend Gary Zanner, referring to the famed former columnist and editor for American fashion magazines Vogue and Harper's Bazaar.
"She had just as much if not more style."
Dollery did so much to promote and support designers during her three decades at Chatelaine and as a founding member of Flare (Miss Chatelaine) from 1958 to 1988 -- especially those just trying to break into what was then Canada's fledgling fashion industry -- the Eveleen Dollery Journalism Bursary was created upon her retirement to support young fashion writers she hoped would do the same.
Dollery was "an ideal fashion/beauty editor because she lived it 24/7," says Mildred Istona, former Chatelaine editor.
"Glamour could have been her middle name."
Dollery was so focused on high fashion that she never accepted invitations to cottages -- she didn't have anything to wear. She was renowned for refusing to trade a great pair of heels for boots, even when navigating two-foot snow piles.
Sinclair Russell, known as "Canada's wizard of celebrations" for all the years he's organized galas such as the Brazilian Carnival Ball, recalls his pride in walking into a packed room with Dollery on his arm, despite the fact she was almost 25 years his senior.
I knew that she would look great and also could hold her own at a dinner table. She was an amazing lady of social graces."
Canadian designer Marilyn Brooks credits Dollery with taking a keen interest in her work as she was getting launched in the early 1960s: "She had a big impact on my success and that of other designers," says Brooks. "Even after she retired she would get personal invitations to fashion shows and her name on a seat.
"It was always in the front row."