MaskIf you haven’t worked up the courage to slip into your Catwoman ensemble on October 31, don’t fret. The purrfect way to prowl is in disguise. Just ask Toronto designer and Halloween enthusiast Marilyn Brooks, who often used masks – like this one from 1967 – in her runway shows.

“Fashion can be fantasy”, she says. “I always put a bit of masquerade in my shows to convey that message.”

October 2004
Text: Ryan Jennings
Photo: Beverley Rockett 

I met with Rita Silvan, Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Magazine, she asked me to show her pictures of some of my past collections … and they chose from my 1988 collection (below).

Photo: Jim Allen November 2003/Back Page

Photo: Jim Allen
November 2003/Back Page

A few weeks after this session, there was a gala celebrating my 25th anniversary in Canadian fashion. Big, brassy and bold – that was the ’80s. To capture the over-the-top mood, I had mixed graphic stripes with Parisian-inspired suspenders, belts and berets. Toronto’s “it” photographer, Jim Allen – fresh from the New York fashion scene, where he photographed top models such as Claudia Schiffer – was hired to shoot my spring collection.

At the show that night, a mix of my past and present designs were worn by models from the ’60s and ’70s. Ivana Trump, the most famous of my girls, sent her regrets, but Cathie Shirriff made a cameo on the catwalk, while emcees Andrea Martin and Hagood Hardy entertained the crowd. The most memorable moment? Toronto’s mayor declared February 3, 1988, Marilyn Brooks Day.

Text: Marilyn Brooks
Photo: Jim Allen
November 2003 / Back Page