Eileen Collard (1912-2002) was a couturier, costume collector, self published author of twelve books on Canadian fashion history and instrumental in founding the costume collection at the Joseph Brant Museum.
In 1912, Eileen was born in Oxford, England and immigrated to Hamilton, Ontario in 1919. Her interest in design took hold when she attended the Detroit School of Arts and Crafts in 1930 where she took her first fashion design course. Later that year, she returned to England to attend the London branch of the Paris Academy of Dressmaking and in 1933, qualified as a designer and cutter. When reflecting on fashion design during that time she wrote, “There seemed to be no opportunity to do so in Ontario. Young men and women who desired instruction in pattern cutting and dressmaking or tailoring, in the 1930s, would have to join a firm who trained apprentices in their work rooms. This practical knowledge was very useful but did not supply any artistic training.” While in England, Eileen became assistant designer at Nicholls of Regent Street and in 1942 opened her own dress design shop in London.
Eileen married James Collard and immigrated to Burlington, Ontario in 1948. In the 1950s, due to the lack of specialized fashion design courses offered, Eileen began to teach basic design at night school and later became the founding instructor with the Fashion Arts Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton. In the early 1960s, Eileen created and operated the Collard School of Fashion and formed the Fashion Arts Group where members worked researching the history of Canadian fashion. Eileen was the founder of the Costume Society of Ontario and held the position of Chairman for four years. In 1966, she became the honorary Curator of the costume collection at the Joseph Brant Museum, a position she held until her retirement in 1972. Eileen was dedicated and passionate about the history, culture and development of fashion in Canada and shared this love with others through her teachings and writings.
Eileen Collard Publications:
1969 - Early Clothing in Southern Ontario
1971 - Patterns of Fashions of the 1870s
The Cut of the Women's 19th Century Dress published in four parts:
1972 - Part 1: The Vertical Epoch, Circa 1800-21
1973 - Part 2: Romance and Sentiment, Circa 1822-39
1978 - Part 3: Victorian Gothic, Circa 1840-66
1979 - Part 4: The Rise and Fall of the Bustle, Circa 1867-98
1973 - From Toddler to Teens: An Outline of Children't Clothing, Circa 1780-1930
1975 - Clothing in English Canada Circa1867-1907
1977 - Guide to Dressmaking and Fancy Work
1981 - Women's Dress in the 1920s - An Outline of Women's Clothing in Canada During the Roaring 20s
1981 - Decade of Change Circa 1909-1919 - Women's Clothing in Canada Just Prior to, During and After the First World War
1983 - The Cut and Construction of Women's Dress in the 1930's