MONTREAL (CP) - In the fashion business, speed thrills.
Le Chateau is putting its versions of the winning Oscar dresses from the Academy
Awards on the racks in selected stores.
The designs include those worn by Cameron Diaz, Salma Hayak, Cate Blanchett and
"We drew inspiration from them," said Barbara Posiewko, a senior buyer for the
"We had a meeting before the Oscars. We thought a lot of girls would like to look like
stars," she added, referring to the coming season of proms and weddings.
Banks wore a lavender ballgown with lots of tulle designed by Vera Wang. Hayek's
satin halter dress was also by Wang, while Diaz was in a plunging black Versace and
Blanchett wore black Jean Paul Gaultier with a gold chain down the middle of her bare
Everyone always gets inspiration from somewhere, said Hershel Segal, CEO of Le
Chateau, the chain of shops he founded in 1959 which now has 160 stores, including
four in the U.S.
"We are always connected to the entertainment world, the music world."
But the company has never put as much energy, weight and speed into getting
something into the stores, he said.
Le Chateau manufactures three million garments a year in Quebec, said Segal, so if
the company wants to get something on the market fast, it has the ways and
The Academy Awards aired March 26, and Le Chateau had samples sewn up not long
after. The dresses are expected on the racks any day, but some may take longer to
hit stores, such as the dress worn by Banks, because Le Chateau is waiting for fabric
in the right shade of lavender.
Banks's dress, with a full crinoline, will retail for about $300, while the other dresses
will cost from $80 to $150.
Hayek's gown, with a rhinestone bodice, is a deeper lavender than the original and
has a purple tulle shawl, while Diaz's dress was done in lace with a bra and hot
pants. Blanchett's gown is minus the gold chain down the back.
The speed of the design cycle is dizzying these days.
"It's going faster and faster," said Segal, "because of our smaller world, independent
customers and sharper retailers."
Franco Rocchi, vice-president of the company, said a team of 20 designers and
buyers turns out about three "stories" a month, meaning collections with a common
theme in colour, fabric or feeling. As soon as something is brewing on the runways or
in the entertainment world, they get to work.
The U.S. company A.B.S. has been copying outfits from events like the Oscars for
years, and Canada's Club Monaco is famous for knocking off runway looks from
fashion houses like Prada, but this is a Canadian first in bringing a specific dress to
market so quickly, said Rocchi.
"Fast fashion is here," said Rocchi, referring to the team working at company
headquarters in Montreal.