Dramatic Designs

February is an especially glamorous month. There’s Valentine’s Day, the Oscars and at least one or two red-carpet-worthy affairs right here at home. It makes perfect sense then that eveningwear designer Catherine Regehr would choose this month to bring her latest collection to Kansas City. In advance of Regehr’s February 27 trunk show at Halls on Grand, we sat down with the designer to talk about the stylish drama that comes with dressing for an occasion.

What attracted you to eveningwear?

My sense of drama. I grew up in the drama of the outdoors in the Yukon (I’ve been charged by grizzly bears three times!), but I also went to school in Paris. So there is drama in both those environments. When there’s a fashion show or any kind of event, there’s nothing like walking through the door in a gown and having everyone look at you. And I like my customers to feel like they can have some aspect of that.

Do you remember the first gown that made an impression on you?

I have a memory of my mother in a turquoise duchess satin gown going out for the evening when I was just a little kid. She had a tan—I think she’d just come back from Hawaii—and I just remember loving it all.

Because of where you grew up and now live in northern British Columbia, that drama of the outdoors has become a staple in your work, with gowns designed in rippled taffeta with petalled collars or seaweed hems.

Nature for me is really hardwired into everything I do. I’m always looking at textures and colors. Whether I spot a green caribou moss and use that color in a spring collection or re-create falling leaves on the cuffs or hems of things.

What is your favorite piece that you’ve created?Style #233-OVD

One of the designs I’ve done since the beginning of my career and that’s lasted forever is the classic shawl collar gown and dress, both with a draped collar, three-quarter sleeve and full skirt.

Why do you think this design has stood the test of time?

I did a trunk show at Holt Renfrew in Canada in the fall, and an older lady came and bought one of these dresses.  She said she had bought the same design 15 years ago and wore it so much that she needed one in a different color! But I also sell to Barneys in Japan, and all the young girls there also love that dress. I’ve had people from 90 to 20 wear that shape. For me, that says it all.

Catherine Regehr
Catherine Regehr