The Red Coat

Andrea Brown, Costume Museum of Canada

In 1995, I was going to be attending the meeting of the World Winter Cities Association of Mayors in Sapporo, Japan and then travelling to Harbin, China also (who would be hosting this international conference after Winnipeg).

Winnipeg was hosting this International Winter Cities Conference in 1996.

I knew I would be spending quite a lot of time outdoors in both of these winter cities at their fantastic winter festivals. I therefore knew I needed a well made, warm winter coat.

I had seen a photo of a coat I loved in Vogue Magazine.

My dearest, life long friend, Gayle Carson (Sykes) and her sister Valerie were excellent designers and seamstresses. I asked them if they would make me “the red coat”…and they agreed!

They were ingenious at finding the materials for this coat and were able to make it at a very minimal cost. The fur mandarin collar and cuffs were made of Hudson’s Bay seal fur, which was taken from a used seal coat they found at the Salvation Army Thrift store. The beautiful red fabric and chamois lining came from a Winnipeg fabric store. It was stunning. The coat turned out to be a real hit in both Japan and China. We understood that the colour red symbolized good fortune and joy.

It was a coat that I wore all the time in our Winnipeg winters.

The Red Coat is on display at the Costume Museum of Canada.