Who’s next? The Bay continues its raid of Toronto talent
By Randi Bergman and Meagan Wilson
Bonnie Brooks’ reinvigoration of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and the flagship’s St. Regis Room in particular (now simply called The Room), has brought hot design names like Proenza Schouler, Thakoon and Erdem well south of Bloor Street. Factor in buzzy in-store appearances—with the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, virtually every British designer worth mentioning, and Anna Dello Russo (who will descend with street-style phenom Tommy Ton on April 20)—and Toronto officially has a new nexus of chic.
Behind the scenes, the crafty Brooks, who is internationally respected for giving Hong Kong’s Lane Crawford a 24-karat retail makeover, has been plucking talent from all around town, including here at FASHION. Our former art director Tony Smith has transformed the brand’s newspaper flyers into glossy inserts and overseen ad shoots with Daria Werbowy. Shelley Rozenwald, who helped Shoppers Drug Mart hatch its Murale beauty stores, is now the Bay’s merchandise vice-president of beauty. Additions to the PR team include Elaine Quan, scooped from Joe Fresh, Natasha Penzo, of ASC Public Relations and Michelle Veilleux, of Holt Renfrew. And the Bay’s latest recruits include Dave Lackie, a former editor at Cosmetics Magazine, and ’80s models Donna DeMarco and Jean Fleming, now strutting their stuff as personal shoppers.
Perhaps one of the most interesting hires is the nabbing of Christopher Sherman, a former producer at Fashion Television, who now handles the Bay’s social media initiatives. Why would Sherman give up the glamour of television for a department store?
“I don’t think you can be at a more exciting place than the Hudson’s Bay Company both in Canada and internationally right now. Very few people can move mountains, but Bonnie Brooks can. I want to be a part of that,” says Sherman. “You just need to walk the floors to see the opportunity. We are carrying brands that years ago I had to cross the border to get and are now available here. I want my friends and peers to reference [us] as their source for what is cool and their barometer for what will be cool. We were ahead of our time 340 years ago—why stop now?”
While all this might be accurately seen as Brooks sticking it to Holt Renfrew, where she once worked in merchandising and PR, the untold story is that Brooks and the Bay’s fashion director, Suzanne Timmins, are both very tight with Holt Renfrew’s vice-president of fashion direction, Barbara Atkin.
But can business rivals be friends? Apparently so. We have a feeling this story is only going to get more interesting as Brooks continues her reign.