Designer extraordinaire, Tu Ly, has worn many high-profile hats in the fashion industry including Design/ Creative Director for Roots Canada and Ports 1961; Private Label Designer for Saks Fifth Avenue; and Olympic Designer for Team Canada with Hudson's Bay. His dedication and talent have taken him all of the world but did you know that Tu's first fashion job was at the Shepherd's accessory kiosk located at 240 Sparks? "Tu used to walk by every day on his way home from high school," explains Marlene. "He would stop by and chat and one day he came to the rescue when Mother (Trudy Shepherd) and I were surrounded by clients. Tu walked behind the counter and started assisting customers; he was a natural with an impeccable sense of style from day one. Truly, his career path into fashion was predestined." Marlene and Tu keep in touch and, lucky for us, he kindly took some time to answer a few questions about his inspiration and what he considers to be "must-haves" for a winning wardrobe.
The ever-youthful Tu Ly graced the red carpet at last year's Governor General's Awards in Ottawa.[/caption] 1. Where did your passion for fashion originate? My passion started at a very young age. My mother created and wore jumpsuits in the 1970's and I often watched and assisted with the sewing. When we moved to Canada, she owned a beauty salon in Ottawa and brought me and my siblings to work with her in the summer. I was mesmerized by the Vogue magazines in her salon; I learned the names of the fashion designers and models. The glamorous world of fashion intrigued me with New York and Paris runways being my obsession. 2. What do you remember about working at Shepherd's? Shepherd's was (and is) the epitome of style. I remember seeing Kenneth J Lane jewellery in Vogue and then finding out it was available at Shepherd's. Some of my favourite memories are styling women and making them happy. With beautiful accessories, I could always transform a plain outfit into something fabulous. Another exciting moment was when I was in San Diego visiting relatives during high school March break and convinced Marlene to let me buy Ben Amun jewellery while I was down there. I travelled to their head office in San Francisco, and with a small budget, I was an official Shepherd's buyer (albeit momentarily). 3. What are the five essentials that every stylish woman should have in her wardrobe? Style is about beautiful classics; well-made clothing that is superbly tailored for your body shape is key. Personally, I believe every woman should have:
- White shirt or blouse - the most elegant item in any wardrobe.
- Statement coat - keep it crisp and luxurious.
- Black dress - choose a feminine style that is timeless.
- Investment handbag - structured is best.
- Sharp shoes - whether heels, boots, or flats, buy the best you can afford (quality shoes speak volumes).