When Christine Morton first launched her fashion design company 40 years ago, she didn't have high hopes for its longevity.
"I thought that it would last a week," admits the Dundarave resident. "I did not have the sense that this would be a successful business. I just enjoyed what I did and loved to create."
Morton started out designing custom lingerie and bridal gowns and eventually developed a limited-edition collection and the first line of silk lingerie designed and manufactured in Canada. Today, Christine Lingerie is recognized internationally for its luxury sleepwear, loungewear and intimate apparel.
Looking back on her career, Morton says she is surprised at how much her designs have evolved.
"It used to be all antique lace and roses and more frou-frou," she says, explaining her current work is cleaner, more modern and elegant.
Styles come and go, but what hasn't changed in the last four decades is Morton's preference for high-end materials.
"We've always worked in luxury fabrics and beautiful laces and that's the trademark and that continues for sure."
Formerly based in West Vancouver, Christine Lingerie moved its studio and showroom to Gastown a few years ago. But North Shore fans of Morton's designs will be able to browse and buy her sumptuous garments in Ambleside from Nov. 1 until the end of December at a Christine Lingerie pop-up store, to be located at 1445 Bellevue Ave.
"We have a beautiful collection this season and we have extra cuts that we've made for the store," Morton says, noting the pop-up shop will also host a 40th anniversary celebration on Nov. 30.
"I'm more and more working in prints and I've got some beautiful Italian prints that we're doing this season," she explains.
The Dream Catcher collection, for example, includes robes, caftans, gowns and chemises made from a fine silk printed with black feathers and dark cherry accents. The Ambleside pop-up will also carry Christine Lingerie's holiday Luxe Collection, which Morton says has a Great Gatsby feel, along with a small collection of vintage-style jewelry that pairs well with loungewear. Always-popular pyjama sets in a variety of colours will also be available.
"Pyjamas are one of the key trends this season, which is fun. A lot of people are wearing them as outerwear," Morton says.
Meanwhile, bargain hunters will be able to snatch up a selection of older merchandise at discounted prices.
Christine Lingerie is popping up in West Vancouver during the busiest shopping season of the year, and also at a time when the company is feeling the sting from the City of Vancouver's year-long closure of Powell Street.
"We're right in the middle of construction, practically, it's right at the edge of our block, so we're not getting a lot of traffic here."
Fortunately for Morton, her bottom line doesn't rely on showroom walkins. Christine Lingerie has found its way into numerous upscale boutiques and department stores, such as Holt Renfrew and Neiman Marcus, and is also sold online. Morton's pieces have caught the attention of celebrities including Sarah McLachlan, Diana Krall, Christina Hendricks, Katie Holmes, Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah Winfrey. And her silky garments are also a favourite of costume designers, who have styled various film and TV stars in the locally made lingerie.
Looking forward, Morton is already hard at work on her 2014 collections. The spring line marks her first collaboration with new associate designer Abdo Dagher, a graduate of New York's Fashion Institute of Technology who started his design career in Lebanon.
"I've never had anyone as talented as Abdo to come in and work with."
A strong team of employees is what keeps Christine Lingerie in business year after year, Morton says. That and a steady demand for her luxurious products.
"I've always made things that I thought were really beautiful and there's people out there that always want that."
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