Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens presents En/In vogue. Elsie Reford et la mode June 3 until October 1, 2023


Grand-Métis, April 27, 2023 – Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens presents, from June 3 to October 1, 2023, an exhibition exploring the influence of fashion illustrations on the relationship that Elsie Reford (1872-1967) will have with fashion.

Through the presentation of accessories and clothes from her wardrobe from 1892 to 1950 and a few reconstructions, this exhibition highlights how much this important Montreal and Métis figure had blended into the model of the accomplished woman that women's magazines ran when she was a child and teenager: a lady had a gentle personality, was attentive to the needs of her family and those around her and was concerned with helping the less fortunate. Observing the illustrations women's magazines presented as a child and teenager, Elsie was awakened to what society expected of her. Therefore, her learning of good taste and manners to have in all circumstances began by imitating what she observed.

Alexander Reford, director of Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens, points out: “Elsie Reford was a fashionista. Even as a child and teenage violinist, her clothes match her style – stylish, confidant and eager to take her place in a world dominated by men. Whether for a charity ball or dressed for a ladies’ luncheon, her wardrobe adapted to the moment. Even when fishing on the Mitis River, hunting with her two sons or riding sidesaddle on adventures through the countryside, she is invariably well-coiffed and dressed for the occasion. Her gardening apparel is unique to her situation; her black or tartan necktie an affirmation of her iron will to shape her garden and dominate the men in her employ. Our new book, Elsie Reford : 150 Objects of Passion, offers a portal into the softer side of Elsie, her silk garment bags, her extravagant shoes, her remarkable fur cape. This exhibition En/In vogue. Elsie Reford et la mode explores where this interest in clothes and fashion came from – and how it would play out in a lifelong exploration of fashioning her personal style”.

Having managed to master convenience to perfection, to know the limit not to cross to avoid being considered an outcast, Elsie actually played with them. Her wearing and gloved participation in founding the Women's Canadian Club of Montreal to give access to culture to women in her community, as well as her intrepid horseback trip around the Gaspesie, illustrate this skill. Her respect for the rules is ultimately only an appearance.

This exhibition, therefore, confronts Elsie Reford's wardrobe with those advanced by the fashion illustrations of her childhood while exploring her handling of the rules she had learned. The exhibition also explores a universe of codes that Elsie will master to perfection, hence the possibility that she must respect them... or not.

The École supérieure de mode de l’ESG UQAM,  the Institut du patrimoine UQAM and Antonio Ortega Couture are partners in En/In Vogue. Elsie Reford et la mode.



Philippe Denis 

Visiting museologist, Les Amis des Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens 

Researcher in fashion heritage