You may not recognize her name but chances are you’ve worn her designs. Having put her design skills to work at top Canadian brands like Club Monaco, Bluenotes, Roots and now HBC, designer Rita Shulman has been influencing the way Canadians dress from behind the scenes for the past 14 years. And now, as the designer and project manager of the new, revitalized Hudson’s Bay Company Signature Collection, Shulman continues to lead the charge in Canadian design. “Working on the Hudson’s Bay Company Collection is something I’ve always wanted to do!” says Shulman. “Its steeped in Canadian history and that rich heritage inspires me all the time.”

To launch the new Signature Collection which features over 120 items in fashion, accessories and home décor, HBC recently commissioned a who’s who of Canadian design talent including Comrags, Jeremy Laing, Pink Tartan, Smythe and Krane, to create one-of-a-kind coats inspired by the company’s iconic point blanket. This month the collection, which has been on display at the Toronto Queen Street location, will be moving to Vancouver where they will be part of a national exhibit during the
2010 Olympic Winter Games. “The point blanket is still at the heart of the brand,” says Shulman. “We’re committed to our history and really want to celebrate that.”

Get to know the designer behind the country’s oldest and most iconic fashion brand in this month’s installment of
Designer DNA.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Living in a tree house on Vancouver Island.

What do you consider your worst trait?

Being spaced out.

If you could choose an occupation other than your own what would it be?

I would own and run a lodge in Costa Rica.

Who is your style icon?

My aunt. She used to be a ballerina with the Kirov Ballet. She later danced for other companies and lived in different cities all over the world. She spent a lot of money on clothes and had a very eccentric style. She always smelled like leather and expensive perfume. I was lucky enough to get her hand-me-downs throughout my life and they are still the best pieces of clothing I own.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“I’m easy.” When someone asks me where I want to go or what I want to do, I always respond: “I’m easy.”

What is your most treasured possession?

Anything sentimental like old photographs.

Rita’s personal style and beauty routine on the next page …


What’s your usual?


iPhone or Blackberry?


Any tattoos?

No. Too much commitment.

What is your greatest extravagance?


Latest beauty/grooming discovery?

The Clarisonic. I got one last summer and I still love it.

Fashion trend you wish would disappear?

Boot cut jeans. Enough already!

How would you describe your personal style?


What are your five key wardrobe pieces?

Jeans, big tee, oversized sweater, men’s shirt and masculine boots.

What is tops on your shopping list right now?

A refrigerator.

Describe your perfect Sunday?

Depending on the weather, either gardening in my tiny backyard or lying on the couch watching an action movie.

What do you most value in your friends?

A sense of humour.

What’s your Twitter policy?

I’m not on Twitter. I don’t get it.

What will you do when you retire?

Move to my treehouse on Vancouver Island.

Finish this sentence:

“People think I’m
blunt but I’m really just

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We play 20 questions with our ELLE compatriot, Joe Zee
Designer DNA: Smythe
Designer profile: Andy Thê-Anh