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  1. awaywiffairies

    awaywiffairies Registered Guest


    Is this the Elen Henderson that designed the Canadian Girl Scout uniform?

    I would guess this is early 1970s? and as the back doesn't do up on my dressform, I also think this might be a young lady size?

    I couldn't really find anything else on the internet on Elen Henderson apart from Girl Scout uniform and currently there is another Elen Henderson that designs and makes wedding tiaras. Don't know if that's one and the same.

    Mind you the dress looks a bit bridesmaidy re the fabric.

    Any thoughts please?


  2. lkranieri

    lkranieri Trade Member

    In a 1963 Canadian newspaper article about designing children's fashions, we see:
    "...Mrs. (Elen) Henderson tries to use only fabrics of pure cotton, silk or wool fibres because she has found synthetic and drip-dry fabrics don't wash and wear as long successfuly...Mrs. Henderson seldom uses fabrics in brilliant colors. Grey, trimmed with white is her favorite for daytime wear. "It makes little girls look sweet and pure. Also vivid shades tend to detract from a child's natural color"...Mrs. Henderson warns motherswho sew not to overmake clothes. "You can kill a garment with too much detail and trim." Most time should be spent on finishing a dress. Clothes with an Elen Henderson label are completely French seamed, usually lined, and hemmed and finished by hand. Mrs. Henderson, designer of the new culotte-styles Girl Guide uniform stresses that children should like the things they have to wear and urges mothers to sew with their children's likes and dislikes in mind."

    From a 1965 Canadian newspaper:
    "The children's field is becoming such big business that many designers specializing in this area are even becoming well known to the public. Elen Henderson started several years ago with a small clientele of Toronto mothers and now sells to several top department stores in New York. She has also won a string of awards for her originality and custom-looking clothes."

    From a 1966 Canadian newspaper:
    "Canadian designer Elen Henderson has created several designs for the junior bridesmaid."

    From a 1973 Canadian newspaper:
    "Shirley Cheatley of Elen Henderson, a Toronto firm that designs and makes girls' clothes, says they are making 400 long dresses in one design which they have never done before. She says she believes adult styles are influencing children's wear, and mentions the caftan as an example. Mrs. Cheatley says style occasionally moves the other way, too, as in the case of the currently fashionable pinafore."

    From a 1980 Canadian newspaper:
    "Children's wear designer Elen Henderson has won Fashion Canada's woman of the year award...Henderson's career spans 35 years. It started in Leeds, England, where she apprenticed to a custom-milliner for four years before coming to Canada. After her marriage and the birth of her two children, she made children's clothes before starting her own business in 1945. Working in her basement, Henderson produced children's clothes for Eaton's, The Nursery and Holt Renfrew. In 1953 the company expanded and in 1963 Henderson won the Girl Guide "thank you award" for re-designing the guide and Brownie uniforms."
    cotmyey likes this.
  3. awaywiffairies

    awaywiffairies Registered Guest

    :USETHUMBUP: Wow Lynne thanks so much!

    Very interesting re the mid 60s junior bridesmaid, I thought it looked bridesmaid dress and for a young lady but could be just a party dress.

    That's really great info Lynne and if anyone can confirm the date on the dress then I could forward to label resource. Centre nylon back zipper...no care label or fabric content label, so early 70s? Does it look like a junior bridesmaid to every one else?

  4. coffeegrl

    coffeegrl Registered Guest

    Wow cool, my kids in guides and that's a great dress, lmk if you ever wanna trade for it ;)
  5. awaywiffairies

    awaywiffairies Registered Guest

    Thanks Val, I've just woken up :icon_dante: so I'll chew that over when I've had more caffeine.

    I said perma pleating, but the term is micro accordion pleating?

    Not sure if 70s now as not sure if it is bridesmaid. I love the dresses on this link (great resource that they're building here), I must remember I was a bridesmaid in the 70s and that was a long dress too though that was late 70s.


    Just want confirmation on date please. Anyone? I thought early 70s first, but confusing this one as no care label etc, but could have been custom made so that could negate that theory. Actually this dress ensemble has the same pleated hem treatment (can't c from pic) and members dated this 1980s, so that's why I think the Elen Henderson may well be 80s too? Has a little petticoat.

  6. I'd go with 80's on both dresses. I've not come across the label before so it's interesting to read about it. :)
  7. awaywiffairies

    awaywiffairies Registered Guest

    :USETHUMBUP: Thankyou Louise so much for comfirmation re 80s. Yes the info kindly supplied by Lynne is great. Cute rose on the label.

    I know it's a young lady's dress, but do you think it's a bridesmaid or just a party frock? It did throw me dates re the lack of care label, but could that be because it's a custom bridesmaid dress? :scratchchin:

    Is there a term for that kind of hem apart from my 'pleated hem'? Possibly silk tafetta, very high sheen and cool to the touch?

    Help would be thankfully received.

  8. bessi

    bessi Registered Guest


    Actually, that dress is from the mid 80's. I actually worked as a Junior Designer for Elen Henderson herself back then, and this is the circa. Elen Henderson (who was in her 80's already at the time) was considered the "cadillac" of kids wear at the time, creating beautiful bridal/confirmation/party type dresses for the privileged. She sold to many specialty childrenswear shops, as well as Holt Renfrew. When she passed away and the company was sold in the late 80's, her fashions and style were irreplaceable in the industry. She was truly a great dame, and it was the end of an era.
  9. awaywiffairies

    awaywiffairies Registered Guest

    Thanks Bessi for that amazing information.

    I wish I hadn't sold it now!

    Think I'll put forward the label for resource.

    Once again thanks for sharing, you obviously hold fond memories of that time.

  10. TinTrunk

    TinTrunk Registered Guest

    Wow! I've read this thread earlier, but knowing nothing about Elen Henderson I didn't comment.

    How amazing that someone who knew and worked with her would appear!

    I do hope you stick around bessi - you must have a wealth of knowledge to share!

    And Sarah - I hope you did well with that beautiful dress! Cheers! :drinkingtoast:

    Sarah (another one) ;)
  11. woollylamb

    woollylamb Registered Guest

    :christmastree: It was good to read your account Bessi. I had owned a small children's store north of Toronto and I remember so well the Elen Henderson clothing lines for that finely designed special dress and dresses and accessories for flower girls, etc. They also carried a very small line of boy's wear in young sizes. There was also the modeling school. Whenever I went to place my order it always seemed like a special occasion - there would always be a cup of tea served from a china cup. True graciousness, just as the atmosphere was in the showroom and the factory. It was a very bright clean inviting showroom with the most inviting welcome. My order was always very small but I was treated so respectfully. Many fond memories.

  12. Ellen

    Ellen Registered Guest

    Hi, I found myself here when looking up Elen Henderson on the internet. I am 60 now, and wore Elen Henderson dresses when I was a girl 5 to 12 or so, bought at the Eames store in Hamilton, ON. She made all sorts of day dresses as well as party dresses then, which I remember being stylish and well made--didn't reallize they were so high end or I would have appreciated them more. Maybe she wasn't so well known in the 1950's. We all wore dresses to school back then, no pants allowed, even in winter so business was probably good. You have an interesting site. Thanks for letting me visit.
    The Vintage Merchant likes this.
  13. proberts

    proberts Registered Guest

    Just wanted to let you know that Mrs. Shirley Cheatley, daughter of Elen Henderson, passed away yesterday, (September 2, 2010)
  14. That's so sad :( Was she still living in the Toronto area? I googled but it might be too early for an obit. Did you know her?
  15. proberts

    proberts Registered Guest

    Shirley was my sister-in-law's mother-in-law. She was a "surrogate" Grandma to my kids. She was still living in Don Mills. She often spoke about her Mom and the clothes that they produced. About three years ago, she gave my then 2 year old a beautiful dress. She was a truely wonderful woman, and she will be dearly missed.

    Her funeral is set for Wednesday, September 8.
  16. proberts

    proberts Registered Guest

    Obituary for Shirley Cheatley
    CHEATLEY, Shirley Margaret
    Peacefully at Bridgepoint Health Centre, Toronto on Thursday, September 2, 2010, Shirley Henderson, in her 82nd year. Beloved wife of Albert “Pete” Cheatley. Loving mother of Peter (Linda) and David (Celia). Dear grandmother of Alexandra, Kate and Elen. Fondly remembered by her nieces Holly and Janet, great-nephew John Paul and friend Louise Free. Predeceased by her sister, Norma Warburton and grandson Christopher Cheatley, The family will receive friends at the HUMPHREY FUNERAL HOME – A.W. MILES CHAPEL, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Davisville Avenue) from 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 8. Service of remembrance in the chapel at 11:00 a.m. followed by a reception in the Rosedale Room of the funeral home. If desired, donations may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division, 55 St. Clair Avenue West, Suite 500, Toronto M4V 2Y7 or Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, 14th Floor, Toronto M5G 1X8. Condolences and memories may be forwarded through www.humphreymiles.com.
  17. Duncan

    Duncan Registered Guest

    I am looking for infomation on Elen Henderson can any one point me in the right direction.
  18. Alexandra

    Alexandra Registered Guest

    I am the great grand daughter of Elen and it gives me such pleasure to read that people out there still own and are sharing her beautiful designs. It is hard to find products in Canada made with the quality and care that G.G. as we called her, put into her work. Thank you for your posts!
  19. The Vintage Merchant

    The Vintage Merchant Administrator Staff Member

    Alexandra, welcome to the VFG!! it's wonderful to see you here...do you have some background, some stories of your GG that you can share with us?
  20. laurenm

    laurenm Registered Guest

    My Mom 'made' us attend modelling classes at Elen Henderson when we were 'little'...she thought we might gain poise. I remember the building well. I actually have a photo of our graduating 'class' somewhere...I should dig it up!
    Robin of Frocksley likes this.

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