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November 20, 2017
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The Endless Top to Bottom shown in it's many fun forms. (Photograph courtesy of Diane Kroe).

Many women hate ironing (admit it), and when travelling, their suitcases often resemble bombs about to explode. Inevitably, pieces arrive at their destination wrinkled. The design philosophy of Canadian designer Diane Kroe makes life easier for ladies who want to travel wrinkle-free and in style.

Kroe creates functional clothing with a special fabric called venezia jersey, a lightweight poly/spandex material that feels like silk against the skin, doesn't wrinkle, requires no ironing and dries quickly. All of this makes it perfect for travel. She produces the fabric in all colours and it's durable - it doesn't pill or shrink after washing. Each new garment is made to work with pieces from past collections. They are designed to be worn in a multitude of ways, allowing for different styles depending on one's mood, travel destination, or whether one is dressing for day or night.

(Photograph courtesy
of Diane Kroe).

"I like to think of my creations as something to collect. They are timeless and seasonless. It means that ten years from now, my [customers] can still wear and enjoy their items while taking the stress out of packing," Kroe explains. Beyond being functional, each piece can be worn a number of ways. The "One 4 All Top", for example, is suitable whether chilly or warm: it can be worn as a long sleeve top, a tube top, or a halter. It can also act as a bathing suit cover-up by wearing it like a tube and knotting the sleeves in front of the waist. The One 4 All idea came to Kroe while she was backpacking through Europe for six months during the Flashdance era. It was common to cut the neck out of t-shirts and wear them as skirts and dresses.

Kroe started her first line, La Rapp, in 1989 which she sold wholesale to retailers across Canada. She opened her retail store, Diane Kroe, in Toronto's Forest Hill neighbourhood in 1997. It was awarded best designer boutique for eight consecutive years by the North Toronto Post. But the concept of a travel collection didn't arise until 2008: "Having a retail store and being the go-to girl for destination weddings, I realised there was a demand [for] travel wear. Instead of the usual durable sun hats or vests with endless pockets, I liked the idea of creating something for women who simply want to be stylish!"

Inspired by her customer's needs, she gives her clothing fun names for different uses. One of her most recent designs is the "Bubble Dress"; by adjusting the snaps to make the hemline longer or shorter, the piece can be worn as a dress or a skirt. The idea for the dress came from an old rag-like skirt that Kroe found at an Indonesian imports shop. The name was inspired by the dress' bubble shape when all the snaps are done up. Very original is also the "Endless" top which truly has endless possibilities: adjustable from top to bottom, it can be worn as a sexy or casual skirt, a long scarf or a poncho. "One day, a customer pulled out an old battered cashmere scarf. She said she loved [it] and asked if I could make her another, as hers was falling apart after having it for so long. I used the pattern and manipulated its design to create my Endless top," Kroe recounts.

One 4 All Dress (Photograph
courtesy of Diane Kroe).

Her pieces combine luxury and functionality that is 100 per cent Canadian made. But Kroe has always been inspired by Italian workmanship and attention to quality. In 1990, she fell in love with an Italian football player and moved to Italy. There she studied fashion, design, pattern drafting and fabric draping at the Scuola di Taglio e Confezioni Le Grande Chic in Bologna.

After her jaunt in Europe, Kroe's creative endeavours became so successful that she created her Signature Spa Collections for many of Canada's best spas. These included Ste. Anne's Spa in Grafton, The Ritz Carlton Toronto Spa boutique, Spa Eastman in Quebec and Wickannish Inn in Tofino. She also sells The Travel Collection at retail shows in Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. She visits each city for a few days to personally help customers with purchasing her pieces. She promises new prints for her Spring 2012 Retail shows: "I also got my hands on some limited sample rolls of prints for Spring 2013. I only make a limited edition of each print so it's always first come first serve for the newest colours."

Online is the best way to purchase Kroe's collections. On her website she adds a few points of advice on how to care for the pieces, potential outfits for each item and accessories to match.


Diane Kroe's website: http://www.dianekroe.com

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