On Sunday we attended a book launch for Love Affair Before and After Death…: A Memoir by Shelley Wickabrod. We met Shelley at a photo shoot in 2009 and after working alongside her several times in the years since, are now pleased to consider her a friend.
If you were a part of the fashion scene in Toronto in the 80’s or even just interested in fashion during that time, you will without a doubt know Shelley’s work. In 1978 Shelley and her husband Bernard McGee, already prominent designers on the fashion stage, opened Clotheslines Inc. in Yorkville. The line was innovative for the time and people came from all over the world to experience Shelley and Bernard’s extravagant, news-making fashion shows. Designer Franco Mirabelli names Shelley a source of his inspiration and describes the rise of Clotheslines Inc. as “one of the great ‘moments’ in Canadian fashion.”
Outside of their enviable success as fashion designers Shelley and Bernard were madly in love, truly so from the day that they met. It was – an absolute love affair.
Then suddenly at the height of it all, in the summer of 1991, Shelley lost Bernard to a brain aneurysm. He was just 38 years old. The life changing grief that Shelley experienced – the loss of her husband, her business and creative partner, and her best friend all in one – is heart wrenching. It is in many ways unimaginable.
To those who know Shelley – listen and speak with her – it is clear that in the years since her loss, deeply emotional and physical, she has somehow endured and has remained strong, passionate, and driven. Having subsequently worked in fashion editing, journalism, and as an instructor at the International Academy of Design she has said that her hope in writing about her experience was that the book might help others going through the same process.
If you would like to purchase the book click here. It will offer a fascinating look at the fashion industry over the years, and it will also take you through Shelley’s journey of grief to, ultimately, the continuation of her life – though it is a life left irrevocably changed.
It was – and remains – a love story a lifetime in the making.
As the story is told, years ago after an argument she’d had with her husband Shelley wrote him a letter that read in part “when all this is over, I will write a book.” She started writing that book eight years ago, and this past Sunday we were honoured to have been invited – by Shelley herself – to celebrate in its launch.
Once again, our congratulations Shelley.