A rags-are-riches tale

Though in her twenties, Calgary native Jennifer Bawden has accomplished what most other fashion designers can only dream of. One of her creations, a green velvet slip cocktail dress, has made the November cover of Cosmopolitan magazine. The accomplishment means that Bawden, the daughter of former Calgary South MP Peter Bawden, can now be taken seriously in New York’s brutally competitive fashion-design market.

“I’m pretty happy about it,” she says. “It’s difficult for anyone my age to get a a cover without paying a public relations agency a lot of money to represent you.”

A Cosmo fashion editor says Bawden beat out many well-known designers for the slot. The magazine doesn’t pay for its cover fashions; its editors rightly think the coast-to-coast exposure is payment enough.

Bawden, an alumnus of Branksome Hall in Toronto and the University of Western Ontario, had toiled in relative obscurity since her arrival in New York. Her first coup occurred last fall when her line of formal evening dresses—pricey affairs that start at US $900—was featured in the Fifth Avenue windows of Bergdorf Goodman fashion store.

Her next goal: Drumming up licensing agreements to sell her dresses in Europe and launching a line of ski wear.