Canadian designer takes NY by storm

"It's like being in quicksand.I get 30 calls a day for a dress I can produce only one of a day," remarks 26-year-old Canadian Jennifer Bawden of her green velvet slip dress that appeared on the November cover of Cosmopolitan magazine. Bawden is now designing in New York and her evening wear is getting plenty of exposure. Two dresses from her first collection, fall '89, were featured in Bergdorf Goodman's Fifth Ave window; Twin Peaks star Peggy Lipton is wearing Bawden's red silk crepe dress on the December cover of New Woman Magazine and Bawden was recently featured on the Sally Jessie Raphael TV show where she was referred to as "the exciting new designer to watch for".

Born in Calgary, Bawden attended Toronto's Branksome Hall and spent one year at Neuchatel College in Switzerland where she also toured on the European Professional Skiing Circuit. Bawden then returned to Canada where she completed her BA at Western University in London, Ontario. She then went to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in L.A. where she completed both the Advanced Fashion Design and Advanced Graduate Marketing and Merchandising programs.

Bawden formed her company, Jennifer Bawden Design Company in New York in 1984 after working with Frank Usher, Ltd. in London, England as an assistant designer for one year.

Jennifer Bawden clothes are in the $900 to $1,800 (U.S) price range. "I design dresses that my friends and I can't find," says Bawden who has become quite an active member of the New York social scene. She describes her designs as fun, young, sexy, sophisticated dresses that take a bit of a risk but still incorporate a bit of her conservative background. "My objective is to bring out a woman's inner beauty through the confidence of spectacular feminine design."

Bawden's plan now is to "hook up with a manufacturer so that I can go from selling to three or four couture stores in the U.S. to selling right across North America." She has no preference whether it is an American or Canadian company. "If I hook up with an American manufacturer, you can be sure that my line will also be available across Canada. I am a Canadian. I guess you can say I have a love affair with Canada." Bawden is currently in negotiations with Holt Renfrew to have her line represented there.

Her next goal is to design a "more affordable" line of cocktail dresses. "There is a niche in the market for dresses with a designer touch but at affordable prices." She also plans to develop a day wear collection that would compete with Laura Ashley and Belle France. "I want to come in and give them all a run for their money," says Bawden. Contact: Jennifer Bawden, P.O. Box 6086, Yorkville Station, New York, NY 10128 (212) 876-9000.