As awareness and appreciation of Canadian designers continues to rise – at least here at home – the industry is embracing all those who enthusiastically wave our flag on the global stage. After all, the success of our brands depends on it. That's why British-born, B.C.-raised Kim Cattrall made such a good host for the third edition of the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards on April 15. First capturing fashionistas' hearts with her spirited Golden Globe-winning role as Sex in the City 's Samantha Jones, style-savvy Cattrall is currently on a mission to promote our homegrown designers. In her more recent celebrated television series Sensitive Skin, now in its second season, Cattrall regularly sports Canadian fare, determined to show off the great fashion product this country has to offer. I recently chatted with the 59-year-old producer/ actress about her personal fashion philosophy, the importance of balancing style with comfort and her passion for local labels.
It was a great show of support for our fashion industry that you hosted the CAFAs this year. Why are you so passionate about Canadian fashion?
It's been a real education for me in the last three years, since making the first season of Sensitive Skin for HBO Canada, where I play a character who is a former model and lives in Toronto. She would shop in Toronto. And seeing that she was a model, she would be interested in new design and designers in Canada. For me, having been away for quite a while in New York and London and all over the place, it was really an opportunity to get acquainted with – and educated about – who the new designers were. So it became a way of finding one of the details of this character. We wanted to include as many Canadian designers as we could to make it as authentic a show as possible, so I asked our production company to bring on a Canadian stylist who knew a lot of designers. Marie-Eve Tremblay came on board, and she's in touch with all the young Montreal and Vancouver designers. She worked with the costume designer for the show and we had a lot of fun in the sense that, no matter what the outfit was, we were going to include as many Canadian designers as possible. Then a lot of my friends in Canada and U.S. would comment on what I was wearing. But it was astounding to me how many people outside of the fashion industry were not as aware of the amazing talent that we have in Canada. So I started to educate not just myself but other people about this great talent source that we have here.
Our retail landscape is undergoing such monumental changes and very few Canadian retail chains remain. We're worried about how much support our Canadian brands are going to get, especially from the big outside retailers. It's almost like you wish that we could do what the Canadian music industry did years back, when the CRTC legislated that radio stations had to play a certain amount of Canadian content. It would be interesting if we could do that for fashion so that retailers would have to carry a certain percentage of Canadian designers.
Yes, absolutely. And I do think that Canadians will buy Canadian products. I mean, when the Prime Minister's wife showed up at the White House, she was wearing all Canadian. Good on her! That's fantastic. But what is the next step? How do we continue that and create our own star system? We have our own wonderfully talented designers accessible to Canadian buyers because we live in Toronto. Toronto's a very metropolitan, sophisticated city, but what about people outside of Toronto? We need to get them interested and excited about what's happening, because there's a lot to be excited about. A lot of people say, "Gosh I didn't know that Sensitive Skin was Canadian. I just thought it was filmed in Canada." And I say, "No, this is a Canadian woman that I'm playing. It's not an American woman. She's a Canadian woman and this would be where she would shop." I feel that it's really time for this extra awareness and encouragement from the business side and from the community side, and nationwide. It's just really encouraging more and more Canadians to support Canadian product and artistry.
As a woman of a wonderful age, would you say that one gets better at style the more comfortable one becomes in her own skin?
Whenever I look at someone who looks very chic, it looks effortless. It's about not trying too hard, either with an outfit, a hairstyle or makeup. I've been in this skin for coming up on 60 years, and I think what I like is just me, hanging out, being real, feeling relaxed, feeling that my clothes are part of what's representing me, but they aren't me. I look back at some photographs of when I was younger and see some style mistakes and some victories. And I think, "Wow, that dress is wearing me a little bit there, you know. I'm not wearing the dress." Now, what I wore to host the CAFA Awards was a beautiful Pink Tartan suit with a blouse, with a lovely, very simple but chic Ron White pump. I was wearing a Canadian designer who was nominated [for an award], but I felt very elegant, and very much in my own skin.
Do you find yourself becoming more of a risk taker the older you get or do you play it safe, now that you've hit a groove?
I don't feel one way or the other. I'm just attracted to what speaks to me, just simplicity and elegance and something that I look at and think, "You know, I've got four or five hours in that outfit. And with those heels, am I going to be comfortable? Is that going to be great for me and am I going to feel good in that?" instead of "Oh, I'll be alright… I'll get through it, even though it pinches a bit here or there." Now I just I want to feel the way it looks, which is effortless.
How do you feel when you look in the mirror, or is it different all the time?
It depends on how much sleep I've had! But what I see is a woman and sometimes she looks great and vibrant and alive, and sometimes she looks tired, and I say, "Oh, I want to take care of her." I like myself. I want to be good to myself. So I try to surround myself with good cameramen when I'm working and protect what needs protecting. But I like how I look. I like not wearing as much makeup. I like dressing down and merging. In your youth, you want to stand out and you want to be noticed. You want to be seen and heard and I feel a lot of that's been answered for me. I think that's reflected in the choices that I make, with the people I want to work with, with the material that I'm investing time in. For me, it's a good point in my life.
This interview has been condensed and edited