Hero: Marlene Schiff
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Hero: Marlene Schiff

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains of 2007––the people, places, and things that we’ve either fallen head over heels in love with or developed uncontrollable rage towards over the past twelve months. Get your dose, starting Boxing Day and running into the new year, three times a day––sunrise, noon, and sunset.
Slip into Boutique LeTrou (940 Queen Street West) on any given afternoon and odds are, you’ll be hello darling’ed by a slender, lively dame, all in black, looking at the world through violet-hued glasses. Her age is as indeterminate as her hair colour (Grey? Blue? Grey-blue?), but her smile’s easy like seventeen. She greets everyone like an old friend.
This is Marlene Shiff, and she’s more than just the proprietor of this must-stop shop—she’s practically the patron saint of the Canadian designers it stocks. Since taking over LeTrou from its founder, and her friend, Luigi Carrabba, Shiff has dedicated this latest, greatest phase of her lifelong fashion career to nurturing Toronto’s bright young talents. Her racks and display cases are filled with eclectic creations by a host of homegrown designers, from Anne McKay to Zoran Dobric, and she’s helped a plethora of local labels find their way onto the backs of the city’s forward-thinking fashion lovers (including, of course, her own). Her tireless enthusiasm for, and faith in, Canadian fashion is evident whether she’s cheering from the front row at Fashion Week or meeting with a new designer in the back of her boutique.
As volunteer co-head (along with Holt Renfrew’s Natalie Lecomte) of the fashion committee for Fashion Cares, Shiff helped put on a spectacular 21st edition of the annual fundraising gala this past May, with all profits going to the AIDS Committee of Toronto.
All that, and she believes in real-sized models.
Stylish anti-snob, one-woman talent incubator, and fashionista who cares—what’s not to applaud? Our hats are off to Marlene Shiff… or would be, if they weren’t an essential part of this season’s ensemble. We think she’d understand.
Photo by Anita Clarke.