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Flare founder bemoans demise of Canadian fashion magazine

Donna Scott, O.C., founder and publisher of Flare magazine, poses for a portrait in her home in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Friday, September 30, 2016. Donna Scott launched the glossy periodical in 1979 as Canada's answer to a proliferation of slick imports such as Glamour, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Lynett
September 30, 2016 - 11:54 AM

TORONTO - Flare's visionary founder says she's sad to see the fashion publication disappear from newsstands, calling it a rare vehicle for Canadian women to see themselves reflected in a style magazine.

Donna Scott launched the glossy periodical in 1979 as Canada's answer to a proliferation of slick imports such as Glamour, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar.

At the time, professional Canadian women had nowhere to turn for a local perspective on style, design and culture, she says, noting that the women's magazine Chatelaine was more focused on homemaking and cookery.

"I'm just shocked," Scott said Friday from her home in Niagara-on-the Lake, Ont., upon hearing the news the publication was going digital only. "It was the first ever fashion magazine for the age group we were appealing to."

Rogers Media announced Friday it was ceasing print publication of Flare as well as Sportsnet, MoneySense, and Canadian Business magazines. Beginning January 2017, they will only be available on the web and on apps, with new content posted daily.

Rogers is also reducing the frequency of its newsmagazine Maclean's to once a month, while Chatelaine and Today's Parent will each drop to six times a year.

Scott recalls being struck by inspiration while criss-crossing the country in 1975 as an in-demand speaker for International Women's Year, a United Nations designation that evolved into International Women's Day on March 8.

"I realized that women in Canada didn't have a fashion magazine and what we were doing was reading Vogue and Harper's and Glamour and Mademoiselle," said Scott, who left Flare in 1990 when Rogers took over Maclean-Hunter. "And they were all great but they didn't have our stores or our prices or our colleges or any of the information that would be for Canadian women."

Scott, now in her 80s, decided to start a magazine that would feature Canadian retailers and designers.

"We were looking at the intelligent young woman who had great hopes when she finished her education to get a career or a job and do well in life," said Scott. "Like men did at that time."

This was more than fluff, added Scott, noting that as those young female readers made inroads in the working world, Flare strove to feature female designers, entrepreneurs, stylists and businesswomen in its pages.

Longtime fashion journalist and former Flare columnist Jeanne Beker was not surprised by the news, given the availability of style and design content online.

"The medium has just changed," said Beker. "Media in general, obviously, has shifted so dramatically. The fashion business has changed so dramatically. This information is so ubiquitous now."

She is also sad to see it go, but believes homegrown designers, stylists, entrepreneurs and models have no shortage of media and promotional opportunities online.

"There are those of us who will always love the feel of snuggling up with a magazine, there's something just very tactile about that — love those images — but when the advertising isn't there anymore or when it starts to dwindle, what can you do? It's just not viable a product anymore," she said.

Scott recalled having "one dickens of a time trying to find the right name" during a brainstorming session in 1978. Many of the names she and her staff liked were already taken by fragrance or car companies. Until somebody said they loved the word "flair."

"And then somebody spoke up and said, 'Well, why don't we spell it F-L-A-R-E like a flare of a skirt, a flare of light, (something) that has got energy?'" said Scott, who went on to become chair of Canada Council for the Arts and was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1994.

"And we all said, 'Hallelujah!'"

When it came time to sell regional distributors on the idea, she had an uphill battle because the notion of a Canadian-focused fashion magazine was so new.

"I made lots of speeches and did lots of talking," she recalled. "I said, 'You can find out what stores these are carried in, who the designers are — Montreal or whatever — and it's for you. This isn't for somebody who lives in Florida or California or something. It's for you.'"

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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