A dark cloud of sadness resides over the fashion community of Calgary today, as we say goodbye to one of our own. The incomparably talented Ruby Ellen Johnson, age 51, designer and owner of Ruby Ellen Designs passed away this afternoon due to a brain hemorrhage. The fashion community is devastated, I can only imagine how her children, her partner, and those closest to her feel. My deepest condolences to you all.
I had the honour and privilege of meeting Ruby twice, once for my fitting, where she designed a dress especially for me for the first ever “Behind The Curtain Fashion and Trade Show.” (http://wp.me/p1zx7z-EL) She also designed one specially for the lovely Ashley Wood. Both dresses were so beautiful. The colour of mine was perfectly on trend for this year, in a gorgeous, radiant orchid with flower design at the bust. It secured to my body with simple golden straps. Ruby was inspired for this design after looking at my photos, she said I was “very ladylike.”
Once I took the dress off (at the fitting) I seized the opportunity to ask Ruby how she got to where she was today. And this was how she captivated me…
She told me of her 26yr struggle in an abusive marriage, how she had designed and sewn her whole life but never really had the confidence to put the wheels in motion, until she found the strength within. You must understand, Ruby was such a tiny, dainty, soft spoken little lady, but once you spoke to her you could see the passion alive in her eyes. She told me how she loved to make things beautiful, how her collection “pretty pieces” made it to NEW YORK FASHION WEEK and was inspired by “things that have broken.” She told me, “everything broken can be beautiful, you just have to see it. And then pick up the pieces and create something new. It’s like spring, all the death goes away and everything new is reborn.” I remember tearing up in her studio right there and then. Being a scarred women who’s also been abused I instantly connected with her. I stopped mid conversation and hugged this lovely, tiny lady, while crying, saying what an amazing accomplishment she had done and how inspired I was by her. What I would give to merely attend New York fashion week, let alone model or be the DESIGNER for a whole collection.
When we finally had the behind the curtain show I was so nervous I fumbled my words and didn’t give Ruby the introduction I had meant to. I gushed on about how inspired I was, left my lines backstage and completely forgot the whole speech she told me prior to walking on stage. So I will repeat it again tonight, as it appears that was her last show, and the dresses that the models, ashley wood, and myself got to wear were perhaps some of the last she designed. Ruby was loved by all. I am certain there is not a dry eye in our fashion circle right now as we mourn the loss of yet another angel to the heavens. She will live on forever, through her children, grandchildren, fashion, charity work, and through our memory. Goodnight, sweet Ruby, fashion won’t be the same without you. Forever. Ruby Ellen Designs R.E.D.
Please take a moment to view the accomplishments this brilliant woman left this world with, for these were her passion.
Also, funds are being raised to help her loved ones in this time of need. To donate please go to: http://www.gofundme.com/c04qtg
About Ruby’s Last Collections that were featured at the BEHIND THE CURTAIN FASHION SHOW
“Over her years of custom designing in Calgary, Ruby Johnson, the creative mind behind Ruby Ellen Designs, has become known for her playful, whimsical creations, often featuring floral elements in unexpected ways. In honour of the celebration of her fifth business anniversary this past spring, the featured flowers in Ruby’s new RED Blooms collection take on special significance. Like the gentle turning of spring into summer, RED Blooms symbolizes the growth of her design studio from the tiny bud that began all those years ago in her basement apartment to the full, fragrant blossom that her business is today.
Live the magic, dress in R.E.D”
And in her own words, from her website…
“I have been blessed with a rare opportunity to turn what I love doing into my business. I sewed my first wedding dress when I was 17, but for many years, sewing was the hobby that I snuck in between the hours of raising my three kids and running a non-profit retreat center.
Finally in 2008, when I was in the middle of crafting a wedding dress for my niece, I was inspired to open my own wedding dress business. Through those early days when I was squeezing clients into my tiny basement suite, I could never have imagined the places my needle would take me.
Five years later, I have my own studio and I have been honoured to show my designs on the runways of Calgary, Boston and Brooklyn. I look forward to moving into an expanded shop in January 2013 to better serve my clients. That look of wonder on a bride’s face when she steps into a gown created with her vision to fit her body is something I will never tire of seeing.”
featured below are photos of Ashley and I in our dresses, and two of the lovely Ruby. One doing what she loved, and one being her angelic self…
A memorial service for Ruby Johnson will be held this Saturday, July 26, 2014, at 2:00pm at Chapel of the Bells funeral home 2720 Centre Street N.
FOREVER, RUBY ELLEN DESIGNS R.E.D XOXO
PHOTO CREDITS: Eden Rodriguez phrography https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eden-M-Rodriguez-Photography/398699546868498
Meechelli Photography : https://www.facebook.com/pages/MeeChelli-Photography/110547912298034
I love this thank you for writing it. Your beautiful words and hearing her story touched my heart. Forever miss Ruby Johnson ❤
Thanks Jaclyn xoxo FOREVER RUBY J X
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