NYC fashion designer Judy Joannou settles into Mill Street store

submitted by Janet Boyes

(NOT) THE NEW KID IN TOWN!

“Have you heard the latest?”

“No, what?”

“There’s a New York fashion designer who’s opened  a shop on Mill Street in Almonte.”

“Oh, do you mean Judy Joannou? She’s been MY best-kept fashion secret for years!”

In the 9 months since May 2018 Judy Joannou opened her retail shop at 83 Mill Street in Almonte, this conversation has been heard around town more than once. For many, Judy is a new arrival to the thriving retail community in Almonte, but in fact she’s been outfitting Ottawa-area fashionistas with her original designs for over 25 years.

Combine those designs with her singular style advice and passion for fashion and it was only natural she wouldn’t stay a secret for long. After years of being available exclusively from her studio and at special events, it was time for Judy Joannou to take the next step on a road that has led her from New York to London England, around the world, and finally to Almonte.

Let’s backtrack to a moment in time that was a turning point for Judy in her fashion journey.

After having majored in fashion design at Cornell University and furthered her studies at the London College of Fashion, Judy was well on her way up the fashion ladder, travelling around the world for her work and seeing her designs displayed in the Macy’s windows in New York City.

But it was beginning to feel like the freedom to express herself creatively was somehow missing in her increasingly busy career. Fate provided a chance meeting with Canadian Peter Joannou, who would become her husband and with whom she would eventually move to the Ottawa area to start a new life.

When fashion is in your blood though (Judy’s Dad was in the garment industry), you don’t just leave it all behind! With the understanding that the fashion business is somewhat different in Canada, and wanting to gain a deeper appreciation for the ladies she was designing for, Judy grew her new business from the roots up. She began with selling her clothing creations at local markets, then at the bigger national arts/crafts shows and eventually setting up a studio to showcase and sell her (by then) semi-annual ready-to-wear original design collections.

Meanwhile, those designs were attracting a steadily growing following of devoted fashionable ladies who couldn’t get enough of Judy’s unique “classic style with a twist”. After a Gala fashion show in 2017 featuring 25 years of Judy Joannou Designs that raised $3,400.00 for the Royal Ottawa Youth Mental Health Unit, it was time to explore where her fashion journey would lead her next. It’s no wonder Almonte ladies are delighted their town is where she set down.

Walking into Judy’s shop you’ll be struck with the feeling that you’ve been transported to a fashion salon; the spacious layout and light-filled room provides ample opportunity to browse the colourful and chic fashions in sizes (xs) to (2x) on display.

But wait, it’s not just Judy’s original ready-to-wear designs for you to check out! Her new space allows Judy to present you with carefully selected clothing lines from Canada and beyond, as well as jewellery (including Canadian collections by Beadstackers and Jon Klar), handbags, accessories like; scarves, hats, umbrellas, and many other unique items. She has one of the largest selections of Dolcezza brand ladies’ wear in the Ottawa area (and if you haven’t heard about Dolcezza yet, come be impressed!).

And if all this isn’t enough, Judy and her fashion consultants are on hand to offer you guidance on how to “put it all together.”

Currently operating on her winter schedule, the shop is open Tuesday-Saturday 10-5. You’ll find many pieces marked down as she clears space for new items and prepares for her Spring/Summer 2019 Collection that will be making its appearance soon!

Drop in and play “dress-up”; Judy will greet you with a smile and style suggestions. Enjoy the fun, friendly ambiance that will remind you why shopping for clothes should (and CAN) be an enjoyable experience. You can also check her out on Facebook  and on her website at judyjoannoudesigns.ca, but honestly, when you’ve got a New York fashion designer in town, why not go see her in person? You’ll be glad you did!