This Museum Monday we’re basking in the glow of this iconic Regent Tailors sign (circa 1946 to 1975). Today, the sign hangs in the MOV's Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver exhibition, but it was originally located at 324 West Hastings, it hung across from another famous neon display (at “the Sally Shop”). The Regent Tailors Sign was installed in 1946 — the early beginning of the 1950s neon boom in Vancouver.
You’ll find several smaller treasures in our OpenMOV Collection related to Regent Tailors. These include technical drawings, a business card circa 1950-70, and a couple of charming items collected by Ivan Sayers (of “Art Deco Chic” fame).
One such item is a “Tailors box” (circa 1945-1959). It’s decorated with a quaint picture of a ‘tailor at work’ alongside a snappy blue slogan, “Regent Tailors Ltd. Where Smart Styles Originate”. The strangest find of all? A branded pocket knife (circa 1925-45). Emblazoned with “Regent Tailors Vancouver BC” on its plastic handle, this promotional pocket knife was probably given away with a newly tailored suit. What an odd marketing choice! “Like your suit? We’ll here’s a trusty knife for you…”
The sign itself, was designed and manufactured by the Neon Products Company of Vancouver (located at 1885 Clark Drive). Other custom creations to their credit include the whimsical Artistocrat Restaurant sign and that monolithic beacon for the BOW MAC car dealership. Established in 1928, the Neon Products Company was the earliest and most prolific manufacturer of neon signs in Western Canada. It is now the largest company of its kind in the world, putting Vancouver squarely on the ‘neon map’ despite local city bi-laws which today strictly limit installations here at home. Ralf Kelman, an artist and self described ‘lighting activist’, collected signs from the Neon Products scrap yard. In 1977 he sold part of his collection to the Museum of Vancouver. As they say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” (or perhaps as museums would say: one man’s “I just don’t possibly have any place to store this old thing anymore” become museological points of interest).
The MOV’s neon collection is still buzzing in the electric glow of our Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver exhibition (which runs through to August 12). The latest news? The Green Couch Sessions and rising indie songbird Adaline came to MOV for a live video shoot in the Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver Exhibition. The humming sound created by the signs was a perfect fit for her song “The Noise”.
This video features Adaline on an analogue keyboard/drum machine with Adrian Glynn on acoustic guitar. I especially love this ‘paired down’ production which shows off Adaline’s sweet vocal tone and blends seamlessly into the neon hum. Adaline’s black and silver sequined outfit picks up on the neon scene –shimmering like puddles on a cool midnight street.
“Not only did we rock out in the Neon room but we got to explore the vintage clothing exhibit happening in the gallery next door. It was one of the best Monday mornings the Green Couch has ever had…” - Green Couch Sessions