On this late summer day, Suzanne Rogers greets us in her garden. She is wearing a Mary Katrantzou dress – one of her favourite London based fashion designers – with delicate floral prints. She is one of Canada’s most photographed personalities, a fashion icon and the wife of media magnate Edward Rogers. But behind this glamourous public persona exists a humble and hardworking philanthropist who has organized many high-profile charity fashion shows in Canada, enlisting renowned designers such as Oscar de la Renta and Marchesa.
This afternoon, Rogers shares with us her thoughts on life, motherhood, and how she engages fashion and philanthropy to help raise funds for a number of global children’s charities.
I was born in a small town in northern Ontario called Elliot Lake and my father was a miner. My parents came from Hungary and unfortunately my father passed away when I was six months old so my mother remarried to another Hungarian gentleman who is my stepfather, and I have one sister. I grew up in a very basic middle class family. However, we traveled a lot to Europe to see my grandmother in Hungary.
Family to me is the definition of success. Having that strong European influence, I learned that Hungarian women are tough. I know my mother lost her husband at the age of 23 and both of my grandmothers lost their husbands in the war so I think that I can get through anything.
My parents taught me that nothing is easy. I have instilled that philosophy in my children. You have to work hard for what you want, you are responsible to yourself, to your family and you are responsible for how you behave and what comes out of your mouth. The most interesting thing about being a parent is watching yourself growing with your children because you certainly grow and change as they do. It’s an evolution that happens together.
The most interesting thing about being a parent is watching yourself growing with your children because you certainly grow and change as they do. It’s an evolution that happens together.
My life philosophy is that family comes first.
The only fear that I have is if anything happens to my children.
A typical day for Suzanne Rogers. I’m usually up at seven, getting the kids ready for school. Then I drop them off, come back home and have a quick breakfast then do a quick workout,
and make a few phone calls. I open letters or emails and then do some errands.
I do work. I might not have an office job from 9 to 5 like many moms do, but I work hard in different ways. I tried to pick and choose but I focus on children’s charity. And with my
foundation, I raise money with the galas that I put on which involve fashion—which is another passion of mine.
I studied political science and I graduated in 1992 from The University of Western Ontario. When I was in high school, I was very much interested in politics. I was a member of the
United Nations debating team but there wasn’t really a career in it for me after university.
I am a very private person. I’m not on Twitter or anything like that. I like to be private. My daughter and I are on Facebook but that’s it. Even though I go to events and get photographed and perhaps written about, I am a very private person. I was never really in the spotlight until I was married. People are more critical when you are in the spotlight; they want to know who you are without really taking the time to get to know you and they make judgments quickly. That’s tough but you get used to it. That’s what I’ve learned.
The word socialite makes me cringe. Every time I hear people calling me a socialite, I don’t know what to think. I don’t think it’s a positive word. I think there should be a better word to describe someone who maybe does a lot with his or her life, perhaps not with a 9 to 5 job, but has a very fulfilled life contributing to society in other ways.
Canadian fashion is very dear to me. It’s important to support where you are from and support Canadian talent.
I never woke up saying I’m going to do some shopping andbecome a fashion icon. When I was a teenager I just had the passion for fashion. However, I do not consider myself a fashion icon, I just consider myself someone who loves fashion and enjoys dressing well. I think Toronto needs to dress up a little bit more. This is the European in me. My mother was always dressed up, even my grandmother at the age of 75. I just love fashion.
I have no regrets. It has been a great journey from Elliot Lake.
Photos by Mauricio Jimenez (http://www.magicvision.ca)