Catherine Nugent: A History of Charity and Fashion

Photography Chris Chapman

Just like her Instagram-worthy wardrobe, society doyenne Catherine Nugent’s commitment to raising money for charity is timeless

Catherine Nugent’s wardrobe includes couture from labels like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin – some purchased decades ago, when Coco and Yves were still alive, making them practically museum-worthy.

But the society maven, in her mid-60s, still wears these timeless outfits to events in Toronto.

She uses this same approach – longevity and loyalty – in her philanthropic work, having helped organize some of the longest-running charity galas in Toronto. “I like being involved for the long haul,” she says. “You have to keep people [the donors] engaged and interested.”

Today, she helps helm charity events like Fandango and The Great Jewellery Heist, both of which benefit Bridgepoint – now part of the Sinai Health System. It’s a personal mission for her since Bridgepoint was where her mother and her late husband, David Nugent, were patients.

Born in Brazil, she attended boarding school in Eastern Canada before marrying Nugent whose company, Riviera Concepts, manufactured and distributed best-selling fragrances like Alfred Sung, Bob Mackie and Nina Ricci.

Back in the day, Nugent co-founded the Brazilian Ball, which ran for 40 years. She was also part of a clique known as the Glitter Girls. One of their legendary affairs, a benefit circa 1985 for the Canadian Opera Company, featured a YSL Haute Couture fashion show – the first time YSL couture was shown outside of Paris.

“It was the ’80s. Everything was bolder, bigger and brighter!” she laughs.

Click through to see some of Catherine Nugent’s beautiful and timeless outfits.

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Suit, circa 1977. #Chanel #HauteCouture

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Chubby, 1980. #WayneClark, pants #Joseph, top #joefresh

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Velvet dress with trompe l’oeil necklace, 1989. #BobMackie

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Two-piece silk caftan and trousers, 1987. #OscardelaRenta

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Black gown with diamond broach, circa 1997. #PierreCardin