My client Irene Carroll, a top public relations strategist in Toronto, wanted art to complete her newly designed abode.


Together, we walked around her living room and identified the walls that required such. Given the 18-foot-ceiling height, I could envision all the possibilities except for the wall above the sofa. I could smell it and touch it, not knowing what it was except that it was definitely tactile in nature.


We shopped for many weeks, acquiring several items but to no avail. We simply couldn’t find that one specific piece. On one of our last stops, we were ready to give up when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something straw-like in a dark alcove.

I pulled the object off the wall and showed it to Carroll. What is it? The tag read “Chinese Raincoat.” In a matter of seconds, she decided this was, indeed, the piece. I summoned a salesperson and it was explained to us that this raincoat had been sitting in the shop for over seven years, and an interior designer had been in one hour before us and purchased it. Our hearts sank.

Several hours later, a very determined Carroll called me explaining that her dear friend, leading Canadian fashion designer Thien Le, may be able to source a raincoat due to his ties with Asia. A month later, Thien did just that! A very unique raincoat was shipped from the other side of Shanghai to Toronto with the accompanying hat and a pair of shoes.

In the process of our search, we learned that the hand-weaving of the raincoat is an ancient technique in China and is fast becoming a dying discipline. Not only did Carroll acquire a piece of art for above the sofa, but she managed to preserve a piece of history.