The Canadian fashion industry has lost an icon.
David Livingstone might have moved to Toronto from Cape Breton, N.S., as a teenager, but he never lost his analytical outsider view on his adoptive hometown and the fashion beat he would cover for more than 30 years.
One of Canada’s most respected writers and editors, David passed away at his Toronto home on April 20. He was 69.
David studied English language and literature at the University of Toronto and got his first job as an editor in the publications department of what is now known as TVOntario. From 1977, he worked as a journalist, initially covering music at Maclean’s before moving on to fashion. He worked at The Globe and Mail from 1983 to 1996 and then began editing magazines, such as Elm Street, The Look and eventually Men’s FASHION. His writing has appeared in FASHION, Chatelaine, Maclean’s, Saturday Night and The Toronto Star.
Working with David was a privilege, an education and never, ever boring. He wasn’t a “hi/bye” type of man; he would sit down at your desk and ask, “So, what’s new?” He was contrary and whip-smart. (He loved a good debate and always spoke his mind.) Reading his copy was like reading a good book—you didn’t want it to end.
David had lost hearing in his left ear, and in many ways that added to his quirky ways. People might have thought he was ignoring them (and perhaps he was), but he might not have heard their name during an introduction. This physical shortcoming only added to his intense curiosity and direct line of questioning. When he spoke with you, it was with purpose, and it might have even felt like an interrogation. But he also wanted to see pictures and videos of our families, and he delighted in their happy faces. He would tear up at the mention of his own late mother. Watching him talk to interns or new hires in the office was always an event. They looked flustered—maybe even terrified—but we would walk over afterwards and tell them the obvious: “Someday you’ll say you met him.”
We begged David to write his memoir, and he always laughed that off. But now and then he tweeted a memory, and it was always epic—though he wouldn’t have meant it that way. “Most fondly remembering being en route to interview Avedon: cab through Central Park, on Walkman, Mel Torme singing New York State of Mind,” he tweeted on December 29, 2013. He was a fashion encyclopedia and shared many personal anecdotes with our team about fashion’s top players—then and now. He had a marvellous sense of humour; his laugh was larger than life and could be heard from anywhere in the building. His biannual trend presentations were always an industry favourite.
“To say that David was a character is an understatement,” says Noreen Flanagan, editor-in-chief of FASHION. “I admired his seasoned and sharp mind and was always amused by his dry wit. He was well read, opinionated and curious. You had to bring your A-game if you wanted to have an intellectual tussle with David. His knowledge of fashion and the arts was unparalleled. His commentary was thoughtful, and he delighted in being a playful provocateur. He shall be immensely missed.”
David is survived by his daughter, Alexandra, of whom he was extremely proud, as well as his siblings and many, many friends.
Read personal tributes to David Livingstone here.