The Fairmont Palliser Hotel: A Luxury Escape Then and Now

The Fairmont Palliser was a luxurious retreat in the early twentieth century and it remains a place of fashionable luxury 100 years later


Photography by Colin Way; Styling by Leah Van Loon; Hair by Sue Thompson (Chrome Hair Design); Makeup by Teslin Ward; Model Josie D. (Numa Models). Photographed at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel. Reem Acra gown, $5,200, from Ette Boutique; vintage gold belt with peacock clasp from Pretty Little Things.

The Fairmont Palliser has been a beacon of comfort for travellers and a source of pride for Calgarians since it opened its doors on June 1, 1914. Now, 100 years later, the most luxurious fashions for fall pay tribute to a time when day suits and ball gowns were de rigueur.

Photograph by Colin Way.
Coat, $4,760, shirt, $1,480, Oxer bag, $9,920, and Jolly shoes, $1,390, all from Herms; Marie Saint Pierre Casey pants, $580, from Blu’s Womens Wear; Boss Woman turtleneck, $275, from Hugo Boss; Roberto Coin necklace, $16,750, from Birks. Bric’s medium trolley in cream, $609, large trolley in cream, $629, and travel bag in cream, $498, all from Taschen.

By the 1970s, automatic elevators replaced staff-operated cages at the Palliser. The area still manages to retain its yesteryear charm, though, with ornate fumed oak-panelled walls and a brass mail chute that extends to each floor of the building.

Photograph by Colin Way Valentino dress, $4,290, from Holt Renfrew; Kotur clutch, $350, and Shourouk earrings, $685, both from Ette Boutique; Birks Vintage Collection South Sea pearl necklace, price upon request.

Notable guests of the Fairmont Palliser have included King Edward VIII and Mrs. Wallis Simpson, Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and Oprah Winfrey.

Photograph by Colin Way. Zac Posen gown, $9,060, Shourouk clutch, $1,000, bracelet, $525, and necklace, $490, all from Ette Boutique; Maison Birks emerald earrings, price upon request, from Birks.

The opulent Louis XIV-style Crystal Ballroom is synonymous with Calgary’s social scene. Many community groups have used the space for galas, dinners and meetings, including the Rotary Club, which has hosted its weekly luncheon at the hotel since 1914.

Photograph by Colin Way. Michael Kors collection sweater, $4,595; Judith & Charles Pacer pants, $235; vintage scarf from Pretty Little Things; loafers, $298, from Browns; Bulgari watch, $38,400, from Birks; Tiffany & Co. Tiffany T square bracelets in sterling silver, $1,100, and in 18-karat gold, $5,800, and Tiffany T cutout ring in sterling silver, $580.

In the 1960s, architect Earl Morrison wanted to remove the fireplace in the Rimrock Restaurant for easier access to the kitchen, but adamant Calgarians started a letter campaign that persuaded the hotel to save the beloved fixture.

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