Wholesaler, buyer, and designer, Lisa Corbo is a fashion maven who brings a unique and elegant outlook to the industry. Born and raised in Australia, Corbo brings the world of exclusive and luxurious European designs and garments to Toronto, with a confident and powerful mastery. Not only is Lisa all about fashion, but she simultaneously pursues philanthropic efforts in the community, particularly involving herself with the Princess Margaret Hospital.
Lisa has always had a keen eye for fashion. As a young girl, she meticulously observed and learned from her mother, about how a lady should look and feel every day of her life. “I watched her put on makeup, style her hair, and dress with contemporary clothes to start off her day. She never once missed this routine. She dressed as though something might happen that day,” tells Lisa. With Italian and Australian influences from her parents, Lisa’s mother played a significant role in Lisa’s love and desire to be involved with fashion; especially European fashion. Later on as a student, she persisted with this love, graduating from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia with a BA in Textile Design, and ended up moving to Europe to pursue her passion.
Entering the industry as a buyer, Lisa began travelling around Europe on buying trips, which was how she met her husband, George Corbo. Soon after her marriage and move to Toronto, she was approached by Holt Renfrew to work as the Creative Director of a private brand. “I was given an incredible opportunity that most people only get hired for after years of experience. I couldn’t say no,” says Lisa.
Years later, her and her husband found out they were expecting a child and took a leave of absence. This made Lisa re-submerge herself into the world of design and textiles, and collaboratively they decided to open a studio in, Toronto’s, Yorkville; George C.
George C. offers a wide array of unique garments that are nonpareil in quality. For Lisa, the idea of quality over quantity is significant. “I am not a minimalist, I just don’t overload with too much… Today, it feels like women don’t have proper daytime looks. It feels as though the clothes wear the woman, not the other way around,” says Lisa, “less is more!” As a woman who embraces fashion, and dresses for personality, she shows clients how to embrace or achieve a style that best suits and represents them. Like Neil Barrett, who creates androgynous minimalist pieces, Lisa believes designers should find a signature look, modification, style and fit. At George C., shoppers can find their signature look, where the clothing is exclusive, while some pieces are still affordable fashion for those on a smaller budget… “Think of it as Alexander McQueen without the large price tag,” says the owner.
The idea of getting more involved with charity work, happened at a moment in Lisa’s past when she became ill, and found comfort in fashion. While she laid in bed sick, a pair of blue stilettos arrived at the shop. After trying them on, an idea of hosting a charity fashion show came to her head. After weeks of planning, she organized for an exclusive designer – Joseph Altuzarra – to showcase his latest collection at a private luncheon event; exclusive to corporate groups and individuals to support and raise money for a good cause. The event was so successful that they raised $220,000 and in addition, an anonymous donor matched their total. The proceeds for the show were donated to the Princess Margaret Hospital towards the purchase of specialized equipment for cancer research; including a scanner which carefully examines people for signs of cancer.
When choosing a location for these events, Lisa is very particular with every detail, in order to incorporate many aspects of art. From the venue, to centrepieces, food, and entertainment, Lisa carefully chooses the best and loves the idea of integrating edgy, elegant fashion with a high-end event, and bringing together art in every form to its guests. By bringing in a European designer, individuals have a closer look at what makes European designers stand out from fashion in Toronto.
As a designer, Lisa feels she can’t be the perfect editor and designer, believing it is too much for one to handle. Instead, she finds herself drawn to the world of accessories. “It was like… adrenaline shot through me,” says Lisa.
One of her goals for the future, is to expand her business. Positive feedback on her accessories collection, motivated her desire to expand into the United States. She hopes to sell and distribute her collections on a more broad scale when the time is right.
“Embrace your body while you can, feel beautiful inside and out, dress for yourself, and focus on one thing instead of everything,” says Lisa; reminding us of her mother’s wise words.
By Alanna Witherspoon