« Aussi est-il bien difficile d’appréhender cet « art du presque rien » qui se résume à d’infimes fragments de la vie. Mais contrairement aux apparences, cette esthétique pauvre révèle le sens et la beauté cachés de nos gestes les plus élémentaires, de ces instants fragiles, vécus comme de purs moments de poésie en rupture avec le quotidien.»
Inspired by French art critic and curator Alexandra Fau’s essay, L’art fragile, un art du presque rien, Marie-Christine Fortier’s 01 clothing line reflects on garments as works of art. Adopting a minimalist and sustainable approach, 01 is characterized by its renewed use of impressions, colors and overlapping. Add some gentle contrasts to bring out every subtle detail of Fortier’s delicate artwork, and you will have simple yet intricately confected clothes. Meet Marie-Christine Fortier, a designer with a flimsy preference for the ordinary.
Baron: How did you get into fashion?
Marie-Christine Fortier: I studied fashion design and specialized in furs at Marie-Victorin. I didn’t think I would work for the fashion industry, but I saw the formation as an asset, nonetheless. Once I was done with cégep, I felt like I needed to learn more before officially entering the job market. That’s why I signed up for the B.A. at UQÀM. Last year, I did my internship as an assistant, at Barilà.
B.: How did college influence your creative process?
M. C. F.: During cégep, creativity is pretty straightforward: you select a theme that inspires you and directly start piecing up your collection, choosing a color palette and so forth. It never went any further. In college though, the creative process relates to sociology a lot. Here, we pick a method, an orientation, we are guided and informed, and we do research. We observe social phenomenon and tendencies. It’s what every market study is based on. Without the B.A., I wouldn’t have developed that knack at understanding business opportunities; a skill that will probably help me start my own business.
B.: How do you find inspiration? Does it all happen naturally or do you work with pivot pictures?
M. C. F.: I think coming up with ideas while using pivot images can give far-fetched results. I’d rather rely on my instincts and find my inspirations in everything that surrounds me. You need to look beyond the surface of things and create something bold and new, based on what people like.
B.: When it comes to what people like, fashion-wise, we can’t help but think of trends and fads. What is your outlook on these?
M. C. F.: The older I get, the less I care! A good designer will come up with a clothing line that will both please and last more than a couple months. That’s the problem with trends: people get tired of them. They’ll want what’s fresh and new, over and over again. To keep up with this, we would have to make a dozen collections a year, which makes no sense!
I would like my creations to stay in their buyers’ closet for at least five years. I believe it is possible to seduce a customer with a well-thought garment. It is hard, though, since one would have to go against the fashion fads and trends in order to do so. This is why, as designers, we can’t cope with fast fashion. There are more and more creators who choose to make slow wear nowadays (and a lot of my fellow graduates too), which makes us think that people might eventually get bored of “disposable clothing”.
B.: You describe your work as minimalist. However, we might feel like there’s not much to say about such aesthetics. Did you want to somehow reinvent minimalism?
M. C. F.: While working on 01, I tried to work on the general, or global, shape of the garment. You can see this in every piece, in every model. I really wanted to conceptualize the very nature of each garment, as an architectural, detailed and refined work of art. A lot of love and passion went in the creation of every piece in 01, and this is what people should feel when they look at my work.
B.: Has your research been done in an abstract and intimate way, or was it more of a social study?
M. C. F.: My goal was to recreate state of mind that resembles mine, my own identity and a vision of the universe in which I would like to float. I thought of a sweet, delicate and pale place while experimenting with materials and finishes. I wanted these aesthetics to be seen as a starting point for my future creations.
B.: What are your views on a designer’s reality in Montreal?
M. C. F.: I find it really difficult! People are so negative, regarding the fashion industry. It’s obvious we don’t have New York’s network of investors backing up and coming designers, but it doesn’t mean everything is going down the drain in Montreal. This isn’t how we’ll let the international community know about our own fashion scene. But I’m not naïve. I have hope that it’ll get better, but I’m also well aware that it’s a long and hard road to get there. That’s why I want to take business and management courses. This way, I’ll know how to get the financial support I need to make it. Even if I know the first few years will be quite hard…
B.: How should Montreal’s fashion industry evolve?
M. C. F.: It should become a cooperative community. People should work together if they want to make it in such a small market. If we all pitch in, we could also revamp our fashion week into a more convincing proposition. We could all use each other’s help when it comes to suppliers, too. It would reduce costs and make local clothing more affordable. The idea of working as part of such a community thrills me. Being surrounded with talented people who share the same objective, the same passion… wouldn’t that be more humane?
Discover Marie-Christine Fortier’s 01 on April 29th, as part of the collective fashion show of UQÀM’s Fashion management – design and styling graduates, at the university’s Design Center’s gallery.
 Alexandra Fau, « L’art fragile, un art du presque rien »