Creation has a mysterious ring to it. Sometimes, the imagination’s gears will spin out of control at the mere sight of an ordinary object, a simple prop in our everyday lives. We see shapes, colors or patterns where we never thought we would. We are inspired and we start creating.
Marylie Cloutier found such inspiration in her environment. And what better coincidence, for the Québec city born designer, to base her entire collection on one of her home city’s man made landmarks? Indeed, Cloutier’s Kebek presents a cohesive and formal selection of garments inspired by the Quebec Bridge.
Baron: Why fashion?
Marylie Cloutier: I discovered my passion for fashionwhen I was still in high school. My mind was always filled with ideas of clothes that I wanted but could rarely find at the store. I also wanted to know how were clothes conceived and made. I guess my curiosity made me choose this path.
B.: And how did you get where you are today?
M. C.: I first did a technique in fashion at Campus Notre-Dame-de-Foy, and then I went to college. As simple as it may seem, I kept on studying since I did not feel ready to hit the job market yet. I wanted to know what more could the B.A. teach me as a designer. I also met a representative for the Maison Simons, back at Notre-Dame-de-Foy, who told us that a college degree was an asset when asking for work at bigger fashion companies
B.: How is the B.A. different from the technique, and vice versa?
M. C.: The major difference lies in the amount of research that has to be done. Cégep teaches a pragmatic and comprehensive approach of the fashion production process, while college focuses on creativity. Your creative process changes: during the technique we had a hard time drawing 30 sketches to develop a concept, while in college we make around 300!
B.: What did you struggle with, while creating your collection?
M. C.: Getting started! Finding your subject and gathering all the necessary information to make it solid is complicated. Once your concept passes muster, drawing sketches and making models gets easier. Defining the initial idea is so complex… In cégep, there were fewer constraints and we would choose our subject after completing our collection!
B.: Which initial idea did you choose for Kebek?
M. C.: I first started exploring the concept of armor and protective garments, but I ended up dropping this idea since I didn’t how to exploit it. I wanted to work on something closer to my culture, my roots and my home. I kept seeing pictures of the Quebec Bridge, while doing research. It piqued my interest and I delved into its history and architecture. I was astonished to discover that such an engineering marvel was almost a hundred years old!
B.: Opting for an architectural landmark as the main concept for your collection must have had its share of creative challenges. How did apply your concept to your work?
M. C.: I concentrated on the bridge’s structure. I reproduced the geometry of its girders and framework. When we look at it, we see that the bridge’s wire mesh is shaped like a “K” or a triangle. These patterns were refined and spread throughout my entire collection. I’ve also recreated the diamond shaped holes made by the crisscross of the bridge’s girders and used them in embroideries. The buttons on some of my creations are a reminder of the nuts and bolts’ detailed pattern on the bridge’s structure.
B.: You’ve managed to clearly show your inspiration through your collection, so people would have an easier time understanding your work. Which clientele were you targeting with Kebek?
M. C.: Professional women who want to stay classy and stand out at the same time. I have different dresses, jackets and coats made out of wool or extensible fabrics, like ponte di roma. I wanted Kebek to be comfortable and accessible. Since I would really love to work for a business like Maison Simons, I wished to create an original ready-to-wear collection
B.: In your opinion, which issues and challenges must a fashion designer face in Québec?
M. C.: I like to see how the local clothing philosophy has evolved. Today, more people seem to want clothes made in Québec. They’re looking for quality products that will last more than a few months. Of course, such garments are more expensive, but I think that if you’re aiming at the right clientele, you just might make it. If young adults around 25 can’t afford it yet, maybe those well in their thirties will. I do not expect to become successful and renowned in an instant. I know it’s going to be hard, but if I work hard, I can do it!