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Take a trip down Marie Saint Pierre’s memory lane…

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ELLE Magazine Readers’ Choice

As a born anti-conformist who refuses to follow trends, Marie Saint Pierre used to get told that her garments only appealed to a limited audience. Thus, she was the first one surprised when she won the ELLE Québec People’s Choice Award in 1994.

The Unexpected Birth of an Icon

Only a few weeks before showing for the first time in Paris in 1995, Marie realised that the fabrics she ordered would never get delivered on time to create her samples. She then went to a local store and bought rolls and rolls of plain fabric that she undertook to transform.

Among other experiments, she plunged a piece of silk in her own bathtub filled with salted water and vinegar to simulate what we called “slush” in Quebec; Snow with mud, dirt and salt. Marie left the fabric to dry on a hanger where it started to wrinkle beautifully. Using the iron she then emulated the effect and amplified it. The crinkled was born… She liked the result and so did Paris!

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Trouble Maker

Spring/Summer 1994

“We got into so much trouble for that photo shoot! We were in Merida, Mexico, where I guess people were not used to see fashion shoots. A huge crowd of onlookers gathered around our team to watch us work. There were so many people all day that an officer took me to the police station for questioning. When they finally released me it was very late to go to our second location: a national park that was about to close for the night. We decided to go any way and jumped the fence. My photographer took the most amazing images of our model standing with a flock of pink flamingos. I wanted that shot of sunset and pink flamingos in a catalogue. That became iconic for Marie Saint Pierre.” – Marie Saint Pierre

Doll Games

“A long time ago, there was a girl studying marketing at McGill University who looked at our store window on her way to school and thought : “one day, I’ll collaborate with that designer”. She started working at MGA Entertainment in Los Angeles, and they offered her to take over the Canadian office. That’s when she called me and asked if I wanted to design a special edition of Bratz dolls. It was the first time MGA did a couture collection in collaboration with a designer. Two seasons in a row, I translated my clothes into miniatures for the dolls.” – Marie Saint Pierre

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Dressed to Save the World

In 2008, Montreal hosted the Arcadia video game festival. The Californian producers of Tomb Raider took this opportunity to launch a contest, asking ten local designers to create outfits for Lara Croft. “I didn’t want to dress her with another overly sexy garment,” remembers Marie Saint Pierre. “ I chose to expose her strength and femininity. So I made a white scuba coat that conjugated performance and fashion.” Marie Saint Pierre won the competition and saw her design featured in the Underworld chapter of the video game.

MSP for Reitmans

“When I made that capsule collection for Reitmans, one of the largest Canadian retailers, we got flooded with letters from women thanking us for making our designs available to them. Some were full time working moms who could never afford my regular brand. They would say that my Reitmans dresses made them feel very special. It also made me well known in the business community of fashion, mainly composed of men. They suddenly realized that I was not only a fashion designer, but also a businesswoman.” – Marie Saint Pierre

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Sleep in Style

Many years before Marie Saint Pierre launched her Habitat furniture collection, the Co-President of the luxury Canadian hotel chain Le Germain asked her to “dress” their beds. Marie agreed to do it… literally. She created a unique throw that was not only a blanket, but that could also be worn. That original touch was a perfect clin d’oeil to the bold design and architecture of the institution. Marie is still collaborating on the staff’s new uniform.

The Order of Canada

In 2012, Marie Saint Pierre received the Order of Canada. The title, established in 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II, is considered to be the cornerstone of the Canadian Honours system.

“What makes this honorary medal special to me is that it recognizes involvement in the society in addition to being a leader in your field, says the designer. Giving back has always been an important component of my career.” – Marie Saint Pierre

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In fact, Marie Saint Pierre is involved on many levels. Not only did she pave the way for a whole generation of designers, but she now acts as a mentor to whom they can turn to for advice. In addition, she started the Sous Zéro Foundation as a way to help women by providing their children with snowsuits, boots, hats and mittens, which are given to them as anonymous gifts. Marie Saint Pierre is also involved in the artistic community as a member on several boards.

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February 2, 2016