AN INTERVIEW WITH
MARIE-ÈVE LECAVALIER

Text by:Quartz Co.

THE MONTREAL-BASED DESIGNER DISCUSSES HER BRAND NEW COLLABORATION AND HER VISION FOR WOMEN’S FASHION.

When designer Marie-Ève Lecavalier joined forces with Quartz Co., her goal was to change the way we think about winter outerwear – to remove the heaviness and stuffiness from the winter season and, instead, infuse it with a certain sense of joy, of style, and of personality. 

The Canadian designer grew up in the suburbs of Montreal where she learned, at an early age, how to sew and began modifying her own clothes. By 17, she was enrolled in the city’s fashion school and, later, ended up at Geneva’s esteemed HEAD, University of Arts and Design. After her studies, Lecavalier worked for names including Raf Simons before launching her own label, and winning herself the d’Hyères Festival’s prestigious Chloé Prize and an LVMH nomination. Lecavalier’s designs, all immaculate tailoring, couture-esque proportions, and her signature psychedelic patterns, are freewheelingly experimental, evoking a sense of freedom, strength, and confidence. 

Today, she brings her eye for directional design to her first collaboration with Quartz Co., creating a collection of winter coats that pushes the boundaries of performance outerwear. Hot off the trail of the designer’s CAFA win for Women’s Fashion Designer of the Year – an event where Quartz Co. Was also nominated for Outerwear Designer of the Year -- we sit down with the Montreal-based designer to discuss the collaboration and her vision for the future of fashion.

WHAT’S YOUR VISION AS A DESIGNER?

For me, as a woman and as someone in the [fashion] industry, I want to portray women as strong. I draw inspiration from my grandfather’s past as a wrestler. There’s this idea of fighting as a woman, not physically but fighting for your ideas, fighting for your position. I think now it’s more relevant than ever, weirdly. There’s this sense that we’re all kind of going backwards, which is really scary. As a designer, I want to convey this idea of clothes being armour. And more than armour: that they can protect but also elevate.

YOU COME FROM THE WORLD OF HIGH FASHION. WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO DESIGN A COLLECTION OF PERFORMANCE OUTERWEAR?

Performance outerwear is extremely different, but also not that different from what I do. There’s still this sense of protection, but now we’re talking about literal protection from the elements. I’m from Canada and as someone who lives in a city that’s extremely cold for six months of the year, designing this collection was particularly of interest to me. 

Outerwear is also usually always designed by men and I’ve always felt that the fit of women’s outerwear was never really accurate. I felt that I could really bring something to the category because my strength lies in fits and the shape of the clothes. That’s what I really wanted to push with this collection. 

COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT THE SHAPES AND SILHOUETTES OF THE COLLECTION?

In my research [for this collection], I was looking into the origin of outerwear, which was called casualwear, back in the day, and was worn by wealthy people to go skiing and do outdoor activities. At that time, all of these clothes were cut in suiting configurations: wool pants with pleats, suits. There was this very chic and minimal element to it. For this collection, I wanted to create modern versions of those garments with modern textiles. The shapes were really an extrapolation of that initial research: the idea of suiting, the shirt, the collar, but then pushing the boundaries of the line of the back, for instance, to haute couture proportions. There was also this idea of functionality and liberty that came into play. I wanted the pieces to be very easy to wear in the city, so the coats themselves are extremely lightweight. 

COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT THE KEY PIECES IN THIS COLLECTION?

The first coat that everyone fell in love with was the St-Moritz. The idea was to essentially create a giant housecoat that you would go out in the cold with. That coat is really special not just for the visual it creates, but also for the way it makes you feel. There’s something warm and comforting about it. There’s also this sense of surprise that the coat is so big but also extremely light. Winter coats are often extremely heavy. And one of the things I don’t like about winter is this sense of extremely heaviness every time you have to go outside, so I wanted to create pieces that could change the way you think about winter coats. I think we’ve achieved that with this collection. All the coats are extremely warm but they’re not a burden you have to walk with when you go outside.

HOW DO YOU THINK THIS COLLECTION MERGES THE WORLDS OF HIGH FASHION AND PERFORMANCE OUTERWEAR?

I think it’s about the balance between design and performance. It’s about creating pieces that would be functional to a lot of people in their daily lives and daily style. Pieces that you can wear without losing this sense of technicality and warmth, and without making the technical element obvious. I really wanted to see coats like these on the market, proper winter coats with a certain style [to them.] And that’s what we were able to create. You don’t want to compromise on anything if you want to be warm, so I think these pieces are the perfect solution.

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