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Marie-Eve Lecavalier in her tissue hallucinations

February 7 2018

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The young graduate of the HEAD has just been nominated among ten finalists to participate in the next competition of the Hyères Festival. I had discovered his clothes inhabited by all his inner worlds last October. And for a touching shirt, it was a crush. - Isabelle Cerboneschi, Geneva.


She says she's fashionable to escape into her imaginary worlds. She says it with the Canadian accent. That's where she comes from, Marie-Eve Lecavalier: from Canada. She comes from Saint-Hubert, a small town located in the suburbs of Montreal, where she returned when her studies at the University of Art and Design (HEAD) in Geneva ended. She just had time to present her collection at the annual ritual and parade and flew a few days later.

Meanwhile, we just had time to meet, at my insistence, because what I had seen on the podium, this October evening, I liked it at first sight, and even the tenth. I wanted everything: the long shirts in Florentine marbled paper with these lines that dilute, the two-colored jeans, the coats that had life in them. Some died even before being carried, but not his. His clothes are inhabited. It happens sometimes. It happens when the person has a world of his own, that he takes the time to explore, instead of going for a walk in that of others, not cut his measure.

Marie-Eve Lecavalier had thrown all her inner world, like that, on the podium. She had given the public a desirable fashion. No graduation graduation slips that will become, at best, the costumes of a dance company. No, a true desirable fashion, shifted just right. She knows how to dose her grains of madness, Marie-Eve Lecavalier. It is perhaps the most difficult in fashion, to measure its madness. It is hardly a lightness to be come to seize us at the passage of a pan of shirt upsetting. Or an off-white coat that would have come close to the 1970 years and spread to the twenty-first century so unpleasant. Short. Despite all this, despite all this poetry, all these desires buried in the perfect seams of her clothes, she has not received a prize. And she went back to Canada.

But when you have talent, one day or another, it is known. A few days ago I learned that she was nominated as a finalist of the 2018 Fashion Contest 33e Hyères Festival to be held from 26 to 30 next April. And among the jury members who chose it, along with ten other finalists, there are Haider Ackermann and Tilda Swinton. I emphasize it, just to put the level of the jury.

I do not know what seduced them at home, but I know why her work excited me. Let's open the quotation marks in a big way as she speaks, she gives us the keys of her dress universe.

IC: When did you come here to sew clothes?
Marie-Eve Lecavalier: I grew up in a suburb where all the houses are similar, a little cliché. When I was young, I was bored. My grandmother was a seamstress and I learned to sew when I was five. I changed everything I wore. I always had a love for clothing, an admiration for fashion, but it was a medium that seemed untouchable to me. What's happening to me today is a bit unreal, by the way. When I was young, I tried to improve what I had with the means at hand, as we all do in poor environments.

Fashion is your mode of expression?
Yes, I do not see myself doing anything else. Clothing, that was my first means of expression. I was very shy when I was young, very reserved, very sensitive, very fragile. I was sickly afraid of people, even young people of my age. My way of expressing myself was to find wacky ways to get dressed. And the more I grew up, the more I affirmed my style. I was aware that I was different in this suburb. I did not fit any stereotype. I also knew that by the time I left, I would have to find a way to be good.

When we look at your collection, the seventies seem to be one of your imaginary landmarks.
I did not know them but internally I would have liked. I have a certain vision of those years, perhaps because of the pictures of my parents, where we see them in love. There was something so beautiful, so free in those years! So new. From a musical point of view too. My parents are musicians. My dad made me listen to Frank Zappa, whom I love, very young, and all those crazy characters that have existed in this decade. With my collection, I wanted to translate a spirit, the idea that I make of those years without having lived them.

Since your parade in Geneva, have you been contacted to market your parts?
Not really. I was written to participate in showroomsbut as it is up to us to pay, at the moment I can not afford it. Maybe I could market the shirts? Many people have asked me to produce them. The leather pieces, on the other hand, will be harder because I created my own leather knit technique, which mimics the jersey knit.

"Come get trippy with us"why give this name to your Master collection?
It came to me instinctively. It's an expression I use with friends. This collection celebrated many people who surrounded me, my grandfather, wrestler in the 20 years, my parents musicians, my friends a little perched. I wanted to do them honor, to all these crazy. It's a collection for a young woman, but also for a less young woman who has kept her rock star soul. The one who goes to a vernissage and who is the first to be drunk at 19h. But she wears a beautiful leather coat and it does not show ... It will be me at 60 years, probably (laughs). I told myself a story, I wanted to embark people in my trip 70 years.

Do you like to live on the thread that passes between dream and reality?
I always had a very strong imagination. When I was a child, I was self-hallucinating: I was training in visual distortion. When I went to bed, I stared at the polka-dot wallpaper in my room and felt like everything was moving. I loved that moment. My dreams, the night were extremely powerful and took a big place in my days too. I felt that the line between dream and reality was very thin. And this line fascinates me. I made my own world. I did not really like reality, she scared me a little. So I locked myself into stories to try to be stronger against this world that terrified me. I created myself a "pseudo-me", a Marie-Eve Lecavalier hyper strong, hyper drooling, which was finally the one I became today, strangely. That reassured me a lot and it gave me hope that, in the near future, I would no longer be that fragile, very clumsy little girl who lived in her head, but rather a rather assertive person, strong enough, fairly confident. And here I am!

Why come to study in Geneva?
I did my bachelor's degree in Montreal. I did not come from the most famous school, my portfolio was not strong enough, so I decided to do a master's degree. In the United States, it was overpriced. In Europe too, since I was not European. Switzerland was the only country where I could financially afford a Master. But it turns out that I was the assistant of Yin Gao for 4 years (who was the head of the fashion sector at HEAD until 2015, editor's note). She was my mentor. I visited the school before registering and discovered that the material available was incredible! We have access to wood, metal, 3D workshops ... I wanted to explore the material and it was for me the best place to do it: as a great exploration game. I was hoping to leave with a portfolio strong enough to allow me to access my dream.

And what is your dream?
Like all those who create, we all want to be known one day. I would like to get up every morning, do what I love and be able to live. That would be great. I would like to enter a studio, learn. I want to do many different things. But in the long run I do not yet see where I could find my place and flourish. Some things are bothering me in the fashion industry right now.

What's bothering you?
Right now, I'm tired of seeing the world of luxury using the codes of the working class excessively, to sell their clothes at unbelievable prices. With my collection, I wanted to move away from that aesthetic. My goal was to do something very sophisticated, even if the leather and all the jeans I used are recycled. I wanted a collection chic enough, but portable. I find it unfortunate that people do like it's cool to be poor. I come from this world. For me, my only means of expression, when I was young, was to make myself believe with my clothes that I still had a little attitude, that I belonged to something. If in addition the elite dress like us! It shocks me, this usurpation of subculture style in the fashion world, because it shows how much of it is a joke. Sportswear is the group of clothes that sells best today, so everyone is doing it.

But that was already the case in the 80 years: when Run-DMC appropriated the clothes of the breakdancers to make their stage outfits, they received a million dollars from Adidas to be their ambassadors ...
Yes, I did my thesis on hip-hop. It was dark, very difficult to live in the Bronx in the 70 years and hip-hop was born of resilience. It's an environment that I respect a lot. At the level of clothing, they tried to steal rich stuff to try to revamp a little by mixing all this with sportswear. But when the elite seizes this aesthetic to sell its products, it solves absolutely nothing, socially speaking. On the contrary! This creates even more lag. I think it's too easy to use these stereotypes ... But maybe it's my little suburban girl side.

Let's talk about this little girl from the suburbs: when you were young you used clothes to do something else. Where did you find them?
I mostly took my brother's clothes. The denim skirt of my collection is a reminiscence of a skirt that I made myself by undoing the forks. My seamstress grandmother gave me scraps of fabrics, I made a lot of quilts, I cut a little bit in everything. When I bought a piece, I always wondered how I was going to change it.

And what was your style at the time?
I think I tried to translate it in my collection of Master: the marcel, the shirt, the jeans ... These elements are important to me: I wear them always. Jeans especially, I cut them so much, cut them, redone them for friends. I'm never satisfied with new canvases, that's why I chose used jeans and I undid them to build my collection. It was also a way of appropriating their story to write mine.