Marie Saint Pierre: The style pa­triot

ELLE (Canada) - - Society -

Marie Saint Pierre, who was ap­pointed to the Or­der of Canada in 2012, has been go­ing her own way ever since she started her fash­ion busi­ness nearly 30 years ago. Mov­ing to New York, Paris or Mi­lan was not for her. In­stead, she re­mained in Mon­treal, kept there by ties to fam­ily and her love for the city. “It hasn’t been easy be­cause there is no nat­u­ral path for a de­signer to fol­low in Canada,” says the 55-year-old. “But I’ve man­aged to make my way.”

Known for clothes made with nat­u­ral fab­rics, a sim­ple colour pal­ette and sculp­tural lines, Saint Pierre prefers to call her col­lec­tions “time­less” rather than clas­sic. A pair of emer­ald-green cig­a­rette pants could have walked straight off the set of Mad Men, while a mid­night-blue coat falls in an ex­ag­ger­ated loose curve over the hips, at once sen­sual and a state­ment. “Women aren’t static,” she says. “We don’t stand there like stat­ues; we move. My brand is ex­tremely per­sonal, but it is in­formed by the world at large.”

Last Novem­ber, Saint Pierre, who grew up sur­rounded by the artist friends of her par­ents, in­clud­ing Jean-Paul Riopelle, con­tin­ued to forge her sin­gu­lar path by open­ing her first U.S. bou­tique in Mi­ami, where she can tap into an in­ter­na­tional clien­tele. The Amer­i­can mar­ket is no­to­ri­ously hard to break into, she says, and she wanted to do so on her own terms in a clean, spare space that she loves. As for the fu­ture, she will con­tinue to ex­pand at her own pace, al­ways with her fam­ily, cus­tomers and staff in mind. At the same time, she wishes that the in­dus­try it­self would slow down. “Rac­ing to pro­duce a col­lec­tion six months in ad­vance of a Fash­ion Week or pro­duc­ing less-ex­pen­sive lines to sat­isfy con­sumer de­mand takes its toll,” she says. “We have to think about what our val­ues are and what a brand rep­re­sents. We need to be smart about pro­duc­ing goods while cre­at­ing a pos­i­tive, en­er­getic work­place. And we have to give back to our com­mu­ni­ties, to the en­vi­ron­ment and to peo­ple in need. That is the most im­por­tant value of all.” Lisa Fit­ter­man

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