2018-04-30 17.30.20

Marie-Ève Lecavalier

What do Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, and Montréal’s Marie-Ève Lecavalier have in common? All three have been finalists for the International Woolmark Prize. Both Lagerfeld and Saint Laurent won in 1954—the former in the Coat category and the latter in the Dress category. Lecavalier is the first Canadian designer to be named a finalist.

Judged by leaders in the world of fashion, the most prestigious prize in the wool industry recognizes the talents of young designers from around the world. Winners receive a generous cash prize and a tremendous boost to their careers. This year, the winners will be announced in early June.

She has been featured in the various editions of Vogue magazine. UK Elle has urged its readers to, “Keep Your Eye on Designer Marie-Ève Lecavalier.” And in its article about her participation in the 2018 Hyères Festival of Fashion and Photography, British magazine Wallpaper* said she “embodied the millennial pragmatism of this year’s festival: a focus on touch; a return to making special things special again; a consciousness of consumption.” With a singular style and innovative approach, she created a first collection composed of eco-friendly pieces: knitwear incorporating recycled leather, psychedelic prints, and vintage denim. A veritable springboard for many fashion talents, notably Viktor&Rolf and Anthony Vaccarello, who is now at Saint Laurent, Hyères granted Lecavalier the Chloé Prize, as well as an Honourable Mention from the Jury, headed by designer Haider Ackermann and actress Tilda Swinton.

Winter collection 2021-22
Avenue Design
Winter collection 2021-22

A graduate of UQAM’s fashion design and management program, Lecavalier was an assistant for three years to designer Ying Gao, who also teaches at the university, before doing her master’s degree in Switzerland. Gao was a mentor: “She encouraged me to be open to other disciplines, from architecture to science; to bring my ideas to life, whether it was clothing or set design.” While doing her master’s, she interned with Antwerp-based designer Raf Simons—now co-creative director of Prada—who urged her to make a name for herself in international fashion.

Setting up an atelier in Montréal, she developed unique techniques for working with recycled leather, one of her favourite materials, and began building her international profile. Though some of her production is based in Europe, she explains that, “I would like to maintain a local workforce and ideally produce everything in Quebec, since the expertise is also in Quebec.” She receives no government or other assistance, but some Quebec fashion players, like La Maison Simons and SSENSE, support her work and sell her collections. She may have received multiple awards and enthusiastic press, but Quebec fashion receives little funding. If anybody is interested in stepping up…

Winter collection 2021-22
Marie-Ève Lecavalier
She is already dreaming of starting a foundation to help young Quebec designers who cannot afford to study, so they can do internships outside the country. When asked if the pandemic has upset her plans and her production, she answers thoughtfully. “Now is the time to embrace a flow that is more artistic than commercial. The pandemic has accelerated the need to reappropriated time, to develop a new ethos.”

Cover Photo: Hyères 2018  


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