Canadian Designer Wins Prestigious Chloé Prize at Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography

Marie-Ève Lecavalier’s trippy childhood dreams became a reality last night at the 33rd edition of the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography. The Montreal-born designer won the Chloé Prize as well as a special mention from the jury.

Backstage after the show, a teary Lecavalier said that she was “really, really touched,” adding that the experience at the festival, including her interactions with jurors like Haider Ackermann and Tilda Swinton, has inspired her to work even harder on her designs.

Her collection, which is entitled “Come Get Trippy With Us,” is influenced by her childhood memories of listening to Frank Zappa with her dad. “My father was a musician; we listened to psychedelic music, and I became fond of that movement—all the waves and distortions found in this music really touched me,” she explains.

Growing up in the suburbs of Montreal, Lecavalier says she had a lot of time on her hands and a lot of imagination, so to amuse herself she was always deforming reality and living in an altered world. “When I went to bed at night, I would make myself hallucinate looking at the patterns in my polka dot wallpaper,” she laughs. “That was the basis for my obsession with deforming reality or everyday life.”

Lecavalier—who is currently interning with Raf Simons in Antwerp—brings that love of distortion to her designs. “I like to work with shapes that everyone can recognize—like tank tops, vests and jackets—but I like to push it to the limit of what is recognizable,” she explains. “I have this obsession with taking ordinary things and making them extraordinary.”

You see that aesthetic expressed in her leather-trimmed denim skirt and the woven leather dress she designed for the Chloé competition. “I wanted to work with leather, but I wanted it to look knitted,” she says. “I designed the curvy abstract pattern for the leather; I had it cut, and then I wove the pieces together. It was very time consuming!”

She also designed the wavy printed patterns used on the cotton shirts. To add another layer of distortion, she worked with glass artist Simon Muller to create buttons, buckles, bracelets and necklaces. “When you see the prints underneath the glass, it adds another twist to the design.” The colours she uses for her prints are watery and faded but echo the ’70s vibe that has shaped her design sensibility.

Lecavalier—who looks like a young Janis Joplin—says that she wishes she had lived through that experimental decade as she’s drawn to the feeling of freedom it inspires in her. “I don’t know if this was the case, but I feel like there was something very intuitive about the way people lived then that I like,” she says. Zappa once said, “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” It’s a point of view that this young, free-spirited designer takes to heart.