By Marita Paul
Older women have always captivated Claire Cormeau. One of her closest friends is wise, experienced, gives the best advice, and is retired and in her late ‘60s. She has a vibrant personality and expresses herself with a unique and eclectic personal style. Women like her, who challenge stereotypes of aging, provided the Kwantlen Polytechnic University fashion design student with an endless source of inspiration for her line, Nuage.
Nuage was unveiled earlier this week at 2016 The Show: The Final Cut, presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc. at the Imperial Vancouver (319 Main Street). Thirty-five other lines by Kwantlen Polytechnic University fashion design and technology students also walked the runway in five sold-out shows on April 6 and 7.
Marita Paul: Describe your collection.
Claire Cormeau: I developed my line Nuage because I realized that women over 50 are underrepresented in the fashion industry. It surprises me that Vancouver offers very little for these urban women, whose senses of style are highly evolved. My line addresses this inequality by providing clothing for women who don’t let their age define them.
MP: What was the inspiration behind your line?
CC: I drew on my father’s Belgian heritage, my cultural experiences from living in Belgium, and my love of the work by surrealist artist René Magritte. My line challenges us to re-familiarize ourselves with iconic garments. I am playing with garment elements, making them lose their restrictive or controlling characteristics, and laughing at conventions. My 3-D–printed jewellery designs further enhance the collection.
MP: Can you tell me about your creative process for this collection?
CC: My process starts with research on my target market; I have to nail that first before I can design anything. Once I fully understand my market’s needs, I start studying the products that I will be designing. I look into what has been done in the past and what my competitors are doing, and I think of ways to improve what’s out there.
For Nuage, I obsessed over Magritte and really got into his head. I used his mindset to design clothing, and sketched and sketched until I couldn’t feel my fingers. This whole process is intertwined with visits to fabric stores, forecasting, and colour research.
MP: What have you learned at KPU
CC: KPU has taught me to develop an amazing work ethic, organizational skills, and a sense of community. I think of the community at KPU as a coral reef: it is an amazing ecosystem of symbiotic relationships.
MP: What are your plans after graduation
CC: After graduation, I will work in the outdoor apparel industry in design or pattern-drafting. My strengths lie in my work ethic and my creative problem-solving ability.
MP: What aspect of design are you most passionate about?
CC: I get most excited about how the whole design process is interconnected. Fabric sourcing, sketching, pattern-drafting, and fitting never really end: they are constant activities throughout the whole process. I think that staying open to new ideas throughout the process is what makes amazing design.