Montreal prides itself on its vibrant and diverse fashion scene. It’s interesting to see how young designers draw inspiration from our distinct, cultural melting pot and re-transform fashion in unbelievable ways!
Looking to revamp your wardrobe or just searching for inspiration? This week Gen’s Delights introduces you to a unique jewelry designer and proposes two student run fashion showsthat will surely set your creative wheels in motion.
*** Enter to win: Answer the question at the end of the article and leave your comments below for your chance to win a pair of entry tickets to Globalista this Thursday!
I got the chance to interview French designer Perrine Marez, a brilliant young artisan who discovered her passion for handcrafts by studying art and design at the St-Luc School of Art in Belgium.
After her arrival in Montreal, she launched her own unique collection Bijoux Pépine: a contemporary line of elegant and timeless jewellery pieces made from various resined minerals that that can be worn under all circumstances and that cater to a bevy of styles.
- Please tell me a little about your background and your studies. How did the idea of working in jewelry come about? Who in your family helps you and what is / are their role?
“I have always bathed in creation. I owe it to both my mother, who was very hands-on and always harbored original, creative ideas to decorate the house and to my father who is an entrepreneur at heart. Like all children, I loved to draw, but with me this creative passion persisted and developed.
During the course of my higher studies in art and design (St-Luc Tournai, Belgium), I acquired and perfected quite a few manufacturing techniques, was driven to develop a personal universe and taught to complete projects as an entrepreneur. I also met my spouse, a student in graphic design, who supported my vision and who shared with me other plastic and visual inspirations. He’s now my graphic designer, helps develop my brand, website and any printed material.
I never imagined I would start a business here in Canada, let alone jewelry; paradoxically I hardly wear any! Yet, when I arrived here, the idea of jewelry making came naturally. I felt like creating something from home, without having to resort to imposing machines – which I did not have access to. From markets to street sales, I slowly built up my network, increased my online visibility and today, my products are found in stores nationwide. I often collaborate with international players (France, Japan, and Luxembourg) as well as with well-known local personalities. I intend to keep developing this company which is like my second child!
- Why did you choose minerals (sand, resin, concrete) as your medium of choice? It is easy for you to obtain these materials? Are there competitors locally / internationally?
My inspirations are both visual and conceptual. I love Nordic-style minimalist modern design: clean, geometric lines that preserve warmth and sensitivity. In contrast, I am also quite attracted to the authenticity of ancient, primitive civilizations. The mystery and spirituality that emerges fascinates me.
An important part of my creativity is fueled by my history. I am originally from Dunkirk, a coastal city in northern France that was 90% destroyed during World War II and swiftly rebuilt with basic architecture materials of bricks and concrete. The current city is now flourishing, but still retains its seaside charm with its many natural dunes. There are also the Blockhaus (German bunkers) that are part of my cultural heritage.
Most of the materials I use can be found in groceries or specialized stores, however I also collect special ingredients from my travels… Lucky for me I have several friends here in Montreal from various cultural backgrounds that help contribute to my supply when they return from abroad!
As for competitors, I guess there are other designers ( local or not ) who are using the same kind of mediums (minerals and spices crystallized in resin), but I don’t know them. My creations are the result of my experimental garden: I seek, I try, I miss, I continue, to finally arrive at something that speaks to me and that I like.
- How do you see your fashion jewelry line evolving, what is the next step?
Who knows! I’m a very intuitive person and I am just trying to make things I like. Business wise, I seek to expand in many boutiques all over the world, focusing first in North America and then in Europe. I would like to see my line elevated, yet accessible while retaining its sensitive and sleek nature, because that’s what I like. I will continue on this path and see where it will take me in the future. What I can definitely say is as a creative person, I will always want to create new items and keep my eyes open to anything that can be inspiring.
- Could you give some words of advice for those wishing to enter the field of design or fashion?
I’m not sure I will be very original with my answer, but in this very highly competitive field, I would say: Fully commit to yourself and your goals, work hard, work harder, be perseverant and be creative. I believe it’s the only way to stand out!
Thanks to Perrine Marez, designer of the brand Bijoux Pépine, met at Fashion Preview 2017.