2016 The Show - Claire Cormeau, NUAGE

Runway Images by Christopher Pike Photography
Editorial Images - Photographer Katrin Braga, Hair/MUA Vanessa Kuan, Model Mel Kobayashi

Every April, fashion design students from the Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design showcase the culmination of their four years of studies. On one special night they offer their portfolio and lookbook as well as a three look collection on the runway.

36 talented students were a part of 2016 The Show, presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc. and I want to offer my personal kudos to each and every one on a job well done. 

While I write a show recap for Metro-Living-Zine (link to article coming on Thursday), I always choose a few students to feature in a solo Q and A. It's always several things that come together when I select a student and Claire Cormeau is definitely one that caught my eye. Her collection is called NUAGE -

Favourite Anti-Tux Look!
"Nuage questions conventions and subverts elements of wardrobe staples through ageless ready-to-wear. Age should not define us. This season, Claire reflects upon her Belgian heritage and unites her cultural experiences with her love of the surrealist artist Magritte. She challenges us to refamiliarize ourselves with wardrobe staples. Claire’s 3D printed jewelry further exemplifies her design through a surrealist lens."

Cormeau's target market is focused on mature women, but the great style elements will most likely draw a wide range of clients. I was personally drawn to the vivid jewel-toned fuschia dress/vest that offered simple elegance combined with easy wear. The deep blue bolero with dress pants and white shirt was polished and versatile. The light grey pants had an intriguing silhouette and an unexpected embroidery detail that added a bit of edge to a classic look. Cormeau also created few pieces of unique, 3D printed jewellery to finish the looks. Well done.

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Where were you born, where did you grow up?

I was born in Calgary, Alberta, but spent three years of my youth growing up in France and Belgium.

What you like when you were young?

I loved to solve puzzles and play dress-up. My mother had to hide my scissors from me as I had a bad habit of “improving” my party dresses by cutting them up. Needless to say I was destined for a career in the fashion industry.

What were your interests in High School?

In high school, I was very nerdy yet unsure of myself. I grew close to a foot in grade 10 and was like a newborn giraffe trying to find my feet. I had a few very close friends that I’m still friends with now!

Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design. Was you family supportive?

I actually chose to study fashion design a year after completing my degree in computer science. I was working in the field but I never felt like I was being true to myself. My family took a little while to warm up to the idea of my change in career. Now they are all on board and want to know everything about what I am up to!

Why did you choose to study at Kwantlen Polytechnic University?

I chose KPU because it equips you with the skills that you will need working in the fashion industry. Not to mention, the university has a great reputation in industry, so it seemed like the best option.

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you, what was easy for you? Are there any high, low or funny moments you can share?

I had a lovely four years studying Fashion Design – I learned SO much. Initially, the hardest thing for me was dealing with the uncertainty of coming up with new ideas. Having a big empty void on the page in front of you can be terrifying. But you get used to it, and now I’m finding that I really enjoy that aspect of design. The thing that came most naturally for me was pattern drafting. I’m sure that this is because I’m mathematically-minded and pattern-drafting involves a lot of math and analytical thinking.

One of my funniest moments last semester (one of many) was after a particularly hectic week I almost microwaved my salad for lunch. And then within the next few days I almost rode my bike to school with my helmet on backwards. Sleep deprivation can have some strange side effects…

What was the inspiration for your grad collection? 

For my grad collection, Nuage, 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 jewelry designs further enhance the collection.

Describe your collection.

Nuage is an ageless ready-to-wear collection. It creates an even playing field for women of all ages to dress in uniquely intellectual garments that are comfortable, long-lasting and made with respect for people and the environment. I don’t like to categorize the collection too deeply as I feel as though many of the pieces could be worn day and evening, but they are definitely for the early adopter who is ready to take creative risks.

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

The palette reminds me of a vibrant berry fruit salad. You have a gorgeous saturated navy, which pairs so well with our greys and orchid. Then you have a bright lavender and raspberry. I just want to eat all the colours!

I used all fabrics made from renewable resources. This includes wool, cotton and silk. They all feel so luxurious on and have an amazing hand. Sourcing the right fabrics was a huge part of my process.

Do you have a favourite look?

Yes! My favourite look is the Anti-Tux (included image) composed of the Wavre Trouser and the Genk Jacket. The Wavre Trouser is a real statement piece with a waistband that detaches off the body and forms a pocket. The Genk Jacket is a really interesting piece as the whole pattern is twisted. It features a beautiful roped sleeve, and full tailoring. The whole tux is made out of a luxurious stretch wool suiting, and exudes confidence with a hint of rebellion.

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

I’m bring the concept of ageless design to the table. Let me explain.

Take genderless design for example. This concept advocates that there should be a middle-ground in apparel offered for people who don’t identify as one gender or the other. People shouldn’t have to choose if they want to dress as a man or a woman if they don’t identify as a man or a woman. Genderless design offers a solve to this societal issue.

There is a less immediately apparent difference in the way that women dress as they age, but it’s still there, and it shouldn’t be! You’re just as sexy, smart and deserving when you’re 60 as when you’re 16. I want to make fashion an equal playing field for all women. This is where the concept of ageless design comes in. Dress the way that you want regardless of your age! I admire women like yourself who are fearless and take creative risks! You’re setting an example for other women who may not yet be brave enough to express themselves. I love that and it’s an endless source of inspiration for me.
I also feel as though I am one of a few designers in Vancouver who designs in color. Color fascinates me and it has such a huge effect on our lives, including our moods and how we perceive others. I’m a strong believer in color!

Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for awhile, launch your own line, take a break and travel?

I’m actually in the process of interviewing with a Vancouver-based company at the moment for a full-time position. Stay tuned for updates on that!

I want to continue on with Nuage, but on a very small scale. I really believe in the message behind the brand and I think it is bringing awareness to the obsession that the fashion industry has with youth, and the fact that you do not need to dress down as you age.

Please share a quote on what fashion design means to you if possible?

This is one of my own quotes: “All human beings have equal rights to self-expression. Fashion Design is about enabling people to express their best, most honest self.”

Anything else I didn't ask you want mentioned? Links?

My line Nuage was recently featured on Catherine Summers’ Award-Winning UK-based over 40 style blog. Here is a link: http://www.notdressedaslamb.com/2016/04/why-more-brands-should-be-using-over-40-fashion-bloggers-as-models.html

Email - clairecormeau@gmail.com
KPU Fashion Design Program - www.kpu.ca/fashion