She was laughing and conversing with two of her closest friends when I first saw her at a recent LIGNES DE FUITE event; My process is bigger than yours. Bédard was presenting the extensive research behind her upcoming collection Vie? Ou Theatre? that she had worked on for months as part of a Fashion Design class at École Supérieure de Mode de l’ESG-UQAM. However, that isn’t where she started her journey in the fashion industry.
School had never been something that sparked joy for Audrey Bédard. Yet, at 16, when she decided to take sewing classes in Montréal; it alleviated the redundancy of those high school years, and gave her a new purpose. She then went onto study fashion design at Cégep Marie-Victorin, dropping out six months later, slightly appalled at how time consuming it turned out to be. After a few years of enjoying her youth, modelling, and partying, she went back to school, resolute to refine her sewing skills at École des métiers des Faubourgs-de-Montréal—a professional school that specialised in training seamstresses in ready-to-wear and sur-mesure.
If this brought her the skills she was looking for, Audrey felt like she lacked the knowledge and experience in designing and researching concepts. After a unique educational journey, she began her BA in fashion design, where she now finds herself more focused and more driven than ever.
“For the past year I’ve never worked so much in my entire life. I’m really into what I’m doing and it’s such a great feeling,” she expresses.
Contemplating the process of Vie? Ou théâtre?— named after the book of Charlotte Salomon, Leben
Oder Theater, a collection of gouaches that reads like a graphic autofiction novel—one gets the sense of an extensive design research, culminating in an ode to art itself. When Audrey brings out the massive book, she flips reverently through the pages and refers to instances that inspired her the most. With every painting, there is prose written by Salomon about her own life, and the imminence of the Second World War, where she died in Auschwitz. Audrey used those passages, selecting the words that stood out to her, to then create connections, which then evolved into her concept. This book came at an important turning point in her research process, and encompasses both Audrey’s passions for art and literature.
“Wir winden dir den Jungfernkranz mit veilchenblauer Seide. We twine for thee the maiden’s wreath with violet blue silk”
The title of Salomon’s book sparked Audrey into also researching theatre and some of its most prominent movements. It is the performances of La Belle Époque, most particularly the iconic dances of Loïe Fuller, that interested her the most. She studied a series of photographs of Fuller, where her ample costumes, supported with wood structure, would create hypnotic moving forms while she danced. Once captured onto the negative, the Serpentine Dance appears stuck in time; almost like sculptures. This inspired Audrey with the idea of moving sculptures, where the fabric seems to be constantly sucked in by the wind.
To represent this concept of the motion stopped in time, Audrey studied different small-scale structures that she made by twisting metal wires. She laughs, as she recollects that the idea of creating these shapes came at a party, when she was haphazardly contorting a champagne bottle’s cage. It was the malleability of the metal that Audrey connected to the constant movement of life. “Life is always in motion, it is everywhere, and is felt from all sides and all senses. Life is intuitive and in constant movement.” These experiments culminate in a centerpiece of her presentation, where she showcases pictures of a sculpture she made intuitively with diverse objects she had around her house.
Audrey went on to translate these concepts of motion by diverse draping exercises and multimedia art like sculptures and painting. As she mentions her slight aversion to drawing, she felt like these manipulations were a more genuine way for her to express her designs, while also permitting her to find new possible shapes. This led her to study movement through texture, inspired by the bronze sculptures of Rodin and the lamps of Raoül Larche. To translate these results into her potential garments, Audrey delved more into draping, experimenting on a live model to get a sense of her silhouettes, while manipulating fabric to create volumes and movements.
Throughout her sketchbook, cut pages of old encyclopaedias, interlaced with the gouaches of Charlotte Salomon, have inspired the colour palette for Vie? Ou Théâtre?. While seeking her fabrics, she expressed wanting colours that are reminiscent of an old book, with yellowed pages, as well as beige, black, and white. Soft pinks and burgundy, for their part, are symbolic of the dresses worn during La Belle Époque.
Audrey was interested in the dissonance between reality and what people are like with others. “This discrepancy is even stronger between real life and social media. We have a constant desire to fantasize. There is a clear difference between the real person and what they project, life or theatre.” Audrey thought of her friends who affirm themselves in their lives, or their theatres, with a confidence and a brilliance that could sometimes pass for performance. But are they really what they project? She wanted to represent the lives that are tangled with theatre, where they become lost in their performances.
“Fashion drawing teacher: ‘Yes, drawing is a difficult art. One has to have some talent for it - and unfortunately you haven’t. Charlotte: ‘No, I refuse to stay here with this stupid old cow, where through the dirty window even the sun’s bright ray can only dimly play... Only he who dares can win. Only he who dares
can begin.’” — Words painted with a brush in Vie? Ou théâtre?, Charlotte Salomon, around 1941-1943.
An interview series realized in the context of a LIGNES DE FUITE short course titled “How to interview Fashion Creatives and Frame Their Research and Ideas”. The goal was to bring together aspiring writers
with fashion students to learn the basics of journalism through conducting a design process interview.
Originally published in LIGNES DE FUITE vol.3
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