Marie Wilkinson: A Vision Like No One Else
Marie Wilkinson is coming to Montreal during the Festival De Mode & Designe celebrations and we HAD to know more about this woman who shaped the eyewear industry since the 80’s.
Indeed, Antoine Laoun Opticien is celebrating their 10th anniversary at FMD and you know it’s official when they made they had the icon coming over for a special meet and greet.
Marie Wilkinson is more a designer, a business woman, pioneer and everything that could come to your mind.
Her success story isn’t one of those who started with a viral post or a moment.
She made to understand the ins and outs of the eyewear industry.
Paying attention to details was her focus. She got a position at now the legendary brand Cutler and Gross and even clients were not trying to give her a shot. She persisted.
Over time, her eye, flair and a deep desire to satisfy customers helped her shape her career.
From managing design and being in key positions in the company. Marie Wilkinson made a name for herself for her bold approach in eyewear and her non-arguable tastemaker skills when it comes to frames.
Today, we had the chance to talk to the designer about her career and figure out see the whys and hows of the pioneer.
MGS: When you first got started at Cutler and Gross, you took your time to really understand the ins and outs of the eyewear industry before you could climb the ladder. What would be your advice for upcoming designers that are making their debut at prestigious brands.
When I first started at Cutler and Gross I was fortunate enough to be meeting with the customers in the original shop in Knightsbridge every day, and I learnt from every encounter with them, whether it was choosing frames, working with a bespoke request or adjusting their frames for the perfect fit. It’s possible to glean a lot of information about what customers want from their glasses.
Cutler and Gross customers are extremely loyal to the point of possessive about the brand and are always eager to share their own stories and passions.
It’s important to understand the brand and the market you are designing for, as well as understanding the expectations of your boss and the extent of the skills of the factories you are working with. Take any opportunity you can to visit factories and talk to the technicians.
MGS: Known for the infamous names of your frames, what was the craziest name that either you or your team came up with and how did it happen?
Mr Gross in fact chose not to name the Cutler and Gross frames – he felt the names would date before the designs! However, we were allowed full artistic license with naming the colours; Humble potato is a legendary name for a soft semi opaque griege colour with a touch of pink – it came about when we were thinking about things we take for granted and to celebrate the overlooked things that are the fabric of life.
MGS: With technology becoming more and more advanced. What do you think will be lost from the traditional craftsmanship of making frames and is it important to keep it alive?
Craftmanship is a series of design decisions made by incredibly skilled and informed people.
I can only speak for the Cutler and Gross factory when I say that the new technologies that are being invested in improve the quality of our glasses without impeding the integrity and spirit of the frames.
Technology has enabled us to make more sophisticated designs and more ambitious glasses whilst still being good value.
MGS: The Cutler and Gross brand is really amazing at collaborating with different brands to create products with a twist. Is it hard on a creative standpoint to make those collabs happen?
The collaborations with independent designers always start with conversations. This way points of view and stories can be exchanged and then the synergy between us becomes apparent.
Once there is a meeting of minds, then the project flows joyfully. Giles Deacon has worn glasses for many years and had very firm ideas and specific taste in glasses.
The collaboration with Martin Margiela was different in that we were encouraged to think in an MMM way; we wore the famous the white lab coats to conceal our ‘Cutler and Grossishness‘
MGS: Since the 80’s, have you seen a change when it comes to women holding decision-making jobs at major corporations? If so, what do you like about it?
I was initially drawn to optics because it seemed to more egalitarian than other professions and indeed at college, my course was 50/50 men and women.
My first experience working with smaller Italian factories, Dolina, amongst others, was owned and run by sisters. The Cutler and Gross CEO is a woman. And like all the women I have worked with, as they are hard and demanding on themselves, fairness and diligence prevails.
Come see Marie Wilkinson live as she opens up about her career at Festival Mode & Designe by grabbing a passport ticket for the festival.
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Myraï Lavoie Is Taking The Fashion World By Storm With The Glitch Fashion Show
Myraï Lavoie Is Creating Her Own Universe And You’re Invited
What I appreciate the most about my work is the fact that I get to meet great minds & humans with a powerful story and this time around, I got to cross path with the talented Myraï Lavoie.
The city has been quiet fashion wise over the years and as platform that mostly talked about fashion in its inception, we’ve felt it the most over here.
There would be sparks of hope here and there but besides Festival De Mode & Design, not a lot of things really stood out.
When I heard about ”The Glitch” it’s like I knew what it was about without nothing what it was about.
I mean good branding is good branding but it was more so who’s behind the good branding this time around. I had the chance to work with Myraï Lavoie in the past and one thing I can is : there’s a method to her madness.
Every artist has an eye and that eye is shaped by our views of the world and life experiences. Myraï had an interesting life.
One where being different is actually the move. One where if you don’t fit somewhere, you don’t try to get in the mold, you bend it.
For all the lack of support or misunderstand she got in Montreal, she found a place to be creative working or being in room with the likes of Paris Hilton & P. Diddy to name a few.
What she’s learned from coming out of her shell and experiencing the world she’s about the share it with us with her own fashion called ”The Glitch” tonight.
”The Glitch” is exactly what I thought it was going to be. A standout experience and experience and something you’ve never seen before just like its creator.
The 50th Anniversary Of Les Grands Explorateurs Presents A Touching Documentary Exploring Africa And Its Wonders
An Amazing Story by Amazing Creators!
Les Grands Explorateurs Is Celebrating Africa In A Real Way!
Curiosity has to be the most incredible human quality there is and Les Grands Explorateurs has been putting it on the forefront for the past 50 years!
We are now entering an era where we want to know more about what is going on on the other side of the world.
How people are living, their culture and what is their reality compared to ours.
Sometimes the depiction of such reality is either unfair or made to look down at somebody. Other times, filmmakers have the challenge to depict a reality in a way to uplift what other cultures are bringing to the table.
Milan Bihlmann and Muammer Yilmaz are two filmmakers who know where they stand when it comes to that.
”Rêves D’Afrique” is the epidemy of that. The two filmmakers decided to go to 7 countries in Africa to not only paint the picture for the world but to give the good people out there something we forget to give one another : ”a piece of yourself’.
Armed with a backpack, film gear and true altruism, the duo spread love and good deeds wherever they could throughout their trip.
Watch The Trailer
Les Grands Explorateurs being this platform to uncover the world made the right choice by adding this beautiful piece to their program.
Up until November 1st, you still have the chance to see the beautiful piece in theater and then online starting November 2nd.
Isabelle Mugwaneza Desmarais: An Unlikely Journey For An Unlikely Unique Success Story
A Change Is Coming…Finally?
I grew up in the 90’s and although we can only realize it now but seeing people like Isabelle Mugwaneza Desmarais striving in a space where not a lot of us do is what was missing this whole time.
Read More: Lobster Season Has Arrived And The Homard Gaspésien Is Still The Best You Can Find On The Planet
The thing about representation is that you won’t know you need it until you need it. As most of us were just looking at society, we didn’t see ourselves but also normalized it.
I think Isabelle saw something that we couldn’t see in ourselves. The truth is not at the extreme it’s right in the middle. The intersection between being different but also a part of the ecosystem was what she saw.
Representation is not about doing what’s right because it’s right but more so because it needs to be done.
Starting her career in the public sector wasn’t a thrill anymore. Then she did some soul searching and probably came to the conclusion we all come to at some point in our existence:
Life Is A Joke
For her it was literal though. She figured out that humor and the business around it was her calling so what was the first step? Becoming a comedian herself and teach a thing or two to Dave Chappelle?
What about producing your own show with up and coming artists? Well, for Isabelle Mugwaneza Desmarais the start of this new chapter was simple as getting a non-paid internship.
Just For Laughs became her new home and with that started her mission to be at the forefront of what the landscape in comedy was to become.
Through thick and thin, work and dedication, intuition and know-how, she pulled through and the big way too!
Isabelle Mugwaneza Desmarais became the director of ZooFest. With her pulse on the scene, she fought and pushed for upcoming talents that are more than just tanned.
We’re seeing more BIPOCs getting a chance on stage and I would like to believe that this is just the beginning.
Speaking of ZooFest, if you want to see for yourself how this festival has grown in diversity and get a good kick out of it. You still have the opportunity to do so tomorrow as the last day of the celebration
With french performers like Lenny M’Bunga, AZ, Marine Ella, Meryem Benoua, Ayoub Marceau & Hugo.
Live podcasting will also be a part of the last run of the show. In the corner of Jeanne-Mance & Maisonneuve, you can can get a good view, a good potential date, you get to see greatness in all shapes, size or color AND of course a good laugh!
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