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Marie-les-bains | dye with flowers

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(Eastman) From her garden in the Eastern Townships to Paris Fashion Week, Marie-Eve Dion’s flowers travel, attached to the fiber. To move away from the synthetic dyes widely used in the fashion industry, the dyer uses natural pigments to brighten the fabrics.

In the little garden behind Marie-Eve Dion’s house grow madder, Japanese indigo and cosmos. Plants that are said to be tinctorial because of their great potential for dyeing. Inside, in his workshop, jars filled with dried flowers: chamomile, coreopsis and even mealybugs (the dreaded insect of owners of green plants!). “It makes little pink dots, marvels the dyer. It has been used for a very long time in South America. »

The story of Marie-les-bains, the small vegetable dye company she founded, is more recent. After the birth of her daughter, now 3 years old, Marie-Eve Dion and her husband left Montreal for the tranquility of Eastman and a view of Mount Orford. A costume designer in the world of cinema, she also left her job to make a living from an art to which a designer with whom she worked introduced her.

“It freaked me out to see everything you could do with vegetable dye, then to see everything that opened up before me,” says the fashion design bachelor. Today, it offers a range of flower-printed accessories (cotton stockings and bandanas, silk scarves) and naturally bath-dyed silk velvet cushion covers.

We’ve got a hippie take on it, but now there’s a more modern take on it, with bright colors and prints that are more up to date than we used to see.

Marie-Eve Dion

“I make it every day and I’m still amazed at how it can come out. It can be beautiful there! »

As proof, the shirt dress with a botanical motif by Quebec designer Marie-Ève ​​Lecavalier, for which she produced the prints one by one, by hand. Part of Lecavalier’s Spring-Summer 2022 collection, the piece was presented last year at Paris Fashion Week and is currently available in about fifteen copies in Simons stores across Canada.


PHOTO FROM SIMONS WEBSITE

Lecavalier’s shirt dress, with a print designed by hand by Marie-les-bains

“I see more and more brands choosing to work with dyers. I was approached by two designers with whom I currently work [dont atelier b]. It’s a beginning. Of course we are far from the mark, but I think there is something going on. »

Slowly

Used for millennia – the oldest traces discovered date from the Neolithic era – vegetable dye was supplanted by synthetic dyes after their invention in the 19th century.e century. “It’s definitely not the same as a synthetic dye. It doesn’t have the same durability [bien entretenu, un vêtement teint naturellement dure néanmoins plusieurs années], it also requires a lot of work and natural fibers, so for the fashion industry as we know it today, it’s really difficult to integrate, notes Marie-Eve Dion. But there is a way to integrate vegetable dye in part. There is a way to turn to that, but you have to agree to go slower, more expensive. »

You just have to see the patience needed to dye an indigo fabric – a process by fermentation specific to this color which requires setting up a tank and “feeding” it – to understand. But, according to Marie-Eve Dion, consumer interest is there. After the demand for local and organic fiber, concerns about the impact of dyes are beginning to emerge.

Synthetic dyes, which often contain heavy metals like formaldehyde, phthalates and mercury, contribute a lot to the fashion industry’s environmental footprint. A large quantity of these dyes end up in waterways near factories and harm the health of living organisms and populations.

Marie-Eve Dion grows some of the plants she uses, from seedlings, on her land or in two other gardens in her region. For those who wish to learn this technique, she offers workshops at Eastman. “It’s accessible to everyone, like the kitchen,” she says. You just need to know the recipe. And to understand that you can’t always trust appearances. “Most of the plants that you will pick in nature will give yellow. Or a little beige. If you’re lucky, you can sometimes get a little rose. » Avocado pits also give pink. Fascinating, right?



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