Michons Marigot is a 23-year-old Toronto based designer who recently graduated from Ryerson University. When we attended the Uni’s annual fashion show Mass Exodus last spring, Michons’ quirky collection caught our eye instantly and landed itself a spot in our top 5 favourites from the evening. Since the event we’ve had the pleasure of meeting with her and photographing some of her garments – and here Zeum presents a more in depth conversation with the designer about her graduate collection Duplicity, and what’s in store for the future of her brand.
Tell us a bit about yourself as a person, and as an artist. My personality and my “art” are sort of a single entity. What I mean by this is that I bring my work into my personal life and bring my personal life into my work. My design and art inspiration is deeply rooted in my everyday experiences and interests completely outside of fashion. I love clothes, I love material culture, but I do not really look to fashion for anything, but a frivolous pleasure that we should all enjoy. Dress is an expression of oneself, but fashion is not really art. Its a pragmatic way to use my artistic tendencies in a productive way.
It’s hard to describe myself as a person, as I only see myself from my viewpoint. I would not know where to start. I suppose I have been described as a mass of contradictions. What I do know is that I am driven, hard working, a hopeless romantic, funny and “multi-faceted”.
Describe your personal style. Do you have any style icons? My personal style is not unlike my personality. I would say its layered, like an onion. This is both literal and figuratively speaking. Growing up with the freedom to dress myself from the age of five and being exposed to everything at an early age, I tend to simply wear what I like and what interests me. I wear a lot of “worker” clothes. I wear a lot of vintage and I love pattern and texture. I wear fur whenever I can. I went through that phase in the tenth grade where everything I owned was black. Now, I tend to wear colour everyday. I like dressing in monochrome or creating interesting colour stories or throwing as many different things together as possible and seeing what happens. My favorite things to wear are short skirts and knee highs. I do have style icons. Courtney Love circa 1989-1996, perfection. Gwen Stefani, Tragic Kingdom era and a little after is the form of the perfect woman. Beyond that, I cannot think of anyone right now, but those two were game changers.
What were some of your most memorable moments in your four years of Fashion at Ryerson? Is there anything you would of changed about the program if you could? My most memorable moments at Ryerson do not really have much to do with the program, but more the people and because of this, I feel it’s best to use this opportunity, instead, to acknowledge some of the staff who really saw something in me and helped me focus my creative energies. To be perfectly frank, I was not really a star student and did not fit into what Ryerson hopes their students will be. I had the chance to form really strong relationships with some of the staff their and learned a lot by going and meeting with them outside of office/class hours. Colleen Schindler-Llynch, Audrey Calphon, Tanya White, P.Y., Jenifer Forrest, Caron Phinney, all really amazing women! Oh and Dee, wonderful man!
Sorry about the ramble…
Handing off my final collection was a monumentous occasion in my life. I recall making sure everything was in order, after sleeping over in the lab. I rolled my collection to the elevator and walked very slowly to the room. I placed the rack where I was directed by P.Y., shook her hand, exited quickly and burst into tears, called my mom and walked home. Mass Exodus and being part of the currated collection was a four year goal that I was so excited to be a part of, a simply affirming experience.
Your graduate collection DUPLICITY includes 6 of your own textile prints – some made from photographs in your family archive. Tell us about your experience designing the prints, your favourite or most meaningful piece and the concept behind the collection. DUPLICITY featured textiles that I designed and each one featured images collected from my family archive. As well, I used images collected from a book on bottle digging, an activity surprisingly popular in Canadian history and one that I became interested in after my friends told me some wonderful stories about various digs they had done in Toronto, MTL and otherwise. I was interested, of course in presenting duality in a number of ways and this was meant to be a carry over on my comment on the topic of a perceived dichotomy in fine art, with the introduction of embroidery, a craft, into the work of many current artists.
As well as creating visual texture with the family photos layered with collaged images from the book on bottle digging, I hand embroidered geometric forms over the fabric. This was meant to further disrupt the print. My intention was to create a collection and fabrics that would be visually appealing and allowed the viewer to investigate further if they so pleased, or to simply glance, see colour and print and nothing more or less. It is important to create around a concept, but what is more important is to create clothes and prints that people like. If they want to know the story, great! If they do not care to look any further, that is great too. The loaded concept is more my little treat, others are welcome to share it with me.
The most meaningful piece for me is the sweater with my mother’s photo as a child and the radiating metallic embroidery. My mother is the most important person in my life and she has made me the woman I am. This piece was a secret and a tribute to her. She is my shining star and it was a pleasure for me to honour her in that way. As well, my grandmother was a master embroiderer in her mountain town in Italy near Naples during war time. In her later years, she developed terrible arthritis and could no longer do hand work. I wanted in a way to honor her as well as carry on a skill that is in some ways dying. She did not teach me to embroider, but it was also a way for me to try and rectify our relationship in a weird way. She passed on halfway through my time at Ryerson and we had a really tumultuous relationship. I guess it was an apology in a way?
We adore your headpieces from the collection! What is the significance behind the halos? The halos again were meant to be a comment on this notion and problem in art where fine art is attributed to the “divine” in that it comes from the mind, where as embroidery is regarded as a craft or skill, as it is not inate and can be learned. Again, I enjoy a good thought out concept in a collection because my interests are outside of fashion and I am of an academic mind. However, what I love about fashion is the frivolity, the practicality and beauty of it. I like halos, all my sketches had halos. My goal was to take my drawings and realise them, so I did.
What inspires you? As I said, I am truly inspired by my day to day experiences and the world around me. I , of course, find inspiration in art, literature, and music. But what I really love is a good story. I love the build a narrative or a concept around an element in a work of art for instance, or colours in a pattern for example. What I try to do in all of my work is make something new from the old, or moreover obstruct, disrupt or mix up chronology. Time is so important, but I find it interesting to make something new from something old and change the context in doing this so that time in a way dissapears, or is irrelevant.
If you could envision a type of girl that wears MICHONS MARIGOT, what type of girl would she be? The girl who wears MICHONS MARIGOT is a girl who is only herself. I hope that she loves what she loves, is truly interested in life and the world and knows who she is.
Is sketching a big part of your creative process? Sketching is very important in my creative process. I sketch every day, sometimes all day and at times I find myself running to find anything I can draw on, just to get the idea down. I have taken to writing down very detailed notes about garments or looks that I hope to create, as there are moments when I find it difficult to draw exactly what I want, or I need to make sure I do not forget any details. This helps too when I do not have the time to pictorally hash out what I want to make, but I know I want to keep the idea.
What are you working on now? Any upcoming plans for future collections of Michons Marigot you can fill us in on? Currently, I am putting together a small collection that will be shown in Fall of this year. I am working on a number of freelance projects inclusive of textile design, production management and consulting and forever just building my portfolio. I continue to develope new textile prints, work on my rendering skills and doing a lot of hand work and embroidery.