Genevieve spoke to us about her formula for creative production and her foray across Canada to find the ratio that works. Genevieve often sews costumes for the Citadel Theatre and the Edmonton Opera. Her impeccable leather work was recently seen at This Must Be the Place, a pop-up shop in Edmonton over the 2016 holiday season, and is always available online.
“Alberta pulled me back,” explains Genevieve Savard, specialized seamstress at the Edmonton Opera and the Citadel Theatre. “At the time, it just made sense to pack up and move back from Montreal. When I got here, it all lined up. A friend knocked on my door the morning after I arrived and said, ‘Do you want to work tomorrow?’ And it’s never stopped since then.”
Prior to her return, Genevieve spent four years in Montreal. “I was barely surviving," she recalls. "I was pushed to create, because I needed the money, but I was running my own company and that was exhausting. I was working nonstop on all facets of production: on the weekends I’d be shopping for material and in the evenings I’d be doing photo shoots.” The ratio of business vs. creativity wasn’t working.
The thought of a paycheque, primarily for creative services, was alluring. When she returned to Edmonton she secured a contract with the Citadel Theatre in the wardrobe department, and then a contract with a movie production and then one with the Edmonton Opera. As part of the wardrobe team in Edmonton’s performing arts community, she takes renderings and makes them as true to form as possible. “I’m working in the arts every day surrounded by creative people. Even though it’s not my idea, we’re all involved in the process. I’m learning every day, about sewing and about new techniques.”
Growing up, Genevieve recalls always striving for a job she’d enjoy and always seeking to hone her craft. At Red deer College, she took costume cutting and construction. Although she was always gravitating to fashion, she wasn’t certain about the direction of that pull, as it’s often working for a certain demographic. Her interest in theatre began because of the accessibility component. “I was drawn to theatre because it’s for everyone," Genevieve explains. "It’s everyone’s stories. It’s a collaborative experience, and that’s scarier because there’s more riding on that.”
Genevieve has also been conscientious about the careful balance of vision and design. She says, “I could have worked for designers, lending my craft, but for me it’s a formula of collaboration. It’s refining changes versus creative control. I don’t want to be butting heads with another designer and sacrificing my vision.”
Genevieve learned the formula for successful collaboration right out of Red Deer College, in the incubator that was the Nokomis Clothing studio. “I sent in my resume," Genevieve explains, "I began assisting Elizabeth Hudson with sewing, cutting and making patterns. And then my role evolved. During my first year, for the holiday season, we were making bags to sell. The pattern came out, I took a look, asked if I could rework it. I cut up a leather jacket and made a series of bags. They sold like crazy, and within 1 year I had an accessories line.” Genevieve remembers it as a dream-come-true studio setting, and she is still close with her former studio mates.
The accessories line she refined for Nokomis 15 years ago is still a part of her creative process outside of her day job. She says, “To this day, leather is my favourite material. When I want to express something, I find a piece of leather and a sewing machine. I’ve found my niche: I’m forever exploring the shapes and materials I began with 15 years ago.”
Between her contract work in wardrobe departments and her ongoing leatherwork, Genevieve says, “It’s not mundane in any way. I always have an end in sight and I can always choose how to proceed. There’s steadiness and balance, momentum between seasons and I’m always tapping my creativity.”