Geometry. Simplicity. Mystery… Matière Noire.
Cécile Raizonville’s story is about self-discovery. The designer says that many moments of her life are reflected in what can be physically seen today in her label, Matière Noire.
Science, matter and its mysteries have influenced her as far back as her childhood when Raizonville’s scientist parents worked for a French space agency. Her love and curiosity for astronomy are also rooted in her upbringing and strongly influence the designer’s work today. In fact, Matière Noire translates to “Black Matter”, a reference to space and astronomy.
Raizonville further explains the significance of her brand’s name: “I was with my friend, and we were reading an article about a group of scientists and what matter is being made of. They said it is one of the biggest, undiscovered questions in science and in space right now.
“I’m really interested in that. It’s mysterious and it’s strong at the same time — this is the direction I want to give to the brand.”
An advocate for sustainability, Raizonville uses a lot of natural fabrics in her designs and hopes to instill this love into women who buy her clothes. Her main objective is to create clothes that are elegant, simple and give women a sense of strength.
“I’m trying to push certain values, so we try to use a lot of natural fabrics. I hope this is speaking to a certain kind of women and that, by buying the clothes, they are interested in those values too.”
Her childhood upbringing, along with her degree in applied arts, the one-year exchange program in Canada for industrial design and an education at a fashion school in Barcelona, all collaborate and influence the designer’s creative process today: “Clothes are an object, in 3D. Volumes and the materials are really important to me.”
Along her journey, Raizonville also had the opportunity to work for haute couture designer, Josep Font while in Barcelona, and she says that was one of her favourite experiences before the move to Montréal.
“I really loved working with Josep — it was incredible because he’s a haute couture designer. The workshop was always full of beautiful fabrics and I got to work with the sewer doing the collection. It was like magic.”
Nostalgia was the extra nudge for Raizonville’s decision to move to Montréal in 2012. This was the beginning of her creative journey with Matière Noire.
“The motivation was to settle in a city I really love. I remember feeling great when I came back at [the age of] 21. I missed Montréal a lot. It’s really open, multicultural and young.”
Since her return, the future of Matière Noire became very promising after Raizonville won the Mercedes-Benz StartUp award last year.
“We got to meet a lot of interesting people, speak about the brand and our past. [Everyone has] been really open and interested. I also got to meet a lot of other young designers and we will try to get in touch with them when we come back to Toronto.
“The last collection was about doing a lot of cultural research: going to the library, museums, collecting some vintage photos… It’s inspired by the Amish people, the way they dress, with simple but refined details. I tried to work on volumes, and [add] some military details. I tried to achieve simplicity.”
The label itself had only been launched in 2012, but it has captured the attention of the Canadian fashion scene in a very short period of time. Currently, Raizonville is preparing for her next show coming up later this month at the World MasterCard Fashion Week in Toronto. She also has future plans of expanding into an accessory line.
Matière Noire’s spring/summer 2014 line at the Mercedes-Benz StartUp
Photography by Kareen Mallon