Georges Lévesque (September 25, 1951 -. Aug. 23, 2011)
George Lévesque, the son of a garage mechanic, was born in Quebec City on Sept. 25, 1951, but the family moved to Montreal in the early 1960s and he and his three siblings grew up in Pointe Aux Trembles, a blue-collar neighbourhood at the Eastern tip of the island.
As a teenager, Lévesque started acting with a professional children’s theatre troupe. Unhappy with the costumes he was given to wear, he insisted he could do better. To prove the point his first creation was stitched together from his mother’s curtains.
He was a natural entertainer, a chansonnier and a dancer who made his debut with the contemporary troupe, Arabesque. He and his creative partner, Michele Hamel, with whom he was working when he died, opened his first clothing store, Pur Hazard, in
1975. He had his first show two years later.
Like most artists, he was a creative talent, but not much of a businessman.
However, this partnership ended after a few years. Resisting the lure of greater production, preferring to maintain a personal relationship with its customers, Georges Levesque returned to a more artisanal style. It then associates with Marie-Josée Gagnon and launched the brand "Georges Lévesque for scandal." he and Gagnon joined forces and under her direction and it became a success.
Actress Carole Laure, a long-time friend, was one of the first celebrities to champion his line of clothing. “He was an original, a great creator and a beautiful human being who was always there for his friends. All the artists would flock to his store. We worked together, and he dressed me in shows and in films. I was the envy of Paris whenever I was away and wore his dresses there.”
One needed a degree of confidence to wear his colourful, free-flowing garments. Couturière Joy Alleyne, who brought Lévesque’s designs to life and sewed for 35 years for him, said his signature twist dresses were an expression of movement. “He’d drape cloth on a dummy, spin the dummy to see how the fabric would look as it billowed, and then come up with a design,” she said. “I had to get into his head and transform his ideas into a dress. He believed clothes should fit well on a woman, and shouldn’t be used as a disguise.”
Lévesque also continued to design critically acclaimed costumes for the theatre. He worked on productions of Don Juan, Scheherazade and designed outfits for Danse Cité.
Georges Lévesque was a cult designer in Canadian fashion circles noted for his buoyant, gypsy-chic creations and bold, bohemian sense of style. His upscale boutique, Scandale, is an institution on Montreal’s St. Lawrence Boulevard that has catered to French, American and Canadian celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Diane Dufresne, Pascale Bussiéres, Céline Dion, Julie le Breton and Carole Laure.
Lévesque was at work at his computer designing costumes for the large-scale equestrian show, Cavilia, on Aug. 23, when he died of an apparent heart attack.
“He was a magician. Whatever he touched was transformed into something beautiful. His mix of fabrics and colour was truly amazing,” said his business associate and former life companion, Marie-Josée Gagnon. “He hadn’t been ill at all. He was under some stress as we all are when we are in throes of creation, but his death came as a total shock.
Death of Georges Lévesque: "It was our Jean Paul Gaultier"
The designer Georges Lévesque, with his inseparable partner Marie-Josée Gagnon, founded in 1981 Scandal shop, died Tuesday of a heart attack at the age of 59. Its ultra-feminine dresses, gypsy inspiration, made his reputation or his myth.
"It was our Jean Paul Gaultier," said yesterday in a telephone interview his muse and great friend Carole Laure, devastated by the sudden death of the creator, who in recent days, bringing the final touches to the costumes of the show Cavalia.
Carole Laure Georges Lévesque has been in the 70s at the time of the pure random shop, founded with Michele Hamel, with whom he also collaborated, including performances Cavalia. This is also her friend Michele who taught him the sad news.
"It was a close friend, very close. For me, the Saint-Laurent Boulevard will never be the same without him. George was a talented being who created his clothes piece by piece, but also be a very sweet, "says the actress, whose wardrobe consists almost entirely of clothing signed" Georges Lévesque for Scandal. "
"It was inspired by everything from art to the street. He loved the shapes, pleats, drapes, fabrics, regardless of fashion, "says stylist Dominique Come, who was 18 when she began working with Lévesque.
The former model occasionally works at the shop, a monument to the hand that was attended by a number of showbiz personalities from here and elsewhere. "Julia Roberts went here a month ago: she came out with half the store."
Actor and dancer, before designer Georges Lévesque embarked on creating clothing in the 70s. Maverick designer, curious, impervious to fashion and production constraints, he crafted costumes scenes (for Celine Dion and Diane Dufresne), collaborated with the director Gilles Maheu - creating the costumes for the dorm and Don Juan - and dressed the Véronique Cloutier, Marie-Jo Thério, Fanny Mallette, Pascale Bussieres, Jean Leloup. He also designed the toreador costume worn by Clara Furey, during his solo "carte blanche" to Farthing.
For Denis Desro, editor "mode" in Elle magazine Quebec Georges Lévesque has been "the first true designer in Quebec, in the tradition of Jean-Paul Gaultier. " "He had a very specific style, a very gypsy side. It was distinguished by its colorful style and loaded her quilts and abundance of details in the blanks. It was a way to it."
Denis Desro, which saw Lévesque at the time of the Pure Random shop, remembers a parade creations Georges Lévesque club La vie en rose on Guy Street. "There was Grace Jones. For the time, it was very new and avant-garde."
At one time, he went to Paris, failed to yield to the lure of greater production. But he changed his mind, preferring to keep his craft and personal relationship with its loyal customers. "He acted with his instinct and was happy about it. Throughout his life, he was able to create unencumbered manufacturers. This is why his style lasted. I've seen a lot of designers, but few people whose clothes were as good as those of Georges Lévesque, "says Denis Desro.
"He's gone as he lived: with sadness and pain," says Dominique Come. ADISQ, Gemini Awards and the opening nights Montreal will never look the same.