Last week, the Musée de la civilization in Québec City opened an astonishing exhibition devoted to the creative work and inspirations of Jean-Claude Poitras, one of Québec’s greatest fashion designers. 

The exhibition brings to life the career of Poitras, which has spanned more than four decades and profoundly shaped the Québec – and Canadian – fashion scene. Born in 1949 in Montréal, Poitras has always been drawn to fabrics and their textures, movements and colour. This fascination became the quintessence of his career, drawing upon both new and old to fabricate impeccable designs. Poitras has been at the helm of many successful brands, including Parenthèse, BOF!, Jean-Claude Potras, and Qui m’aime me suive. Through his work, he has travelled the world and presented internationally in New York, Paris, Cologne, Chicago, Hong Kong and Toronto. He has also designed outfits for the Montréal Olympic Games, AirCanada, Canada Post, and Montreal Transport Corporation, to name a few. His impressive list of accomplishments only continues, having dressed several notable public figures like Andre Lachapelle, Fabienne Thibault, Solange Harvey, Robert Charleboi and Jean-Pierre Ferland. 

Over the course of his career, Poitras has been awarded many prestigious accolades, including Member of the Order of Canada, Officer of the National Order of Québec, and Knight of the Order of Montréal. 

“At the forefront of fashion in Québec since the early 1970s, Jean-Claude Poitras has made his mark in Québec and around the world through his exceptional talent and original perspective,” says Musée de la civilization’s executive director, Stéphan La Roche. “We are thrilled to present this exhibition jointly with the McCord Museum. Our two institutions share the privilege of having many of his designs in our collections—designs that reflect his signature finesse and elegance.” 

The exhibition presents nearly 160 objects and archival documents, including clothing, letters, photographs and posters. Stunning garments were donated from the designer’s personal collection to compliment the multimedia and interactive experience and anchor the emotion at the very heart of the designs. The exhibition’s collections are organized around three of Poitras biggest inspiration sources: family and religion, muses and film, and travel. Visitors will be able to see highlights from Poitras’ childhood memories, the cinematic influences that are weaved into his work, and learn more about his true muse, Colette Chicoine. 


The designer himself is excited about this honour. “In this exhibition, you will see that fashion has not only been my profession, but my lifeblood. Throughout my journey, I’ve had the good fortune of being nurtured and guided by my muses and little hands, the people behind the scenes and those of the spotlight, from the wings to the podiums, off the beaten track. Today I remember that, beneath the surface, our intersecting visions and shared dreams have woven a beautiful story that continues to unfold.” 

“This exhibition immerses visitors in the universe of a Montréal designer who has been one of the leading names in Québec fashion for nearly 50 years,” notes Suzanne Sauvage, President and CEO of McCord Museum. “As Montréal’s fashion museum, the McCord Museum is proud to partner with Musée de la civilization to highlight the designs and inspirations of Jean-Claude Poitras, an iconic figure in the history of fashion.” 


Produced alongside the McCord Museum, the exhibition Jean-Claude Poitras: Fashion and Inspiration will run until September 15th at the Musée de la civilisation before relocating at the McCord Museum from October 24th 2019 to April 26 2020.