Unless you live in Montréal it’s very difficult to explain the Québecois culture that exists. The celebrities and personalities are larger than life and absolutely adored. Although you may not be familiar with them, they have thousands if not millions of fans and they are a household name. I want to introduce you to a woman who is no stranger here – Geneviève Borne.
You cannot avoid seeing Geneviève’s stunning face unless you live in a vacuum. Until recently, Geneviève was the spokesmodel for Clin d’Oeil magazine, one of the most influential fashion magazines in Québec, which just celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. She has also been the spokesperson for the Festival de Mode & Design de Montréal since 2008. For four days, the downtown streets are packed with people and free fashion shows are presented by local, Canadian and international brands. Along with fashion-themed charity events, music, patios and electricity in the air, it is an incredible event for which Geneviève is the perfect ambassador. I won’t call her a “fashionista” because that word is completely overused today and she is so much more than that. She is a true style original.
Geneviève’s mother was a model who introduced her to fashion and allowed her to experiment freely with the way she dressed from an early age. Seeing her mom in such a glamourous light had a huge impact on her own personal style and to this day she expresses herself by experimenting and having fun with her clothes and makeup. Her brother Éric, a musician, ignited her passion for music and she was driven to have a career in entertainment. Fascinated by everything that is beautiful, inside and out, she became a model herself but her dreams were truly realized when she was hired at MusiquePlus (MuchMusic) as a VJ in 1992.
After eight glorious years at MusiquePlus, interviewing her idols such as Madonna, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Phil Collins, she went to TVA where she was involved in several different cultural shows. For five years, she herself filmed artists in everyday situations for a reality show called Dans ma Caméra and also did a series in France for Musimax amongst many other television and special radio projects. Since 2008 she has co-hosted a music show on Télé – Québec with Norman Brathwaite (also a Québecois personality), called Belle et Bum. This energetically contagious and fun show celebrates Québec’s brightest musical stars, new faces as well as music itself.
Talking with Geneviève you can clearly see that music and fashion are both essential parts of her life. In 2000, while still at MusiquePlus, she was honoured to be the face of Cover Girl’s campaign in Québec, entitled Simplement Moi.
Geneviève agrees that the talent pool of clothing designers here is astounding. One Montréal designer that she personally loves to wear is Denis Gagnon and has been photographed on many occasions in his fabulous creations (one of my absolute faves also – read more here). Both on the cutting edge of fashion, the two are an extremely good fit. Actually, she was wearing one of his long black dresses at our meeting along with a gorgeous oversized silver ring, one very long earring and a very urban leather knapsack that she’d picked up on her travels.
Her hair may have been almost every colour of the rainbow, including pink for a Bollywood-themed fashion show but her style is minimalist and modern chic.
Growing up Geneviève admired Grace Kelly’s perfect beauty and elegance and now, another one of her inspirations is the truly eclectic heiress and designer Daphne Guinness, muse to the late great Alexander McQueen. She also respects Charlize Theron’s impeccable style and loves design geniuses Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs and Karl Lagerfeld to name only a few (we did only have one meeting!)
As for shopping, she likes the vibe in beautiful Old Montréal and stores such as Denis Gagnon (obviously), Ssence, and Quai 417, boutiques that carry a variety of terrific designers. You might be surprised to learn that other than on magazine photo shoots, she does not use a stylist or makeup artist. Being on – camera so often, she knows every inch of her face perfectly and prefers to create her own image which changes daily dependant on her mood. One day she may embody Blade Runner’s futuristic edgy style, the next she may be the picture of femininity and sophistication. In clothing she looks for structure but comfort, and quality in fabrics and design. While not a fan of gadgets, she appreciates bold but simple accessories. Whatever she wears, no matter what the style, she always brings her own brand of rock n’ roll glamour and looks incroyable!
As for music, Geneviève is an aficionado, a self-professed “Beatlemaniac” who is now eagerly learning piano – the first songs she learned to play were “Hey Jude”, “Let It Be , and “Fool on the Hill”. She adores British pop, including the punk movement, David Bowie, and so many others (think London: 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony). Clearly her tastes are vast but she is utterly hypnotized by Madonna’s innovation, evolution, involvement in fashion and well, her music just makes Geneviève happy.
Apart from being known as a spokesperson, a TV host, for her avant-garde style and as a music connoisseur, Geneviève is also an avid shutterbug and world traveller. She is an international citizen with more stamps on her passport than a collector.
Craving adventure, she travels annually to faraway lands to document and photograph diverse and exotic cultures for Évasion, a French language television specialty channel devoted to travel, tourism, and adventure. When she goes to these exciting countries, Geneviève immerses herself completely in the local cultures. She adapts herself to the clothing and native customs in order to have the fullest experience possible. For example, when she was in Vietnam, she had her entire wardrobe handmade locally from raw silk and that’s all she wore while there. In India, she sported long flowing tunics, over loose-fitting pants, and even gave saris a go. As someone who wears a lot of black, the colour – saturated clothing was very daring, the makeup and jewelry abundant and every day a celebration. In French Polynesia she always tucked a bright flower in her hair and in Tunisia, she donned the appropriate desert scarves.
All of her experiences with such different ethnicities have definitely had an impact on her style and are also responsible for her compulsion for photography. In 2010, Geneviève released a compilation of photographs taken on her extensive travels entitled Dans ma Caméra.
More recently, she was asked to do a photo shoot by Québecois pop star Roch Voisine for his website. She loves to experiment with old camera equipment and film, constantly honing her instincts and continues to evolve and grow as a photographer.
Geneviève has the most intense eyes and when she speaks about something that excites her, they actually glow. Discussing her music lessons and her myriad undertakings, she radiates an infectious childlike energy (which seems limitless) while remaining the vision of style. (She says that drinking lots of water, getting eight or nine hours of sleep and always taking off her makeup before bed really helps!)
Now editing her most recent television special for Évasion about the Mayas and their culture, it will air in December. Although she studied Communications and Theatre, Geneviève felt she didn’t have enough life experience to draw from in order to pursue acting. But now, you never know what her future holds – you might just see her on the big screen or designing her own clothing line, which I am certain would be gorgeous!
From our brief encounter it is obvious that Geneviève is extremely gracious, authentic and that her light and passions burn very brightly. What I learned from this style dynamo is that anything and everything is possible when you are true to yourself and you follow your dreams. La belle Geneviève is exactly where she wants to be – fashionably in charge of her own destiny!
Merci Geneviève & enjoy Montréal Fashion Week!