Marie-les-bains | to paint with flowers

(Eastman) From her Eastern Quarter garden to Paris Fashion Week, Marie-Eve Dion’s flowers travel, attached to fiber. To move away from the synthetic dyes widely used in the fashion industry, the dyer uses natural pigments to lighten fabrics.

Published on June 26

Valerie Simard

Valerie Simard
the newspaper

Madder, Japanese indigo and cosmos grow in the small garden behind Marie-Eve Dion’s house. Plants said to be tinctorial because of their great dyeing potential. Inside, in his workshop, jars full of dried flowers: camomile, coreopsis, and even mealybugs (the dreaded insect of owners of green plants!). “It makes little pink dots, the coloring book marvels. It has been used in South America for a very long time. »

The story of Marie-les-bains, the small vegetable dye company she founded, is more recent. After the birth of their daughter, now 3 years old, Marie-Eve Dion and her husband left Montreal for the peace of Eastman and the view of Mount Orford. A costume designer in the world of cinematography, she also left her job in order to make a living from art, which was introduced to her by a designer she worked with.

“It blew me away when I saw what you could do with vegetable dye, and then when I saw everything that opened up in front of me,” says the bachelor of fashion design. Today, it offers a range of flower-printed accessories (cotton socks and bandanas, silk scarves) and natural-dyed silk velvet pillowcases.

We have a hippie take on it, but now there’s a more modern take on it, with bright colors and prints that are more up-to-date than we’ve seen.

Marie-Eve Dion

“I make it every day and I’m still amazed at how it turns out. It can be beautiful there! »

As proof, a shirt dress with a botanical motif by Quebec designer Marie-Ève ​​​​​​​​Lecavalier, for which she made the prints one by one, by hand. Part of Lecavalier’s Spring-Summer 2022 collection, the piece debuted last year at Paris Fashion Week and is currently available in around fifteen pieces at Simons stores across Canada.


Lecavalier shirt with print hand designed by Marie-les-bains

“I see that more and more brands decide to cooperate with dyers. I was approached by two designers with whom I currently work [dont atelier b]. That’s the beginning. Of course we are far from the goal, but I think something is happening. »


Used for millennia – the oldest discovered traces date back to the Neolithic era – vegetable dyes were supplanted by synthetic dyes after their invention in the 19th century.e century. “It’s definitely not the same as synthetic paint. It doesn’t have the same durability [bien entretenu, un vêtement teint naturellement dure néanmoins plusieurs années], also requires a lot of work and natural fibers, so it is really difficult to integrate for the fashion industry as we know it today, notes Marie-Eve Dion. But there is a way to partially integrate plant color. There is a way around it, but you have to agree to go slower, more expensively. »

You only need to see how much patience is required to dye indigo cloth – a fermentation process specific to this dye that requires setting up a tank and “feeding” it – to understand. But according to Marie-Eve Dion, there is consumer interest. Following the demand to buy local and organic fibers, concerns about the impact of dyes are starting to arise.

Synthetic dyes, which often contain heavy metals, formaldehyde and phthalates, contribute significantly to the environmental impact of the fashion industry. A large amount of these dyes ends up in waterways near factories and harms the health of living organisms and the population.

Marie-Eve Dion grows some of the plants she uses, from seedlings, on her land or in two other gardens in her region. For those who want to learn this technique, she offers workshops at Eastman. “It’s accessible to everyone, like a kitchen,” she says. You just need to know the recipe. And understand that you can’t always trust appearances. “Most of the plants you will pick in nature will turn yellow. Or a little beige. If you are lucky, sometimes you can get a small rose. » The pink color is also given by the pits of the avocado. Fascinating, isn’t it?

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