Sophie Gregoire waves happily to the crowd as her husband, victorious Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledges his supporters on election night.
It was an iconic moment from Monday night’s election that everyone saw.
So, what’s the big deal for Vancouver Island?
Gregoire’s dress, that’s what.
That beautiful, golden-yellow, long-sleeved dress is part of a collection by dress designer, Eliza Faulkner, who grew up on Vancouver Island.
When Faulkner posted a picture and message on her Facebook page, saying “Sophie Trudeau in my dress today”, the page lit up with comments from friends (and probably clients) across the country, some of them transplanted Cowichan Valley folks like herself.
“Amazing,” said Cowichan designer Pipi Tustian, while Brenda Colby added, “This is the best.”
Asked in a phone interview from Montreal about when she first heard that the Prime Minister’s wife would wear her dress design for all the country to see, Faulkner said, “I figure I heard about two weeks ago.
“I know the store she bought it from in Ottawa. They told me she’d bought it. I was excited about that, and then a couple of days later, they messaged and said that she would wear it on election night. I was excited but still a little skeptical because people do change their minds; I do all the time. So, I thought, we’ll wait and see.”
Faulkner has worked with Gregoire’s stylist in the past but had not heard much lately.
“Even though I’d known, I was surprised that she did wear it.”
The designer, now based in Montreal, has a studio and an elegant online store, but no personal retail outlet although she stocks various stores around Canada with her clothing. The Pandora dress has already been popular.
“We’ve already sold a lot of them but when we found out she’d bought it and was going to wear it we’d actually just started production on more because it was selling so well. We’ve sold out, but we’re taking pre-orders for them now. They’ll be ready next week.”
Faulkner’s interest in fashion started early.
“It’s been my whole life. I’ve been making things since I was a teenager. My mom made all my stuff; she has Cardino’s shoes in Duncan. I sort of grew up watching her. Before she had the shoe store she made all our clothes, and made curtains and prom dresses for people. She taught me how to sew.
“When she opened the shoe store, I was a teenager and I got to watch her have a business. I worked for her for a few years, and I’ve learned a lot from her, too.”
Faulkner was born and raised in Duncan and went to Cowichan Secondary School.
“After high school I went to London, England to study design there. I went to a school called St. Martin’s [a world renowned arts and design college] and studied fashion there. I graduated in 2008 and then I was kind of back and forth between Duncan and London for a bit and then I ended up back in Duncan for four years, where I worked for my mom.
“I started my brand when I was there. Then, four years ago, I moved to Montreal. I met my partner in Duncan and he was from Montreal so that brought me out here. It’s been a good move; there’s a lot more of an industry here, as you can imagine.”
How does Faulkner think this showcase may affect her?
“I don’t know. I’ve been doing this for so long now that I can’t tell.”
She has dressed some well-known people but those were items that are worn all the time.
“This was such a historic moment,” she said.
As for the dress itself, “you can still order it from my website. We’ve sold out of the yellow, but we’re getting in black and dark red for Christmas.”