National Post, May 1st 2004
O Canada meets haute hoser
Patriotism runs in designer’s family
By Nathalie Atkinson and Adriana Ermter
Perusing the racks of emerging designers at the Toronto Fashion Incubator breakfast during fashion week, we saw several new collections well worth the early wake-up call. Such as Unabashedly Canadian, the debut ready-to-wear collection by seasoned athletic costumer Marie Routhier. Her flag swimsuits are a patriotic antidote to our southern neighbours, who put those Stars and Stripes on everything from beer coolers to blankets. Unabashedly Canadian is O Canada meets haute hoser: Finally, those with a penchant for patriotism can proudly (if irreverently) wear the Maple Leaf at the beach, and on their derrieres.
In a charming genealogical twist, Routhier also appears to be a descendant of Sir Adolphe Basille Routhier, author of the original French lyrics of our national anthem. She began sewing her own costumes at the age of 11 because her single income family couldn’t afford expensive custom skating outfits, and moved into evening wear and bridal gown design before returning to her first love, spandex. The author of “Sewing for Skaters and Gymnasts and Dancers… Oh My!” and “The Skating Dress Style Book”, Routhier designs for gymnasts, pro wrestlers, champion body builders and olympic athletes, who have crowned her the Queen of Spandex. Her suits were on Canada’s national synchro team at last year’s Pan Am Games (They won the Silver medal) and she is the official designer of Synchro Swim Ontario, working on the teams spangled, eye-catching custom suits.
This month, Unabashedly Canadian launches in stores, and through Routhier’s web site . After more than a decade of dexterity working with spandex, nipping, tucking, cutting fabric, and fitting bodies into sleek custom costumes, Routhier boasts that her suits are free of unsightly saggy bum, wedgies, and other swimwear malfunctions. (Detailed size charts and measurement guides online also help ensure a good fit)
Priced from $45 for separates to $140 for a sexy cutaway one piece, the playful mix and match tops and bottoms are emblazoned with colour-blocked red and white Canadian flags.Sewn Maple Leaf pieces are appliqued, not printed, so they won’t crack and fade. Each Nylon-Spandex sporty tankini and bandeau, halter, string bikini top, thong, boy cut short, and classic high cut brief is also well and fully lined, so before you ask, the white Lycra is definitely not see-through when wet (Sorry, guys)