Cliff Owen/The Associated Press
Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau’s showcase of homegrown style began in earnest immediately as the Trudeau family arrived at Andrews Air Force Base Wednesday afternoon for the family’s Washington visit. She was dressed in a sharply-tailored tan pantsuit by Montreal’s Duy Nguyen of DUY (who won the Mercedes-Benz StartUp award for emerging designers in 2012) with pumps from Aldo (the label that will be most familiar to stateside politicos since the Montreal-based company has many stores internationally) and an Ela clutch from their spring 2016 Floral Party range.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/The Associated Press
Throughout Thursday’s spousal program of events, including the U.S. government’s Let Girls Learn initiative with first lady Michelle Obama (and later for the dinner gala), Grégoire-Trudeau wore heels by Zvelle, a direct-to-consumer Canadian footwear brand founded by Elle AyoubZadeh, which donates proceeds from each sale to Women’s College Hospital Foundation. The red and fuchsia day dress is by Romanian-born Canadian Lucian Matis, from his spring 2016 collection and is accessorized with the Warwick lazer cut clutch from Aldo.
Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS
To the formal state dinner, she wore a streamlined cap-sleeved gown in vivid violet, with a keyhole neckline and coral beading bodice detailing by Lucian Matis, the same Toronto-based designer whose striking red dress Grégoire-Trudeau wore earlier in the day. The earrings were custom-designed with iridescent stones to complement Grégoire-Trudeau’s dress by Canadian jeweler John de Jong at his workshop in Toronto. The chandelier earrings are Canadian-mined 18-carat gold and each is set with two oval and a square-cut moonstone, with two smaller bright antique cushion-cut topaz in between. First lady Michelle Obama donned a strapless, draped and full-skirted midnight blue dress in a sprigged floral jacquard pattern by Jason Wu, the young Canadian-raised talent who gained instant international fame when he designed the white chiffon gown she wore to the first Inaugural Ball.
Courtesy of Ela
During the visit, Grégoire-Trudeau carried different versions of Ela Handbags’ signature MILCK envelope clutch (an acronym for the essentials the asymmetrical bag is meant to contain: money, I.D., lipstick, cell, keys) - one in grape embossed suede and a custom mini version for the formal state dinner itself. “Obviously, it’s an honour - and it’s been humbling to see our designs on such a world stage,” designer Ela Aldorsson, founder of the five-year-old Canadian accessory company, said Thursday afternoon, as initial coverage of the Canadian visit flooded in. “We’re also very flattered that she chose us to be part of it, because this is a really important moment for her and her family, too. But what makes this special,” Aldorsson added, “is that they’re not social media influencers or traditional Hollywood celebrities - like the Obamas, they’re one step up from that, since she’s the leading lady of Canada.”
Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS
It also helps that most of what Grégoire-Trudeau wears is relatable, as in accessible — much of it off-the-rack and from current-season collections. “It’s so easy to track nowadays and traffic in general has been busier than normal in the past 24 hours,” Ela’s Martin Aldorsson says. “It’s up there with when Gwyneth Paltrow was wearing her bag often, and Lupita Nyong’o. We definitely had some late-night sales last night, all of that silhouette.” Ela stockist Holt Renfrew also reported a run on the distinctively textured bags Thursday afternoon.
From the Sentaler overcoats at outdoor public events to the stylish shawls by Krista Norris that were brought as gifts for Sasha and Malia Obama, it’s been a roll call of established and emerging labels from Grégoire-Trudeau. For a recent interview with Katie Couric, she opted for a floral Smythe blazer from their pre-spring 2016 collection.
During the state visit, Canadian fashion was on the menu just as Crown Royal and Quebec’s Ungava gin were among the cocktails at Wednesday night’s Canada 2020 reception in the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery. For that reception, Grégoire-Trudeau changed into a pastel floral découpage jacket by Toronto’s Ellie Mae Studios and a simple sheath called the Close (arriving in stores shortly) from Judith & Charles, a label especially known for its chic corporate career style and separates (all proudly manufactured in Montreal).
To deliver the keynote at the recent International Women’s Empowerment & Leadership Conference gala, Grégoire-Trudeau wore an off-the-shoulder ruffled dress in gold lamé by popular Canadian label, Greta Constantine. The Can-Con now even extends to members of the Canadian delegation at the state dinner. Why yes, that’s Catherine McKenna in lipstick red Greta Constantine, and the edgy black-and-white worn by Mélanie Joly is by Marie Saint Pierre, one of the Quebec’s longstanding success stories, who opened her first American store in Miami late last year.
REX Shutterstock pictu
Canada is not short on design talent—Canadian-born Thomas Tait won the lucrative and competitive international LVMH Prize in 2014, for example, and 19-year-old Toronto wunderkind Vejas Kruszewski is on this year’s shortlist. And Grégoire-Trudeau has of course worn Canadian designers before, such as Marie Saint Pierre, and for her 2006 nuptials, she worked with Montreal designer Nancy Wajsman of Les Noces Couture on her wedding gown. But with the exception of the blue lace sheath by American Oscar de la Renta for the portrait that accompanied a feature in Vogue last December, and a forties-style crepe Zac Posen during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Dinner in Malta in November, pictured above, she’s made a deliberate emphasis on wearing homegrown labels.