Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

How a ballet costume designer found inspiration in her studio

As the costume designer for more than 21 international ballets, including Love Lies Bleeding, the million-dollar Elton John spectacular that the Alberta Ballet brings to Toronto this week, Montreal's Martine Bertrand conceives many of her award-winning ideas in the 1959 bungalow she has lived in for the past 11 years with husband Patrice Vermette and their two young children. Located in the village-like suburb of Longueuil on the city's south shore, the home came with a solarium that the couple converted into an atelier, Bertrand's now-favourite room. "It was meant as a space for me to be inspired in," the multifaceted artist says. "And I am. This is where my ideas flow best."

The white chairs

"The white chairs come with a funny story. My husband [an Oscar-nominated film-production designer]has shot many times at [now-defunct]Mirabel Airport, so much so that the authorities decided to give him these airport chairs since he liked them so much. They are original airport-lounge waiting seats from the 1970s and probably have stories of their own to tell."

Story continues below advertisement

The carpet

"The carpet was brought back from a job that my husband did in Tunisia, where we lived for a couple of months."

The desk

"The oak desk came from the offices of a law firm where my father-in-law had been a partner. From the cigarette burns, I can guess that this piece of furniture also has tales to tell."

The sketch

"This a favourite memory of Teatro alla Scala in Milan, where I worked in 1995 and 1999. The assistant of the choreographer I was working with at the time asked me to do a drawing for him and this was what immediately came to mind."

The antique box

Story continues below advertisement

"This is a wedding present given long ago to my grandmother. When she passed away, I inherited it and now I keep all my drawing materials in it. My grandmother used to use it to hide the fudge she made from my mother and her brothers. Sometimes, I feel like the chocolate smell is still in there. It's comforting."

The map

"This map of the British Isles represents one of the best trips we've taken as a family. My husband was working on a film in London for seven months; while we were over there, England felt like home to us."

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to