A&E » Arts

Fabric with a story

Clothing designer Celeste Thibodeau makes Whistler debut at Bizarre Bazaar



What: Bizarre Bazaar

Who: Celeste Thibodeau designs

When: Nov. 23-24

Where: Telus Conference Centre

Admission: By donation to Whistler Arts Council

Most shoppers would just pass by a 1940s brocade jacket hanging on the rack at a secondhand store. It’s interesting, but dated. Fun to look at, but not functional.

Clothing designer Celeste Thibodeau of Earthhouse Reconstructed looks past the misshapen item and instead listens to what the fabric has to say, what it wants to be and what it will inspire.

“I am always looking,” she said of her fabric searches. “If I make 10 tunics, they are all slightly different. It is always like an art project, whatever the fabric is. It is calling out to me what it wants to be and I just go through it. So a finished product at the end often doesn’t end up where I first thought it would. As I get going, it is telling you a different story than what I first expected.”

Thibodeau’s wearable art, which takes on a life of its own even before it graces a wearer’s frame, will make its Whistler debut at Whistler’s largest arts and crafts fair, the 19 th annual Bizarre Bazaar on Friday, Nov. 23 from 3 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Telus Conference Centre.

Up until now, Celeste has only sold her handmade garments at Khudder in Squamish (which recently closed) and at West Coast festivals, including last year’s Vancouver Folk Festival.

The Squamish artist’s seamstress shop is her living room, usually abuzz with her six and eight-year-old boys. The single mother has managed to do what she loves while still staying at home to raise her kids.

Homegrown operation, homegrown product: her Earthhouse Reconstructed clothing line boasts one-of-a-kind tunics, wrap tops, pants, bags and jewelry, all individually made with plenty of love.

“It’s not infinite mass production,” she said of her business. “It’s more like creating a fun piece of art you can wear that makes you feel unique.”

Although the Calgary native has sewn all her life, spending seven years as the costume designer for the Brackendale Theatre combined with friends asking her when she would start sewing her own clothing line helped stitch together her entrepreneurial ambitions.

She draws on vintage fabrics as well as brocades and raw silk, basically anything that has jewel tones with plenty of texture. Her designs are rich and colourful as well as functional and fashionable.

“My style basically comes out of me and what I wanted to find (in clothing), but couldn’t find,” she said. “I enjoy clothing. To me, it is an art. I always think you could wear my clothes going out to dinner or to yoga. It’s the same piece. It just depends what mood you are in.”

The yoga instructor will also showcase her jewelry with her clothing line at Bizarre Bazaar.

“I use mainly silver and gem stones, sometimes wood beads,” she said. “I use a lot of pendants that come from Nepal and then I put the pieces together.”

Thibodeau is one of many Sea to Sky artists who will be showcased at Bizarre Bazaar. Other corridor talents to look out for include Whistler Board & Block, Elemi Aromatherapy, Island Garden Design, Whistler’s Own Bakeshop, Hummingbird Hot Glass, Blissworks Design Company, Morgan Beatty, Diddles Paper Mache, Whistler Mountain Chocolate, Luca Stoneworks, Massey Pottery and Baskets, Vanessa Stark paintings, Borgi Rayen jewelry. Whistler Cooks, Morgan Beatty glasswork and Impulse Delight.

The two full days of shopping will also include arts and crafts for kids, baked goods and sandwiches from Alta Lake School, and live music from Rachel Thom, The Kostaman Trio, Gord Rutherford, the Jocelyn Band and Susan Holden.

Admission is by donation to the Whistler Arts Council. Proceeds from the coat check will benefit Girl Guides.