It was by seeing the collections of Vivienne Westwood that Judith Desjardins knew she would become a fashion designer.
“I must have been 10-12 years old and I had the spark by discovering the whole punk and alternative movement, and the fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. I really like the British underground culture, it’s very inspiring,” explains Judith Desjardins, founder of the women’s ready-to-wear brand Bodybag by Jude, who we meet in her studio on Avenue Bernard, in the Mile End.
In 1998, she began to create capsule collections of clothing intended for customers who frequent raves and nightclubs. “I used to go to New York a lot, go to raves and realize there was nothing in the shops in Montreal for kids going out to clubs, so I started small streetwear style collections and micro t-shirts that I sold in the United States and Canada,” she recalls.
Over the years, Judith Desjardins became a young professional and her interests changed. She leaves the raves and the brand takes another direction by becoming more feminine. She launches clothing collections that she describes as casual chic that always include a surprising detail that makes the difference.
Bodybag’s signature? “I would say it’s a relaxed, sophisticated and cool contemporary silhouette. The key piece is the jumpsuit, I’ve been doing it since I started, that’s what sets me apart,” she says. “During the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition presented at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2008, young Quebec designers were invited to create a piece in homage to the French designer and it was a jumpsuit that I had created”, remembers Judith Desjardins. Like Yves Saint Laurent, she likes the masculine-feminine duality and “having style on a daily basis”, specifies this autodidact who studied communications at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).
But why choose the name Bodybag which refers to the body bag found in the morgue? The designer smiles. “There is a real reflection on life and death. It is a philosophy about uniqueness and individuality, the cycle of life. Bodybag has become my brand, my philosophy, my old logo was the barcode for body identification. For me, this name also means that we have to enjoy the present moment and appreciate life and the people around us. »
This is what Judith Desjardins has been doing for 25 years, she lives from her passion, fashion, and she loves her studio-boutique located on avenue Bernard, near boulevard Saint-Laurent, where she has had her studio since 2006. She is proud also that all its collections are made here in Montreal, by seamstresses.
She notes that over the past 10 years, customers have become more environmentally conscious and understand the importance of buying local. Her clientele is made up of women of all ages, professionals who appreciate timeless style and well-cut dresses. Lawyers, professors, architects and some Quebec personalities like Anaïs Favron and Isabelle Brais, the wife of François Legault, who once had a clothing store dedicated to Quebec fashion.
The most famous customer is undoubtedly actress Nicole Kidman who, in 2004, bought a Bodybag dress in New York. “She bought a dress from a boutique in Soho and a photo of the Australian actress wearing it has been circulating since she went to NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman with the dress!” We had a real little buzz! »
Bodybag by Jude celebrates its 25th anniversary in the fall, a brand that has survived the years with the creation of chic, relaxed collections, with sometimes a touch of eccentricity. “What has changed the most in 25 years is the ability to shop online. Social networks have also changed the game, the potential is increased tenfold, the work too, but above all, we find ourselves on Instagram in an ocean in the middle of several thousand brands,” she observes.
What does she want for the next few years? “To continue to create my collections and have people encourage local fashion and creativity. »