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Jean-Claude Poitras Fonds (P689)

Letter written by Claire Kirkland-Casgrain, Minister of Cultural Affairs, to Jean-Claude Poitras (detail), 1972. Gift of Mr. Jean-Claude Poitras, Jean-Claude Poitras Fonds P689, M2005.78.77 © McCord Museum

Jean-Claude Poitras: Designer, entrepreneur...and author?

"Further to our conversation about the play script you would like to submit, I've been told that you should contact Mr. Roland Laroche at the Centre d'essai des auteurs dramatiques, 1958 Dorchester Boulevard West [sic], Suite 1, Montreal. I wish you every success with your work."

Jean-Claude Poitras was working at Eaton's as a stylist when he met Claire Kirkland-Casgrain in 1972. The first woman ever elected to the Quebec National Assembly, she was Minister of Cultural Affairs at that time. In this gracious, supportive letter, the legendary politician offers the young man advice and encouragement in his efforts to become a playwright.

Although Jean-Claude Poitras' literary aspirations may not have been realized, his future as a designer was full of promise.


P689 Jean-Claude Poitras Fonds. - [1949-2006]. - 276 cm of textual records and other material.

Biographical Sketch

Jean-Claude Poitras was born in Montreal on June 18, 1949. He graduated from the École des métiers commerciaux in fashion design in 1969, and then earned a diploma in graphic design from Studio Salette in 1971. A year later, he opened his first atelier, called Parenthèse, in Old Montreal. He also worked at Eaton's as a designer and buyer, and then a manager. In 1977, Jean-Claude Poitras created his first collection for Beverini and Auckie Sanft, a line he called Bof! Beginning in 1983, he worked with Franck Imports, creating collections of ready-to-wear women's apparel for the company. In 1987, the designer launched the Poitras Design line, which included collections for both men and women. The 1980s were marked by other successful collaborations, notably with International Trademarks Apparel (sheepskin coats) and Amsel & Amsel (fur coats).

In 1990, Jean-Claude Poitras joined forces with Irving Samuel Canada, and then relaunched the Bof! collection. This association lasted until the company folded in 1995. The designer then founded Fashion Société Design with Arthur Sanft and created the Qui m'aime me suive evening wear collection.

Beginning in the late 1970s, Jean-Claude Poitras also designed uniforms and outfits for several businesses and institutions, including Air Canada, Radio-Canada, Hydro-Québec, Canada Post and the Museum of Fine Arts.
In the late 20th century, the designer's career took a new direction. With his wife Colette Chicoine, in 1998 he opened Duo sur canapé, a boutique that featured his first home collection, Poitras 13, rue de l'Univers. This shop also sold loungewear with the Lola en solo label, created by Colette Chicoine. In June 1999, Jean-Claude Poitras became associated with Montréal Mode inc., a subsidiary created by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec to develop and promote Quebec fashion internationally. He left the company less than a year later, following a management scandal.

Since then, Jean-Claude Poitras has primarily focussed his activities on tableware and interior design. He lectures, writes columns and promotes a certain "art of living" through the objects he designs and the projects he becomes involved in. He worked with Technology 2020 to design a virtual decoration tool called IDClic.net for companies like the Linen Chest and MAAX (a manufacturer of kitchens, bathrooms and spas). In 2004, he founded the 2 Corso Design agency with Marcel Dénommé. The following year, he designed the Poitras Casa, an environmentally friendly pre-fab house made by Industries Bonneville.

Throughout his career, Jean-Claude Poitras has received numerous awards in Quebec, Canada and around the world; for example, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1995, and a Knight of the Ordre national du Québec in 1996. He was also awarded the Griffe d'Or for lifetime achievement in 2000.

Scope and Content

This fonds focusses primarily on Jean-Claude Poitras' career as a creator, designer, entrepreneur, consultant, speaker, columnist, judge and spokesperson in the worlds of fashion and design. In particular, it documents the clothing collections created by Jean-Claude Poitras, the fashion shows and events that featured his creations, and his business ventures in the field of fashion. The fonds also chronicles his administrative efforts, creative activities, and multiple collaborations in the field of home design. There are numerous press clippings tracing the designer's dealings with the various media that have covered his career. In addition, the fonds contains biographical documents and numerous personal documents chronicling his life and that of his wife, Colette Chicoine. Photographs of various collections created by Jean-Claude Poitras and video recordings of fashion shows, events, news reports, interviews and other television appearances featuring the designer complete this collection of documents.

Source of title proper: Based on the creator of the fonds.

Physical description: The fonds includes nearly 1,000 photographs, several dozen iconographic documents (sketches, drawings, engravings, posters), 2 electronic documents (CD-ROMs), 2 architectural drawings, 6 objects, 3 audio cassettes and 87 videocassettes.

Conservation: Several newspaper clippings and faxes have been photocopied and the originals removed.

Language: The documents are primarily in French, but some documents are in English, Italian, Spanish or Cantonese.

Restrictions on access: The fonds contains several records with confidential content. Restrictions on access apply to some records in the series Fashion Creations and Collections (P689/A), Home and Lifestyle Design (P689/B) and Personal Documents (P689/D).


The fonds is divided into the following series, subseries and files:

  • P689/A Fashion Creations and Collections
    • P689/A1 Press review of fashion creations and collections
      • P689/A1,1 Articles from 1978-1987
      • P689/A1,2 Articles from 1988-1998
      • P689/A1,3 Articles from 1999 to the present
      • P689/A1,4 Undated articles
      • P689/A1,5 Press kit. - [1983-1999]. - 3 cm of textual records.
        Digitized documents
      • Scope and Content: This file chronicles Jean-Claude Poitras' efforts to promote his various clothing collections to the media. It includes press releases and a promotional album from Beverini.

        Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the file.

        Language: The documents are in French and English.

    • P689/A2 Promotion and advertising
      • P689/A2,1 Clothing collection labels. - [ca 1987-1998]. - 2.5 cm of textual records.
        Digitized documents
      • Scope and Content: This file documents the visual identity of certain clothing lines created by Jean-Claude Poitras, including Jean-Claude Poitras, Jean-Claude Poitras Design, Qui m'aime me suive and Bof! It contains cardboard tags, woven labels, and proofs and style guides for some logos.

        Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the file.

        Language: The documents are in French.

      • P689/A2,2 Collection flyers and brochures. - [1986-1995]. - 4.5 of textual records.
        Digitized documents
      • Scope and Content: This file chronicles the promotion of certain Jean-Claude Poitras collections. It primarily contains flyers and brochures from the 1980s and 1990s.

        Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the file.

        Language: The documents are in French and English.

      • P689/A2,3 Business cards, corporate documents and promotional items. - [1987-2003]. - 4 cm of textual records. - 6 objects.
        Digitized documents: Part 01 - Part 02
      • Scope and Content: This file chronicles Jean-Claude Poitras' various business ventures, along with activities and tools used to promote his creations and brand image. It contains business cards, corporate folders, t-shirts and bags (paper, cloth and plastic).

        Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the file.

        Language: The documents are primarily in French, but several texts are in English.

      • P689/A2,4 Promotional materials
    • P689/A3 Fashion collection creations and productions
    • P689/A4 Fashion shows and events. - [1983-2001]. - 11 cm of textual records.
    • Scope and Content: This subseries chronicles fashion shows and events that featured Jean-Claude Poitras creations, essentially from the 1980s to 2000. It contains correspondence, various promotional documents, press releases, notes on fashion shows, and activity reports.

      Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the subseries.

      Language: The documents are in French, English, Spanish and Cantonese.

    • P689/A5 Specific creations and collections
    • P689/A6 Correspondence. - [1970-2005]. - 1.5 cm of textual records. - 1 photograph.
      Digitized documents
    • Scope and Content: This subseries documents the letters exchanged between Jean-Claude Poitras and his professional associates for a period of over 30 years. It contains correspondence and several rough drafts of letters written by Jean-Claude Poitras between 1970 and 2005.

      Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the subseries.

      Language: The documents are in French and English.

    • P689/A7 Contracts, administrative and legal documents
    • P689/A8 Irving Samuel Company
    • P689/A9 Montréal Mode inc.

  • P689/B Home and Lifestyle Design

  • P689/C Writings About Jean-Claude Poitras

  • P689/D Personal and Social Activities and Other Professional Commitments

  • P689/E Photographs

  • P689/F Audio-Visual Materials

 

Last update: August 30, 2017