The simplicity of Iris Setlakwe | The press

It’s hard not to fall in love with fashion designer Iris Setlakwe. She welcomes us with elegance and warmth in her huge office workshop on rue Chabanel in Montreal, where she creates all her collections with her team of designers. Portrait.

Posted at 11:00 am

Olivia Levy

Olivia Levy
The press

Iris Setlakwe is self-taught. She grew up in Sherbrooke in the Setlakwe general store run by her father. “The first Armenian immigrant in my line is Aziz Setlakwe, he arrived in Quebec in 1904 and went into business. My grandfather Michel Setlakwe and his brothers opened a general store in the Eastern Townships where we sold clothing, especially ski wear,” she explains.

At 21 she founded her first business, a clothing agency. In 2001, she founded the brand that bears her name to offer clothing that looks like her. “Right from the start, I associated three words with my brand that are still relevant: simplicity, comfort, elegance. I’ve always liked clothes with a timeless style,” she says.

Dress all women

Iris Setlakwe is a premium women’s clothing brand. There are suits, dresses, shirts, knitwear, jeans, from the most chic to the most casual outfits. “My philosophy is to create quality clothing collections here in Quebec and contribute to the local economy,” she explains.

I dress women of all ages from head to toe, both for work and for the weekend. It’s important to me that they feel nice.

Iris Setlakwe

Iris Setlakwe also dresses many personalities such as Céline Galipeau, Mélanie Joly and Karine Vanasse. “I’m very proud. When we feel comfortable in our clothes, it gives us power and strength. Very often women don’t know how to flatter their figure, wear the right colors and styles that suit them. They just need to know , how to combine the clothes and have the right cuts and lengths. I’m happy to help you choose your wardrobe. »


PHOTO HUGO-SEBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

The offices and workshops of Iris Setlakwe in Montreal in the Chabanel district

The designer finds inspiration in many ways: She hears and watches a lot of people, she loves travelling, European style, beautiful materials, fabrics and details, such as the pretty buttons on a jacket. “My collections reflect my life,” she says. I am a 53 year old active woman, I have two children, a 24 year old daughter and a 23 year old son, we live in Montreal and in the Eastern Townships of Knowlton. At the weekend I wear jackets, dresses, but also sportier outfits. I’m now dressing my daughter’s friends who are starting their careers, I’m thrilled. »

She specifies that she also offers a turnkey cloakroom service for business women. “We take care of everything, for very busy women. »

  • Fall-Winter 2022 Collection (Available August 15), Palatial Blue Two-Button Blazer, $595

    PHOTOGRAPH ALEXANDRE GILBERT PROVIDED BY IRIS SETLAKWE

    Fall-Winter 2022 Collection (Available August 15), Palatial Blue Two-Button Blazer, $595

  • Fall-Winter 2022 Collection, Ruffle Blouse, Ivory, $235

    PHOTOGRAPH ALEXANDRE GILBERT PROVIDED BY IRIS SETLAKWE

    Fall-Winter 2022 Collection, Ruffle Blouse, Ivory, $235

  • Fall-Winter 2022 Collection, Printed Blouse, $335

    PHOTOGRAPH ALEXANDRE GILBERT PROVIDED BY IRIS SETLAKWE

    Fall-Winter 2022 Collection, Printed Blouse, $335

  • Fall-Winter 2022 Collection, Blue Palace Double-Breasted Coat, $975

    PHOTOGRAPH ALEXANDRE GILBERT PROVIDED BY IRIS SETLAKWE

    Fall-Winter 2022 Collection, Blue Palace Double-Breasted Coat, $975

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The two irises

In an interview, the designer and entrepreneur talks about her duality, her creative side coexisting with her “business” side. “I wear both hats and actually have two offices! There is the head page, where I write employment contracts, buy fabrics, plan collections. And there is the creative side, I create collections with designers, I play with fabrics and have fun with colors… I even allow myself to be messy! I like working in a team and sharing my know-how because I learned everything on the job. »

She also works with her family, with her spouse and with her daughter. “It’s exceptional to work as a family because trust is built and it’s nice to delegate certain departments. The problem is that we’re passionate, so sometimes the volume gets louder and we talk a little too much about work at home! »


PHOTO HUGO-SEBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS

Fabrics in the offices and workshops of Iris Setlakwe

Iris Setlakwe always has a multitude of projects on her mind. In 2021, she launched a home collection of cushions using fabric leftovers from clothing collections. It also develops a leather department as well as a range of evening dresses. “I love development. We have a clientele that has followed us across Canada and the United States for more than 20 years, in addition to our two stores in Rockland Center and Knowlton,” she says.

The woman in the many hats is still very enthusiastic in her community, despite the labor shortage in the manufacturing sector. “We’re short of seamstresses, patternmakers… but when you do what you love in life, you rise to the challenges. It gives energy, it stimulates, we are happy. I really encourage young people to find their way. »

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