Victoria-born dress designer Hayley Gibson went to bed on election night before newly re-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s victory speech, missing the moment when Sophie Grégoire Trudeau stepped out wearing one of Gibson’s own designs.
She woke up on Tuesday to an inbox full of messages from people sending photos they had taken of her dress on their television screens.
“It was really exciting. It’s such a recognizable dress with the bold prints and the cut of it. I was so glad she chose such a bold style of ours, so I recognized it immediately and was delighted by it,” Gibson said.
The 42-year-old designer grew up in Victoria, where she started her clothing line, Birds of North America, in 2007 out of a 500-square-foot apartment on Fort Street that she and her partner both lived and worked in.
She now lives in Toronto, selling her designs in a store in the city and online.
Gibson said she’s not expecting her dress’s election-night cameo to catapult her business to new heights overnight, but she appreciated the exposure. By Tuesday afternoon, she had sold five or six of the same green dress Grégoire Trudeau wore Monday night.
This morning we woke up to a barrage of messages about Sophie Gregoire Trudeau wearing one of our dresses for Trudeau's victory speech! Such an unexpected, and absolutely delightful surprise!!! Go Canadian-made fashion!!! 💪🎉 pic.twitter.com/tAhzk1uRLT— Birds of NA (@birdsofna) September 21, 2021
“I’m expecting we’re going to sell more as the day goes on, but I think people have an idea that there’s more of an explosion that happens out of something like this. When you have a business like this in fashion, it’s more of a concerted effort over years to grow your business. There isn’t really like a one-shot deal that can make or break you,” she said.
This is not the first time Grégoire Trudeau has chosen a designer with ties to Vancouver Island for her election-night outfit. In 2019, she wore a dress by Eliza Faulkner, a Duncan-raised fashion designer.