Advice from 88-Year-Old Fashion Designer and Atria Resident
Posted on September 12, 2014 by Taylor Rhea
Fashion fades, style is eternal. - Yves St. Laurent
At age 88, Mary Poirier has eternal style.
“I have liked clothes and fabric ever since I was a little girl,” says the former New York fashion designer and Atria Merrimack Place resident.
After graduating from New England Institute of Art in Boston, Mary and her best friend moved to a little apartment in New York to begin their careers in the fashion industry.
“First, I worked for other designers, and then later, Millie and I designed our own clothes and sold them to stores. Millie was my best friend and we met at my first job. We worked for this fantastic designer, who went on to be famous. His name escapes me now. He taught us special techniques and tricks of the trade.”
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; designing runs in the Poirier genes.
“My dad designed men’s shoes. He lived in Italy designing and then moved to this country and continued to make shoes. Eventually he got out of the shoe business and opened an Italian Deli in Haverhill, MA – where we lived.”
Mary’s mother passed away when she was 10 years old, leaving her dad to raise the children, with whom he had a very warm and close relationship. They were so close, in fact, that Mary met her future husband, Armand, through her father.
“Armand and my dad were friends from Haverhill and they were both in the shoe business. Armand lived close by and we dated for a while and then we got married. Life was happy. We had two great kids, Susan and Michael. Armand had a great sense of humor and was a wonderful husband and father. We had many great years together and I still miss him very much.”
“The happiest time in my life was when my children were small and I didn’t have to work. I would take them to my dad’s house and he would take us all to Boston in his fancy car. [Laughs.] I think it was a Pontiac. We all had lots of fun. I had a very special relationship with my dad.”
Mary’s devotion to fashion still runs deep, even today. She has an impressive hat collection Joan Rivers would have coveted. Atria residents frequently comment on her attire too…but how does Mary describe her own personal style? “Classy and elegant from head to toe!”
“My favorite summer outfit is my white pants with a cutout design with a lacey top and my hat with flowers on it. Now I’ll be bringing out my fall wardrobe. I love wearing hats. I have quite a collection.”
Mary has a few tips for young people pursuing a career in fashion design:
“Compile a portfolio and you have to enjoy sewing. It’s not all fun. Parts of designing and sewing take a lot of commitment. If the design doesn’t come out right, just keep working it until you get it right. Most importantly, never give up.”