©Elias Touil

ISABELLE G. COLLECTOR

ISABELLE G., teacher, collector of vintage suitcases

Isabelle arrived in Quebec on the eve of the ice storm in 1997 and found it rather difficult to adapt as a new immigrant. She discovered her first little suitcase, with its soft shades of blue and green, at a vintage store on St. Viateur in Montreal. The suitcase brought her comfort. Since that acquisition, Isabelle has assembled an impressive collection of 42 bags of various shapes, colors, and textures.

Unlike other collectors, Isabelle uses items from her collection daily as fashion accessories. Each day, she carefully selects a case to take to work. The people in her life are rarely indifferent when they see Isabelle’s suitcases, a constant source of curiosity. People recall memories from their childhood or youth and comment or ask questions about them.

Whether she’s at a bazaar, a garage sale, in a church basement or a thrift shop, the collector carefully chooses her next acquisition. Isabelle takes care to check the condition of the bags, such as how well the zippers work. The aesthetics, pattern, and color, as well as her own emotional reaction, guide her choice. She chooses from the heart. Sometimes, when a shop is closed, she leaves a note for the owner saying she’ll be back the next day to buy the coveted object. Her suitcases are always small and used to carry personal items – books, newspapers, notes, etc.

  • ©Elias Touil
  • ©Elias Touil
  • ©Elias Touil
  • ©Elias Touil
  • ©Elias Touil
  • ©Elias Touil
  • ©Elias Touil
  • ©Elias Touil
  • ©Elias Touil

Isabelle discovered Dany Laferrière’s book L’énigme du retour by chance in November 2010. Like the hero of the novel, she wanted to reconcile with her family before it was too late and went back to her country of origin. The suitcase she took with her has become one of her most precious.

A CEGEP teacher and visual arts student, Isabelle also collects Chinese fortune cookie messages and bicycle banana seats.

Isabelle’s unusual collection reflects her colorful personality. Through her small floral suitcases, the collector would like to continue spreading her joie de vivre to the people around her.