Nova Scotia

Fashion designer with Down syndrome delighted to dress Hollywood stars

She designed, she gifted, she charmed. Halifax's Marie Webb is still riding high after celebrity-packed trip to Hollywood.

Marie Webb spent 3 days gifting her fashions to stars; some even made it to the Emmys red carpet

Marie Webb poses with actress Susan Sarandon, who was nominated for best actress in a limited series at the 2017 Emmys. (DPA Lounge/Submitted by Renee Forrestall)

She designed, she gifted, she charmed.

But having returned home, the creative mind behind the fashions of Halifax's Lemonade Stand Designs is still riding high after her celebrity-packed trip to a pre-Emmys gifting lounge in Los Angeles. 

Marie Webb was invited to an independent gift suite by a marketing company earlier this year. In the days before the Emmy Awards, the 27-year-old with Down syndrome offered up pocket squares and neckerchiefs she'd designed to nominated actors and actresses.

She was accompanied on her trip to Hollywood by a family friend and her father, Nick Webb. Together, they met the likes of Susan Sarandon and Dennis Quaid, while also connecting with people in the film industry. 

"It was beautiful to see," said Nick Webb. "Marie insisted on tying the neckerchiefs on the stars, on their wrists or whatever. She took great pains to do that well. … And all the stars were just delighted." 

Celebrity blitz

Marie's father said they arrived the Wednesday before the Emmys, set up their table at a hotel penthouse, then spent the next three days in a blitz of meeting stars and directors from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"And she made it to six every day," he said. 

Webb and Nigel Lythgoe, creator and judge of So You Think You Can Dance. (DPA Lounge/Submitted by Renee Forrestall)

They stayed at a hotel on Rodeo Drive, close to Gucci's flagship store and Dolce and Gabbana. Webb said it was overwhelming, but being close to those fashion hotspots was the perfect inspiration for his daughter.

"She sat there and drew and occasionally looked quite peeved that someone would interrupt her in her drawing," he said with a laugh. "It was really quite delightful."

Stars were 'beautiful to Marie'

During the three days, Nick Webb said they made promising business connections. They met two film directors who want to incorporate her work into their sets, one choreographer and two fashion models who expressed interest in modelling her work, including American model Blanca Blanco.

"She was beautiful to Marie and that's really what counts," said Webb.

Among the lounge visitors were three people with Down syndrome who appear in an A&E docuseries called Born This Way. Webb said his daughter "screamed across the room" and immediately bonded with them.

"Then literally an hour later, there's an international athlete … who also has Down syndrome and she came racing across to Marie and said, 'I want to draw with you.' So we set them up, side by side, and there they were — in the middle of Susan Sarandon and everybody else — just drawing away together, quite happy as clams."

Nearly all of the pocket squares and neckerchiefs were given away, he said. A few of them were incorporated into what the stars wore on Sunday night. 

"The big deal for designers, of course, is to see if any of the things they gift to these people will appear on the red carpet," Webb explained.

Health's in check

He said his daughter's health, which was thrown into question this past year with the diagnosis of a serious illness, remained stable. 

Webb and Ann Dowd, who won for best supporting actress for Handmaid's Tale. (DPA Lounge/Submitted by Renee Forrestall)

Webb said the family is thankful to the DPA Lounge for the opportunity and anticipates his daughter will ride the wave of excitement for several more days. 

"I think what was most important of all in the whole thing, was nobody, nobody even came close to saying nice things about Marie's work because she has Down syndrome," he explained. 

"Every one of them made a point of saying this is spectacular work. Period."


David Irish


David Irish is a visual storytelling producer for CBC Nova Scotia.