The moment you step off the elevators at L’Oréal Canada’s art deco head office in downtown Montreal, you enter a beauty metropolis. Video screens mounted on curving, whitewashed walls run a stream of L’Oréal television ads, and stylishly dressed women carrying clipboards and makeup samples stride across the marble floor in their stilettos.

Sitting in a boardroom just off the main atrium, Chantal Kreviazuk sips a cup of herbal tea. Dressed in a silk baby-doll top, Diesel jeans, brown suede wedge boots and a Vivienne Westwood coat, the singer is in town to shoot the new print campaign for Garnier Nutrisse Cream hair colour, boxes of which are lined up on the long table in front of her. When asked what it feels like to be the first Canadian spokesmodel for the brand and taking over for Sarah Jessica Parker (though Parker will stay on as the face of Garnier Nutrisse Cream in the United States), Kreviazuk says she can hardly believe her good fortune.

Parker’s increasing popularity had become a challenge for Garnier Canada. “Her fame went right off the charts,” says Sheila Morin, group product manager for Garnier hair colour. Michael Cyr, vice-president of Publicis Canada, the Montreal-based advertising agency that partnered with L’Oréal to find the new face of Garnier Nutrisse Cream, agrees. “Surveys found that Canadian women didn’t make the association between Sarah Jessica Parker and Garnier,” he says. “I mean, who is she exactly, and what does she stand for? Is she Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex and the City? Of Gap? Or of Lovely [her new fragrance]? We set out to find a new spokesmodel that women could relate to — someone inspirational, yet down-to-earth.”

Photo couresy of Vespa/ Kreviazuk embodies everything that Garnier Canada was looking for: wellness, authenticity, commitment and, above all, approachability. “She captures what a lot of people around the world think Canada is,” says Cyr. “Friendly, easygoing and philanthropic.”

Among the many charities Kreviazuk supports, War Child Canada has taken her on fact-finding missions to the Middle East, an experience that led to her participation in the documentary Musicians in the War Zone with husband Raine Maida (front man for Our Lady Peace), David Usher and the Rascalz. “I got a letter from an Iraqi-born Canadian girl, now living in Toronto, who felt very isolated in school until her classmates saw that piece,” says Kreviazuk. “She said it gave the other kids a better understanding of what being an Iraqi is all about. You can’t imagine how rewarding that was.”

After the photo shoot and a TV commercial that she will film in Italy later this spring, Kreviazuk admits she is eager to fly back to Los Angeles to lay down the final tracks on her fourth album — due out in late summer — and reunite with her husband and two children, Rowan and Lucca Jon. “You know, at the end of the day, we have kids and dogs and real things going on in our lives,” she says. “Our friends aren’t getting announcements like ‘You’re the next Garnier girl!’ or ‘VH1 just accepted your video!’” She ponders that thought. “I read an article the other day that completely confirmed my understanding of achievement. It said: ‘Achievement lasts for a second. The fire is in the journey.’ I believe that. No, I live it.”

Photo couresy of Vespa/