Montréal has so many amazing festivals in the summer that it’s easy to lose track. The Just for Laughs Festival just wound down and yesterday was the first day of The Festival of Mode & Design. Bringing Fashion and design to the masses, this is a four day long extravaganza mostly showcasing Canadian designers, but also including some well-known international brands.
This was my first time attending the festival and I was so excited to see how the whole thing would be organized. There, in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in Montréal, on McGill College Avenue between deMaisonneuve and Ste-Catherine, thousands of fashionistas, models, local celebrities, photographers and spectators congregated.
Runway shows were taking place, pretty much on time, and despite the sweltering heat and humidity, people came out in droves, trying to find a good vantage point around the main runway.
You walk down the streets and actually catch the excitement as the models have their hair and makeup done for the shows in open-air tents. Once Virginie Coossa started spinning and the base throbbing, there was an electric vibe in the air and it felt like one giant outdoor club. It felt like you were a part of something – a “happening”.
Everywhere you looked, there were contests and promotions going on from new Montréal designers, magazines, and stores, all encouraging and supporting our talent. The patios were bustling and everyone was having a good time.
Congratulations go out to Groupe Sensation Mode, who organized the event, because amidst the chaotic atmosphere, things seemed to run very smoothly. Most people would never know how much hard work and preparation goes into these fashion shows as they appear seamless due to the army of workers. What a terrific opportunity to discover national and local talent and to be au courant about your favourite labels!
There was so much to see but I spotted Jeanne Beker on the red carpet greeted by the festival’s spokesperson, gorgeous Québecoise celebrity Geneviève Borne. We all know Jeanne from Fashion Television, but she was here to promote her line Edit, which showed on the main runway stage last evening to a large and receptive crowd.
I was really interested to see who and what the festival boutique was showcasing, as I am always looking for great shopping opportunities! When I walked into the tent, located at the corner of McGill College Avenue and Ste-Catherine, I immediately noticed Jennifer Masabni’s clothes from SS2012, marked down for the end of the season. I’m telling you, this young designer is everywhere and one to watch – I just love her clothes!
In fact, just before the show started, I spotted Annick, the winner of our contest, with designer Jennifer Masabni, wearing the very dress that she won in our contest.
Other designers featured at the boutique include: Melissa Népton, Valérie Dumaine, Nisse, Nu.I, Sylvia Cohen, Volt, Schwiing, Cherry Bobin, gorgeous one of a kind leather bags by Veinage and Miss Mak, beautiful lingerie by Sokoloff and some jewelry by Davmani . Overall, it is an impressive offering from some of our finest in one place.
One of the runway shows on a secondary stage was a very interesting collective featuring five of Montréal’s top fashion bloggers called “5 Bloggers, 5 Looks”: Candice Pantin (Montréal in Fashion), Duc C. Nguyên, Gaelle Leroyer, Mélodie Wronski , and Sophie BT .
They each had an opportunity to express their sartorial visions with a runway show and each one could not have been more different from the other. They all styled very unique looks, expressing their individuality by using local designers’ clothing and accessories - everyone did an amazing job!
Duc C. Nguyên’s exotic crimson vision was incredibly stunning but the concept that appealed to me on a personal level was masterfully executed by Candice Pantin – she chanelled Grey Gardens and “Little Edie Beale”.
I have always been intrigued and a bit obsessed by the film Grey Gardens, the documentary by the Maysles brothers. For those of you who don’t know, this quirky mother and daughter were related to Jackie “O”, lived obliviously in East Hampton in utter squalour and filth, while their decrepit home decayed around them. A victim of lost and broken dreams, “Little Edie”, a former socialite and dancer with a wild imagination and perhaps mental illness, entertained herself by styling fabulous and outrageous looks with what little clothing she had. Somehow, she never grew up and living in the past, she managed to hold on to her self-image from a more glamourous time. She always covered her head creatively with old hats and scarves, adored fur and has gained cult-like status. But I digress…
When I first heard that the talented Candice was attempting to capture such an ambitious subject for her show, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical. However, after seeing the show, I was more than suitably impressed because her models truly embodied the very picture of “Little Edie” ‘s ecclecticism. Very dramatic and exciting, this is one of my favourite parts of Fashion – conceptual fantasy made real. Félicitations Candice! (Props!)
Worth mentioning – two of my absolute favourite Montréal designers, M0851, and Denis Gagnon also showed their fabulosity last night – incroyable as usual!
There are so many events occurring simultaneously at this festival that you might have to make some very tough choices. On until Saturday, August 4th, if you’re in Montréal, I highly recommend you come down and experience it for yourselves – you might witness a true vision like I did.
Don’t forget to visit the boutique and to watch for the show from the talented girls of Atelier b. on Saturday afternoon!
Above all – enjoy! You never know who you’ll see down there!
For the complete schedule, check out festivalmodedesign.com