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Forward thinking

Griffe Quebeccomplex

Last week I checked out Griffé Québec a new exhibit that looks at the evolution of Quebec fashion. It’s a small show, divided in to two different locations, one in the city, the other in St-Lambert. Suzanne Chabot, the curator of both the exhibit and the Musée du costume et du textile du Québec, who produced the show told me they had a tough time finding pieces to add to the exhibit. “A lot of this work wasn’t preserved,” she said, “and what we do have, is mostly from private collections.”

The work on view (at least at the Écomusée in downtown Montreal) isn’t mindblowing, you’re not going to find anything here that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the Western world (unsurprisingly a good deal of Quebec designers studied in France). But what I think is interesting and worthwhile about the exhibit are the questions it raises.

Quebec fashion (and by Quebec, I pretty much just mean Montreal) has become a paradox. Once seen as the most stylish city in Canada, it’s now known for its own brand of bizarre quirkiness, one that involves multiple patterned fabrics, unnecessary layering and asymmetric cuts. It goes without saying that there’s some great stuff coming out of Montreal, complexgeometries and Rad Hourani are two excellent examples, but when it comes to the majority, it’s more about quirk than class. Montreal continues to have a thriving, creative center so why is fashion outside of this? This exhibit reminds us of a distinctly stylish past and serves as a road map of where we should head next.

Above right a wedding dress by Colpron D’Anjou (at back) and an evening gown by Renee Chaumont.

Above left, a look from complexgeometries a/w 09 collection.

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