A week after the official close of Montreal Fashion Week up-and-coming designer Dane Richards staged his own independent fashion presentation. Held in the converted warehouse space Eastern Bloc the setting—exposed brick and roof beams, scuffed wood floors and white walls—struck a perfect tone a gave a polished edge to the entire collection.
Richards, who won top prize at Fashion Pop (an annual competition for emerging designers associated with the three-day music festival Pop Montreal) in 2008, is known for is use of fringe and there was no shortage of that here. His autumn/winter 2010-11 collection was reminiscent of his past work but also a look forward to something sleeker, more wearable and more adult. Though fringe was on every piece that came down the runway, from the men’s high-waisted fringed pants, (which made me think of Mongolian sheepherders) to a classic long, straight jersey dress with a thick bottom fringe, he really played with it proportion and volume to create something interesting and new looking. The best pieces of the night, however, were the fringed evening jacket intriguing, glamorous and ethical, and the fringed circle bags with pops of colour.
Photo by Richmond Lam. richmondlam.com
Back in December I profiled Montreal-based designer Audrey Cantwell for this article. When we spoke she was in the midst of working on her s/s 2010 collection and still a little unsure of the direction it was headed (though white magic was a reoccurring theme).
The collection is now up on her website and the pieces are available from her Etsy shop. Her previous collections were a bit goth and a bit grunge but I feel a shift away from that here. It’s still a bit dark and moody but there’s a femininity in this collection that wasn’t present before.
During our conversation we spoke about her influences and I’m reminded of one designer in particular when I look at the stripped geometric dress. I can see aspects of early Vivienne Westwood (okay, the face paint helps), the silhouette is unusual but not unlikely. It’s a bold piece and ultimately, wearable.
Last night, six of Montreal’s up-and-coming designers—Emilie Brunet of La Fête, Rachel Chan of Contradict, Charlotte Eedson of girlfriend material, Marie-Eve Emond of Betina Lou, Angie Johnson of Norwegian Wood and Flavie Lechat of Le Chat Clothing—presented mini-collections for Puces Pop’s Emerging Designer Award.
It was a packed event (things of this nature are so fleeting here that they inevitably draw a large and curious crowd) and one that delivered a modicum of the excitement and atmosphere of fashion weeks
For the most part, what came down the catwalk was wearable and of the moment—high waisted pants, grey shifts with ruched detailing, capes— with an overall pervading tweeness of the kind that you find on 15-year-olds and the second floor of H&M. Which is, I think, where some designers seemed to draw their inspiration and where their designs would be most comfortable.
The designers who moved away from this safe aesthetic and into more experimental territory (oversized-shoulders, Lycra bodysuits), however, had difficulty in executing the look—with one exception, Angie Johnson.
Johnson, who walked away with the prize, $1000 from Le Chateau and a feature in Worn Fashion Journal, presented a tight collection of body-con dresses, pencil skirts and unconventional jackets with many of the embellishments she’s already perfected; harnesses, fringe and lace.
Montreal Fashion Week is around the corner but Johnson’s show was a good indication of the emerging talent that pushing Montreal fashion in new directions.
One last note: the models, likely all volunteers—brave souls, were appropriately tall but were in dire need of a high-heel-how-to from Miss. J
Above Left to Right: Norwegian Wood’s Fringe Necklace and Keep Warm Leggings pics of the show to come.
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.