Photo by Jimmy Hamelin

Photo by Jimmy Hamelin

Photo by Jimmy Hamelin

If New York Fashion Week was slogged by Snowmaggedon, Montreal has definitely fallen victim to Slushmaggedon. Ick. The semi-frozen mess has forced local fashionistas to master a sort of shoe swap of shame, balancing awkwardly in entryways while they switch from Sorels to stilettos before embarking on a desperate search for a safe place to stash their winter gear. And so begins Montreal Fashion Week!

Prior to this week’s four-day fete, Andy Thê-Anh took the unusual step of hosting a separate, off-site event to showcase his Fall/Winter 2010 collection. It was less flashy than his typical fare, though no less impressive, with cascading folds and pleats creating volume on sleek pencil skirts with high slits, asymmetrically cut cropped jackets and belted coats and graphic-floral-print cocktail dresses and gowns in rich blue and evergreen.

One question on everyone’s minds was whether fashion-week favourite Helmer would return to the runway. There was speculation last season that he intended to bury his catwalk career with his sexy-widow-themed collection for Spring 2010, and even as recently as January, when I saw him at his 2020 Saint-Laurent boutique, he was still on the fence. Turns out he just couldn’t stay away, especially not in the face of the tremendous tragedy that struck his native country of Haiti less than two months ago. As a result, the designer will be presenting a whopping 50-piece collection at a charity show tonight, with proceeds going to Handicap International’s Haiti relief effort. Tickets can be purchased through (9 p.m. at Marché Bonsecours, 350 Saint-Paul E.)

The design duo behind Barilà will also be raising funds for Haiti through the non-profit organization MAÂT with an after-party at Velvet Speakeasy on Wednesday (10 p.m. at 420 Saint-Gabriel).

And after the impromptu second show staged last season to satisfy the overwhelming demand for Denis Gagnon, the designer has confirmed that he’ll be presenting his Fall/Winter 2010 collection not once but twice this week with a second-helping show open to the public on Thursday, March 4, at 9 p.m. Tickets are available online for $25 each at

Speaking of which, you can buy last-minute tickets for all the shows taking place this week by clicking here. I’m looking forward to seeing the mix of media, buyers and die-hard fashion lovers in the stands, not to mention the return of Marie Saint Pierre and the runway debut of recently launched label Coccolily. Back tomorrow with details from the first set of shows.