On the Runway

Montreal Fashion Week: Day 1 with Nadya Toto and Rud by Rudsak

Photo by Marc Muri

Photo by Marc Muri

Photo by Marc Muri

Photo by Marc Muri

Photo by Marc Muri

Photo by Marc Muri

Photo by Marc Muri

Photo by Marc Muri

Photo by Marc Muri

Photo by Marc Muri

The day started with a slippery trek down to the waterfront for Harricana’s presentation aboard the Bota Bota floating spa. Of course a little snow and ice didn’t stop the attendees from appearing in full fashionable force—heels, hosiery, hot-hued lipstick and all. Designer Mariouche Gagné presented a stylish (and green-minded) ski bunny’s dream: fluffy, recycled-fur trapper hats, scarves and bags, some adding a tribal edge to chalet-chic knits while others raised the luxe factor on JC de Castelbajac’s wild-print ski wear. With snow falling just outside, the cozy collection looked as covetable as ever. 

Next up, Ralph Leroy showcased his first foray into womenswear with a collection of fitted tweed suits featured alongside his standard fare of flashy menswear. Paired with vampy makeup and bright-red tights, the ensembles appeared better suited for after-work cocktails than a corner office, but that might simply be because the models worked the crowd with champagne glasses in hand.

On to the debut of Rud, Rudsak’s new sister label. Not unlike Soïa & Kyo, which was launched by Mackage to satisfy a younger demographic, Rud takes a more daring approach to outwear with fresh fabric combinations, such as wool-body jackets with fur or down-filled sleeves, along with off-beat details like leather straps and giant nylon cuffs and collars. Not surprisingly, the collection was nearly all black, save for a few neutral styles including a belted cape in brown and a cinched wool down coat in grey with vertical strips of silver nylon.

With Helmer on hiatus from the runway this season, it was up his peers to bring on the drama. Last night Nadya Toto delivered, with a dazzling display of voluminous, Victorian-style gowns and separates. Romance appeared in the form of cascading ruffles and flouncey peplums, while her avian inspiration was evident in the frilly feathers, fluffy pompoms and fur fringes that swung from her black and cream lace creations, which were at once seemly (high-cut necklines, low-hanging hemlines) and sexy (peekaboo swatches and one plunging-V neckline). SEE A GALLERY OF THE NADYA TOTO SHOW

Last up was a fashion performance presented by local boutique/gallery Trusst. Featuring Karl Latraverse’s deconstructed designs and Ying Gao’s cage-like knits, the show was a think-outside-the-box mix of video and live movement, punctuated with meta moments as the models turned their own cameras on the audience and photographer pit. Strange as it was to have a model perched on a chair directly in front of me (yeah, that happened, too), the show was a creative break from the status quo.

Want to see the action for yourself? You can watch selected shows on your computer or smartphone as Sensation Mode streams selected shows live every night at www.ustream.tv/channel/smm20

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Fashion week has a way of sneaking up on you, and now that Sensation Mode has moved Montreal’s up by a month, media, bloggers and buyers are heading back to Marché Bonsecours this week in a flurry of air kisses and exasperated expressions about how time flies. (It really does.)

The new timing means Montreal Fashion Week will no longer have to compete with international fashion weeks for attention. As Marie Saint Pierre put it: “The date changes everything. The buyers and the media will no longer have to deal with schedule conflicts with Europe, and we will be able to make the most of our proximity to New York. It’s ideal!”

So if you spot a parade of fashionable folk along the slushy, salt-covered streets of Old Montreal this week, that explains it. (Don’t ask me why anyone’s wearing Uggs, though. I don’t get it either—those things are as waterproof as a sponge.)

As always, the general public can attend the shows by purchasing tickets through La Vitrine. Le Showroom will once again be open to the public as well. On February 9, from 12–9 p.m., you can pay $10 for the chance to shop the spring/summer ’11 collections and meet the designers of labels such as Anastasia Lomonova, M0851, Valerie Dumaine and Second Clothing.

Stay tuned for details from the first set of shows, including a preview of Rudsak’s sister line, Rud, Nadya Toto and what is sure to be an inspired presentation by boutique/gallery Trusst