On the Runway

Montreal Fashion Week: Day 4 with Denis Gagnon, Barilà and Marie Saint Pierre

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

Final day! First up, a cocktail to celebrate the release of the “I Love You” accessories collection, designed by Denis Gagnon in collaboration with Montreal-based online boutique Style & Conscience. The trio of heart-inspired accessories are on sale now until March 6, with proceeds benefiting the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Quebec. For more information, click here. SEE A FULL GALLERY OF THE DENIS GAGNON SHOW

Soon after, Gagnon brought his collection presentation back to Bonsecours with swirls of incense smoke and mood music as models dressed like furry fembots took to the catwalk. The show was divided into two parts, with the first half dedicated to an all-noir array of volume as layers of supple leather, fur and crocheted knits culminated in Gagnon’s signature sculptural form. The silver zippers came as no surprise, but the fur (yes, more fur!) was worked into the designs in wondrous ways, sprouting up on décolletages, pumping up certain silhouettes like crinoline and even appearing as hairy wedges on the Aldo-made shoes. Hair was swept up into slick swirls while winged eyeliner in fluorescent hues and metallic gold added to the futuristic feel.

The second half of the show revealed a brighter side of Gagnon. Over the past seven seasons that I’ve seen, he’s used colour with extreme restraint (a shot of red here, a stroke of mint green there), but as the lights shone anew, a pack of polychromatic models appeared at the mouth of the runway—and that’s when the jaws hit the floor. The audience lapped up the multicoloured mash-ups, from the sleeveless top swathed in pale pink, yellow and turquoise that was paired with a pink-fur-and-mauve skirt to the hot-pink gown with a matching fur hem and patterned crochet overlay that closed the show. After multiple seasons of fringed and zipper-loaded styles, it was nice to see Gagnon do something drastically different while still delivering the textural elements and masterful handiwork that have become his trademark.

In the evening, local textile manufacturer Télio hosted its annual design competition, during which it selected five winners out of hundreds of fashion-design students from across the country who’d submitted sketches in the hope of being selected to compete. This season, the 25 finalists were asked to create designs under the theme of  “The Great Canadian North” using pre-selected Télio materials that included white faux fur and patterned fabrics inspired by natural elements. The jury, which included, among others, Sensation Mode founder Chantal Durivage and Vancouver designer Jason Matlo, selected Earl Luigi Oliva Mabaquiao of Kwantlen Polytechnic University as the first-prize winner, rewarding him for his silver patterned sequin frock with a $3,500 scholarship and some prime publicity.

Afterwards, Barilà took over the runway with full-on seventies flair. All the references were there: printed maxi dresses, turtlenecks, wide-leg pants, calf-length skirts, jumpsuits and even giant cuffs and cozy muffs crafted in (take a guess!) coloured faux fur. The palette of harvest hues like pumpkin, aubergine and dusty pink, along with brown and teal, sealed the deal, as did the floppy wide-brimmed hats that topped the looks. It was pure seventies gold, save for the ill-fitting footwear that forced the models to halt and adjust their heels mid-walk or do away with them altogether. Fortunately for them, that never fails to elicit cheers from the crowd.

The last—and by far the latest—show of the week was Marie Saint Pierre. After opting last season to stage an event at her Atwater Market atelier instead, the Quebec design queen’s return to the runway was highly anticipated and, apparently, highly secretive, as photographers were ordered to exit the pit during the pre-show run-through. The good news is it was worth the wait: the juxtaposition of fluid forms and architectural lines, matte fabrics and metallic-gold accents, and a largely subdued palette of black and white sprinkled with striking shots of neon orange—it was classic Marie Saint Pierre made modern, and a fabulous way to close the week.

À la prochaine!