On the Runway

Montreal Fashion Week: Day 4 with Ezra Constantine, Paria Lambina and Barilà

There’s no denying Denis Gagnon is a big draw. During the past few seasons, his closing shows have attracted huge crowds and beaucoup de buzz. So you can imagine the disappointment when it was announced that, alas, he would not be showing this Montreal Fashion Week, opting instead for a blowout show on October 18 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to celebrate the opening of his exhibition, Denis Gagnon Shows All. (Beauty news alert: The designer is currently working on a special collaboration with Lancôme makeup artist Lora Spiga for the event.)

Gagnon did make an appearance on the final day of fashion week — giant glasses and all — at a tribute cocktail party hosted by Fashion Television. Multiple appearances, in fact, as Sensation Mode staff schmoozed in fitted white T-shirts bearing the designer’s face — all part of the line Gagnon recently launched in collaboration with Bedo.

Not that there weren’t plenty of fashion shows to take in on the final day. One I’d been looking forward to in particular was Paria Lambina, an up-and-comer from Toronto who presented polished dresses and separates in pretty pastel hues (surprisingly, one of the few pastel palettes of the week). Her silky short shorts and sheer sleeveless blouses would make ideal staples in any summertime work wardrobe.

I also took the unusual step of covering a menswear show, mainly because it wasn’t just any menswear show, but Ezra Constantine, showing in Montreal courtesy of Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong, the designers behind Toronto-based ladies’ label Greta Constantine. The looks were louche and edgy, with slouchy pants and deconstructed tops that were definitely made for avant-minded men (and probably their stylish, sticky-fingered girlfriends, too).

Tribal-inspired theatrics took over at Bijoux Carlone Néron. Models dressed as warrior princesses and Sahara desert goddesses passed through a circle of painted male percussionists to unveil sparkly chain arrangements cascading down from their necks and across their décolletés and backs to their knees. The final piece, a racy mass of crystals and metal displayed on a topless model, was a fitting introduction to Néron’s personal appearance on the runway to present the first cheque from her fundraising efforts for the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation (a whopping $40,000 that sets a wonderfully positive tone as we enter into Breast Cancer Awareness Month).

Barilà closed the week with a bang. (Closed it for most media and buyers, that is, as the Look Book by Yso presentation that followed was a fundraising Coles Notes–style show that gave the general public a glimpse of what went down all week.)

Backstage before the show designer Sabrina Barilà described the “Goddard girl in Hawaii” she conceived while on vacation in the land of leis and hula skirts.  While most of us try to avoid looking like a tourist, Barilà delivered a stylish sightseer’s dream: re-imagined Hawaiian shirts cut into a fitted crop top and floaty little frock, breezy rompers and jumpsuits featuring punchy tropical prints and tucked-in Ts and tanks printed with vintage drawings commissioned by 18th-century explorer James Cook that Barilà discovered while on her island adventures.

It was show full of sartorial surprises, even down to the accessories, which included floppy, wide-brim hats and visors so cute you wouldn’t mind giving grandma-chic a try. So kudos to Barilà and all the designers this week — it was quite a trip.