Montréal prides itself on its vibrant and diverse fashion scene and fashion production industry. Montréal designers usually get all the spotlight and coverage, but what about the other people who contribute to the creation and vibrancy of this scene? Here are some of the people who have a lot to do with making this city fashionable:
1. How long have you been working in the fashion industry in Montreal?
Mélanie Brisson (Stylist): I’ve been a stylist for the past 4 years.
Mathieu de Latour (PR Specialist): I’m commencing my 4th year in this career and I still love it so much. I think I love the energy and the dynamism of it!
Lolitta Dandoy (Fashion Journalist, Blogger): I started at Journal Voir in 2006, so it’s going to be 7 years. But I’ve only had my personal blog, Fashion Is Everywhere, for 9 months.
Elsa Vecchi (Fashion Journalist at La Presse): I’ve been in Montreal for 5 years. I’ve been working for La Presse for 2 years, and I’ve been the fashion editor at Dress To Kill for 4 years.
Sébastien Roy (photographer): I’ve been working in the fashion industry for the last 4 years. I started at Montreal Fashion Week as an assistant. I worked day and night since then meeting people and taking pictures everywhere.
Anik Lacasse-Richard (fashion blogger): I started working in the fashion industry right after graduating from fashion design in 2007. I then started my own fashion blog in 2009 and have been doing it ever since.
Chantal Durivage and Jean-François Daviau (organizers of Montreal Fashion Week): We have been working in the fashion industry in Montreal for the past 12 years. In 2000, we joined forces establishing Groupe Sensation Mode and serving as co-presidents from the outset. For the past 12 years, Groupe Sensation Mode has been producing major fashion events on the Canadian and international stage. These include Montreal Fashion Weeks, Le Showroom, Fashion and Design Festivals (Montreal and Toronto), the Fashion Theatre produced in Berlin, Tokyo, New York and London as well as the Fashion & Opera show produced in Los Angeles and New York.
2. How would you describe the Montreal fashion scene?
Mélanie Brisson: Montreal has a lot of diversity and creativity. It’s an awesome melting pot of inspiration.
Mathieu de Latour: The Montreal fashion scene is quite complex… As a PR representative, you have to combine and play with both the artistic and mercantile fields. Being so creative and talented, the Montreal designers are, to me, artists just as a sculptor as well as managers strongly attached to the ongoing evolution of their business. To be honest, the money is not always present in the work of few, but the quality remain always true and their accomplishments are huge. What you see during 15 minutes on a runway can easily be translated as a contest each designers are participating to. They prepare themselves for this stressful and meaningful competition during over 6 months and, within these 15 minutes catwalk show, everything must work perfectly cause they will be judged by the critics. So much pressure for a so small amount of time! Aside from the shows, there is also the selling part that is kind of complicated here in Montreal. Unfortunately, if you want to become national or international per say, you have to travel a lot with heavy luggage and everything… See, In Canada, if you want to present your collection to Holt Renfrew or The Bay, you have to do a trip to Toronto.. If you want to be available at Saks or Barney’s, you have to go in New York. A lot of work with small effectives and budgets… It’s always challenging. But we like it like that! I’m actually preparing something with UNTTLD 😉 Let’s keep the secret a little longer. I’ll keep you in the loop when everything will be released.
Lolitta Dandoy: I think the Montreal scene is small but VERY creative. We really have incredible talent and with designers like UNTTLD, Jocelyn Picard, Anastasia Lomonova, Pedram Karimi… we are covered for a few years!
Elsa Vecchi: Alternative and very interesting!
Sébastien Roy: Eclectic, young, ambitious
Anik Lacasse-Richard: Evolving. Every season, there are great new designers coming out, Fashion Week is getting better and better and more boutiques are featuring local designers, which I find is great news for our designers.
Chantal Durivage and Jean-François Daviau: Montreal fashion is in constant evolution. Our Quebec creators are very talented and renowned internationally. For 12 years, multiple productions of Groupe Sensation Mode joined hundreds of thousands of spectators, many journalists and a crowd of designers and opinion leaders. Its fashion and design are among the most prestigious in the world. Note for example the critical success of the Fashion Theater (produced in Berlin, Tokyo, New York and London) and Opera & Fashion show presented in Los Angeles and New York. Closer to us, the Montreal Fashion Week, The Showroom and the Fashion and Design Festival (Montreal and Toronto), contribute significantly to the recognition and prestige of the creators worldwide.
3. Which Montreal designers stand out for you and why?
Mélanie Brisson: Anomal Couture has always been my favourite. She is very confident and strong in her style, has the best sewing abilities and knows her clients well.
Mathieu de Latour: I would say Rad Hourani for sure… He is managing so many things at the same time, it’s incredible. I can’t believe that in a so short time, being alone, he got this major opportunity to present his couture collection in Paris! Another one would be for sure my dear friends from UNTTLD, José-Manuel and Simon. The boys are working so hard and they are so creative and well experienced, they will surely harvest soon their amazing results… And the process already begun!
Lolitta Dandoy: This is going to seem pretty obvious, but I have to say Denis Gagnon. His creativity and talent his at an international level. I also love Tavan & Mitto, they are discreet but their work is flawless and really wearable! Finally, I think we should keep a very close eye on Jocelyn Picard and VFranz Bernil.
Elsa Vecchi: Duy is a real “couturier” , I love his glamourous touch. UNTTLD : they are “la relève”. Philippe Dubuc: l’un des piliers de la création montréalaise. Martin Lim: I love their style: very feminine and chic.
Sébastien Roy: Rad Hourani stand out in the fashion world but he never showed anything in Montreal… I really like Samuel Mercure, UNTTLD, DUY, Anastasia Lomonova, Travis Taddeo and Denis Gagnon.
Anik Lacasse-Richard: UNTTLD, I think José Manuel and Simon have amazing talents and great creative minds. Their collections just keep getting better every season and they bring something to the Montreal fashion scene that is young, edgy and different.
Chantal Durivage and Jean-François Daviau: Everyone has a unique signature! For us, all the designers stand out for their inspiration, the universe in which they lead us, the stories they tell and how they express them.
4. What is the relationship between the city of Montreal and the local fashion?
Mélanie Brisson: Montreal needs to be more proud of their own talents! We need to expand to be able to export and bring money to the local designers (I am not sure about my translation, those that make sense?)
Mathieu de Latour: It’s really complicated. I think people are yet not ready to be proud of what we have here and consume locally. I think we, as communicators, journalists and medias/pr, have a lot of work to do in giving this accent on the local market. And it’s not that expensive…
Lolitta Dandoy: I think we are very proud of our designers but unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know them very well, so we don’t encourage their work as much as we should.
Elsa Vecchi: It’s a mix of anglophone culture (sophisticated, sometimes too much) and french style (l’élégance simple à la parisienne).
Sébastien Roy: I think the city and people understand the key element of success. We have strong local designer. But Montreal is a bubble and we need to bring thing outside.
Anik Lacasse-Richard: I think there is a good relationship between the two. The Bureau de la Mode de Montréal is very involved in the local fashion scene.
Chantal Durivage and Jean-François Daviau: Buying local is increasingly part of the values of Montrealers. The fashion industry is part of our history and we feel that people make it a priority. We can be proud of initiatives such as the Bureau de la mode de Montréal which promotes local fashion with the Mode Montréal pins campaign. Also, Groupe sensation Mode participates in fashion and clothing industry consultation forums for the Ministère des Finances et de l’Économie and the Committee of the Québec Charter for a Healthy and Realistic Body Image.
5. Who are some other key figures in the Montreal fashion scene for you?
Mélanie Brisson: Anomal Couture, Lyn, Anastasia Lomonova, Unt Tld, DUY, Cluc Couture..
Mathieu de Latour: Denis Gagnon for sure. I started my career with him! Tavan & Mitto. They are, to me, Icons of quality and high-end ready-to-wear in Montreal.
Lolitta Dandoy: In the journalism field, I would definitely say Eva Friede, she is definitely a force to be reckoned with! I also think Denis Desro, from Elle Quebec. He has an amazing eye and his work is always evolving, which is not easy when you’ve been at a position for so long. He’s not as active as he used to be, but I’ve always admired François Guenet’s work for shows like “D” and “Une ville, un style”.
Elsa Vecchi: The important people: Philippe Dubuc (of course!), Denis Gagnon, Marie Saint Pierre, UNTTLD, and absolutely all the designers…. The boutique’s owners who do a lot for fashion in Montreal: Marie-Claude Gravel and Jean-François Bourque: Quai 417, Michel Brisson, Laura Gurantiano: Cahier d’Exercice,…. And of course the journalists who take time to meet the designers and write about them, the ones who really like fashion (history of fashion, evolution, style…).
Sébastien Roy: Bloggers influence a lot. Lolitta and Anik. Also Cary Tauben and Mélanie Brisson both stylist. Eva Friede from The Gazette and Denis Desro from ELLE.
Anik Lacasse-Richard: Denis Gagnon is one of our best designers and I really admire his work. Genevieve Borne is also a great supporter and spokesperson for the Montreal fashion scene.
Chantal Durivage and Jean-François Daviau: We are really impressed with the work of designers, but also artists that work around them such as stylists, photographers, make-up artists, hairdressers and even musicians with whom fashion designers often have very intimate relationships. For us, the fashion industry encompasses a wide range of key actors.