It’s Friday evening and the sweltering heat has not stopped Montreal’s fashionistas from hitting the pavement in their strappy sandals and flowy summer dresses. Hundreds of people are crowding the blocked off Sainte Catherine with shopping bags in hand; dozens of allied stores such as Guess and Forever XXI are offering special discounts for the third annual Rallye Shopping event at the Festival Mode et Design Montreal.
As pointed out by fellow Rover writer, Todd Kingston Plummer, the festival’s commercial intentions can be glaringly obvious and at times overwhelming. However, upon a closer look, it is clear that FMDM is equally invested in showcasing Quebec’s homegrown talent.
At the Esplanade stage at 6:15, Pop Montreal’s “Collectif Fashion Pop” show gave young Montreal fashion designers their chance to shine, accompanied by some trendy beats. Each designer displayed four to five looks, beginning with Évelyne Fay’s White Label, which featured sleek and sexy lines that transform the professional woman into a femme fatale, all made from ecologically friendly and renewable materials.
The show also included the bright and bold work of Dane Richards, 2009’s Fashion Pop award-winner. His tropical, ’90s-influenced line (complete with multi-colored fringes, hologram sunglasses and Aaliyah patches) made a splash with fashion-savvy onlookers. The ’50s inspired fashion house Betina Lou was another crowd favourite, one that is sure to hit it big with designer Marie-Eve Emond’s impeccably tailored sweetheart neckline dresses and classic earth-toned ensembles.
Intelligently enough, FMDM organizers placed the festival boutique right at the mainstage entrance on McGill College. Those new and daring prêt-a-porter looks seen on the runway were readily available for shoppers with cash or credit, and most importantly, the boutique provided the designers with another arena to display their work.
From the up-and-coming to a blast from the past, the festival went all out with “Les Intemporelles,” an event which displayed exclusive vintage pieces from the Museum of Costume and Textiles of Quebec. Co-hosted by Jeanne Beker, Canada’s Fashion Television icon, and Suzanne Chabot, director of the museum, we were treated to one-of-a-kind garments by some of Quebec’s grand couturiers from the 1930s up to the ’70s.
Models glided down the runway in breathtaking gowns – timeless and intact – stopping to pose while Chabot gave brief insights on the history behind each local fashion house. If you thought haute couture belonged only on the Paris catwalks, it was (and still is) alive and well all around our province. 1950s designer Clairette had Christian Dior models flown in from the French capital to Trois-Rivieres to model her designs, while Montreal artist Arnold Scaasi’s form-fitting feminine gowns were worn by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Barbra Streisand.
Whether it was vintage-yet-timeless museum pieces or eclectic and forward-thinking inventions, FMDM made it evident that Quebec has carved a unique presence for itself in the world of fashion. It may not be Paris, but it’s got a lot to be proud of.
The 10th edition of the Festival Mode et Design is now over, but head over to http://www.festivalmodedesign.com to learn the featured Quebec designers. For more information on the Museum of Costume and Textile of Quebec, visit http://www.mctq.org/.