Culture & Conversation

Fashion Forward

Although winter still reigns supreme, flip-flops and bikinis are coyly peeking through the shop fronts of local boutiques. Around the world, fashion marathons continue with freshly finished shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris. Closer to home, the 24th edition of the Montreal’s semi-annual major fashionistas-go-to event, Montréal Fashion Week, kicked-off strongly on February the 4th at Griffintown’s Arsenal. This installment, presenting the 2013 fall-winter collections, was mainly aimed to showcase “la relève,” or the next generation of successor designers.

Among the creative assortment of new faces were debut runways for Pedram Karimi and By THOMAS. Enticing talent, innovation and out of the box designs were also displayed by Cokluch, Rachel Sin, L’Autre Couture by Luko Marion, Nadya Toto, Ralph Leroy, Nisse, Martin Lim and Rush Couture by Claudette Floyd to name a few.

A lot of effort was made this year to increase MFW’s visibility on the international arena and in turn attract global buyers and investors. MFW partnered with Russia Fashion Week to broadcast the shows there, hopefully interesting key players in the Russian fashion industry. The Quebec government, for its part, gave a symbolic push—$240,000 in financial support—to what they recognize as a “strategic sector of the economy, an industry that employs 28,000 people.” That sum won’t cover the repairs of all the city’s roads but instead it’ll serve to applaud and sprout local talents. As for the US, Target will be joining in the creation of the Target Emerging Designer Award, a $25,000 grant to the breakthrough designer whose exclusive collection will be sold at Targets across Quebec.

Though modest in comparison with New York Fashion Week, Montreal nonetheless succeeded in attracting a forecasted crowd of 20,000 attendees. Moreover, this edition included 21 films, such as Bill Cunningham New York (2010), a tribute feature about the iconic photographer, as well as an entire evening dedicated to Italian Fashion at the McCord Museum on February 6th.

Four days of pure style filled with exhibits, performances, conferences, runways and an array of diverse activities left some memorable impressions, dressing tips and an plethora of trends to look for in the coming months. On its second day, February 5th, the ambiance racheted up to hyper when some HABS stars (David Desharnais, Brandon Prust and P.K. Subban) showed up. Also, Will Smith unexpectedly appeared in the audience at Ralph Leroy’s 5th anniversary collection. More than a runway, it was a colorful glowing rhapsody, a true Haitian party. Summing up, notable chic and much glamour characterized the ever growing Montreal’s Fashion Week reputation abroad.


Pedram Karimi /Debut Runway:

Vanilla Ice was back wearing astronaut platforms and an Amish-looking cap. An image remotely resembling urban nonconformist was conveyed. Please rest assured, there is no resurgence for the rapper, just yet.

Colors were scarce, staying true to the basic palette of black and white with slight variations of light pastel green and toned reds. “I mean, it’s cold out there, it’s snowing, so why not blending in,” answered Karimi to explain the heavy use of whites. The elevated shoes that had some of the models trip and shake were inspired by his teenage years living in Austria. A vivid expression of punk and subculture. The contrast between the top’s amplitude versus the slim fitted bottom notably reaffirms Karimi’s geometrically deconstructed androgynous philosophy. “Two words: it’s everyone and no one,” he replied when asked to describe his collection with one word.

L’Autre Couture by Luko Marion / First time at the Montreal Fashion Week:

A perfectly orchestrated symphony of black with transparency playing the trumpet would best qualify the enigmatic self-taught designer’s first appearance at the Montreal Fashion Week. The multidisciplinary artist with a background in interior design and fashion presented the public with a downgraded Haute Couture collection, attire inspired by the eloquent sophistication of tailoring yet accessible and wearable. Audacious outfits that mixed everything from wool, chiffon and leather, showcased accessories as leather-like armors for men and women and chainmail. Probably the most remarkable of them remains his iconic vintage post-war hat or chapeau melon. “I wanted to convey the image of a soldier’s widow. It’s a strong woman wearing a short bolero with her refined silhouette and defined shape. Along with the music I aimed to express all the fragility of the human being,” said Marion.

While denying any intentional gothic or fetish sprinkles, Marion describes the collection as underground urban chic with a touch of mysterious. He believes that his vision honors the human figure. “I find that lately we stray away further and further from the body, like being ashamed to show we are human. I wanted to bring back the human shape,” he replied. Totally and brilliantly accomplished. The fitted elastic pants with leather details, layered jackets and dresses enticed the viewers into the decadent universe of darkness and vulnerability.

Rachel Sin:

Stunning allure of feminine, functional and understated elegance oozed from every piece of the Toronto-based designer, Rachel Sin. Her architectural background is evident in the optical shaping and impeccable cuts of her daytime sexy-chic 2013 fall-winter collection. Predominantly emerald, jade and beige (coincidentally the 2013 trend colors), Sin nods to a woman’s innate confidence by sculpting the female body with black details at the right places to create a slimming visual effect. The cape blouse and zip leggings along with stilettos complemented the elongated look of the modern seductive young professional. Transparency was judiciously used, not abused, as neither was the use of white that appeared only to accentuate the intensity of greens. Although not her most inventive collection, Sin stayed true to her geometrically clean philosophy employing comfy fabrics (spandex, rayon and nylon) that embrace the figure like a second skin.

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