Montreal Fashion Week gets early launch

Forget about being fashionably late: Montreal Fashion Week was on the style calendar with an earlier-than-usual start this time around.

Models wear designs by NU.I during Montreal Fashion Week this week: enough time to produce collections for market.

Models wear designs by NU.I during Montreal Fashion Week this week: enough time to produce collections for market.

Forget about being fashionably late: Montreal Fashion Week was on the style calendar with an earlier-than-usual start this time around.

Organizers of the semi-annual style event opted to launch fall and winter 2011-12 collections a month earlier than the last time designs for the cooler seasons were unveiled.

In terms of timing, this puts them in closer company to high-profile fashion week events in the style capitals of Milan, Paris and Berlin and just prior to New York Fashion Week.

Sensation Mode co-president Chantal Durivage, whose company organizes Montreal Fashion Week, said it was important to stage the event during “a more strategic slot of time” on the international calendar.

It also involved talking with textile companies to see whether they could deliver products earlier to designers to ensure they’d have enough time to make samples and produce their collections, Durivage said.

With its ongoing partnership with renowned international fashion trade show Who’s Next and thoughts of involving Belgian and German designers in upcoming editions, the homegrown event is aiming to boost Canadian designers while broadening its reach to become a more global event.

“I think that Montreal Fashion Week is really strong on its niche, which is leading design,” Durivage said. “For us, it’s important to integrate more and more international designers that want to show to the North American market and this is where we’re going for the next few editions.”

The 20th edition of Montreal Fashion Week highlighted the work of up-and-coming Canadian talents alongside celebrated style stalwarts like Denis Gagnon and Marie Saint Pierre, who each presented collections to conclude the week on Thursday.

Mariouche Gagne of Harricana kicked off festivities with an off-site presentation at Bota Bota, a floating spa at Montreal’s Old Port.

Ralph Leroy, Nadya Toto and Rud, a new brand by leather goods retailer Rudsak, featured their collections at the main venue Bonsecours Market in Old Montreal.

Runway newcomers Micalla and Anomal Couture joined returning notables like Annie 50, Soia & Kyo, Dinh Ba Design, Envers par Yves Jean Lacasse, Bodybag by Jude and Cluc Couture.

Montreal label Barila featured its new collection along with costumes created for Opera de Montreal’s production of “Werther.”

Fashion Week again played host to Telio’s annual student design competition, which has the Great Canadian North as its theme this year. Designers created a luxury garment inspired by the Canadian Arctic with fabric supplied by Quebec-based textile company Telio.

Some 25 student-designers from across Canada vied for a total of $10,000 in scholarships at the event, hosted by dancer-choreographer Nico Archambault, the inaugural winner of So You Think You Can Dance Canada.

The 7th edition of Le Showroom, an off-runway showcase of designer apparel and accessories, was open to the public for a $10 admission. Fashion fans can also soak in the style showcase from afar, with the return of free, live streaming of select shows, and updates posted on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

“For us it’s very important because at the end of the day, it’s the people that buy these clothes that want to be involved in Canadian fashion and that’s how we link with them during fashion week,” Durivage said.

Durivage said while the commercial aspect of fashion week is important, they’re happy to offer a broad range of style-related events beyond traditional runway presentations.

“I think it’s very pertinent to have conferences about fashion, about the industry here, about whatever subject that could be interesting for buyers and media,” she said. “We (also) want to show that there’s a part of the fashion that is pretty artistic and you have to see it, you have to experiment (with) it.”

“It’s a way to create a 360 (degree) experience around fashion and around this spirit we want to show at fashion week,” she added.

Montreal Fashion Week ran Feb. 7-10.


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