Montreal fashion week backstage beauty: Denis Gagnon, Barilà, Annie 50, and Anomal Couture

Photography by Louis-Phillipe Maurice
Photography by Louis-Phillipe Maurice

The anticipation for Denis Gagnon was palpable and sneaking early into the show’s venue, the Birks store in downtown Montreal, was my breaking point. High Versaille-esque ceilings and rows of glass-encased jewels persisted knowledge that Monsieur Gagnon’s show was the one to see. The Birks staff kitchen upstairs doubled as the show’s hair and makeup studio but, moments after I stepped off the freight elevator, stylist Denis Binet said to me, “Hair is natural, it’s nothing”. His idea of nothing really meant perfectly placed hair-ties and carefree fly-aways that looked more careful to me. Final touches of rich merlot-red lips were applied to a dozen or so youthful models, who all wore clean dewy faces and a nonappearance of mascara and blush. By blending an orange-red and a blue-red together, Amelie Ducharme improvised deeply seductive lips against otherwise virginal features and rivalled the aristocracy of the adornments downstairs.

Spotted backstage at Barilà, a crimper was Binet‘s pièce de résistance in turning hair into shapes like puffed-up balloons. Keeping the roots flat, smooth, and side-parted with Sebastian Professional Craft Clay, Binet’s two-texture crowns looked turn-of-the-century-come-disco-party, and totally cool. For the same show, makeup artist Amelie Ducharme thought of Northern Italy when she created wheat- and barley-coloured faces with blocked-out eyebrows and earthy brown lips. At Annie 50, Binet was inspired not by the ’70s but by a friend’s Swiss/Norwegian daughter to create long, naturally wavy hair that was ornamented with white embroidered head bands. Candy-pink lips and shimmery golden eyes were added to give girls the appearance of a recent vacation in Capri. Anomal Couture went New Age geisha with tennis ball–sized styrofoam spheres embedded into the centre of super-high ponytails and secured into place as figurative updos. Graphic eyeliner and creamy bright-pink cheeks added to the structural formation of the week’s most unexampled looks thus far.

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