Montreal Fashion Week: The 10 best moments for Fall 2013

By Thomas Montreal Fashion Week Fall 2013 Feature
Photography by Jimmy Hamelin

By Thomas Montreal Fashion Week Fall 2013 Feature
Photography by Jimmy Hamelin

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The Montreal Fashion Week party s’est terminé. Edition 24 of this four-day event celebrated its second instalment at the massive Arsenal Gallery in Griffintown. Here, in chronological order, were the ten most Instagram-worthy moments:

DAY 1

1. Natasha Thomas continues to fine-tune her By Thomas collection, which tempted with modern, feminine silhouettes in sombre shades with sprinklings of powder pink and dusty rose. I was tempted to reach out and touch almost everything she sent down the runway: the fur vest paired with shimmery boyfriend pants, the merlot-hued coat with pink turtleneck peeping out, the Champagne perfecto with floppy skirt. This is what chic ladies wear to the office.

2. Pedram Karimi, who showed briefly last season, presented his minimalist, gender-bending style with robotic flair in this, his first, solo show. White clinical leggings balanced out full volume velvet tunics, cape jackets and leather hoodies on top. While five-inch platform sneakers left some models inching down the dimly lit runway with tiny Geisha steps. It was interesting to note that a few of his hot-off-the-runway looks were already on sale at the OldWig igloo (adjacent to Arsenal), a new concept introduced this year where the public can buy Montreal designers on-site.

3. This was the edgiest I’ve ever seen Mélissa Nepton. And it was a refreshing surprise. The head-to-toe grey opening ensemble set the scene in a fluffy cowl neck knit atop a harem-esque scrunched-up legging. The equestrian theme evolved with rich tweeds mixed with leather, a men’s shirt and slacks cut in a black and grey hound’s tooth-plaid print, as well as a jodhpur legging, layered by a leather and wool tunic whose shape made a second, longer appearance later in the show as a dress.

DAY 2

4. We don’t always get larger-than-life American celebs at MFW (have we ever?) so when Will Smith was spotted in front row centre at Ralph Leroy’s fifth anniversary show there was mild hysteria, albeit contained in Canadian politesse. Mr. Smith, reportedly, was here to support his gal pal Miss Haiti who was one of the Haitian models; the actor, said Leroy, also bought the whole collection. After the his-and-her fashions came an unexpected flash dance that pitted ballerinas against island princesses, with both groups eventually gyrating in unison.

5. Overhead at MARTIN LIM from a spectator seated behind me, “This show will prove whether or not they have lasting power.” After the show, the same armchair critic squealed, “I need that cobalt blue fringe!” Needless to say, husband and wife duo Danielle Martin and Pao Lim pleased the crowd with more of their futuristic shapes dipped in 1960s flair. Although the white-based palette leaned more toward spring than fall, no-one can argue that the final trio of models who floated in billowing silk organza clouds of white, fuchsia and electric blue was definitely a stellar moment.

DAY 3

6. My giddiest discovery came when Matière Noire by Cecile Raizonville, a relative newcomer to Montréal via Barcelona then Paris (she, herself is mixed Indian, Vietnamese and French), presented a totally fresh “Amish Punk” collection by way of performance art in lieu of a traditional runway setting. Focusing on simple cuts with quality craftsmanship, a couple standout pieces that evoked gasps from onlookers included an integrated cape plus mini-dress and a midnight blue skirt with pleats gone mad.

7. Men’s designer Samuel Mercure worked his all-black signature to new creative heights – literally. On each of the four days he placed one model on a pedestal (near the bar) who sat there almost motionless, like a social outcast under a single spotlight. The no-fuss wallflower showcase rewarded Mercure with a strong-but-silent-type kind of magic.

8. If there is one label that I feel represents Montreal’s artsy Plateau vibe, it has to be Cokluch. In colours of chestnut, dark mustard and layers of black; there were boho variations of fitted mini-dresses (many in a mirrored reversible stripe pattern); tiered knits; leather bomber jackets; thick-yarned scarves wrapped like cosy winter nests around the neck and just enough racer-back tanks to show off a little bit of skin.

DAY 4

9. Mariouche Gagné made winter easier to accept with her EcoLuxe Harricana line, which was partnered this year with knitwear designer Rino Rossi. Male and female après-ski bunnies decked out in moon boots and hunting hats made all the fashion victims who showed up in bare legs (who me?) covet the cashmere, wool and (recycled) fur-trimmed tunics, vests and leggings. Plus, the mink coat with the suede aviator hoodie? Brilliant.

10. To close the week, mega-sponsor Target held an invite-only showing of their local designer competition. The talented five finalists were Mélissa Nepton, UntTld by José Manuel St-Jacques and Simon Bélanger, Anastasia Lomonova, Nisse by Nargisse E. Akyuz and By Thomas by Natasha Thomas. In the end, mommy-to-be Nepton – who was an awkward three days past her baby due date – took home the $25,000 prize. Come fall, Target shoppers will be able to take home Nepton’s designs. And that’s a wrap!