Montreal: Sculpted zippers, butter-soft leathers and far-out fringe at Denis Gagnon

DENIS GAGNON Fall 2010. Courtesy photo

My first fashion intake at Le Marché Bonsecours – the main stage venue for Montreal Fashion Week – was local lady Marie Saint Pierre’s futuristic collection of body conscious jersey dresses. Other highlights that ensued included Helmer’s rainbow couture patchwork, Barilà’s rock band divas, and J.U.D.E.’s modern take on the 1960s—a show designer Judith Desjardins dedicated to the late Alexander McQueen.

By fashion week’s finale, it was back to the future with Denis Gagnon. After his impromptu second show last season (added last minute due to overwhelming attendance), it was a surprise to no one that the city’s fetish designer had two consecutive slots planned this time around: one at 8 p.m. for media and friends and a second at 9 p.m. that was open to the public.

With all the shows running behind schedule, come 9 p.m. on Denis Day, show number one was still waiting in the wings as Gagnon groupies lined up outside in a fidgety, albeit stylish, tizzy. Eventually, the Fashion Week police opened the floodgates and the masses poured in to take their places by the runway.

Despite some mild cat fighting for optimum runway viewing, the audience eventually hushed to view a clip of Khoa Lê’s documentary film, Je m’appelle Denis Gagnon (My Name is Denis Gagnon), which makes its official world premiere March 21 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (see for details). The intimate portrait of an artist showed Gagnon in his trademark oversized dark frames, cutting between footage in his hometown of Lac Saint-Jean to his “cave”–the subterranean atelier where the magic happens–one standout quote (loosely translated from French) stated: “I like to work on weekends. It makes me feel like I am getting ahead of others.”

And then, as the audience held a collective breath, an ethereal soundtrack began with slow zombie-like models gliding out, single cornrows plaited down the centre of their heads offset by mini-Princess Leia buns. A continuation of Spring 2010’s zippered effect (sculpted into collars, lapels and trim) was complemented by Denis’ trademark butter soft leathers (fave: a zip-up scuba shirt) and the introduction of fabulous, far-out fringe that he worked into fierce boleros, straight-leg pants, dresses, and jumpers; some of it billowing and free (an outer space take on the 1920s flapper), other times arranged in diagonal patterns, or delicately crocheted for a touch of ’60s power.

After the last look, Gagnon bounced out wearing an oversized zipper neck cuff, black blazer and a shirt printed with his own contemplative mug (the latter a gift bag giveaway from retailer Bedo to media as a prelude to their collaboration with Gagnon debuting this fall). In sincere appreciation Gagnon gave thanks to the standing ovation, kissed his mother who was seated proudly near the photographer’s pit, then hopped his way backstage–ready to do it all over again.

Coming up: Go behind the scenes of Denis Gagnon’s show with our Q&A with model Dana Drori.

Click the images below to see shots from Denis Gagnon’s fall show or keep scrolling to see the trailer from Je m’appelle Denis Gagnon.

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