A mood of exuberance and enthusiasm was evident as Montreal Fashion Week raced along a four-day course that began last Monday with a welcoming reception for invitees at the historic Bonsecours Market, in Old Montreal.
On the schedule were forty fashion shows with eighty or more designers showing their view of what those who follow fashion will likely be wearing next spring and summer.
Marie Saint Pierre, who has been designing for close to 25 years, kicked off the festivities with a walk through her atelier, where pattern makers, seamstresses, rolls of fabric and crates of zippers unite to assemble her fashion vision.
Her latest line ventures beyond her trademark black to include a few pieces in vibrant red and beige, and appears to be embracing a new direction toward comfort and timelessness without skipping a fashion beat.
“I’m inspired by a new femininity and also the desire that I feel women have for both comfort and timeless, classic style from their clothing,” says Saint Pierre.
Architectural shapes in both jersey and double-faced bonded knit clothing with lines that take a turn toward minimalism inform this feminine ideal.
Minimalism was less of a factor in many of the collections from the shows, as designers chose instead to take a playful approach with multiple layers and detailed garments that included asymmetrical hem lines, insets with cob web style open weaves, cut-outs, draping, multi-tiered effects and special shoulder treatments.
Gathering was evident on bodices of tops and dresses and along the sides of leggings, but made a strong appearance on sleeves and gave shoulders a voluminous look.
“Jackets with ruched (gathered) shoulders are a key trend for spring, along with multi-tiered garments and garments that play on a variety of lengths,” said designer Simon Chang.
Jackets with trapeze shapes and cutaway styling were also evident, as were both jackets and dresses with peplums, like in Torontonian David Dixon's new Studio collection.
Short dresses with cut-outs were presented by designer Naana Tennachie Yankey for her Coccolily collection.
“I wanted my designs to be sensual and sexy and to include lots of vibrant colour, such as sapphire blue,” said Tennachie Yankey, following her show.
At the other end of the spectrum, floor-grazing halter dresses and long slit skirts appeared in the Muse Par Christian Chenail collection.
“I channelled a fun seventies-vibe in many of my designs, including those featuring starred and striped patterns and those with tie-dyed effects. We’ve been seeing shorter lengths for some time now and most women already have minimalist classics in their wardrobe. The eye gets tired of the same old–same old, so it’s time for a fresh perspective that includes longer lengths,” said Chenail.
Stripes appear to be the stand out print of the season, seen most often in black and white, or navy and white horizontal formations, on knit tops paired with slim pants, skirts and denim bottoms.
For the most part, denim stayed clean, slim and dark, or got a facelift courtesy of ombre effects and colour washes. The return of distressed and flared jeans also riffed on seventies styling.
Tones of grey-blue and greige, a shade of taupe that is decidedly more grey than brown, appear to be coming on very strong as fresh alternatives. Hues of cobalt and royal blue were very much in evidence, with navy and gray-blue sliding in as back-ups. Navy was combined with red for nautical-inspired looks, but the hot hue was more often offered as an alternative to black in cocktail and evening dresses.
As the four day festival of fashion started to wind down on Thursday, Fashion Television sponsored an afternoon cocktail event for Denis Gagnon, to celebrate the Montreal designer's ten year anniversary.
"I'm honoured to be recognized in this way and also looking forward to my upcoming exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts," said Gagnon. The Denis Gagnon Spring-Summer 2011 fashion show will be presented on Oct.18 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and will be followed by an exhibition of his work organized by the Museum from October 19, 2010 to February 13, 2011. Gagnon will also be unveiling his new cruisewear collection at Holt Renfrew in Montreal on Oct. 18 and showing his spring-summer 2011 collection on the runway at LG Fashion Week in Toronto, on Oct. 22.