Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal’s ecclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.
As founders of one of Montréal’s most successful independent fashion brands, Frank & Oak, Ethan Song and Hicham Ratnani clearly have the Midas touch. We sat down with them on the cusp of their appearance at the commerce and creativity convention, C2 Montréal, where they’ll be speaking about community, alternative business practices and the secrets to their success. How long have you been Montrealers? Ratnani: I was born here. Song: I was born in China, and came here when I was 6 ½. I lived for a while in Vancouver, but I was missing Montreal, so I decided to come back. That’s when we decided to start our business here. What is the unique factor in Frank & Oak’s business philosophy that helped your brand soar so successfully? Song: When we first started we saw two things: guys who wanted more out of life, who wanted to create their own identity, and there wasn’t a brand out there for them; and we combined that with the world stage that the internet gave us. So e-commerce and those men are what made Frank & Oak Frank & Oak. How important is a sense of community to the brand? Song: The whole… / Read More →
With the vast Cité des arts du Cirque as its centrepiece, the neighbourhood of Saint-Michel, in the northern end of Montréal, is at the heart of the city’s circus scene—and as the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil, the home to TOHU and the site of the annual festival Montréal Complètement Cirque, Montréal truly is the city of circus. In addition to world-class entertainment, Saint-Michel boasts a ton of interesting food and things to explore, despite being off the average tourist’s beaten path. We catch up with Patricia Ruel, director of creation behind the Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA, to discover all the cool stuff we’ve been missing. Cité des arts du Cirque “Cirque du Soleil is part of this complex dedicated to the circus arts, so I spend most of my days there. The programming at TOHU is super interesting. Plus during the summer, during the Montréal Complètement Cirque festival, the area comes alive – the whole esplanade in front of TOHU transforms. They set up a little bistro with a lovely terrasse where the Cirque du Soleil gang often ends up for drinks and a burger after work.” 2345 Jarry Street East Le Petit Coin du Mexique “Luzia is a… / Read More →
Hordes of hungry art lovers will congregate to an exciting new location from April 22 to 24 for Papier16, the 2016 edition of the annual art fair dedicated to works on paper. The “paper” factor was thought up with affordability in mind, to help collectors get the most bang for their buck on a range of work that extends from prints to drawings to photographs to sculptures. It just means no epic bronze statues or stretched canvases the length of a yacht. Though there will be plenty of showstoppers, as always. The glamorous venue this year? Down on the piers of the Old Port, in the cavernous Hangar 16, no less. After the fantastic view of the city we got from the Mile End location last year, this edition promises a view of the very foundation site of the city: with Old Montréal on one side and the St. Lawrence river on the other. Right there on the Clocktower Pier, you’ll be able to get a lungful of sea air while shopping for your expanding art collection. Among the Montréal galleries onsite this year, you’ll find both established and newer players, representing a whole gamut of art styles. Stop by… / Read More →
Looking for pampering? You’re in the right place. Montréal gets a ton of high-fallutin’ international guests every year, whether it’s Jazz Fest musicians, pop superstars, Formula One racers or star hockey players. Hell, even visiting comedians need paraffin mani-pedis! The result? Our service industry is poised to satisfy your every need and make your trip to La Belle Ville the most memorable it can be. Here’s your cheat sheet to the best things in life. SLEEP WELL High-end stays abound in Montréal, for all the reasons mentioned above. From Madonna to Aretha Franklin to Lady Gaga, we’ve hosted all the divas! Exacting guests flock to the gorgeously redesigned Ritz-Carlton Montréal, where you can leave your classically appointed suite and be at La Maison Ogilvy in five minutes flat.
Hôtel Le St. James is probably the city’s most luxurious stay, nestled in a historic Old Montréal building appointed with priceless antiques. Loews Hôtel Vogue, Hôtel Le Crystal and InterContinental Montréal are perfect downtown pied-à-terres, with incredibly comfortable rooms and great bars and restaurants. To be within seconds of the Old Port, you’ll want to stay at either the sleekly contemporary Hotel Gault, Hotel Nelligan (the rooftop terrasse bar is a must),… / Read More →
Ten years ago, UNESCO deemed Montréal a City of Design. Cheers to that! The anniversary is the perfect opportunity to raise a glass to some of places that give this stylish city its tone, starting with this year’s winners of the Grand Prix du Design Montréalais in the food category. We’re talking cafés, restaurants, shops and bakeries that delight not only the taste buds, but also the eyes. What are you waiting for? Go get a taste now! Pâtisserie Petit Lapin – 342 Victoria Avenue Architecture Open Form used paper cupcake wrappers as the inspiration for their design of this sweet Westmount pâtisserie. The space is subdivided into sections with zigzagging flexible partitions made of see-through white polyethylene, which make visual homage to cupcake wrappers while giving the space a chic white-washed look. The play of light on all the surfaces (including the quartz counters) is sheer beauty, and the pastel accents come in to add the touch of fun—like sprinkles on a vanilla birthday cake. Le Richmond Marché Italien – 333 Richmond Street With its exposed wood, brick walls, wrought iron dividers and marble tabletops, this luxurious Italian food market designed by Luc Laroche showcases the food against a sophisticated… / Read More →
Done with your day? Let the fun begin. Montréal may nap from time to time (usually after brunch) but it never sleeps – how could it, with all this going on? Whether you’re looking for quiet drinks with colleagues, a romantic night of dancing or a hot rager that lasts ‘til morning, here’s a guide to the wide range of good times in store once the sun sets. Indie venues to hear live music Want to catch the next Arcade Fire? Montréal is known for its show bars, where for a few bucks (and often for free) you can hear indie acts any day of the week. There’s the famous Casa del Popolo and Sala Rossa in Mile End, Divan Orange on the Plateau, Bar Le Ritz PDB in Mile Ex and so many more… find a complete list here. Jazz clubs and lounges to stay low-key The world famous Festival International de Jazz de Montréal isn’t the only time you can hear fantastic jazz and low-key music in the city. Whether you want to sip cocktails to the sound of someone tickling the ivories at Stash Café or Voyageurs Bar Lounge, or lose yourself to the jazzy rhythm at… / Read More →
Uniting over 50 films about art, architecture, dance, design, music and fashion, the annual Festival International du Film sur l’Art – of FIFA – is a colourful shot of culture just in time for the last grey dregs of winter. From March 10 to 20 in cinemas all over the downtown core, you’ll find films from around the world premiering here for the first time – including these five must-sees. Our Gay Wedding: The Musical Directed by Tim Van Someren When same-sex marriage was made legal in England and Wales in March 2014, this British film offered a front row seat at one of the first gay weddings. It was an extraordinary ceremony that united grooms Benjamin Till and Nathan Taylor, who wrote and staged their entire wedding as a musical – with sung vows, sung readings, a singing registrar and ensembles featuring the entire congregation of family, friends and special guests. Even the grooms’ mothers sing a heartfelt duet. Hollywood Censored Directed by Clara & Julia Kuperberg This documentary tells the story of a half-century of censorship in American cinema and the creative ways directors found of getting around restrictive mores. In the early 1930s, films known as “pre-code” openly… / Read More →
Winter will be warming up on February 27! It’s one of the city’s most exciting happenings ever, Nuit Blanche, the all-night, all-arts party that unites thousands. Best of all, that’s also the date that kicks off the underground art fair: Art Souterrain. Nuit Blanche could not be more Montréal – in a testament to Quebecers’ indomitable spirit, crowds of thousand gather in sub-zero temperatures to trek the city in the small hours of the morning, in search of art. That enchanted evening is also the best time to get started on your exploration of Art Souterrain, the seven-kilometre-long art walk through Montréal’s famous underground city. Art Souterrain 2016, curated by Marie Josée Rousseau, Anaïs Castro and founder Frédéric Loury, runs from February 27 to March 20 and asks the question: Must Art Seduce? Over 80 artists turned their attention to that question over 14 sites underground and 10 extra satellite spaces all over the city’s core. There are also tons of special activities, like meetings with the artists, talks, tours for kids and adults, and exclusive visits through private collections. There are artists from all over the country and even a couple of internationals in this edition, but since we’re all… / Read More →
Beautiful views, European charm, award-winning dining, entertainment that never sleeps… Montréal has got all the markers of a winning romantic weekend for any type of couple. This Valentine’s Day, whether you like things sporty, luxurious or classic (because long-stem roses never go out of style), here are five getaway ideas from us to you – with love. A classic kind of love Wining and dining is a sure way to pretty much anyone’s heart. With hotel specials like the Valentine’s Day package at the beautiful Le Germain in Old Montréal, you’re already half way there. After picking up some chocolates at Maison Christian Faure and some flowers at the stand in Square Victoria, grab a horse-drawn carriage tour of Old Montréal across the street from Notre-Dame Basilica, where Céline Dion got married (it’ll set the mood). Next, book a tête-à-tête to sample the special V Day offerings at 400 Coups (a five-course meal featuring crab ravioli and foie gras mousse), Le Quindici (short ribs braised in wine, anyone?) or the warm, European flavoured Branzino. If you can’t choose, how about one on Friday, one on Saturday and the other on Sunday? Then stroll up from Old Montréal to downtown for… / Read More →
Because the food is fabulous 1. Get ready to roll out the red carpet and welcome Joël Robuchon, who starting in fall 2016 will be tickling our taste buds at Atelier, in the Montréal Casino on beautiful Île Notre-Dame. The famed French chef has 28 Michelin stars to his name—want to bet Atelier garners him more? 2. There are dozens upon dozens of award winning restaurants in La Belle Ville, including Joe Beef, Au Pied de Cochon, Park, Toqué, Laloux, Pastaga, Lawrence, Le Bremner, Le Serpent, Chez Lévêque, Foodlab… the city is your oyster. Find other suggestions here. 3. Montréal’s festivals are renowned, and some of them are tasty as heck. There’s a mouth-watering calendar of food fests, from Poutine Week in February to Happy November! in, well November, not to mention our very special restaurant week, MTL à TABLE, which brings flavour to the end of October every year by joining dozens of local restaurants together to offer prix-fixe menus that give everyone a chance to enjoy their out-of-sight delights. Come taste for yourself! Because it never sleeps 4. With a promoter like Evenko, Montréal doesn’t miss a thing. Not only do they put on world-famous festivals Osheaga and Heavy… / Read More →