Michel Brisson is a luxe boutique for men that recently welcomed fashion designer Samuel Mercure into its sartorial fold. At 24, this local boy wonder recently presented his 2012 spring and summer collection at the Laurier Avenue location where it is sold exclusively…
Says shop owner Brisson, “The Samuel Mercure look is clean and simple, which is the kind of client I like to dress, someone who likes fashion, but in a very discreet way.”
Although the total head-to-toe package might be overly avant-garde for your average Joe, Brisson assures his male clientele, “The aesthetic carries a Japanese sensibility that is very sober and minimalist. All the pieces can be worn separately. For example, you can wear this shirt with jeans and sneakers, for a look that’s casual but still edgy.”
Besides Mercure’s obvious penchant for all black, his collection is also very green. Brisson adds: “The entire collection is produced in Montreal – and all the material comes from Montreal as well.”
But what’s the story behind Samuel Mercure? One part visual artist, one part fashion designer, the quiet and soft-spoken boy in a baseball cap sees both mediums as creative outlets. Born in Sherbrooke in 1987, he studied art at UQAM and later moved to Paris to study fashion.
Montreal Buzz: What did you learn from being in Paris?
Samuel Mercure: That I missed Montreal. That’s for sure. Every time I came back I realized how much I missed being in this city. Paris for me was kind of difficult because it’s an expensive city and there’s a lot of, how can I say, annoying people.
What is it that you love about Montreal?
It’s the only place where I feel like home, where I feel that what I want to do is possible and that there’s a space for all kinds of opportunities. I could go for a trip and leave for a couple of months, but I always will come back.
Do you have somebody in mind when you’re designing? A muse?
No, it’s more an aesthetic than a precise person that I want to dress.
So what is that aesthetic?
I always start out with a few looks – my first collection was based on a monolith – and then I build from there. I felt there was an Asian feeling this time, so I decided to just embrace that inspiration.
What are the details that make it Asian?
It was more in the styling, the mood of the collection. For instance we did a video look book where the models were wearing those Japanese sandals. And there was big black panels attached to belts, a bit like a geisha, if you want.
I read that you’re also a visual artist.
Yeah, I’ve done many different things. I started with painting, which I still do when I have time, but most of what I’m interested in is installation art. It can be with found objects and I make certain additions or changes. I always work with the colour black. I get a lot of satisfaction from painting objects black.
I noticed that all your clothing is black too. Why black?
I don’t know why I’m so interested in black, but it’s always evolving. For my fall collection, I was thinking about blood and how blood turns black when it dries.
Would you call your collection avant-garde?
I don’t think the pieces themselves are that edgy. It really depends on what you choose to wear. If you wear the total look maybe it would look a bit harsh for some people, but for example for this shirt, it’s quite simple. Myself, I like to dress simply. It’s like, I’m not going to wear a total Samuel Mercure look if I’m just going to the dep (short for dépanneur, a variety store in Québec) to buy cigarettes.
What do you wear when you go to the dep to buy cigarettes?
I grab the first thing: usually skinny pants and a black t-shirt.
Where do you like to go for a drink?
If you want to make a cool kid statement, I’m not the right person. I mean any place where there’s booze works.
What’s your favourite part of the city?
Saint-Henri. I like that it’s industrial and easygoing. It’s kind of a magical neighbourhood for me. It’s not downtown, but it’s close.
What Montréal designers do you respect?
Of course Natasha Thomas for by Thomas and Christian L’Enfant Roi. We all started together with Trusst Club (a Montreal-based creative agency and shop); we were part of their 2012 showcase. I feel we are all kind in the same place. Trying to make our lines bigger. We all come from Montreal. We’d all like to enter the international market. We all have the same struggles and the same goals about our brand, and we’re all around the same age. I feel like we’re part of that young designer generation.
What is it about them that you respect?
I think our styles are completely different, and obviously Natasha does women’s wear. But if you don’t look at the designs themselves, we’re all trying to do the same thing. Trying to pay the rent with what we are doing. I admire that courage to put all your energy into something to make it happen. In Montreal we all feed off each other. I think that if Christian in his way puts Montreal on the map, it can only help me too.