Street activities and special presentations that pay tribute to fashion and design.
Catwalks in the street, thumping beats, champagne flutes and stilettos left and right – the annual Fashion and Design Festival can be a dizzying affair! And since we want you to get the very most out of all your Montréal experiences, find below your complete guide to the summer’s most glamorous experience.
Fashion and Design Festival, August 19 to 22.
What you’re getting into
The 15th anniversary edition of this major outdoor event at Quartier des Spectacles, in the heart of downtown Montreal, presenting 50 shows, as much as 300 participants and 550,000 visitors expected. This one-of-a-kind occasion provides an inside look at the world of fashion and design through activities like fashion shows, live creative sessions, film screenings, tons of conferences, design showcases and musical performances. Participating brands this year include Guess, Forever21, Ardène, Dynamite and Le Château, while individual designer shows include Hey Dahye, Iris Campo, Expose by Télio, Laurence Nerbonne, Pieter Oliver and many more.
Like any other large-scale festival, there are a few essentials: First of all, your finery. With crowd this fabulous, brimming with designers, trendsetters and models, you want to decked out in your coolest garb! Get creative and have fun, and keep in mind 6-inch heels may be oh-so-glamour, but you could be standing and strutting around for hours. (I’d save them for the Stiletto Race.) Since it’s outdoors, sunscreen is highly recommended, not to mention a reusable water bottle to keep hydrated (but not one made of glass or aluminum, which might be confiscated).
What not to bring
There are a few prohibited items that won’t be allowed on site: Any alcoholic beverages (there are cool spots onsite, plus you’ll be right downtown surrounded by bars and restaurants, should the mood strike) and glass and aluminum containers. Also all pets (except service dogs), even cute accessory dogs, as well as folding and portable chairs, bicycles, skateboards and roller skates.
To get to the festival: You’ll find several payable parking lots around the site, including Place des Arts, Complexe Desjardins and Université du Québec à Montréal. Holders of a disabled parking permit will have access to reserved spaces in the parking garage at Place des Arts. Everyone’s best bet is to come by public transport though, especially considering the road closures. The nearest metro stations are Place-des-Arts and Place-d’Armes.
Looking to learn? One of the most enriching things about the FDM is that amid all the beautiful creativity on the catwalks and in the booths all around the site, there’s also learning to be had. The series of conferences is impressive and includes speakers like Jean-François Fullum from New Balance, visual artist to the stars Scooter Laforge, stylist Patricia Field of Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada, fashion photographer Adam Katz Sinding and more.
Want to watch? There’s also an amazing film selection paired with this year’s edition, showing at the nearby Cinéma du Parc. See great style flicks like L’Amour Fou (about YSL), Bill Cunningham NYC, Iris (about octogenarian style icon Iris Apfel), Valentino: The Last Emperor, Dior & I and more.
Into a listen? Plus, let’s not forget the musical aspect! Light up the days with the many Piknic Électoniks and the Lunch Beat, and then the nights with CoolKoala, Charles Cozy and more.
All that primping gave you the munchies (or the thirsties)? Don’t miss a conglomeration of Montréal food trucks onsite every day, from Wednesday to Saturday –plus during the Lunch Beat dance fest on Friday, August 21! You’ll also find VitaminWater and beer kiosks all over the site. Beyond that, Montréal offers an incredible wealth of food and drink options in the blocks that surround the site, with diverse eateries downtown, in Chinatown, on St-Laurent Boulevard and Old Montréal an easy walk away.
If you lose something, don’t panic: Head for the information booth, or contact one of the clearly marked employees that will guide you to the right place. You can contact 514-876-1499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
And because the most stylish thing of all is giving back: Proceeds to the Stiletto Race go towards local charity Le Chaînon, in aid of women and families recovering from abusive relationships. Sign up here with a friend (it’s a relay race); participation costs $50.