The Festival Mode & Design Montreal is a glorious outdoor event that combines the city’s many loves: fashion, design, music and al fresco living. If you’re planning a getaway to our mighty metropolis this summer, this is a must-see, must-do from August 3 to 6, for fashion and design hounds, as well as the general culture curious. And best of all, it’s free…
For the Festival Mode & Design Montreal, basically McGill College Avenue (between Maisonneuve and St-Catherine West), in the heart of downtown Montreal, is shut down to traffic and a huge runway is erected in the center of it. It’s nice and tall, so you can see all the action from a distance, which is handy considering all the fashionistas and accidental passersby that attend. A whole itinerary of events is scheduled. But here’s a quick breakdown of my personal highlights:
JEAN PAUL GAULTIER (August 3): First of all, if you’re a Gaultier fan, you probably already know about his exhibit “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” at the Montreal Museum of Modern Arts, from June 17 to October 2. (Maybe you even caught Gaultier at the Pinkarnaval parade.) On the festival’s opening night, you’ll be able to catch the legendary designer’s ready-to-wear collection starring his own muse Tanel Bedrossiantz who is flying in to strut the catwalk! If you’re a JPG groupie like I am, you’ll clear the decks just for this.
BLOGGERS COLLECTIVE (August 4): Get in touch with the voice on the streets. Montreal’s top bloggers – or blogueurs – put together their favourite looks and send them out on the runway. You can get a head start on the hype by visiting their sites: Dentelles & Fleurs, Fashionista 514 by Robyn Chalmers, L’Aristocrate by Patrick L’Aristocrate, Blogue Mode de Rue by Lolitta Dandoy and Ton Petit Look.
MODE & OPERA (August 4): I’m looking forward to this on a purely sensorial level. It will be a mishmash of classic opera costumes and singers (a baritone, soprano and tenor), electronica music, plus, mais oui, fashion – all styled by one of Montreal’s top stylists, Yso, a regular collaborator and friend of Denis Gagnon (Canada’s answer to Gaultier)! Check out this extraordinary hybrid before it dazzles crowds in Hollywood later in the year.
RALLYE SHOPPING (August 5): The Olympics of Shopping, ladies get your credit cards ready and go go go on St-Catherine Street. The main drag will be open only for pedestrians all afternoon, between Mansfield to University. Besides the retailers along both sides of the track, er, street, there will be pop-up indie designer shops, as well as cocktails and other goodies. Oh yeah, and huge discounts!
LINGERIE SHOW (August 6): The grand finale and no doubt one of the best-attended shows of the festival, this is our version of the Victoria Secret pandemonium. Stylist-extraordinaire Andrew McNally pulls together all the frills and lacey unmentionables in a provocative yet sophisticated show. Parents, this may not be suitable for the tots, but worth getting a babysitter for since it’s sure to please both mom and dad.
LOCAL DESIGNERS (Throughout the festival): And because there are just too many to mention, I’ll list some of my favourite local talent here: Anastasia Lomonova and Barilà (Aug. 4), Norweigan Wood (Aug. 5), Dubuc and Rudsak (Aug. 5), Betina Lou, Eve Gravel, Travis Taddeo (Aug. 6), Harricana, M0851, Mulcair, Valérie Dumaine (Aug. 6) and Denis Gagnon, Helmer and Marie Saint Pierre (Aug. 6).
DESIGN MATTERS (Throughout the festival): Design aficionados will want to visit the Design Studio on McGill College Avenue between Ste-Catherine and Cathcart. Celebrating Montreal’s fifth anniversary as a UNESCO City of Design, there will be six ship containers showcasing cutting edge local designers. I’m looking forward to the one with performance artist Zilon and the hip décor peeps Surface Jalouse.
When I need to give my high heels a break, I’ll sit pretty at the premiere of “On Public Benches” (every day throughout the festival at 7 p.m.) a design initiative celebrating the début of a seven-year initiative of five public benches created by local industrial designers, by whom 35 of Montreal’s public benches will be transformed into interactive pieces of art by 2017. Stay tuned. Or better yet, meet me there.
Festival Mode & Design Montreal , August 3 to 6, 2011
On McGill College Avenue between de Maisonneuve Boulevard and Ste-Catherine Street West
(All events are FREE!)
Photo Credit: Jimmy Hamelin