Culture  High style, low prices

Montreal Fashion Week offers inspiration to the frugal fashionista

The 16th annual Montreal Fashion Week kicked off on March 2 in the Old Port. The shows were held at the bravura Marché Bonsecours, a large and lofty space nestled in the heart of Montreal’s cobblestone oasis. Sensation Mode, the organizing touchstone behind the event, in collaboration with Proctor & Gamble Beauty (P&G), put on a week’s worth of mouth-watering shows. With an increased presence of menswear collections on the runway and a showroom stocked with merchandise available to the media and press, I was able to experience a side of the event I had never seen before.

BODYBAG by Jude et J.U.D.E proved that in Judith Desjardin’s tenth year of designing, her bold feminine looks never fall under the style radar. The looks were two-fold, with fierce fur adornments, as well as feminine cuts and tailored details. Models were decorated with otherworldly headpieces, opulent enough to make Blair Waldorf wannabees weak in the knees. Retro lace overlay hats by Ophelie went well with the selection of camel- and caramel-coloured cardigans. The same plaid and tartan patterns that often bedeck Arts West building frequenters were featured in Desjardin’s evening shifts and office-appropriate looks, proving the designer is never one to miss a beat.

Christian Chenail’s “Muse par Christian Chenail” fall/winter ‘09 show was more subdued than his previous collections. A very minimalist runway echoed the stylish Parisian music star Francoise Hardy and über-chic Jackie Kennedy Onasis. Hardy’s syrupy voice remixed to TTC’s electro rap played during the show, as models in basic blacks and hazelnuts poured down the runway. The models’ one-sided hair-dos channelled model and socialite Alice Dellal’s half-shaved head. Expect to see the return of the high-waisted pant and skirt. Also, heavy knits and chunky fur scarves and stoles were paired with loose-fitting boyfriend blazers and trousers on Chenail’s runway. To get the same look without breaking the bank, I suggest opting for a less wallet-damaging scarf, and just stealing your dad’s old pair of Levis and rolling up the cuffs.

This season brought a whole new meaning to recessionista-chic, with complementary beauty products and bite-sized hors d’oeuvres. When asked how she felt about continuing to support Fashion Week during shaky times, a P&G Beauty representative noted, “It helps the industry locally and offers people a window to the world.” To see so many supporters of both homegrown Montreal talent and internationally-acclaimed designers in one room truly dismissed any negative vibes generated by the current economic situation. Cara Braude, a marketing representative from Le Château Montreal, addressed the issue: “Fashion week celebrates the talent in Canada. We are supporting the economy! Le Château is here as a retailer to support the industry.” Braude, a fervent believer in bringing what’s hot from the runway to the masses, also said: “Le Château brings runway to real way! We can relate!”

The thesis of this season’s fashion week: keep donning those high-waisted skirts and skinnys, girls, and for guys, tailored blazers and leather have never looked hotter. If you’re like most of us, and cannot compromise between this month’s rent and an MO851 coat, just remember it’s not the label that makes the look but the fierce fox that pulls it off.