Montreal is known for its fashionable people and creative minds and the festival of Mode & Design proves it. Gathering some of the best people in the industry, it includes 50 shows, almost 300 participants, and over 550K visitors. Since 2000, the Groupe Sensation Mode who is responsible for the festival has been able to better conceptualize the various elements of the week-long event.
Some of the most interesting and unique aspects of the program are how it includes multiple panel conferences on various related subjects. The week started off strong. On Monday, the first conference was with three #girlbosses who all opened up about their ups and downs in the world of entrepreneurial endeavors in the fashion industry.
Being women ourselves with similar vibes, it really touched us. These chicks kick ass and they all had their very own strong personalities. From Montreal-made lingerie (Sokoloff), bathing suits (Hoaka Swimwear) and women’s clothes (Womance); each brand was distinct and representative of the woman behind them. Three beauties, inside and out. It got us interested in their products and their online stores. A great panel to inspire any entrepreneur (man or woman). You can follow their Instagrams below:
The following days provided us with other compelling conferences discussing topics such as the history of fashion and the place of luxury in Montreal. The panel on luxury featured Marie Saint Pierre (Maison Marie Saint Pierre), Jean-Christophe Bedos (Birks) Michel-André St-Jean (SAQ) and Marie Claude Lortie (La Presse) and was hosted by Jacques Nantel (HEC Montreal).
The diverse professional backgrounds of the panelists were representative of the luxury market itself: it is an entire ecosystem. This includes not only fashion but also dining, hotels, fine wine, etc. It was fascinating to grasp how particular the luxury market is in our city.
Research has shown that Montrealers seek experiential luxury more than the extravagance traditionally defined by European brands. The panelists called it nouveau luxe. This comes as no surprise as the global reputation of our city is that of innovation and creativity. We prefer to discover exclusive new trends as opposed to purchasing from prominent brands. Luckily for us, Montreal has developed a fantastic local luxury product market in the last few years that keeps growing and even getting international recognition.
Next, we attended the conference on the history of fashion, specifically in Montreal. Firstly, it presented a few short clips showing some of the defining moments in Montreal’s fashion history.
The highlight was, of course, the main talk with Herschel Segal, founder of Le Château. He spoke of his journey and how his brand disrupted the status quo in the Quebec fashion of the late 1950s. He brought post-war London fashion to our streets. The newest generation were rebels that wanted to look nothing like their parents. Brighter, tighter and shorter was the definition of new age fashion.
Le Château knew how to give the youth what they wanted. Mr. Segal considers himself a brand builder whose philosophy is that “you have to change if you want to be around”. With such a philosophy, it is no wonder that the brand he founded still thrives to this day. When John Lennon and Yoko Ono ask you to design the jumpsuits for their iconic bed-in in 1969, you know you are a part of pop culture. What a legend!
The amazing thing about the Festival Mode & Design is that all fashion shows take place outside. Anyone can attend and be inspired by the current fashion trends! This year, the stage was in an “L” shape, as opposed to the conventional linear runway. This allowed for the public to see the styles closer and from more angles.
There were a wide variety of presentations and fashion styles. There was a mix of local and international designers which were great. They showcased immense diversity in all aspects; from the models themselves, to the music and to the overall brand culture. Some of our preferred shows were from designers Arti Gogna, Autre Riche, Eve Gravel, and Wonderbra Canada. Local favorite Dynamite also made a surprise appearance promoting some pieces from their upcoming collection!
Pop-up stores & Festival vibes
What is fashion week without a little shopping along the way? Montreal’s love of all things original and artful was apparent when strolling through the pop-up shops at the Quartier des spectacles. Featuring wondrous local entrepreneurs who produced a diverse range of quality products, it was a great way to discover new trends.
From jewelry to clothes, to lingerie, to handbags, there was an interesting mix of items. We even had the opportunity to meet with some of the creators of brands like Philo, Atelier SYP, and Prysm among several. It was an encouraging experience to learn about how some of these entrepreneurs operate.
Overall, the vibe of the main area of the festival was exciting. Bar Chadon being the main alcohol sponsor, there were a few places to grab a drink while you enjoy the ambiance. The DJ booth was playing some great tunes to take our experience to the next level. And the cherry on top? The wine-tasting booth! We got to explore the various aromas of Kim Crawford wine from New Zealand. Because what is Montreal without a window onto the international scene?
With such a varied programming of inspiring conferences, diverse fashion shows, and shopping, the Festival Mode & Design has a lot to offer. For all fashion lovers as well as those looking to discover the art that is fashion! A great festival that showcases Montreal and its well-deserved fashionista reputation!
For all the information on the Festival Mode & Design, visit their website here.
JMSB alumna with a business mind and a creative heart. Prefers any environment where she can combine the two. World traveler who is at her happiest in airports/train stations/bus stands because that usually means she is on her way to explore a fascinating new destination. Curious about the process and history of creators such as Gaudí, Dalí, and Chanel to name just a few. Montrealer who loves discovering art and stories that set the soul on fire, making them all the more exciting to share!