A unique, cliché-free experience at the Fashion & Design Festival

August 15, 2016

Main text of post

The conventional “Fashion Week” approach to fashion festivals, popular worldwide, is getting a makeover. More and more of the industry’s big names are staging their runway shows in unusual venues and even outdoors. Why? To make fashion more accessible for everyone.

The Montreal Fashion & Design Festival was an early driver of the shift, making it one of the world’s unique events, built around free runway shows in public spaces. This year the event is installing its runway – along with popup shops and design furnishings – in the Place des Festivals, in the Quartier des Spectacles.

Because certain preconceptions about fashion are remarkably persistent, the festival’s programming director, Arianne LaSalle, took the time to explode some myths and give us an overview of some of the festival’s key activities.

An overview of the 15th edition, in 2015.

1. Myth: The Fashion & Design Festival is a fashion week for industry professionals.

“Not at all! The festival has one goal: to make fashion accessible and bring it to the street. It’s a dialogue between the public, the major brands and designers. We want to show people everything fashion has to offer. The Fashion & Design Festival isn’t just a fashion week – we’re unique because we speak directly to ordinary people and invite them to the party.”

2. Myth: designer creations cost an arm and a leg.

“It’s actually possible to find very affordable, well-made pieces that aren’t esoteric or expensive. The festival is committed to the idea of ‘spending better.’ On-site, there will be popup shops and fashion trucks – a bit like food trucks, but selling locally designed clothes – for every taste.”

3. Myth: fashion is only for so-called fashionistas

“Not true! Fashion is for everyone, and it covers a wide spectrum. To be interested in our designers, there’s no need to be a fashion maven who takes risks and wears wild creations. There are many accessible offerings, including high-quality basics.”

4. Myth: the festival is all about runway shows.

“Definitely not! As well as having a large design component, the free outdoor site goes beyond just fashion. Design and music are very important. We have several local performers lined up – Dear Denizen, Debbie Tebbs, Archichic, among others – who make gorgeous music. We want to build bridges among disciplines.”

5. Myth: runway shows are just for women.

“There are plenty of men at the festival. There’s been a shift in the last few years in men’s interest in fashion, and also in what’s available – the selection is getting bigger and more interesting.”

What’s happening at the festival

An overview of last year runaway by students from collège LaSalle in Montréal and LCI Barcelona

Four evenings of runway shows and live music

Place des Festivals
August 17 to 20

The site has two stages. The 100-foot-long Casino de Montréal runway will feature shows by major labels and designers. There will be six designers from Cabinet éphémère, a runway show/concert (fashion, dance, rap) presented by the Waxman House menswear line, and La Vie en Rose lingerie. New graduates of Montreal’s LaSalle College and LCI Barcelona will also show off their collections.

The M.A.D. (mode, musique, art et design) stage will showcase young designers. Most of the models on the runway will not be professionals: they were chosen through a large open casting call, giving members of the public the chance to be part of a runway show. Every evening at 7:45 p.m., the space will be taken over by an Instagram star such as ISHMAIL, Tristan Ginger or Isabella Forget, who will give performances both real and virtual.

Plenty of presentations

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
August 15 to 18

“We are always very pleased to welcome our special guests,” says Ms. LaSalle. “Every year, we see that Montreal is a magnet for big names. Our guests say that the city and the festival have a certain je-ne-sais-quoi, and they really feel at home here. With our guest lectures, we want to inspire festivalgoers by presenting speakers who have a unique history, a story to tell.” Artist Trouble Andrew, who works with Gucci; businesswoman Lise Watier; couturier Hervé Léger-Leroux; and street photographer Scott Schuman (of The Sartorialist) are just a few of the 15 guest speakers selected by Stéphane Le Duc, the curator of the FMD Conférenes series.

Fashion & Design Festival

August 15 to 20