I come from a city where fashion is an art that is widely exhibited, globally admired, historically institutionalized and relentlessly scrutinized. In Paris, one’s style is an indication of one’s knowledge of the latest fashion trends, selectively picked for the city to see. It is not out of sheer competition that Parisians yearn to look their best, but rather because Paris has forever been a city-wide catwalk where individual fashion can inspire and be admired, much like a piece of art.
To clarify, I want to make the distinction between fashion as daily procedure and fashion as an art form. For some, there is no difference. These people are referred to as ‘trendy’ people. Although, in my opinion, this colloquialism undermines their talent and effort. Others, who are able to make the distinction, are the hidden fashion gurus of Montreal.
Montreal has a unique way of presenting fashion as an exclusive and sporadic event. In other words, it is a backstage art where true fashionistas venture to the hidden reaches of the city to find that one piece of clothing that only pleases a select group of people. While fashion in Paris is experienced collectively, Montreal surprisingly turns fashion into an selective and sometimes-elitist art.
Last year, I took on the task of creating and launching my own fashion, here in Montreal. My partner and I planned our first fashion show in precarious, little loft in the Mile-Ex. As its name implies, Montreal’s Mile Ex was filled with mystery. It was during this experience that I had the opportunity to mingle with many of the people who orchestrate the Montreal fashion industry, and found myself a way into its secretive backstage world.
During my time in Montreal, I have realized that fashion here is an underground activity. While Montreal has some of the most promising young designers in the industry to offer, they operate in the shadows of a city that does not consider fashion as a chief artistic staple. For instance, SSense, a retail shop in Montreal’s Old Port has worldwide recognition through its representation by one of Paris’ top consulting groups (PR Consulting), but only a select few people have heard of its arrival in the city.
I have come to hold Montreal fashion in high regard, primarily because of its selectiveness, witnessed solely by the most conscientious eyes; but I will wait eagerly until it offers its secrets to everyone.