A recollection of our esteemed fashion highlights and an exclusive visual tour of the event.
Imagine this: Monday, May 15th, the cusp of a new week, and we find ourselves nestled within the academic realm of the École supérieure de mode, UQAM, ESG, primed to document the much-anticipated graduation fashion spectacle for LIGNES DE FUITE archive.
Joined by the skilled lens of Connory Ballentyne, we braced for a show of monumental scale. After all, these burgeoning designers have tirelessly worked on their graduation collections for a solid year. Moreover, this marked the first tangible runway show since the infamous COVID-19 pandemic pushed us into a world of virtual reality. As we embarked on this journey into the prestigious UQAM venue, we were thrust into an uncanny amalgamation of a high school science fair and a chess match of surrealistic proportions. The organizers' bid to fuse the runway with the marketing students' graduation endeavors was, to put it mildly, a tad more lukewarm than the intended cool.
The Peculiar Stage:
With a sense of grim determination, we tucked ourselves into our seats early, eagerly scanning for the telltale glimmer of industry leaders and the avant-garde attendees. Our minds couldn't help but wander to the imposing figure of Maryla Sobek, and what her indomitable spirit could have brought to this event. Then, with all the ceremony of a grocery store opening, the show began. No trumpets, no drum roll, not even a polite cough to indicate the shift. Half the crowd was still steeped in pleasantries, oblivious to the fact that the evening's ostensible purpose had kicked off.
For a brief, optimistic moment, we thought this might be a dress rehearsal, given the glaring lack of designers' names on the screens. But, much like a bad joke with no punchline, this proved to be the standard for the night. One can only shudder at the thought of Frederick Mets's likely commentary. Squinting through the murkiness of the poorly lit stage and straining to catch the echoes of a lone speaker's attempts to fill the vacuum, we dug in our heels, resolute in our quest to decipher this puzzling parade.
A Glimmer of Brilliance:
In the midst of confusion, the collections emerged as the stars of the show, offering a glimmer of hope. Our heartfelt commendations to all the students and their mentors, notably Helmer Joseph and Céline Chicoine. Their creations spoke volumes of their hard work and boundless imagination, demonstrating that a small team with limited resources can indeed outshine the grandeur of big fashion houses with massive teams.
However, we did yearn for more substantial collections – a mere four looks per student after an entire year? We expected a bit more pizzazz. But let's not wallow in that. We celebrate the fantastic designs, and four notable collections merit specific acclaim. Pascale Leonelli, Romane Poulin, Julia Beauparlant, and the fresh label Helis by Clarisse Bessard and Elisabeth Atchadé truly captivated us with their exemplary flair. A toast to them for their innovative and stunning masterpieces, proving that tenacity and passion can triumph over adversity!
A Surrealist Finale:
Just as we were coming to terms with the spectacle, the grand conclusion whisked us off to an unanticipated realm. It was less a fashion finale and more a cutting-edge new media art installation, reminiscent of the daring exhibitions at the Fashion Clash in Berlin. Alexandre Simard, the mastermind behind this non-conformist spectacle titled [FRAM]I[NG]]]]]]]]]]]]]], left us pondering in utter fascination. This puzzling yet captivating display, whether it was fashion or not, was a delightful and thought-provoking deviation from the ordinary, a testament to the avant-garde spirit that fuels fashion in Montreal.
The Last Word:
As the final moves unfolded on this capricious chessboard of style, we
were invigorated by the passionate address of the school's new director, Saidatou Dicko. Even without the aid of a powerful microphone, her fervor and steadfast dedication lit up the room. Let's toast to the dawn of new beginnings, even if they make a rather unsteady entrance.
Photography Connory Ballantyne Text Milan Tanedjikov