Are We Just Not That Into Him?

After more than ten years of hard work Denis Gagnon is enjoying some well-deserved moments – a FashionTelevision special, a line for BEDO, an exhibit at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Montreal and the opening of his own boutique in Old Montreal. The press uses the words “icon” and “Denis Gagnon” together often.

So it was hard to ignore the audible concern over a less-than-stellar turnout at his LG Fashion Week runway show. When will the world properly take note of Denis Gagnon, we all wondered. It doesn’t seem fair (to him) to be kept a secret any longer. This June his genius will be on display at Toronto’s Luminato Festival. Lancôme and Luminato have commissioned Gagnon to create a one-of-a-kind dress installation inspired by Alice in Wonderland. This event will position Denis squarely within the international arts community. And let’s face it, the man is an artist.

Gagnon’s fall 2011 collection was described as a “fusion of colors, textures and materials, the feminine silhouette, endowed with a new profile, enhanced by this exuberant sensuality found in the sculptural work of Denis Gagnon.” Our inveterate creator could have been channeling Michael Alig’s Club Kids of the 90’s in his exploration of a new feminine silhouette.

Photos by Peter Lytwyniuk /
If you wonder how some of these things would look on a store hanger, you needn’t wonder long. Denis opened his new boutique last week in Old Montreal (170B rue Saint-Paul Ouest) where, in addition to apparel, you will find the gorgeous accessories from his runway show. Could a fragrance and line of eyewear be far behind? Who knows? One thing we have learned in ten years of watching Denis Gagnon – expect to be wowed.

Biddell’s Kingdom of Ass-Kicking Ladies

Photos by Peter Balinski
For a designer to resonate with a public, they need to have a voice.  That may be an odd choice of words given a designer’s silent contribution in the form of fabric, but the voice is what the customer either relates to – or doesn’t – as it must also speak for them.

Evan Biddell‘s voice has been loud and clear since he first showcased his winning Project Runway collection. And each season that voice seems to get stronger.  It’s a voice says,  “I’m feminine and soft, but don’t f#%k with me, I can’t be played.  “For spring, the ever-daring Biddell combined the hard edge of armour with the wispy float of a summer breeze and made it work.  

Biddell is, in fact, all business now.  He has spent the last five months working out of Seven Continents, a local manufacturing company steeped in design.  They produce mannequins, bust forms and pretty much any display or merchandising item used in retail, from Joe Fresh to Abercrombie and Fitch.  They clearly appreciate all facets of design and innovation.  It’s a Warhol-ian Factory circa 2010.  In fact the runway show took place inside the factory where endless mannequins towered above at the guests on massive shelves.
Off the top we saw Biddell’s signature flowing gowns and dresses capped in spiked collars and metal detailing.  Then the armour began to soften, looking more reptilian.  Military cuts paired with the delicate floral prints came off Little House on the Prairie in a post-apocalyptic world.  (I swear the best fashion is made for the end of the world!)
What I appreciate about his work is that he can continually surprise us with new shapes, textures, cuts and detailing but still keep it – for the most part – quite wearable.  His is not a collection you will likely ever find at The Bay, but when you do stumble upon a piece by Evan Biddell, you will be know immediately you have discovered something special.

Speaking of special….

Evan Biddell autographed TWO limited edition shopping totes by Aldo for YOU, F-listers!  I’ll pick two winners at the end of the weekend – contest closes at 8pm on Sunday, October 17th. One entry per person.

All you have to do to enter is email with the names of all seven continents. (Here’s a hint…)

The bag is a symbol of the donation Aldo has made on behalf of the Canadian fashion industry and Evan in the fight against AIDS. You will be proud to carry it!   

Catch Evan’s show at LG Fashion Week – Thursday, October 21 at 6:30pm.