Montreal Fashion Week (MFW) was a semi-annual event that invited Quebec designers to present their seasonal collections at runway shows, performances and exhibitions. During its 13 years of existence, Montreal Fashion Week ensured that its programming included both established designers and emerging talents.
The event was founded in 2001 by Liaison mode Montréal, an organization headed by Lynda Brault. In its first year, MFW presented the work of approximately 15 designers, including Luc Laroche, Philippe Dubuc, Christian Chenail, Denis Gagnon and Yves Jean Lacasse.
The runway shows attracted an audience of about 200 fashion industry insiders and members of the media, as well as the designers’ friends and family.
All MFW activities took place in the Telus Theatre, then known as Aria.
In October 2005, Groupe Sensation Mode (GSM), founded by Chantal Durivage and Jean-François Daviau, took over the organization of Montreal Fashion Week. For its first two editions, GSM presented the event under a marquee in Montreal’s International District, on the corner of Viger Street and Beaver Hall Hill. After spending a year at the Imperial Theatre, Montreal Fashion Week moved to Bonsecours Market in Old Montreal, where it stayed until September 2011. Year in and year out, 25 to 30 designers presented a show at MFW. Among the regular participants were Marie Saint Pierre, Ève Gravel, Nadya Toto, Tavan & Mitto, Mélissa Nepton, Martin Lim, DUY, UNTTLD, Andy Thê-Anh, Denis Gagnon, Mackage, Soia & Kyo, RUDSAK and Harricana.
In 2008, Le Showroom, a new venue with space for 50 to 60 Quebec brands, was added to the program. At its height, MFW, essentially an industry trade show, enabled participants to close deals worth over $5 million in less than a week. Other initiatives associated with Montreal Fashion Week were lectures and runway show/competitions for fashion students organized by the fabric company TÉLIO.
In 2010, MFW opened up its fashion shows to the general public. This decision was motivated not only by financial considerations, but to open up the Quebec fashion industry itself, often perceived as inaccessible by consumers.
For its last four editions, from February 2012 to September 2013, Montreal Fashion Week shifted its activities to the Arsenal Contemporary Art Gallery in the Griffintown neighbourhood. Groupe Sensation Mode then announced that the fall edition would be merged with the Fashion & Design Festival, a public event launched in 2001, and that the winter edition would be discontinued. This turn of events reflected the changing fashion industry, where designers are increasingly exploring avenues other than traditional fashion shows to disseminate their collections.
In total, there were 25 editions of Montreal Fashion Week. However, in March 2018, the Conseil des créateurs de mode du Québec revived Montreal Fashion Week. The event included presentations and runway shows, notably a group show featuring the work of 12 designers at a fundraising evening for the Quebec Lung Association.
« La Semaine de Mode de Montréal dévoile Prélude, une première série d’événements amorçant le printemps 2018 » Cision, Groupe CNW Ltée, 8 mars 2018, https://www.newswire.ca/fr/news-releases/la-semaine-de-mode-de-montreal-devoile-prelude-une-premiere-serie-devenements-amorcant-le-printemps-2018-676233203.html.
Latimer, Joanne. « Montreal Fashion Week: a difficult rebirth » The Globe and Mail, The Globe and Mail, 21 avril 2018, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/montreal-fashion-week-a-difficult-rebirth/article22400932/.
Nadon, Rachel. « La 25e édition de la Semaine de la mode de Montréal: 12 ans de mode québécoise » Huffpost, Oath Inc., https://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/09/04/semaine-de-la-mode-de-montreal_n_3866127.html.
Madeleine Goubau, Contributor