Strutting It: ESMM Grads Show Their Stuff at Perseption

The other week I got the opportunity to see Perseption, the final collections from UQÀM’s École Supérieure de Mode de Montréal’s (aka Montreal Graduate School of Fashion Design) graduating class. Watching new designers before they get established is always exciting, and I’m clearly not the only one who thinks this way—when I arrived at the venue, it was nearly full. It was so full, in fact, that spectators were already finding standing room along the walls. Unlike most fashion shows, this one didn’t have a typical runway; instead, it was diamond shaped with four runways emanating from the centre, creating a chaotic, almost disorienting effect as models came and went from all directions.

The evening opened with Coupé à Vif by Duc C. Nguyên, which was all about playing with curves and creating volume where it’s unexpected. The red linen dresses were classic in shape but had geometric tweaks, a bustle here, hip triangles there. The look that got my attention was an A-line dress that left the model’s breasts exposed. I liked the edginess of it and her daringness to pull it off. All of the pieces were well-crafted and pretty, but this one made me think Nguyên could hold his own with the big leagues.

Mélanie Poupart showed a hard/soft mix (a tailored skirt paired with a draped top, for example) in her collection Hi, My Name Is… which took inspiration from grief. I quite liked the floaty organza clutches that the models carried down the runway. The final model, dressed in a figure hugging, long, white dress, came out on pointe and seemed to sum up the fluidity the designer was going for.

Where Poupart took inspiration from the fluid, Catherine Métivier took inspiration from the concrete. Her collection Série had an industrial feel and used utilitarian fabrics like wool and felt. Her quirky caps were great and an oversized grey felt T-shirt had me thinking of Joseph Beuys. But it was a simple A-line coat that proved this designer’s forte is outerwear—I could’ve seen an entire collection of coats like that parade down the runway.

Of all the collections, Christine Charlebois’s UNI-FORME was the stand out for me. It felt cohesive in mood, attitude, and form. Many of the pieces—cigarette pants, shirts with raglan sleeves, structured jackets—were layered, and I could imagine easily pairing them with other pieces in the collection. She also brought menswear into the mix, as the only student to do so, which added to the feeling of newness.

Yandi Morgado totally impressed me with his collection Chemise2. How he was able to construct these pieces, which seemed to be made of paper, I’ll never know. The opening garment, a button-down shirt that started off tartan and faded to white, was brilliant. Though a white short-sleeved shirtdress was totally wearable, the tartan shirtdress with an oversized sleeve for a train won for humour.

With her collection Feel, Laura Lapointe turned her draped pieces into therapeutic fashion with the inclusion of neodymium magnets. Everything about this collection yelled comfort, from the cozy, shawl-like jackets to the models’ attire of leggings and flats. It was the type of collection you could easily picture all types of women donning every day.

The show closed with Marilou Cormier Béïque’s unconventional bridal-wear with Le Mariage et Le Bourse. I was completely blown away by the opening look—a three-tiered dress with lace smocking. Also adventurous and totally wearable was a knee-length baby doll dress with a lace hood. I also loved the fabric; the garments had a particular rigidity to them and looked as though they’d been made of neoprene. Though the collection was based on the fluctuation of the stock market, it gave me a futuristic goth vibe rather than a Wall Street one.

While the show itself was fun, I went home that night mostly excited about where these designers are headed. If this marks the start of their careers, I can only anticipate what will happen next.

text by Sacha Jackson
photography by Jean-François Hamelin

2 thoughts on “Strutting It: ESMM Grads Show Their Stuff at Perseption

  1. Wow, some amazing pieces (and write up). I wonder if any of the designers would consider lending their pieces to a humble but super cool independent fashion mag? (read: this is me subtle.)

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