Chronicling Montreal’s Pioneering Fashion Scene

Denis Gagnon’s transgender show at Montreal Fashion Week. Photo: K. Stark

While it may be best known for producing Drake and Justin Bieber, Canada doesn’t only supply a sizeable chunk of the world’s musical entertainment. Montreal Chic: A Locational History of Montreal Fashion, out June 15 from Intellect Books, traces the history of the predominantly French-speaking city’s fashion scene, as well as its relationship to other facets of Montreal’s artistic and cultural life. Like Toronto, Montreal boasts a formative music scene — most notably, it’s the birthplace of the band Arcade Fire, one of whose founding members attended McGill University.

But scholars Katrina Sark and Sara Danièle Bélanger-Michaud aren’t as interested in the music of Montreal as they are in the symbiotic relationship between the city’s fashion scene and its art and culture. Their book chronicles the way that urban cultural life influences fashion and vice versa, tying the development of Montreal’s fashion scene intimately with the city itself.

These designers have been pioneers: Denis Gagnon showed a transgender fashion show in 2012, while Concordia University grad students worked for years at the Hexagram Institute to integrate moving LEDs into traditional black linen jackets.

Click ahead to see all the futuristic styles: LED lights, runway models dripping with gold zippers, and shoes adorned with delicate white lace.