Le Festival Mode & Design 2015

What is it?

Le Festival Mode & Design (Shortened to FMD for the purposes of this post) is an annual, outdoor fashion festival. It includes numerous free and paid events open to the public such as runway shows, talks, musical performances and more. It takes place every August in the heart of downtown Montreal. Translated into English, it’s simply the “Fashion and Design Festival”.

A week long celebration of all things fashion

Montreal is known for being a fashion city, though not quite at the level or prominence of say, Paris, New York, London and so forth. The city has a handful of fashion schools for aspiring talent. We are fortunate enough to have a large number of clothing companies set up shop in the downtown area, including luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel. The city even had its own Fashion Week, until it was unceremoniously cancelled in late 2013.

Traditional Fashion Weeks tend to consist of a large majority of events with paid admission or in the case of the largest Fashion Weeks, invitation only to select bloggers, media and industry insiders. By contrast, FMD is a much more open affair and more of a celebration as opposed to a showcase. At FMD, many events are outdoors and free of charge to the general public. The festival was not about traditional consumerism. It was about having fun with fashion and to highlight how creative and wonderful fashion can be.

The organizers were even active on Social Media. At this day and age, it is stunning how so many companies choose to not use these tools to engage their audience. Whatever you may think of Social Media and its value for personal use, business-wise, they’re an invaluable asset to grow one’s brand.

Due to a variety of reasons, I wasn’t able to attend as much of the festival as I would have hoped. What I did manage to see was great: Lots of nice displays and sets, unique moments like a stiletto race and a live painting of clothes, and most importantly, people having a great time. Being Montreal, there were a lot of exceedingly physically attractive human beings in excellent outfits. It was a sight to see. It was also excruciatingly hot on some days. Temperatures reached 39 degrees Celsius with the humidity (Or about 102 Fahrenheit). However, the weather did not stop festival participants from dressing to the nines and wearing some great get-ups. It’s a testament to the dedication of fashion-forward individuals to look their best in spite of uncomfortable situations.

There were two personal highlights of FMD for me: Stellar interviews with some creative and talented professionals.

Scooter LaForge: Artist extraordinaire

Scooter LaForge in a custom stitched suit based around a few of his paintings.

Scooter LaForge is a New York based artist, most well-known for his paintings. While not a household name just yet, he still regularly gets commissions for his work from big names such as Madonna, Missy Elliott and rock-group Blondie (The former two for stage outfits and the latter for their official concert t-shirt for an upcoming tour). His uniquely designed clothes have been bought and worn by celebrities such as Beyoncé and Rihanna.

LaForge paints not only on canvas but also on clothing. His line is quite popular with celebrities.

What struck me when I first saw him was his clothing. Being a unique artist, it’s not too surprising that his personal style would be as creative as his works. For the interview, he was wearing a custom suit stitched by Antwerp 6 designer, Walter Van Beirendonck, using themes and references from Scooter’s art. Apparently, the suit itself was in demand even by art collectors, but LaForge chose to keep it for himself. On the table in front of him were two of his custom designed baseball caps, painted and adorned with random items. For example, random screws he found on the streets of New York.

One thing Scooter mentioned was the distinction between style and fashion. He loves both and he admitted his expertise was more in the former than the latter. A quote by Oscar de la Renta differentiates the two: “Fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable. Style is more about being yourself.” I have never seen anyone in the eccentric, fun outfits that LaForge wears. I have an admiration for those like Scooter, who have the confidence to dress however they please (But still look absolutely great!), without a care about what others think.

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Fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable. Style is more about being yourself. Right quotation mark


He spoke of his upbringing, about how his parents wished for him an accounting career and eventually supported him in his decision to become an artist. He brought up his love of all things pop culture and how it influences his work. And how he loves painting for the sake of painting and that he would spend an afternoon painting with anyone who would ask. Scooter LaForge is a stand-out artist and definitely a name to watch out for. The interview was well worth the price of admission.

Adam Katz Sinding: Fashion photographer

Adam Katz Sinding discusses the story behind each individual photo. The photo in question is one of his shots from his visit to Montreal.

Adam Katz Sinding is a photographer also based in New York. He’s probably most well known for his fashion photography and runs the popular Le 21ème website (“The 21st” in English), where he uploads his best fashion shots. He travels all over the world but rarely does he photograph the runway. Instead, he captures the chaotic scene in the streets just outside major fashion shows. He photographs subjects going about their everyday lives, which is definitely quite different than model shots on the runway.

As a non-photographer who has only rudimentary knowledge of the craft, it was interesting to see how he views photography. Adam uses his camera not to shoot fashionable outfits but to capture moments. Even writing this, it sounds cliché but as he was going through his shots, he would explain the story behind each one: How he came about the subject, what the subject was doing, how he approached the shot… Even more interesting are the little quirks he has regarding individual photos such as hoping the subject doesn’t look at the camera, how he hopes the subject does not stop and pose but act naturally and even the beauty of not fully capturing the subject’s face.

Sinding travels all over the world to get his photos. Here, he photographed Chiara Ferragni (RIGHT), one of the most popular fashion bloggers on the planet.

Like Scooter, it was quite obvious he does his work for the love of it and not necessarily only for financial reasons. The perfect shot means more to him than selling a photo, which I totally respect. If one has the talent and skill, there should be no excuse for compromise.

Lastly, what really inspired me were Adam’s public speaking skills. Not that I assumed he was a boorish, uneducated man, but he made the interview come alive just by his long answers. Due to my love of anime and video games, I’ve seen my fair share of awkward public speaking. It is especially apparent during eSports events and gaming presentations, where flow and standard verbal nuances are simply non-existent. As a viewer, it becomes quite uncomfortable to watch because a lot of these individuals are, in actuality, charismatic and very smart. But it gets lost because of awkward production and inexperienced interviewers. If anything, this interview with Adam showed the importance of being proficient in communication and re-ignited my desire to continue improving my public speaking skills.

Getting back on track, Adam is not just a well-spoken, talented photographer but he just seems like a guy you would want to hang out and have a beer with. For me, this interview made FMD for me. I imagine it did for others as well, as the event drew a packed crowd. I was lucky to get the seat that I got, only three rows back from the stage.

Fashion and inspiration

In the end, these two talks were very informative and fun events. However, they also resonated with me in a different way.

It doesn’t happen often, but as a person who spends a lot of time in gaming circles, I get comments, sometimes light-hearted ribbing for my obsession with fashion and at worst, having my sexuality questioned. It’s such a farce that a heterosexual man loving all facets of fashion is something to be made fun of. Personally, it’s not a huge issue to me (And more of a minor irritation) to be occasionally called out on my likes and preferences. I like myself enough to not be a one-dimensional human being.

What does bother me more is that sometimes I have my own doubts of what I’m doing and what I hope to achieve in the future when it comes to fashion. This week’s Fashion and Design Festival re-inspired me and reminded me that my love of fashion is something to be proud of. I won’t give up on my ambitions and will continuing pursuing my dream job in the industry. And no, it is not fashion blogging. I see this blog as the first small step in a long journey towards my end goals.

As far as FMD is concerned, I cannot wait until next year’s edition to really take advantage of and participate in all the pomp and fun of the festival.

Scooter LaForge’s clothing line can be seen and purchased at Patricia Field’s store in SoHo, New York. Patricia herself is an acclaimed costume designer (Notably on HBO’s Sex and the City) and a huge name in fashion. For Montrealers, an exhibition of Scooter’s work is being shown at Galerie MX through the end of August.

Adam Katz Sinding’s work can be seen on Le 21ème as well as his personal website. His Instagram account is quite active and has some beautiful shots as well.

As a final note, I realize I haven’t done any on-topic posts in awhile about fashion specific to animation and gaming. Truthfully, I haven’t been keeping up to date with either, which makes writing about them harder than it should be. I need to make time to play some games and watch some shows to get the creative juices flowing again. In the interim, I will be continuing to write about off-topic fashion subjects as needed to meet my weekly post quota and to continue practicing my writing.