Le Festival Mode & Design 2016

What is it?

The “Fashion and Design Festival” or known in French as “Le Festival mode et design” (Henceforth known as FMD for the purposes of this post) is a yearly celebration of Fashion and Design-related activities. It takes place every August in the heart of downtown Montréal. A large majority of the events are outdoors and open to the public, though various talks and live shows can be attended through paid admission.

Why does this event exist as opposed to a Fashion Week?

Despite Montréal being a decently large city and a fashion hotbed, it does not have its own Fashion Week for either the Spring/Summer or Fall/Winter seasons. A large part of this has to do with little funding from local areas of government and the traditional runway shows for local, small brands not being sustainable. While this is very unfortunate, we still have the aforementioned August festival in lieu of both Fashion Weeks. Unlike normal Fashion Weeks, the FMD tries to engage the general population as opposed to strictly appealing to the fashion-obsessed.

This is the second year I’ve attended this event (You can read about last year’s festivities here), though it has existed since 2001 in different forms and other names. Regardless of whether you’re fashion-crazy or haven’t a clue about the subject, it’s certainly a spectacle to behold and an enjoyable experience. Everything takes place in a closed off area [to cars and other vehicles] of town called the “Quartier des spectacles”. Without traffic to be concerned about, pedestrians are treated to free musical performances, free runway shows and numerous pop up shops.

Dozens upon dozens of people swarming the “Quartier des spectacles” and enjoying the festivities.

Besides the outdoor activities, there are even talks and parties by well-known people in the fashion and music industries. Geared towards the more hardcore fashionista, these require a fee to attend. While expensive (I attended two paid events priced around $50 Canadian each), the experience of being able to see and even learn from some of the most talented creatives is well worth the price of admission.

The Sartorialist: Scott Schuman

One of the last talks to close off the weeklong celebration was a sit-down interview with Scott Schuman. He is a street photographer currently residing in New York and runs the incredibly popular “The Sartorialist” photo blog. He generally takes pictures of everyday people in New York City with exceptional fashion sense. His work eventually became so well known that he was able to forge relationships with prominent fashion industry insiders and add to his ever-growing portfolio.

There’s nothing I enjoy more than the Ticketmaster®‎ service charge.

The interview was conducted by Stéphane Le Duc and covered many aspects of Schuman’s life including why he left his career in the fashion industry for photography and where his hobby has taken him since. A good portion of the hour and a half long event involved looking at select photos and discussing the meaning behind them.

I’ve been fan of Scott for as long as I can remember. His blog is simple and easy to digest: Each blog post is simply a photo with little to no commentary. It follows the old adage that a picture says a thousand words. I’m not a huge photography buff, but I can appreciate and respect those who know how to use a camera properly (From personal experience, it is not easy to use a dSLR camera). Anyone can take a photo, but not everyone can take a photo that tells a story. Schuman has also published a handful of highly recommended books featuring his photo work, for those who prefer books over online browsing.

Stéphane Le Duc (LEFT) and Scott Schuman (RIGHT) discuss “The Sartorialist” blog and the latter’s life.

The FMD shows Montréal is still a fashion hotspot

Again, as Montréal has no traditional Fashion Week (Which I personally believe is a crying shame), the FMD is the next best thing. The yearly celebration gives fashion fans something to look forward to every summer, while not being completely inclusive by offering events to the general population as well.

I personally hope the FMD is the first of many steps to bringing back the more traditional Fashion Weeks in some capacity. Anything of the sort would be years down the line, so for now, I encourage everyone living in the city (As well as those considering visiting the area) to try and attend next year’s FMD. It’s fun, it’s free and it shows how being fashion-obsessed is not a bad thing.

The FMD takes place every August in the heart of Montréal, Quebec, Canada. For more information, please visit the official website.