View Slideshow

MONTREAL — The seventh edition of Montreal Fashion Week returned to its regular format after trying a twist last February that didn’t work.

Back then, organizers brought together different players in the industry to put on shows and events at various locations, including the cavernous Olympic Stadium miles away from downtown, which turned people off. And many designers stayed away.

But holding most of the fashion shows in one venue — or at least in venues close to each other — this time around seemed to have paid off. Close to 30 local designers participated during the five-day event, compared with less than half that number in February.

Among the bigger names at the event, held at the Montreal Science Center Sept. 27-Oct. 1, were Bodybag by Jude Clothing (known to be worn by Nicole Kidman), Rudsak, Luk Laroche, Simon Chang, Envers par Yves-Jean Lacasse and licensees for DKNY and Schott NYC.

Two other MFW participants, Denis Gagnon and Renate Morales, also showed at Toronto Fashion Week in September and presented some of their designs at fashion week in Milan. A six-month-old line of lingerie by Nuuda was also on hand after showing at Lingerie Americas in New York.

“I think [MFW] is reviving and the mood was very positive,” said Eyal Cohen, head of Market Week at the International Fashion Centre, at 555 Chabanel Street West, considered the premier fashion address in Canada.

“For the first time, we got a request from some New York designers to participate in the fashion shows, but we were booked up.”

Still, the debate continues whether Canada can support two fashion weeks in Montreal and Toronto. Neither are major stops on the fashion show circuit despite the fact that Montreal is the third-largest apparel manufacturing center in North America after Los Angeles and New York.

And the timing wasn’t great for Montreal, either, as many top editors and buyers from North America and Europe were in Milan or at the Fashion Coterie in New York.

“I’ve never been a supporter of two city events,” said local designer Barry Bly of Zenobia, who said he would prefer it if the Canadian shows alternated between Montreal and Toronto. “This show should also be held in early September so it doesn’t compete with New York or Milan.”

This story first appeared in the October 28, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

That’s easier said than done, however. MFW was originally scheduled for Sept. 6-9, but was changed to accommodate designers who would not have been ready to show earlier. Plus, New York Fashion Week ran Sept. 8-15 this year, presenting a further conflict. Bly was slated to show during the original MFW dates, but when the timing was changed, he pulled out to concentrate on the New York Coterie instead.

Few buyers showed up, as MFW didn’t have the budget to fly them in, according to MFW organizer Dominic Morency.

“We had no budget to pay for them due to government funding cutbacks, although some designers invited buyers on their own.”

But Morency didn’t push for buyers because she wanted to have at least one strong edition to build on before going that route.

“I was generally pleased with who we had, but it would have been nice if we had a few more big names like Nadya Toto and Andy Thé-Anh.”

Still, most show participants were pleased with the media coverage MFW received.

“The designers seemed very happy,” said Patrick Thomas, president of Liason Mode Montreal, which organizes MFW. “The media was there, but not as many as I had hoped for. But we still plan to expand the format for next March.”

Bodybag designer Judith Desjardins said she was satisfied with the media coverage, although no sales were recorded following her show.

“Our real objective was media coverage, both locally, nationally and even internationally. From our experience, we know there’s not a lot of buying done at these types of shows.”

Designer Denis Gagnon also was pleased with the media coverage and feels MFW is getting better.

“It has an international quality, although it lacks the visibility of Toronto and other fashion cities. I participated in Toronto, but felt I should also show in Montreal since I’m from Quebec.”