Festivals, nightlife, bagels: There are many reasons to travel to Montreal. But one of the best may be to find inspiration – and tomorrow’s signature piece – in the city’s unique boutiques. ‘I’m always looking for something different, something my neighbour won’t have,’ says Chantal Durivage, who produces the city’s Fashion Week and Fashion and Design Festivalthrough her company Sensation Mode Group. This summer, she says, visitors can expect ‘a lot of surprises’ during the Fashion and Design event, which brings the runway to the street July 31 to Aug. 3. French designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, who has made creations for the likes of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, will be participating as chairman of the festival. Durivage shares her five favourite Montreal shops.
You can find hand-picked clothes and accessories and home décor here. One of the brands that’s really interesting is Philippe Dubuc, one of our Quebec designers. It’s in Old Montreal. So this is one of my favourites. It’s really like an installation – few pieces, very modern, very eclectic. Each piece they have has been chosen with a lot of reflection. 417 Rue Saint-Pierre; quai417.com
This is also in Old Montreal. This is more about international designer brands, but again it’s hand-picked by the owner. You can find, let’s say, Stella McCartney, you can have Jil Sander, Balenciaga, Celine, Comme des Garçons, but the pieces are very selected. It’s really a lovely place. Each piece is in a box, so it’s almost a gallery of clothing and accessories. I bought a Stella McCartney blouse and love it. 369 St. Paul West; cahierdexercices.com
My third pick is Reborn, which is also in Old Montreal. Reborn has a great selection of international and Canadian designers. They have RAD By Rad Hourani, who did Paris Fashion Week couture. They have Jeremy Laing. They have international designers like Pearls Before Swine. What they’re selecting is very pure as a design. Very black, white, beige, very classic, very day-to-day also. 231 Saint-Paul West; reborn.ws
Saint-Laurent Boulevard. They pick a lot of their selection from the Canadian industry. So you can find brands like Barilà, Eve Gravel, Covet, Melissa Nepton, Travis Taddeo, Valerie Dumaine, all designers from Montreal. It’s very glam. You feel upscale in this store. I bought a Barilà jacket, a buy that I bless everyday. It’s a jacket that you wear with jeans, you can wear in the evening, but it’s putting an edge on your outfit. 5135 Saint-Laurent Blvd.; boutiqueunicorn.com
Une Île en Amérique
My fifth pick is Île en Amérique. It’s more in Outremont. On Laurier West, there’s a great clientele that appreciates nice clothing. The selection – you have Comrags, Arthur Mendoça, Joeffer Caoc, Denis Gagnon, Marie Saint Pierre. There’s also Second jeans. Everybody should have their yoga jeans. The comfort of this jean, it’s crazy. 102 Laurier Ave. West; uneileenamerique.com
This interview has been edited and condensed.