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”It’s rather an observation than a statement”. He was sitting in front of me, on a velvet couch. His face was half-lit by candles. We were in an intimate cocktail, at the 31st floor of the Waldorf Towers, where international artists and friends gathered to toast Grégoire Vogelsan – A belgian gallerist and art dealer. The man sitting in front of me, Tigran Tsitoghdzyan , is one of the artists Grégoire represents. There was something moving about the way he speaks. His voice was soft and poetic. There was a je-ne-sais-quoi that emanated from him, he had a certain sensibility… that was brilliantly translated in his art as well.

”It’s rather an observation than a statement”. We were discussing a series of paintings he had done. A series of portraits, called Mirrors, where women’s faces were placed over their hands. When you see the paintings, you first think of a huge photoshopped photographs,  printed in mural-esque dimensions. Not the case. They were actually large oil paintings…  The first thing that struck me was the precision of his work. Outstanding. Although the series are finely worked surrealism, they looked so… real.

”It’s rather an observation than a statement”. The series were a reflection of people’s relationship with social media and technology. The focus was placed on women’s reaction to social media. That certain image we want to preserve, that isn’t totally representative of our lives or emotions. Furthermore, his work suggests a certain lack of privacy… voir concealness. ”The best way I can explain it…” He said, ” … is the analogy of a kid who puts his hands over his eyes to hide. He thinks you don’t see him anymore, but you do.” So what’s your statement? What’s the conclusion of your reflection?” I asked.

”It’s rather an observation than a statement”. He said. ”I can’t answer a question that I’m asking.”

Photos: From his Facebook Page. 

 

Libre Comme L’Art. Divine like a dream. The MBAM’s annual ball was beyond mesmerizing: Gorgeous gowns, Starry set-ups, Elegant guests, Sparkling jewels (And smiles)…under the incredible roof of Le Musée Des Beaux Arts! Socialites,philanthropists, Business moguls, celebrities and influencers gathered in a fall night to celebrate art (and freedom), and raise money to finance the museum’s projects. What you (probably) didn’t know, the museum is a private institution that has to auto-finance itself to keep active – Which our city desperately needs, given the successful and positive contribution it adds to our society: It has a spectacular encyclopaedic collection and around 41 000 art pieces that inspire and educate the hundreds of thousands subscribers. Major Bonus Points for the extraordinary exhibitions they hosted last year: Benjamin Constant, Rodin & La couleur de Jazz. This might sound like nothing if you didn’t visit the museum this year, but believe me when I say the scenography around each exposition was completely insane.

Back to the ball. As we were entering the museum, a huge Eiffel Tower peace symbol was displayed – which made guests stop for a second to snap a picture or just to acknowledge the emotional meaning of the sign. But something with more gravitas keeps this ball popular year after year than the peace sign. Maybe it’s because of how the guests always look magical in their choice of gowns and attires (you never looked so good, Montreal). Perhaps this year it was the multi-disciplinary artistic set-ups of the exposition rooms (transformed into dinner rooms* for the night), to which many local talents contributed. Or perhaps it was because Tina Dupont presided the organizing committee* and that the exceptional dinner was signed by Helena Loureiro.

Whatever the reasons, I can’t wait for you to scroll down and check out the gorgeous pictures Josée took that night. In a room full of gowns, we sipped on champagne, had gorgeous discussions, met fabulous people and reconnected with old friends. It was a dazzling night, and I surely can’t wait for the next edition.

*The organizing committee is impressively composed by 15 notable professionals who distinguish themselves by the success of their respective career.

Photo Credit: Josée Lecompte  

It was 2 p.m. I was waiting for him at the Palm Court of the Ritz Carlton. To be honest, I was a bit nervous. I was expecting Dick Walsh, one of the most important creative gurus Montreal has ever known.  I’m sure he can’t fit all his achievements in one C.V, but long story short: he did windows for Dior, Shieshedo, Valentino; He produced Celine Dion’s wedding, the amazing balls of many museums (like Guggenheim) and charity organizations, he launched Carine Roitfield’s magazine, he did the Grammy’s… And the list goes on… and on. Yep, you can tell I had done my research. I knew his bio so well , but nothing can ever prepare you to meet someone who has such a tremendous influence in the world of design and lifestyle.

The revolving door of the lobby opened and he appeared… he looked very dapper in his double-breasted suit, his funky green and blue velvet loafers… and of course, his great smile that makes you feel instantly comfortable! And that’s the thing about Dick Walsh; Smart, witty but never pretentious. He was very generous, talking about his career; his vision of Montreal’s design and fashion scene… He even shared some of his design secrets (yup, you might want to read until the end!)

Just like any giants, it only comes natural to start by asking: Where and how did it all start?

Dick: I was 17 and I was looking for a summer job. Eaton was opening in Quebec city, and I really wanted to work there but I was underage. I guess I can confess this now, I slightly bumped my age up while applying and they took me. So  like any beginners, I started by opening boxes. I was fortunate enough to be handed what were to be used in the store’s windows. After opening all the boxes, I pulled out the wigs, the mannequins and the accessories… And I had no idea what to do with them. I instinctively dressed the mannequins and used the accessories around them in a way I liked. Next day, Eatons’ GM saw my work and he loved it. Six Months later, I moved to Montreal. They’ve put me in charge of all the windows and I was working with over 40 employees.

During 3 years, Dick created the most amazing windows For Eatons. He Perfected his art and changed the face of Montreal. The secret of his success?

Dick: One of the first thing I did when I arrived in Montreal was to ask for the windows to be lighted-up at night. Back then, downtown was the place to be. All the best clubs where there. So at 3 am. when the clubs closed, everyone stopped in front of the windows. At one point, we had to put ropes in front of them because they were so many people looking at them. I was also asked to make them a little less provocative, because they had a certain sexual undertone to them. Maybe that’s why Karl Lagerfeld is still one of the biggest fans of my Eaton windows.”

He swiped some photos  from his iPhone to show me some examples. The first thought that came across my mind is how windows displays are an art form that needs to be brought back, in all international fashion scenes. Looking at his previous work, I found it interesting how it’s a mix between interior design, photography and cinema. They were like a scene, it always seems to be a story there. It makes you want to pause, reflect, savor and dig into what you see. Paul Klee once said: ”Art doesn’t represent what we see but teaches us how to see”. It’s like a call to stop from walking, to take a break from your routine, to take the time, a moment to really appreciate what you see.

What was your ah-ha moment? When did he know exactly what he wanted to do?

Dick: I never really decide on anything. I’m not career-oriented so all what happened to me wasn’t part of a plan. I just never said no. Like the time when I was still working for Eaton, Famous MUA Serge Lutens suggested I should go to Japan with him for a Shisheido project. I just followed him. For someone who comes from a little town, Donakota, it was amazing. Then, I went to Paris. Then other cities. other projects… I just really never said no.

Then you became an event-planner…

Dick: That was another outcome of not being able to say no. In 1996, I was working for Elle Quebec as a creative director. I got a phone call, they wanted me to to do Celine Dion’s wedding. I never ever did any events, except fashion shows. It was the first time I planned an event A to Z… Actually, now more than ever, I realize it’s really because I have always been open to new opportunities. I always said yes to new projects. I’ve never had any insecurities about my job or trying something new… I’d just jumped right into it. At the end of the day, I’m not a surgeon. If I make a mistake, nobody will die… so I might as well go for it.

What is your secret to great design?

Dick: Lighting. I like simplicity in my home. I don’t like to have many objects, but lighting is the key. Even when you don’t have the budget, you can have a great set-up with the right lighting. I did an event here, in Montreal, last year at L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel. We had no budget but we created a great concept: The models were on Black cubes and we’ve put a nice dramatic spotlight on them. It was gorgeous!  At home, I have different lights for different mood. But I found a great little lamp, here in Montreal: It’s a minimal strip of led light but it produces a great halo. I bought a bunch of them, so I have them everywhere at home now!

What’s next for you now?

Dick: I want to go back to my roots and do more windows. I’m moving to New York, as I’ll be collaborating with MAC Cosmetics for Henry Bendel & Saks. But I would love to come back to Montreal. I find it very sad that many talented people leave the city, because there is only so much you can do. I keep bumping into so many Quebecers, working in the industry, either in Paris or New York.  People blame it on money, they say there is no budget but I don’t agree. I think it’s more about taking risks and being more outgoing. Because otherwise, you can do a lot without much!

What would be then your advice to the next generation? 

Dick: We simply need the new generation and the government to get involved to make the city alive again. In the 80s, everybody would come to Montreal! I remember there were some crazy parties with Fellini, Picasso’s family and others legends. We didn’t to get out to the world, the world was coming to us. But people forgot what it used to be, they need to know the city’s history, what we came from, and what we can do to make the city great again. People wait for opportunities, but they forgot they can create their own opportunities.

***

There was it. A wonderful afternoon with Dick Walsh. He made me proud to be and feel Montrealer. Our Quebec moto is ‘Je Me Souviens’. Let it always be a reminder that Montreal is the city where all dream can come true. All opportunities can be a success. Our DNA can lead many industries. Talent & creativity is part of our heritage and our future.

They say Cinderella is the proof that a pair of shoe can change your life. I SO agree with that statement! My shoes are important for me, and when I say shoes, I refer to my Nike white Airmax! I wear them a lot, even when I go out… Although heels are sexy, they make your legs look amazing and you feel powerful wearing them – I’m just scared for my life when I do, but that’s just me being the usual walking disaster. Seriously, it should be illegal to make us, women, walk into these torture weapons all the time! Which is why, I want you girls to welcome this movement with confetti (and hashtags #Sneakerella): Let’s replace heels by Sneakers!

My story with sneakers goes back to last year, when I dropped my heels because I just couldn’t take another fall. I was pretty much wearing them with everything – but mostly dresses and skirts. I felt pretty cool, and got some looks. Enter fall/winter 2015. Chanel exchanged the heels for sneakers on the runway (Way to go Karl, but I was first!). Ok, fine I wasn’t. Anyway, if there’s something that I learned about the #sneakerworld, is that there’s two kinds of Sneakerellas: The Nike lovers, and the Converse Rockers. Of course, you can wear them both, but I feel like deep down every girl has her inner sneaker God. For my part, I’m all about Nikes (because deep down, I’m gangsta).
Let’s talk about the Converse/Vans Girls: They’re the “Don’t Give A S***’’, messy hair-Don’t care, free-spirit, ‘’cool chick’’, ladies. If that’s your attitude, you know which side you’re on. Your flirty dresses, cool leather attires, short-shorts are going to rock with those shoes! The new Walt Disney collection at Van’s offer you cool princesses prints too, I died!

…And you have the Nike/Adidas/New balance Girls. Those are more trendy, laid-back, cool and have the swag (yes I used the S word). Usually, these babies are white, so those girls are neat freaks. Any super tight dress a la Kim Kardashian, high-waisted jeans, crop tops or Hervé Léger fabrics will look super dressy with these.
How will I look better than the 6-foot top model on Chanel’s runway? If that’s the question on your mind, let me tell you the answer: attitude. Wearing sneakers and having the perfect attitude will compete with anyone. Kendal Jenner got it, and look where she is now! Being the life of the party is not a question of height.
Bonus tip: White sneaker cleaner!
You can always use wipes, buy hundred laces to change the dirty ones, buy the useless products the sales persons make you buy.. BUT Mr. clean magic eraser will take no space in your purse and will def. save your life! (You’re welcome)

Paris Haute Couture Week. Schiaparelli, Dior, Chanel, Jean-Paul Gaultier… He was sitting front row and, unlike many, he wasn’t doing any Instagram posts, or gushing over the collections with his neighbors. Instead, he had his head down, sketching frantically the looks he liked. By the time the show was over, or  few hours later, his illustrations would be ready to be published at Madame Figaro.

 

His conference with Stéphane Leduc at the #FMD15 was last Wednesday night. Not that I didn’t expect much, his reputation precedes him, but… I was instantly hooked. Let’s put aside his gorgeous looks and style for a second*, he was expressing himself in a deep and soft voice, taking the time to think/talk through the questions that were asked, with sincerity and candid humour. Big Bonus Points for his constant references to Godard, Piccoli, Callas and many other intellectual magnates. I believe that’s when he won me over. The conference was beyond good, and just like every time when I meet or interact with someone who’s inspiringly successful, I couldn’t help but nod to the saying “Humility is the mother of giants”.
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You know when you’re  young, and dream/visualize something, then years later… You grow up and it kinda happens. Funny quick anecdote: A dear friend once told me he always dreamed of touching the clouds. He grew up, he became an airman and he was once flying in a cockpit when he realized he was able to open the window. He literally put his hands out and… touched a cloud. How did it feel? – Super wet, he said. Marc-Antoine started drawing when he was 2, and when he was still a kid, he’d draw Annie Cordy over and over again. She was his muse, He dreamed of her and he loves to call her one of the first women in his life. He grew up, he became an illustrator… then Annie Cordy’s official illustrator and photographer… How awesome is that?

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All of them. They’re his heroines. His muses. Whether they’re beauty classics à la Catherine Deneuve & Romy Schneider or modern powerhouses like Ines de La Fressange and Marpessa. He would draw each one of them, and they’re a lot, with the genuine way he perceives them. In his conversation with Stéphane Leduc, he’d always say “I have a lot of tenderness for that one.” or “This one was my first literary love”… And what’s crazy, you can perceive his emotions very clearly in the way he portrays them…

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I remember the first thing I told him when I met him: He speaks just the way he draws. There’s so much lyricism in his work/words, and then pouf… there’s that strong pencil or color stroke. It almost makes a statement, but I believe the main aim is to create some movement to take you into the scene, or the world that the illustration try to  It’s never too much, never too little, just enough to balance the illustration and take you away through the perceptible emotion it suggests…

… And that’s no brainer. The references he brings up when he discusses are endless. And he can quote a french writer, then an english cineast, then an Italian Politician, then an American music Icon. His savoir is undeniably tremendous. It’s always something that impresses me.

 

*Picture a tanned guy, Ken-Hair, wearing a white shirt, jeans and black perfecto… I know, right?

 

Contradiction. Dressing-up the casual v.  dressing down the chic. For the second day of #FMD15, I wore a classy Club Monaco fringe skirt, that I had dressed down by pairing it with a white shirt and converse. The next day, my outfit did exactly the opposite –Which I realized until way later: I wore a casual boyfriend Jeans that I dressed-up with high heels, a blazer and a snake-printed clutch. I kept the white-shirt (completely basic, his role was to even the different styles) and I added a brighter lipstick. What do you think?

Credit Photo: Josée Lecompte

I love contrasts. I love to play with different… Moods & Styles! To dress up the casual and to dress down the chic. (I should totally trademark that sentence). So for the first official day of #FMD, I thought it would be perfect to introduce the two concepts. Let’s start by dressing down the chic…

…Enter: The fringe Leather skirt. Who would look like a million dollar look with high heels and lace shirt, or with a blazers and platforms. I decided to pair it with my converse ( what’s more casual than that… really!) & an RW&CO’s casual shirt. Because I just love clutches, and I can’t.live.without.them, I added a printed Aldo Pochette to add more character to the look…

The H&M leather jacket is just a must to add more edginess to the look.

Credit Photo: Josée Lecompte

25 years of style & service. Hundred Thousands of Stays, and stories… In one very fashionable place. Loews Vogue Hotel. On of my favourite hotels in Montreal. I absolutely LOVE the interior design, the glamorous vibe you feel when you enter the lobby, the posh but comfy rooms, with the Vogue illustration (and in my room, what appears to be an Alexander McQueen printed art wall – according to our design Aficionado, Eric). The location is also highly interesting, as you can shop at Ogilvy, across the street, or wander around the gorgeous shops on De La Montagne, Sherbrooke (Hellooo Tiffany!) and crescent.

To celebrate their 25th anniversary, the hotel threw a gorgeous, style-filled cocktail, at their Parisian-Inspired bistro, La Société! We loved many guest outfits but here’s a round-up of those who really stood out of the crowd! Sorry for the pictures’ quality, they’re all iPhone shots.

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I have to admit: I’m a huge Sex and the City fan. I became a fan of the show well after production had ended; a roommate of mine in university used to show me episodes and I used to watch during my study breaks. Like most people, I enjoyed it for the quick dialogue, sex chats, the close-up of New York and of course… The clothes. Watching that show without observing the fashion is like watching porn for the cinematography: It just doesn’t happen.

Thus, you can understand my excitement upon learning I was going to see Patricia Field in conference. The woman is a legend of sorts: She’s won an Emmy, has been nominated for an Oscar for her work on “The Devil Wears Prada,” and next year, her eponymous NYC store which she opened herself in 1966 will turn 50.  In person, she is petite, with fire red hair and an incomparable style.

 

Sitting down with Dressed to Kill’s Stéphane Leduc (previously profiled in the blog, check it out here!) she spoke of growing up in a large family with a father who was a tailor and taught her early on about the value of fabrics. She explained that she often goes by the feeling of fabrics as opposed to designer labels… An interesting comment from a stylist so synonymous with outfitting the ladies of Sex and the City with a revolving door of glamorous designer labels.

One of the more remarkable quotes of the evening was her view on the necessity of clothing versus the joy of fashion: “Fashion is art, apparel is only covering your body because that’s the society we live in.”

What makes Field remarkable is her approach with which she dresses the mega celebs she’s worked with: “You have to know somebody to dress somebody.” You don’t say! As a costume designer, Field recognizes the importance of assisting the actor she’s dressing to fully assume the role they’ve been hired to portray; this thoughtful approach has no doubt helped her make it big in her career.

** FOR USE WITH AP WEEKLY FEATURES ** In this photo provided by Twentieth Century Fox , Meryl Streep, left, and Patricia Field discuss the wardrobe on the set of `The Devil Wears Prada.' Streep is wearing a Dennis Basso fur coat, Donna Karan dress and Versace glasses. (AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox) ORG XMIT: NY642

** FOR USE WITH AP WEEKLY FEATURES ** In this photo provided by Twentieth Century Fox , Meryl Streep, left, and Patricia Field discuss the wardrobe on the set of `The Devil Wears Prada.’ Streep is wearing a Dennis Basso fur coat, Donna Karan dress and Versace glasses. (AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox)

Speaking of big, one of the “aha” moments was hearing her freak out over working with Meryl Streep. (I mean… Who wouldn’t?) She explained that she didn’t even have the chance to meet Meryl before the start of filming, but she knew that Meryl would be playing a fashion editor so “she had to look good.” She also told the enraptured audience that during filming, Meryl didn’t speak with any of the other actors on set, as to solidify her role as the “queen bee” and to transfer the energy of uneasiness on screen.

She also spoke of her defense of her friend John Galliano in 2011 when he was unceremoniously dropped from the Dior label after being recorded uttering anti-Semetic sentiments in a Paris café. Her actions were described as “courageous” by Leduc, given no one else was defending the designer at the time, who is now with Maison Martin Margiela as Artistic Director. Field sent out an e-mail blast to 500 friends, blogs and media, describing Galliano’s behavior as a “farce.”

Throughout the interview, her candor, charm and husky voice won over the packed room at the MAC, and audience members were often seen nodding their heads or verbalizing their agreement with her wise words. Perhaps Field’s views on female empowerment and fashion were best summarized when she was asked about whether or not she believed Carrie Bradshaw was a “fashion victim.” She replied no, and that as a matter of fact she believes that Carrie Bradshaw opened the door for many women to express  themselves through their clothing, breaking out of the “suit with a skirt” uniform that dominated much of the 80’s and 90’s. In reality, she explained, the real fashion victims are the men, who are confined to their suits in the workplace and masculine colors. Her witty and honest response was met with hollers of agreement from mostly female audience members, and of course a well-deserved standing ovation.

Fashionably yours,

Joel

Twitter: @joeltotherescue