Denis Gagnon - spring/summer 2004

In verifying the images for Denis Gagnon spring 2004, I came across one with a gentleman holding his head in the front row. I remember having a similar feeling, trying to wrap my own mind around a meditative collection that titillates as much as it entrances.

From clingy jersey to deconstructed swaths of linen to silk-screened chiffon, this collection speaks volumes with discipline. Even the big baggy pockets don’t detract from the overall sparing message.

All these white and neutral combinations, virtue of the saintly Quebecois lace and corseting, comes off looking contemporary and period at once. These intersecting lines transgress some bodylines and accentuate others, giving an otherworldly sculpting to the pieces, symmetric for the most part. Snaps and hooks make brief cameos, if only to remind us that they were Gagnon’s obsessions in previous collections.

Gagnon pulls off what Prada did to tame Spring 2004’s colourful abandon on the other side of the pond. Beige, nude and an array of compromised whites really need to be as basic as possible to withstand the texture embellishments that Gagnon can’t resist, without being too over-the-top.

Since when does a guy need sleeves, especially if he’s got a python writhing from each shoulder? The men’s pants draw their magic from the ballet fit, and particularly when jazzed up with sinuous patterns that swoop to the ankle with the carnal detail of an anatomical drawing. Is there a doctor in the house?

I needed to check my head anyways because I could have sworn that the same elliptical skirt I saw moments before now traipsed out inverted, bearing a new identity.

Even in Gagnon’s more casual odes to la vie laissez-faire, the details rise to the surface. In an asymmetric top made of paper-thin wrinkled leather, the double collar unfolds with just as much planned carelessness as the rest of the garment. In the sleeveless blouse for women, the crisp white rivals its crop of knife pleats for sharpness.

The personal touch is ever-present. Matte ink handwritten poems are nestled within metallic flower prints, reminding us that the innovative can just as well be meltingly romantic.

Denis Gagnon was one of the few killer shows at the fifth edition of Montreal Fashion Week.

Daniel Cox, Fashion Editor
Marek Wlazlo, Photographer