Denis Gagnon - spring/summer 2005

Who dares wonder why there is a cult hinging around Denis Gagnon, scores of believers that kept him afloat a full decade before the ravenous media got a hold of him, even before yours truly, alas, even heard of him?

I have an image in my head, one that remains ever more rooted there after witnessing this collection. That of the mad designer, forever playing with silhouette, never content until all the combinations have been worked out, confined to repeat the process forever. Gladly, Gagnon steps of his design bubble into other reaches of fantasy, perhaps ones that we have access to as well, and that’s exactly what he’s done for his Spring 2005 collection.

This latest offering is, conservatively put, world class. Both the men’s and women’s lines are painted in limerick green, powder blue and lemon yellow, giving new errogenous meaning to nearly every detail.

The collection is literally a breath of fresh air, and this is clearly apparent in the women’s line. Gauzy chiffons are layered for illusion and depth, elements that are quickly shattered by spatial stitching that puts a whole other spin on it. An untreated suede business jacket just about melts with structural apathy, giving the middle finger to typical business wear. The zip-up muslin sundress defies category and other skin-tight skimpies have a cabaret aspect to them. Personal favourite: the aquamarine gathered muslin culottes with leather pocket pouches.

For men, a deeper look is needed to get past the almost-naked tennis look. The separates refuse to be conventional: the fitted banana yellow leather jacket and the erratically-cut pauper’s vests (quite dapper for the rail-riding set I might add) would do well with many of Gagnon’s wardrobe must-haves from previous collections. Leather, muslin and cotton is mingled wonderfully, as it is in the women’s line, for whatever maximum sexual objectification needs in a particular outfit. Gagnon possibly upstages Jean-Paul Gaultier this season, in terms of stretching the utility of pastels.

This is handily one of Canada’s best collections of the year, and it deserves more than this faint praise for its ability to articulate a common ethos with such erotic mastery and sparing detail. I have a feeling that the scribbled scaredy-cat design that crops us on T-shirts throughout the collection is going to be a cult favourite.

Daniel Cox, Fashion Editor
Marek Wlazlo, Photographer