Muse - spring/summer 2006

Just as Hollywood has a sleeper hit every season, both the Canadian fashion stage as well as spring-summer 2006 was almost stolen by one Christian Chenail and his Muse as we dozed under our sunglasses.

Renowned in Quebec for his cheeky flair and sometimes cheesy riffs on film noir seductresses, Chenail delivered simple, clean and powerful clothes at Montreal Fashion Week. This time the muse took many forms, blending influences and eye-popping colours with remarkable agility.

Fashion journalist Susan Kelly was understandably effusive.

“It was fresh and feminine, showing a deft hand at draping and wrapping à la Grecque, Roman or Egyptian. The fabrics are lush and lovely. All in all, I’d say it’s very cohesive design.”

Peacock blue struts in all its glory, as a monochrome in the fitted duster jackets, or as a squiggly line in the cinched, variegated skirts. Sandy tones form the bulk of this huge collection, while peach is the choice for the pin-tuck skirt and matching suit jacket. Garish orange is thrown in to perhaps remind us that bold women may need bold colours to get their groove on.

Because it is so simple, the Muse silhouette this season cannot be breathtaking. This calculated reserve, coupled with precise tailoring is behind the halter-neck dresses, hemmed in and let out in all the right places, once again proving that for ready-to-wear that feels and looks like couture, you either have to go to Alberta (Paul Hardy) or Quebec. I am surprised that only one designer this season can produce a decent pair of capri pants, by using semi-transparent muslin to give them a laissez-faire feel.

I was wrong about not being breathless. The double-layered orange dress with arm sash doesn’t have any je ne sai quoi because we know exactly what it is-a desire to let the diva body in all its variances speak for itself with minimal adornment. The collection is so understated, in fact, that the appearance of the chintzy sea-coral print is such a welcome addition.

Daniel Cox, Fashion Editor
Marek Wlazlo, Photographer