Montreal is considered the fashion capital of Canada- and for good reason. When people visit from far and wide, they’re unfailingly impressed by how Montrealers endure the cold winters with fashionable layering and one of a kind coats and boots. Then they’re even more impressed in the sizzling summer when they see how Montrealers take it all off and delight in the Montreal heat…
I spoke to Montreal fashion maven and CBC personality Raji Sohal, who is possibly Montreal’s answer to Toronto’s fabulous Jen McNeely of She Does the City fame, about street style and what makes Montreal such a fashionable destination…
Montreal Buzz: How would you define Montreal’s street style?
Raji Sohal: It’s hard to pin down the whole city as having ‘one style’ because it doesn’t! But the ‘hippest’ among those with street style are wizards with using vintage and ‘frips’ to achieve today’s trends.
MB: How would you define Toronto street style?
RS: I think Torontonians do ‘high/low’ combinations really well – meaning they’ll mix actual high-end designers with something like H&M. In Montreal we’re good at faking the ‘high’ aspect of the high/low combo!
MB: What makes Montreal’s style unique?
RS: Knowing the right balance of how much to take on a trend while also keeping one’s own personal style signature in tact. That mix is a fine balance, and we’ve got it mastered!
MB: Why are Montrealers considered so fashionable?
RS: Confidence. Montrealers have the confidence to go out on a limb and do something original and fun with their outfits, even though it may not be on trend, and even in cases where it may not be the most flattering! For Montrealers, dressing up is less about appearing posh and establishing status, and more about the art of expression.
SC: What Montreal style do you think is the most popular?
RS: Hipster fashion! Ha ha! Seriously the ‘most popular’ fashion anywhere is never really good… it’s what people should stay away from! So, I daren’t disclose it for fear that even more people may accidentally adopt it.
SC: What are the current trends? Compared to Toronto?
RS: Current trends for gentlemen this season include shorter, fitted trousers; rolled up and worn with oxfords or simple canvas shoes and no socks. Some of my favourite women’s wear trends this season include maxi dresses, high-waisted shorts, wedges and platforms, and colour blocking.
The current trends are the same in Toronto and Montreal – but how people interpret them may be different. So for example, for guys throwback haircuts inspired by the prim 50’s side part, as well as the edgy and shaved geometric cuts of the 80’s are in…. but the Toronto version may look more clean and less laissez-faire. Another example is the trend of mixing prints, where in general, Torontonian street style may play it a bit safe with this trend; Montrealers take liberties, mixing prints in a more flamboyant manner, like florals with stripes, printed T-shirts with floral shorts. Also, I’d say that Toronto’s most fashionable set prefer to invest in higher price point pieces in accessories, including quality sunglasses and designer shoes.
MB: Is Montreal actually “sexier” than Toronto?
RS: Yes! Montreal is one of the hottest cities in the world. People here take their joie de vivre seriously – even incorporating it into their wardrobe.
MB: Ok but seriously, what is the style at the Tam-Tams?
RS: Circus chic?
MB: How many people are riding unicycles in Toronto?
RS: Not enough. It would seriously improve Toronto’s bohemian factor if it adopted unicycle lanes on busy streets.
MB: Who are Montreal’s style icons?
RS: Guys: There are a few different fashion sets here. In general, a lot of the 18–24 set go for a James Dean, Steve McQueen look. Increasingly. I’m seeing versions of Theo Huxtable (from The Cosby Show). The neo-minimal and Goth, the hyper fashion set drool after Rad Hourani and on Mont Royal on a Sunday you’ll see that the city’s Goths still have a place in their heart for Marilyn Manson.
Girls: The fashionista’s idolize everyone from Carine Roitfeld and Kate Moss, to Brigitte Bardot, Chloe Sevigny and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Lately there has been an increased influence of classic American pieces with tough-chic, Parisian-influenced accents.
Check out Raji Sohal’s Twitter page for up to the minute fashion musings