Reading time : 2 min
by Angèle Simon

It's in his small atelier boutique on Saint-Paul Street, in Old Montreal, that we met the Quebec fashion icon, Denis Gagnon. The boutique entrance is entirely glass, adorned with some of his creations and several vintage decorations and furniture. Going down the stairs, the room darkens, making way for the numerous garments imagined and designed by the designer himself.

That same year, Denis opened his studio-boutique in Old Montreal, a neighborhood he deeply cherishes. For almost 14 years, the designer has welcomed his most loyal customers, tourists, and young fashion enthusiasts into his beautiful boutique. Amazed by the creations in the display windows, passersby enter without delay and discover Denis Gagnon's iconic pieces. Zippers, sequins, pleats, and velvet: the designer enjoys working with textures according to the spirit of the moment.

"Each season has had its material. There have been times when I worked a lot with leather, fringes, velvet, or sequins. Today, we mix it all together."

Denis Gagnon's greatest wish is to continue doing what he loves in his Montreal studio, but also to rekindle the passion that burned within him when he first entered the fashion industry. As a creator who has witnessed many changes in the industry, including the shift to the internet, Denis hopes to one day return to creating less thought-out garments that express his most extravagant ideas. He also reveals his desire to explore working with a different medium and potentially going back to collaborating with other artists or companies.

"I am a Quebecois creator with a physical presence and I'm still here, resisting all trends."

M.A.D. Shoppe is proud to feature several pieces designed by Denis Gagnon on its platform. Shop them right here!

24 years of a career

Graduate of a sewing program at LaSalle College, Denis began his career in fashion as a costume designer for the theater. He then spent three years in Morocco, teaching fashion design. Upon his return to Montreal in 2000, he presented his first men's collection, followed by a women's collection. His success was immediate. Quickly, his creations found their way onto the shelves at Holt Renfrew, and later in his career, at Simons (and now at M.A.D. Shoppe !). Along his journey, he was often called the "enfant terrible of Quebec fashion," in reference to the French designer Jean Paul Gaultier, who also achieved immense success.

In 2010, Denis Gagnon became the first Quebec designer to be honored at the Museum of Fine Arts in an exhibition titled "Denis Gagnon, 10 Years of Creation"

"My best fashion memory is when I inaugurated my exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts. We had a big party, with at least 1000 people gathered for me. It was very touching and a real high point for me."

Reinventing Oneself

After 24 years of collections, runway shows, and collaborations with renowned brands such as Lancôme and Birks, Denis Gagnon has decided to return to the essentials, especially since the pandemic. The new realities of everyday life have led to various reflections for many designers in Quebec. Today, Denis and his team no longer follow the seasons to produce their clothing but instead create timeless collections that do not necessarily follow trends.

However, his democratization of fashion began a bit before the pandemic, in 2018, when he launched the "Denise" collection. More affordable, the garments in this new line are unisex, simplified, and available between $50 and $200. Nevertheless, production still takes place in his Montreal studio, and fabrics are carefully selected from local suppliers. In fact, some pieces feature a unique printed pattern, signed by Denis Gagnon. This process is called photo sublimation, which allows a photograph to be printed on fabric.