On Sept. 4 — the same day Quebecers head to the polls — fashion fans and industry watchers will be flocking to the semi-annual style showcase.
Organizers have made a concerted effort for several seasons to get a head start on the fashion calendar, but have also found the shows overlapping this time out with New York Fashion Week.
"For sure, on the international level, there's an impact," said Sensation Mode co-president Jean-François Daviau, whose firm organizes Montreal Fashion Week.
"What we are facing right now is that people are coming two days or three days, they're not staying for all the four days, and then they move to New York. But that's only for the international visitors that have an interest in New York."
Daviau said it's always a difficult balancing act when it comes to circling the dates for the fashion showcase.
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"Since we've changed our dates and we do it earlier, it's easier for the designers — we can see that this year — to have their production ready for fashion week."
The spring-summer 2013 collections aren't the only thing that will be new at the this year's edition.
After several years ensconced at Bonsecours Market in the heart of Old Montreal, event organizers are pulling up stakes and heading to the Griffintown neighbourhood in the city's southwest.
Arsenal, a complex dedicated to contemporary art, will serve as the event's main hub. The 40,000 square-foot (more than 3,700-square-metre) space was formerly a shipyard.
Denis Gagnon, Duy, Tavan & Mitto, UNTTLD, Travis Taddeo, Anastasia Lomonova, Annie 50, Anomal Couture, leather goods retailer Rudsak and husband-and-wife design duo Martin Lim are among those set to show works on the runway. Melissa Nepton, Iris Setlakwe, Nisse, Symbiose by Hinda A. and Toronto-based Rachel Sin are also slated to take part.
Noteworthy anniversaries will also be recognized, including a celebration of leading homegrown designer Marie Saint Pierre who marks her quarter-century career in fashion. Ève Gravel will commemorate her label's 10-year milestone with an off-site event on Sept. 3.
Six emerging designers will be featured in Exhibit 23, which showcase atelier b., Tamé, La Raffinerie, Davmani, jewelry and accessories brand LaLaYeah and Dare by Gwen Madiba.
"Designer Début," turning the spotlight on up-and-coming talents, will feature By Thomas, Betina Lou, Pedram Karimi and Hip & Bone showing their designs.
Drawing international attention to the event has always been key for organizers.
In addition to the presence of foreign designers and buyers, Montreal Fashion Week has forged alliances with outside fashion partners, from collaborating with Who's Next, a renowned international fashion trade show, to a partnership with Tokyo Fashion Week to cross-promote designers in both markets. But for this season, Daviau said they've decided to employ a different strategy, with plans to further continue a push for international content next year.
To make it easier for designers to take part, Daviau said participation fees were reduced by half this season.
In a recent interview, he expressed a desire for greater sponsorship support and involvement with the event.
"If we want to be a fashion capital supporting Canadian designers, we need more leverage to present our talents to the world."
His wish may have already been granted.
Target Canada public relations manager Sebastien Bouchard said the company will be sharing more details about its involvement with the Montreal fashion industry during a private cocktail reception on Sept. 5. This comes on the heels of the U.S.-based discount giant announcing a partnership with Montreal Fashion Week, and naming Mitsou Gélinas as fashion ambassador for the brand during the event.
She will attend fashion shows, conduct backstage interviews and interact with guests in the company's lounge area, and will be creating content for Target's social channels and digital platforms, according to Bouchard.
In a bid to broaden the experience beyond the catwalk, a number of related events have been included on the calendar, such as a series of fashion short films. "Project Runway Canada" alum and Parsons instructor Marie Geneviève Cyr will lead a conference on the emergence of communities among young designers.
And in what's being billed as an event first, there will be several options available to the public to attend shows through purchase of single tickets, one-day passes and a four-day passport for the week. For stylewatchers seeking to get their fashion fix from home, select shows will be available a few clicks away through live broadcasts each night.
Montreal Fashion Week runs Sept. 4-7.
Montreal Fashion Week: www.montrealfashionweek.ca