Meet Madeleine, who moved to Montreal

by Gregory Beatty

Street WearWHO: Madeleine Black WHERE: Seed Sustainable Style PROFICIENCIES: Dance, performance, newsletters, modeling SPECIAL ABILITIES: Scarves +3; wields dual necklace. QUOTE: “The men I’m friends with in Montreal are much more interested in style and femininity.”

A graduate of Campbell Collegiate, Madeleine moved to Montreal in August of 2012 to attend Concordia University where she’s majoring in studio arts and interdisciplinary studies in sexuality, and is a passionate participant in the Anglophone arts community. We met to talk fashion when she was back in Regina over Christmas.

Why did you choose to have your photo taken here?

I worked at Seed for almost three years, starting when I was 18. In addition to clerking in the store, I’d model, do photography and write newsletters. And when Lisa [owner Lisa Wicklund] would have runway shows, I’d help out. All the clothing in the store is either local or independent Canadian designers. It’s really great living in Montreal now, because a lot of them are from there. So I recognize a lot of what’s going on when I go to something like the Puces POP sales they hold three times a year.

And Lisa’s going to be in Montreal Fashion Week in February. I’ll be helping her out, which is really exciting.

You have experience as a model and in different performing arts. Has that impacted your approach to fashion?

I’ve danced for a long time, and I’m sure that lessened any fear about being dramatic or theatrical. I think I also have a greater sense of play when I’m getting dressed. It’s not just a matter of throwing something on — I have a lot of fun and get really obsessive about colours, patterns, shapes and how they go together.

How would you compare Regina to Montreal?

In Regina, it’s a little bit interesting because it’s kind of cut off from what’s happening elsewhere. People sometimes have really interesting things that they do that aren’t as influenced by what’s trendy. In Montreal, there’s so many different avenues of fashion. There’s very trendy American Apparel style people who look like they’re right out of a magazine. But they don’t necessarily curate their own clothing. Then there’s lots of artists and designers who make their own stuff.

I live in the Mile End/Outremont area where there’s lots of Hasidic Jewish families. On special occasions, the girls wear these beautiful velvet and lace dresses. So there’s a broader range of cultural influences that I find inspiring.

I think there’s more enjoyment in fashion. There’s also more care put into it. People see its value. If you’re wearing sweatpants to school, I think you feel differently than if you wear something that makes you feel beautiful.

Have your studies in gender and sexuality caused you to think about clothing in a different way?

Comparing men’s styles in Regina to Montreal is interesting. The men I’m friends with in Montreal are much more interested in style and femininity. I’ve heard a few of my friends say things like, “I really like this because it looks like a skirt” when it’s like a long top. Or they’re wearing lots of colour, pattern or draping. So it’s interesting to feel more on par with men in terms of fashion.

Also, for myself, I think my studies have helped me be conscious of dressing for myself and not for other people.

How would you describe your style?

I always think of my style as being like a “bedscape” because I never want to get out of bed. So I often wear big scarves. I’m really into long dresses and skirts now. I’m also interested in hyper-feminine imagery and Goth influences — very dark and romantic. I just watched Game of Thrones for the third time and I love the clothes in that show.

What’s special for you about this outfit?

I bought the dress at a shop in Montreal called Lustre Boutique. It was near my first apartment, and I’d go in all the time and wander around. I got the jacket from Value Village — I love the pattern. The [top] necklace, my sister gave me for my birthday. It’s from Berlin. The other is a piece of an old broken necklace. I bought the rings from a girl selling jewelry on a blanket by my old apartment. I’m also wearing lots of layers. Under my dress I have a velvet floral skirt and a slip that I dyed and wore in a performance at school last year.


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