This past weekend there were plenty of happy shoppers with sore feet. It was the 14th installment of Canada’s largest sidewalk sale, where Saint Catherine Street morphs into an 11 km (6.8 mile) outdoor market.
Over 300,000 people hit the area throughout the weekend looking for that perfect bargain. Designer Jean Paul Gaultier even put in an appearance.
Montreal is known as Canada’s fashion capital for good reason. Sainte-Catherine is lined with eclectic, funky stores as well as high-end fashion boutiques, popular chains and major department stores. Most were offering deep discounts on end-of-season inventory. This sale brings out the serious fashionistas from all over Canada.
Hot and sunny, it was the perfect weekend for magasinage (roughly translated, “the pleasure of shopping”) with downtown retailers bringing their wares out to the streets.
Bargain hunters looked through the racks of clothing and haggled over prices while street performers entertained them. Among the performers was the Accueil Bonneau Choir, who sang favorite Quebec classics alongside street vendors serving up hot dogs, sausages, and the famous poutine (French fries with cheese curds and gravy). There was even something for the guys: a showcase of classic cars from the 60s. Nothing beats the style of a vintage Mustang.
With a nod to Montreal’s Celtic past, men in kilts lingered outside of the iconic Ogilvy department store. Founded in 1866 by James Angus Ogilvy, this store remains a mainstay for upscale matriarchs.
The end of the shopping day was celebrated with the pret-a-porter Pinkarnaval fashion parade. Hosted by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), the parade highlighted the makeup, hair, and costuming of French designer Jean Paul Gaultier. It coincided with the MMFA exhibit of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier – From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, running until October 2, 2011.
Gaultier’s two muses E`ve Salvail and Francisco Randez (both Quebec-born) lead a group of youths dressed in stripes on their way down to Place des Arts where the Striped Ball was held on Sunday. Gaultier joined the parade to walk alongside the 1,600 Montrealers who were divided into seven groups of dancers representing seven themes based on Gaultier’s designs. Highlights included a giant floating cone bra, a pair of leg,s and Rose (the fiancee of the famous Just For Laughs Green Bonhomme) wearing the designer’s legendary cone bra… on her head. The event also launched the Just for Laughs festival, which runs from July 18 until July 31.