The Fight for Beauty Fashion Show, which was the collaborative effort of Westbank Corp, Fairmont Pacific Rim and CAFA, saw five Canadian designers from coast-to-coast come together for a Vancouver fashion-first: an exclusive runway show at Fairmont Pacific Rim.
José Manuel St-Jacques and Simon Bélanger are the Montreal based designers of UNTTLD. Focusing on fine fabrics and the perfect fit, as well as iconic inspirations, this women’s luxury line reflects a sense of masculine femininity and timeless elegance. UNTTLD is the ongoing collaborative work of a team that in 2016, took home the highly-coveted Swarovski Emerging Talent Prize at the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards (CAFA).
After the party was the after-party and Fairmont Pacific Rim had the chance to catch up with José Manuel St-Jacques and Simon Bélanger of UNTTLD over a glass of wine or two. They got candid about their career in fashion, their personal style and they dished on their guilty pleasures.
Fairmont Pacific Rim: Who are you and where are you from?
José Manuel St-Jacques and Simon Bélanger: we are UNTTLD, an emerging fashion label from Montreal.
Tell us a little bit about where your interest in fashion stemmed from?
José has always played with fabric; draping cloth on himself and creating silhouettes. He still drapes most of his work directly on mannequins; looking for dramatic volumes with minimal lines. For Simon, fashion was a source of escapism from the boring suburban life he knew. He is drawn to the glamourizing, storytelling and theatrical aspects of clothing. Together, we share a fascination for the exotic and use our work to travel through space and time.
Where did you study fashion? Was there a mentor or someone who inspired your passion?
After graduating from Cégep Marie-Victorin in fashion Design, José perfected his knowledge of textiles and techniques in the Fibres Program at Concordia University’s faculty of Fine Arts. A graduate of LaSalle College’s Fashion Design program, Simon Bélanger earned a Master’s degree at the Domus Academy of Milan. Denis Gagnon, a celebrated Montreal designer, has been the best fairy godfather for both of us; we’ve had the privilege to assist him for his exhibition at the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal and have collaborated with him on several collections.
How did you start your fashion career?
We won $100,000 on a TV show called “La Collection”; we started UNTTLD right after.
Who are your style influences or muses?
UNTTLD is a hybrid of elements drawn from many different places and times. From the kaftans of North Africa to the Japanese kimono, we are both obsessed with the elegant simplicity of traditional costumes. We are also very passionate about fashion history. We hold Balenciaga’s work in high regard, the man, being in our humble opinion, the best couturier to ever grace the Earth.
Where can we find your collections?
UNTTLD has a great network of high end specialty boutique throughout Canada. You can find the full list of our retailers on our website.
Which celebrities have worn your designs?
We were honored to dress Mme. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau for Canada’s 150th anniversary of its confederation. We also dress TV Personalities such as Jessi Cruickshank and Maripier Morin. UNTTLD also collaborates closely with Evelyne Brochu (Orphan Black, X Company). Nevertheless, many inspiring women who wear UNTTLD are not necessarily public personalities. We love to meet powerful women that make a difference in the world. By dressing them, we feel we are part of their success.
Tell us something people may not know about you.
We are like open books; there is nothing hiding anywhere.
How would you describe your personal style? What’s your one prized style possession?
As we have so many decisions to make in one day, we simplified our wardrobe to the most sophisticated and elegant of all colors: black. We can never go wrong.
Do you ever get designers block? How do you overcome it?
Our problem is often the opposite! We must edit our ideas all the time or we would have collections with thousands of items!
What is your one guilty pleasure?
Eating and drinking! It is for us the easiest way to travel. Make us discover something we have never eaten and we’ll love you forever.
What is one thing you always travel with?
Simon cannot go anywhere without his laptop. He spends whatever idle time on Tumblr and different blogs looking for inspiration. He is an image bulimic! José always travels with a book. He is really into space Operas at the moment.
Finally, what does a globetrotting fashion designer like you consider as your travel uniform?
UNIQLO jogging wear, in black of course!
To keep up with UNTTLD online, visit: