Fashion Show Review: A Pop-Up Shop Uniquely One & Only

Dance Meets Fashion On An Evening Of Artistic Expression

  • Charpentier’s handmade collection constitutes pieces that he finds in thrift stores and then elevates with unique embroidery and appliqués. Photo Gabrielle Vendette.

  • The event, part fashion show, part pop-up shop, had all the makings of a millennial-run event. Photo Gabrielle Vendette

Local fashion brand One & Only displayed their Spring/Summer clothing collection in a multimedia fashion show at Artgang, an exhibition space on St. Hubert Street.

The fashion show itself did not feature regular models, but instead recent graduates from the contemporary dance program at the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal. Theo Charpentier used to attend that same CEGEP until he dropped out to find and focus on a project he could be more passionate about. It turned out to be One & Only.

One & Only is owned and designed by Charpentier, and has been in production for a little over a year.

The event, part fashion show, part pop-up shop, had all the makings of a millennial-run event. The decor was minimalistic and modern. Fairy lights hung to the left of the room against a black wall, adding sparkles of soft light in the dimly lit space. The room was divided in two; to the right was a wide dance floor that would be filled later in the evening with bobbing heads as some of Charpentier’s friends and collaborators performed their music. To the left is where the fashion magic happened.

Three clothing racks and a table in the center featured both One & Only’s ready-to-wear pieces and the handmade ones. A steady flock of people circled the table, looking at t-shirts and baseball caps set-up under a spotlight. The t-shirts come in either cream or black. They have a grey floral design interlaced with the pretzel-shaped heart design of the One & Only logo.

It is all about the journey and growth for Charpentier, he said, and he represents this in his clothing. His handmade collection constitutes pieces that he finds in thrift stores and then elevates with unique embroidery and appliqués.

“The idea of the clothing at the base of it is taking old clothing, inviting new design and new ideas into it, and the result of that being a whole new potential for that piece of clothing,” said Charpentier.

Clothing gains value as it passes through more people’s hands, he said, but only if people truly value the clothing article itself.

The entire mood was set by a female DJ. This was a nice reminder that you were in a space of hopeful progress. She mixed club hits, steady beats and afro trap, giving the entire evening a loungey vibe that made you feel like you were cooler than cool.

The “pièce de resistance” of the evening was a dance fashion show, where dancers went through the crowd presenting their contemporary choreographies and wearing One & Only pieces.

A small group of seven dancers began the runway show with a coordinated choreography at the front of the crowd. The fluid, organic contemporary dance moves meshed well with the eerie techno beat that accompanied their performance.

Contemporary dancers from Cégep du Vieux Montréal performed down the runway. Photo Gabrielle Vendette

The choreography was held in front of the DJ booth, but later, one by one, the dancers walked, or rather danced, through the crowd on a designated path. Each dancer took their turn, spinning, jumping and kicking. It was an oddly intimate experience, seeing these dancers so up-close, compared to other runways that have their models on elevated platforms.

However, it fits as One & Only paints itself as a unique brand. According to Charpentier, the brand is more of a philosophy than a logo that goes on clothing. It symbolizes the unity of artists from many disciplines coming together to work on projects. The launch of the Spring/Summer collection even featured a three track EP produced by Charpentier and his musician friends.

In his speech of the evening, Charpentier explained that One & Only is a community of people who have different skills, and when put together, they can create something bigger than themselves.

“I sell a way of doing things, a different approach to creativity.” ⎯ Theo Charpentier

The evening was a definite success for Charpentier. He explained how he was slowly coming to the realization that people were at his show to support him and to have a good time, which is all he really wanted.

“People are here to see what we’re able to do, and what we’re able to do is not perfect, but it’s really genuine,” he said. The pressure he felt was only coming from himself. “I had all these expectations of like, oh it has to be good, it has to be big…but everyone is just happy to be here and to be part of the evening.”

It took six months to create the show, but not without a few mishaps along the way. Jean-Michel Deslippe, who sang at the fashion show and whose stage name is Mitch Donovan, explained that two weeks before the show, the computer hard drive containing two tracks they had completed crashed. They were able to retrieve one song, but had to completely redo the other one, and only finished producing the night before the show.

When asked about his relationship with Charpentier, Deslippe replied: “Theo is a love story that dates back to CEGEP.” This love story of a friendship now includes one of artistic collaboration, after Charpentier has created a brand that is both uniquely his, but also made for everyone to share.

Charpentier is planning another pop up shop for his Spring/Summer collection in late July, but has not yet chosen a location.

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