Published in Plaid Magazine Online, November 2012
Photos by Leda & St. Jacques
José Manuel St. Jacques and Simon Bélanger are the creative minds behind UNTTLD. The design duo hailing from Montréal were in Toronto last month to showcase their Spring/Summer 2013 collection on the closing day of World MasterCard Fashion Week.
UNTTLD defines itself with negatives; words such as unexplained, unnamed, unrestrained, unhip and unclassified are used describe the brand’s spirit. In an attempt not to be defined, a revealing message about the brand and its culture is conveyed.
“UNTTLD is a liberating name for us,” St. Jacques and Bélanger explain. “It permits us to reinvent ourselves every season. Although we have aesthetic preferences or inclinations, we are free to explore and transform our work through time. People who wear UNTTLD are not defined by it, but quite the opposite. The idea is not to brand the object so that you come across as being of interest, not what you are wearing.”
The designers are partners in life as well as work. Their collaboration culminates beautifully in every collection, like magic, as they say. For Fall/Winter 2012, inspiration was found in the early medieval period and barbarism. These influences prompted pieces like slim black pants laced up the centre of the legs, pants and skirts with weighty gold chains hanging down from the waist, and leather vests and jackets. Fur was used heavily in the collection, which sometimes took the form of long strands hanging loosely from skirts, jackets, and pants.
St. Jacques and Bélanger have plenty of experience in the industry; they both graduated from fashion programs and worked with the French-Canadian designer Denis Gagnon, who acted as a mentor. They began their own line after St. Jacques won first place in La Collection, Québec’s version of Project Runway, in 2010.
Their work infuses concepts from design, art, music, and cinema. “UNTTLD is all about materializing current considerations and reflections about our life and times. Every season is in reaction to the previous, but also to everything that we read, see, listen to. We seam to tap into this collective unconscious that guides us towards a certain ‘mood’ or ‘spirit’ which starts a whole new creative process…We try to charge everything we do with emotion and feeling.”
The duo are are interested in “those who burn burn burn like fabulous Roman candles exploding across the stars,” referring not to someone in particular but to their “love of exuberance.”
“Only people who know about UNTTLD will recognize what you are wearing. It works as both a kind of ‘insider’s secret’ which contributes to a feeling of community within ‘those who know’, and contributes to a better knowledge of what you wear, where it comes from, and, in the absolute, to what you stand for.”
There is a sense of freedom and exclusivity in wearing something untitled, like only you are really aware of its beauty. We can see the light now.