Spotlight on Our Graduates

Denis Gagnon 

Name: DENIS GAGNON
Title: PRESIDENT AND DESIGNER
Company: ATELIER-BOUTIQUE DENIS GAGNON
Study Program: FASHION DESIGN
Degree obtained in: 1992

What position do you hold and what are your main responsibilities?

I am a designer and President of Atelier-Boutique Denis Gagnon, located at 170 Saint Paul West, in Old Montreal.

Could you describe a typical day in your professional life?

Most of the time I work at my workshop, which is located in the basement of my boutique. I take on several positions in my team: I am responsible for creation, but I also manage the cutting and patronage and I explain the assembly and different sewing techniques to my team.

Could you describe your career path?

I arrived in Montreal in my twenties. I graduated with a fashion degree from LaSalle College. I worked for the theater, at Fox Leather, then I went to Casablanca, Morocco, to teach for three years driven by my thirst for travel and challenges. I also taught at LaSalle College.

My friend Yso pushed me to build my own brand, so I started distributing at Holt Renfrew, then I set up my first boutique in Mile End.

In 2010, I became the first designer from Quebec to have its work exhibited at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Then I opened my current store in Old Montreal. Everything is made in the workshop located in the basement of the boutique. I have carried out several projects, including a collaboration with the cosmetics company Lancôme and a collaboration with Bedo.

We regularly dress people at public events such as red carpet events, TV shows or concerts. Phyllis Lambert, Guy Laliberté and even Marie-Mai wear Denis Gagnon. The mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, is also one of my clients.

In December 2018, my team and I began to make Montreal fashion more accessible by launching the Denise collection in stores. The designs and technique were simplified, thus lowering the cost of the clothing items and opening the fashion market to a more mid-range clientele.

This year, I am collaborating once again with the Museum of Fine Arts, where two of my dresses are on display for Montréal Couture, in the “Thierry Mugler: COUTURISSIME” exhibition.

What is your fondest memory of your days at LaSalle College?

I had a lot of good times at LaSalle College and several people there had an impact on me. Particularly teachers like Celine Chicoine, Claude Férot, Jacques Marchand and Michèle Boulanger-Bussière.


What was your favorite subject in the curriculum?

My favorite subject was definitely Molding and everything related to tailoring. I remember my teachers thought I had done it before, but I just had a knack for sewing. I was even able to find a job through them.

I loved making illustrations, too.


Could you describe the general impression you had when you started at LaSalle College?

Going to LaSalle College was reinvigorating. I felt that it would allow me to start my career and achieve my goals.

When I was little, I used to dress up my sister’s Barbies and I later worked for theater and films. But that was the culmination of my early experiences with design. It gave me courage because in life, everything is work.

In seeking to discover all the secrets of the fashion world, I found myself.


What surprised you the most when you entered the job market?

I understood that I had to work more and more, to push my limits. That conviction served me well throughout my career.

My apartment is near my workshop and boutique. I’m there all the time.

Like Coco Chanel, I work on the weekends. I continue to make progress while others go on vacation.


What advice would you give to a student currently enrolled in the same program that you completed?

“HOLD ON TO YOUR HAT” – To succeed, you must always work with passion and determination. You need to work very hard if you want to make your dreams come true.

Life is a matter of luck and you have to seek it out.


What are the essential qualities required to succeed in your field?

Pacing your work and consistency are the keys to success.


Who are the role models that inspire you and why?

René Rozon, the founder of the International Festival of Films on Art has inspired me to persevere and be courageous. Those are two of my main qualities today, which is why I really admire him.

I know it’s a cliché, but my main role model is undoubtedly my mother. She is and always will be my main source of inspiration. She has given me so much love.


Something to add that could inspire the next generation?

Fashion today is a double-edged sword: With the Internet, you can see and be seen, but the competition is fierce; it’s a tough fight.


To learn more about Denis Gagnon:
Facebook: DENIS GAGNON
Instagram: @denisgagnon.ca
LinkedIn: @denisgagnon
Company website: www.denisgagnon.ca

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