Originally published in the October 2014 print issue of Ottawa Magazine.
Although he is always carefully styled, you could never characterize Brendan de Montigny as superficial. A graduate of the University of Ottawa’s Master of Fine Arts program, de Montigny is co-founder of PDA Projects, a community-centric space for art that opened to no small fanfare on August 16 at 361 Elgin St. Tony Martins talks to de Montigny about life, style, and art.
You seem to have a look that is at stylish and unconventional. Would you agree?
When I was 10 years old I wore a clip tie regularly and I’d read the newspaper in the morning before school. I don’t know if I am unconventional, maybe just always odd. From worst to best, I would read the world news, Canadian news, art news — and I’d save the comic strips for last.
I remember seeing you with a pocket square with tiny skulls. For you, how much about style is in the details?
Style is the details. I used to consider myself a punk — or at least, I was into the music. I now wear the skull pocket square with a suit, a culturally loaded garment, and I like that questioning of binaries found in culture.
What are some of your favourite places to shop locally?
Stroked Ego and Victoire. I also like Tristan because it’s Canadian designed. I actually only shop for clothes a few times a year and then wear them into the ground.
Your haircuts are distinctive and razor sharp — you must work with a seasoned professional, yes?
This is actually embarrassing: I get my hair cut every three weeks! For me, it is a way to relax, have a soda, get a hot shave, a trim, and listen to some good music. I have been going to the House of Barons for the past nine months at 481 Sussex. My barber is Jeff and he has a knack for banter, a good hand with a blade, and is quite existential. The space reminds me of a tree fort for grown ups, they also have Crown shaving products from Toronto — that’s a plus because they’re also Canadian.
Do you follow any men’s fashion magazines or go fully rogue?
Rogue, I guess. I am not going to lie. I have tried to read GQ or Esquire and so on and really I don’t identify with this masculine, or gendering, “bro” culture. My late grandfather, who worked an assembly line, who fished who hunted and drove an RV, told me many times: “A person is based on how they act, not how they dress.” I live by that.
Are you inspired by any style icons from the art world? Andy Warhol? Salvador Dali?
Not really. I appreciate that there have been these artists in our history who have pushed their ideas further. However, I have issues when their ideas are diminished by the colour of their hair, the length of their moustache, or the shape of their eyeglasses. Fashion shouldn’t only be determined by what the successful players think, nor should art in Canada be. Art is for everyone. If you love any type of art with confidence you are already succeeding.