A natural ambassador for her city, Caroline Khangi is in sync with the pulse of what makes Montreal hum. Her curious and passionate nature led her to pursue a career in fashion, music, design and, eventually, the hotel industry. As a W Insider, she is a “wow-factor” professional who uses her vast network of contacts to benefit of the guests of W Montreal. Want to make some amazing discoveries? Follow Caroline Khangi’s shopping itinerary, and let her top picks lead you to what are bound to become prized souvenirs of Montreal.
An alleyway with endless possibilities
The Pepin Shop is without a doubt a favourite Old Montreal haunt. Each visit is a new experience, a journey into the refined world of multidisciplinary artist and owner Lysanne Pépin. This beautifully eclectic boutique is like stepping into the stylish apartment of a friend who has great taste. “I bring together brands and creators I love deeply, then I create products that are missing on the market,” says the entrepreneur. Much more than just a boutique that encourages local talent, the Pepin Shop makes you want to linger for a coffee or sign up for an essential oil or wine tasting workshop in its charming back alley, which Lysanne calls her “secret garden ... to create timeless memories.” This picturesque courtyard is a reflection of her bohemian tastes and hosts a variety of events according to her desires and creative impulses. The public is invited to regularly check in with the Pepin Shop’s website to discover upcoming souks, brunches, urban gardens and other pop-ups.
From runway to museum
Fashionistas are flocking to the world premiere of the exhibition Thierry Mugler: Couturissimebeing presented at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. No one has ever managed to persuade the acclaimed French designer to mount a retrospective of his work. Until now. The MMFA is the reason for his about-face. It was the museum’s director Nathalie Bondil and exhibition curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot who were the ones able to convince Mugler that the time was right to celebrate his career and that Montreal was the place to do it. The resplendent exhibition reveals the multiple worlds of the visionary couturier, director, photographer and perfumer, and honours the distinctive imagination of the designer who revolutionized the world of fashion and haute couture. The installations showcase some 150 outfits—most of which have been restored and are being exhibited for the first time—created between 1977 and 2014, as well as many never-before-seen accessories, stage costumes, videos, archives and sketches. The public is invited to continue their visit with Montreal Couture, an exhibition that reflects Montreal’s creativity and pays tribute to 10 local creators and collectives, presented alongside the Mugler retrospective.
A toast to Montreal’s history
At 18, Kevin Demers felt it was time to overcome his extreme shyness. He made the rounds of different bars, observing the nightlife around him, and noted that successful bartenders smiled all the time, talked to everyone, made eye contact and engaged in interesting conversation. He decided to try his hand at the game and instantly fell under its spell. “I don’t just enjoy the business... I’m crazy about it,” says the owner of other popular Old Montreal bars. He has nothing but praise for his team and has won several awards with them. And thanks to them, his bars El Pequeño and The Coldroom have now become examples to follow on the Canadian mixology scene. A travel and history buff, Kevin wants to transport the public to another time and place. His newest Victorian-inspired venture will sit right across from where Canada’s second parliament, burned down by angry mobs in 1849 during a conflict between the French and the English, once stood. Like any British pub worth its bangers and mash, Parliament Pub & Parlour will offer cask beers and delicious fish & chips. And diners who want a true taste of the city’s history can enjoy lunch on the terrace, which stands on the ground where the ruins of parliament lie.
Give free rein to your creativity
“The creative adult is the child who survived,” said Picasso. Located in the artistic neighbourhood of Mile End, the Loft créatif offers a variety of DIY-type workshops in an inviting and inspiring space for grown-ups who are young at heart. The Loft proudly collaborates with local creators to present a diverse and evolving selection of workshops. Whether you choose Watercolour with @ElianeBerdat, Weaving with @Boho_Montreal and @NovaMercury, Concrete Casting with @AtelierDorcelus or Floral Arrangements with @FloraliaMTL, each visit is a replenishing experience. The workshops are designed to allow everyone to discover a technique, without necessarily having any particular experience or talent. Participants register online then head out to the Loft. All the supplies are provided. Loft créatif is the perfect place to organize a group activity or to just to take some time for yourself!
Spirits of the terroir
After 20 years working in a high-tech company, Paul Cirka arrived at a fork in the road and elected to take the path into a field that had always interested him. For two years, he travelled around, conducting extensive research on micro-distillation methods and meeting with industry leaders. A serious whisky lover, Paul jumped at the opportunity to become the first grain-to-bottle distiller in Quebec. In 2014, he founded Cirka Distilleries, in a former industrial building on the Lachine Canal. It’s definitely worth a visit, not only to see the towering stills but also to meet the dedicated staff who take care of them. You’ll get a closer look at how they make their gin and their soon-to-be-available whisky (the first bottles will be on SAQ shelves this fall). Cirka Distilleries offers guided tours that include a tasting, from Thursday to Saturday. This is a great way to discover a part of Quebec’s terroir!
Montreal, an open-air museum
Long considered an illegal form of expression, street art now adorns the facades of several major cities. Myriad examples of this urban art are easy to spot in scores of Montreal neighbourhoods. The MURAL Festival was launched in 2012 and quickly earned its way into the hearts of Montrealers. From June 6 to 16, 2019, the MURAL Festival will transform Saint-Laurent Boulevard into Canada’s premier public art corridor. In addition to admiring the work of acclaimed local and international artists, you’ll be able to attend concerts, exhibitions and conferences. This is a vibrant collective celebration that nurtures our nostalgia and leaves behind magnificent murals. Discover the colourful frescoes before, during and after the festival through the eyes of tour guides Anne-Marie and Dany, the dynamic owners of Spade & Palacio, a young company that offers thoroughly original and non-touristy experiences.
Downtown: a playground of activities
This spring, XP_MTL took Montreal by storm, transforming the city’s economic, cultural and social centre into a huge urban playground. Since then, XP_MTL’s program has been eliciting thedelight and participation of workers, residents and visitors alike with a festive program of events and activities that channel major lifestyle trends in the fields of fashion, music, design, beauty and shopping. Music and dance performances, stunts, tours, urban installations, activities and much more... expect anything, anywhere! The program for the year is divided into four thematic periods, with summer 2019 being dedicated to sport in all its forms. This new festival is organized by Groupe Sensation Mode, a major creator of events including the iconic Fashion & Design Festival, in partnership with several key players. Keep up to date with all the activities by following the Instagram account @xp_mtl.