Designer Duo: UNTTLD

UNTTLD

White crimped gown. Necklace HARAKIRI.

UNTTLD
UNTTLD
 UNTTLD thumbnail
 UNTTLD thumbnail
 UNTTLD thumbnail

“We spend all our time together, 24 hours a day,” confides José Manuel, who is now sporting a noticeably shorter ‘do since our last meeting. Since then, Simon Bélanger also stopped by the hairdresser. Makes sense: “We do everything together, absolutely everything!” A quote that says it all.

When it comes to fashion, the young designer duo speak without hesitation, with a frank liberty pushing on baffling. We are talking in a small café located in the trendy Milend, at that very moment hipsters are busy boosting themselves on café lattes. “We met in 2006, but we were physically separated for two years while Simon left to study in Italy at Milan’s Domus Academy,” explains José Manuel. After a few trips back-and-forth, each with their respective diplomas in hand, and José freshly graduated from Concordia’s Fine Arts program, he finally got the chance to reunite with his alter ego. It was then on TVA’s famous reality-TV show, “La Collection”, that the duo were propelled to the front of the scene. “José was working alongside Montréal stylist, Yso, creating costumes for the opera. On my end, I was assisting Denis Gagnon. He told me that the reality-TV show was looking for young, aspiring designers. We were then completely broke. We applied, got called back, and… we won!” During the weeks of shooting, while they were not supposed to see each other, José and Simon still couldn’t be apart, even to the knowledge of the producers. Rule or not, who could try to separate them? “We’ve asked ourselves if such close proximity to one another can be sane. We can definitely say, yes, it is. Ironically, our problems are worse when we’re not together!”

The duo admits that since the beginning of their story they’ve dreamed of becoming a designer couple doubling also as a couple in their private lives, united by the success of their very own line. Well, since 2011 it’s been a dream come true. While José defines himself as more colorful, more inclined towards poetry, Simon is the “darker” side, more obscure. Nonetheless, over the past years they’ve been able to bring their styles together… and closer yet. “If I was working alone I would only create in black or white,” admits Bélanger, “but José brings out another side of me, something very different, and it includes colours, too!”

They look at each other as partners and lovers. Yet another day of creation in the name of harmony and sophisticated taste. Indeed, this very morning, the word “fusion” seems to take on all its literal sene. This duo of benefactors, who we presented as the it thing last spring, hasn’t finished enchanting us. With their edgy and architecture-like silhouettes, their pants like second skin in laced leather, their composite coats made of leather and fur, or dresses that mix metallic chains and waxed cotton, the duo is rockin’ it again with their winter line. “Together we make twice as many things!” Conclude the designers, also confiding that they’ve been engaged for a little while now. And yes, the big decision was made in the washroom of a restaurant, just for laughs. United and always surprising, for better or for worse.

— Elsa Vecchi

Photography SYLVAIN BLAIS
Styling YSO
Clothes by UNTTLD.

Styling, YSO at Folio. Hair & makeup, Jessica Lablanche at Folio. Model, Ryan at Folio. Assistant photographer, Julien Barbès. Retouching, Marie Pier Toutant.

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