Campus Spotlight, Student Life

Circle of Fashion’s Pamplemousse makes its return at Bar le 21

Bar le 21 buzzed with activity as McGill students, all swathed in eye-catching attire, swarmed the venue on Nov. 16.

The bar’s rustic wooden beams and soft lighting illuminated the throngs of students sporting original outfits—some of which they crafted themselves. Attendees pored over the new release of this semester’s edition of Pamplemousse—Circle of Fashion’s (COF’s) 78-page magazine brimming with eye-catching photos, diverse interviews, and personal articles exploring the intersection between fashion and identity.

As McGill’s main fashion and design club, COF aims to provide a space for the university’s designers, models, photographers, writers, and graphic designers to express their originality and showcase their work. Manon Fillon-Ashida, U3 Arts, founded the club in September 2022, after she realized that there was a lack of creative outlets on campus for fashion enthusiasts of all types.

“When I came here, I didn’t really like what I was studying. I think it was partially because I didn’t have [a] creative space. I express fashion creativity through sewing, and I didn’t have that, so that’s why I wanted to create a space where people could do what they wanted,” Fillon-Ashida said in an interview with The Tribune.

Fillon-Ashida emphasized the club’s accessibility. She credited its success to its openness to various forms of creativity, which she contrasted to her experience in other fashion clubs at the university. 

“When I started at McGill, I joined a bunch of fashion-related clubs, and they were so restrictive,” she shared. “I remember that I contributed to one club and wrote an article, and they told me that they couldn’t publish it because they were more focused on ‘high-end fashion.’ What’s the purpose of a club if you can’t contribute to it?”

Indeed, most contributions—unless COF is required to comply with certain constraints—are welcomed and eventually accepted, whether they’re related to writing, photography, modeling, or designing. 

“COF allows students to do whatever they want; we’re never going to turn someone down unless their work is super controversial,” Fillon-Ashida added.

(Ilia Shareghi/Circle of Fashion McGill) Students celebrate the magazine’s launch with drinks from Bar le 21.

Pamplemousse’s second issue: All About Students

The club’s fashion magazine—Pamplemousse—is a semester-long project that gives student graphic designers, photographers, writers, and editors the opportunity to collaborate and showcase their passions. 

Since its creation, each edition of the magazine has focused on a different theme. Its first volume, published in Spring 2023, revolved around local Montreal and McGill-owned businesses—ranging from shops to vintage stores. This semester’s edition, which Thursday night’s celebration was centred around, focuses on the intersection between students’ upbringing and their personal sense of self-expression. 

“This issue explores fashion from a deeper perspective,” Anastasia Van Ryswyk, COF’s VP Magazine and U2 Arts said. “Interviews focused on how your city, or where you’re from, influences you as a person. It influences what you wear. In that sense, anything and everything can be fashion.”

As VP Magazine, Van Ryswyk oversaw the magazine’s production. She discussed its creative process, starting with the recruitment of artists, creators, and writers to fill the magazine’s pages. 

“Planning is the longest and most challenging part,” she explained. “For a while, I was just communicating with people and getting updates on their project status, which is a lot of back and forth with everyone.” 

COF sat down with 16 McGill students to gain insight into how their personal upbringings were related to their fashion-related aspirations. These interviews are featured on pages nine to 24 of the magazine. 

Van Ryswyk then organized the magazine’s photoshoots, editorials, and student interviews alongside COF’s VP Photography, Melody Bucchino, U4 Science. Bucchino shot several of the magazine’s photoshoots, including the cover. In an interview with The Tribune, she described the experience as “incredible.”

“This edition’s theme, ‘All About Students,’ allowed me to meet such an amazing and diverse group of students. I think that I’ve grown a lot as a photographer as a result,” Bucchino shared. “The magazine did a really awesome job in showcasing the creativity and diversity of fashion amongst McGill students.”

Once interviews, photoshoots, and articles were finished, Van Ryswyk worked on the layout, along with the help of five graphic editors. She then revised the final draft of the magazine to make sure everything—from format to budgeting—aligned with the club’s initial vision to uplift students and create quality content.

(Ilia Shareghi/Circle of Fashion McGill) COF’s VP Magazine, Anastasia Van Ryswyk, with a copy of Pamplemousse.

COF’s second edition has greatly evolved from its first; from editing to writing and the organization of the magazine, as COF’s VP Magazine explained. 

“Last semester, I had about 10-15 writers, five editors, and a few photographers,” Van Ryswyk revealed. “We did interviews using Google Forms, and that was hard to organize. So this year I wanted to focus more on [expanding] the magazine.”

She went on to explain that she’s hoping to give more freedom to writers in future editions, so that more people could contribute. She also recognized the lack of variety of the fine art forms involved in this edition of Pamplemousse and said she strives to draw more artists to the club for future editions. 

When asked about COF’s ideas for future magazines, Van Ryswyk revealed her hopes for a theme involving both sports and fashion. 

“For the next magazine, we’re hoping to discuss something along the lines of sports and fashion,” she teased. “I really want to talk about leisure throughout history and on campus and 

understand that through writing and imagery. I’d also like to learn more about the role of varsity sports in identity—how you present yourself. There are a lot of different ways we can approach that—but that’s still a work in progress,” she explained.

Since its beginning last year, COF’s audience has grown exponentially. The club has racked up thousands of followers between its Instagram and TikTok accounts. Between the months of September to December, the club has hosted sold-out runaways, pop-up events, and workshops, which continue to encourage artistry in all its forms and bridge the gap between McGill and the larger Montreal community.

Copies of Pamplemousse will be available in print for $12 at SSMU’s winter market on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

Naomi Gupta is a magazine and blog editor for Circle of Fashion McGill.

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