Culture & Conversation

The People’s Runway

At Wednesday night’s Jean Paul Gaultier runway show, the throngs of pedestrian spectators were proof of just how fun fashion can be. There were no nasty PR girls with austere guest lists, there was no reserved seating, no front-row celebutantes. The show was all about the people on the streets, the beautiful clothes, and just having fun.

Although the Gaultier exhibit recently opened at the Musée des Beaux Arts, followed by the Pinkarnaval, which saw a Gaultier-inspired spectacle dance through the city streets during Just For Laughs, Montrealers still can’t get enough of this man. The presentation of his Fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection was just as fresh and exciting as when we saw the runway images from Paris a few months ago but this time the runway was in our city, live and up close. Clothes fluttered by inches from the crowd, with a vitality that high-res images just can’t capture. Instead of seeing digitized images of clothes a thousand miles away (and months away in production) the sensuality of Gaultier’s collection was at our fingertips. Better yet, it was also on the department store clothing racks for excited show-goers to buy.

Gaultier’s vision for this Fall played with ideas of old-fashionedness. The models were styled with sky-high grey beehive hair and garbed in floor length skirts, high-waisted and wide-legged pants, and enough bouclé suits to make Coco Chanel turn over in her grave. They looked like they were on their way to work in Don Draper’s office. There was a particular discipline to the clothes; there was never too much bare skin to see, and even if a wildly bright and playful print snuck its way into the collection, it would consistently be buttoned all the way up.

But of course, it’s all about how you wear the clothes. Or how you don’t wear the clothes. Models playfully stripped on the runway in a way that was neither raunchy nor overly comical – an evening clutch here, a jacket there – and created a heap in the middle of the catwalk. The tension between the glorification of high fashion and tossing a garment on the floor was a powerful statement. They’re just clothes, right? Or are they?

Today is the final day of the Festival Mode et Design and there are music and fashion shows all day long. For the full schedule, visit the festival’s website.


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