At last week’s Festival Mode & Design Montreal, time stood still for 40 solid minutes as our Gaultier-loving city made fashion history. Thousands of spectators who had gathered around the massive downtown catwalk watched some of his Fall/Winter 2011/12 collection in awe, while Jean Paul Gaultier’s cast of eccentric models strut their stuff under a celestial tent of summer stars…
If I’m waxing poetic, it’s because this was a big deal. Fashion followers know that the Couture King/pop culture icon doesn’t normally show his collections in North America, never mind Canada. So, yes, this was a moment. Technically, Gaultier wasn’t here in the flesh, but in his place was none other than his longtime muse and collaborator Tanel Bedrossiantz – or simply Tanel – who had flown in from Paris.
The show was a colourful mix of his La bourgeoisie sans age (“Ageless bourgeoisie”) Fall/Winter 2011/12 collection, combined with some memorable pieces from past seasons and haute couture borrowed from the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal‘s exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk”. And yes Madonna’s famous cone-bra dress made a happy cameo.
The runway drama began with a James Bond theme, and then took on a nostalgic feel when the soundtrack switched to a medley of Amy Winehouse songs – her voice symbolically absent. In the air, however, a love and appreciation for JPG was palpable as crowds ohhhed and ahhhhed.
In typical Gaultier style, a “casting sauvage” had been held in Montreal to find local models that reflected JPG’s personal vision of beauty; that is, models of all ages, shapes, genders and sizes. For example, outside the typical model paradigm, one joyful full-size model waltzed out in 3D glasses and the optical illusion dress that singer Beth Ditto wore to close Gaultier’s Spring 2011 finale.
The participation of two other Gaultier darlings, Montreal models Eve Salvail and Franciso Randez, offered a nostalgic blast from the past. Gaultier has often referred to Montrealers as his “petits cousins” and in many ways this show was like a family reunion.