Free love for all: that’s a movement that should be and is triumphing social and political movements this year. From Lin-Mauel Miranda’s moving speech (“Love is love is love is love…”) to the outraging Australian legalization vote (Seriously? Only in 2017?), love has the ability to bend societies to their breaking points.
A little hope for the world can be found in a basement room of the Montreal Fine Arts Museum, where Jean Paul Gaultier’s Love is Love exhibit has been on display since May until the end of this weekend. I only just got the chance to go, but there’s only TWO DAYS left to see this spectacular collection of haute couture and prêt-a-porter wedding outfits designed by Jean Paul Gaultier.
The exhibit was designed by the MMFA, curated by Thierry-Maxime Loriot, and has been on tour for the past five years (a record for a fashion exhibition). It features dresses, suits, and hybrids from past Jean Paul Gaultier shows, including the infamous 23 foot long veil that unfolded on the runway (could very well be wrong). The installation is appropriately set up to look like a wedding cake in the centre of the room, with animated mannequins featuring Jean Paul Gaultier’s face and voice himself speaking about the exhibition. There are other (mildly off-putting) voices and sounds coming from other animated mannequins as well, but it all contributes to the notion that the exhibition is alive; it is an issue relevant and prevalent to nearly all time periods.
Another interesting aspect of the installation were the hints of domestic scenes seemingly bursting out of the wall. Doors, chairs, furniture, and other items characteristic of the private sphere were poking out from a thick white fabric to give the illusion that they were just nearly there. It’s difficult to deny the affiliation between traditional conceptions of marriage and the onset of domestic life, particularly for women. Their subtle presence within the installation poses two suggestions: firstly, it suggests the onset of something and posits that domestic life following marriage is inevitable. This is an old-fashioned, traditional conception clearly marked by the clearly Victorian age furniture. The second suggestion is one of resistance, or a barrier; perhaps the cloth suggests pushing back on these traditional notions, and the stark white cloth suggests a blank slate, ready to be filled in with new potential. New life comes with marriage, the installation seems to say, and it shouldn’t feel the obligation of conventional gender roles or lifestyles.
Below are my favourite looks from the exhibition (click to enlarge)
Click here for more information on the exhibition