Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vive la Montreal!

Montreal is one of those unusual cities. For all intents and purposes it looks like a typical North American city, with towering office buildings and all the physical trappings that go along with this. However on the street you could be forgiven for thinking that you are in Europe especially in Old Montreal and other areas in the city. We try and get there at least once a year. It is the trip to Europe you have when not going to Europe.

We stayed at a fabulous new hotel called Zero 1, which was startlingly modern with black walls and white Saarinen inspired furniture.

A re-occurring theme which ran throughout the hotel was the below picture which appeared on a mural in the lobby and the Do Not Disturb signs. Tres Chic? no?

Montreal also has a fabulous array of restaurants. This was brunch one morning. Caussolet of eggs, tomatoes and chorizo.

Where else but in Montreal would people line up to dine at a chain restaurant? The food is that good! Specialising in Steak Frittes in a wonderful chic busy and vibrant atmosphere, Steak Frittes-St Paul is one such chain. Other restaurants could take a note out of their book. With 11 restaurants through Quebec, this is a must eat!

One of the main things on the agenda this trip was to see the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal. In the wake of Savage Beauty the McQueen Exhibition in New York, the Gaultier Exhibition does not disappoint. I cannot help but think that the popularity of the McQueen exhibition was as a result of his tragic and untimely death last year.

The Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal may not have the reputation or fame as the Met in New York, which made this exhibition very personal. One could view the creations up close and personal, without other people jostling for position. If one wanted to break Museum rules, one could touch these magnificent creations.

One of the most striking features was the use of animated mannequins. They have faces projected onto their heads and at times appear to be speaking to the visitor. The mannequins wink, blink, move their jaws and speak. The effect is a little creepy at times, however brilliant. Life has been given to what would generally be a static display.

“What will happen, what will happen? What to do, what to do,” one mannequin murmurs. Another, in a parrot-feather bolero, sings an aria. We even have Jean-Paul himself introducing himself and welcoming visitors to the exhibition.

Another wonderful feature was a moving catwalk with mannequins moving along it just like in a real show.

The workmanship was just wonderful. Thousands of ostrich feathers, sewn onto net, appliquéd 3-d pictures on another, sequins sparking in the light, caught ones eye on various outfits. Hearts of sequins flowed red sequined blood down the fronts of dresses, fabric printed with flesh and muscles, sequined tartans for the punk deluxe. Post-apocalyptic bikers in studded leather, elegant travelling outfits delighted the senses. It seems that it was all here before McQueen.

If one does get a chance to see this exhibition on its stops after Montreal, do! You will not be disappointed. Then again if one gets a chance to visit Montreal do!


  1. I wish I could hop on over to Montreal right now. Gaultier is so theatrically gifted in his designs and shows. What a treat not to be jostled too as I was at the McQueen exhibit in NYC (though that did not detract from my amazement)! Thanks for sharing your observations, and for your comments on my blog ;-)


  2. Ohh my this is truly an amazing exhibition...so cool you were able to attend..and the hotel and restaurant look just fit for the king of Savoir Faire...I expect no less ;)

    The Black Label

  3. I think I have to make a trip to Montreal this winter--I love it in winter. And you're so right, it was all there with Gaultier even before McQueen.

  4. I love Montreal.

  5. Wow, I want to visit!! Thanks for the sweet comment!! I shall enjoy Paris!! :)

  6. Thanks so much for the Montreal review. I will keep it like gold waiting for a visit there. It is a treat in itself having you as a personal trip adviser :-)

  7. Hello David:
    The hotel, the food, the exhibition, Montreal itself, all resonating style which, if we know you at all, would have been, and is, absolutely your thing. What a marvellous break and one which, if it were only possible, we should love to experience following in your footsteps. Thank you for such a wonderful insight into a time and a place.

  8. WOOOOW great exhibition!!!
    love it a lot!!!
    love also the "red carpet! love it

    Syriously in Fashion
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    please help ME with the MAWI competition PLEASE

  9. Great post David! Love the idea of a moving catwalk with the mannequins and the projected faces on the mannequins as they blink and talk.
    The Redwood Room @ The Clift hotel in San Fran has something a little similar ... images on the walls have faces that follow you and blink etc ... sorry, that just came to mind as I was reading your review.


  10. This makes me want to get to Montreal soon. The detail of these pieces is staggering and to see them up close would be amazing. Great shots!


  11. It's a fantastic exhibition. Gaultier, Mcqueen, so talented.
    I love Montreal.
    Great post.

  12. Hi, David - Thanks for sharing your trip — I especially like the design work in the hotel. The exhibition looks to have been really imaginatively staged!

  13. Hi David, loved your blog! I am from Montreal and I am glad you enjoyed your visit. We are indeed citizens of a very very unique city in North America, we have the soul in Canada.


  14. Montreal...it's on my list. Now I have a hotel name to mark for my future visit...thanks ...k

  15. oh wow! It looks amazing! Those Canadians get all the good stuff, don't they? :)

  16. Great post, lovely pics... I have a new post check me out and give me your impression http://leblogdelmmode.blogspot.com/

  17. looks like a fabulous trip david!! and that exhibition sound totally cool. wish it was closer!

  18. Amazing how good Montreal restaurants are compared to Toronto's. It is maddening. I've found so many people agree with me in this regard. What do you think?


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