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!
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