The glitz from the opening of Montreal’s Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit + watch talking mannequins in action!

“So pleased.” That was how Jean Paul Gaultier summed up his feelings about his retrospective Monday night at the VIP party held at Montreal’s Musée des Beaux-Arts. “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” opened Monday night with an intimate gathering that mixed Gaultier’s inner circle with Quebec designers and celebs. Male muse Tanel Bedrossiantz in skirt and mohawk, bald and tattooed Ève Salvail, Francisco Randez, star of Gaultier Le Male fragrance ads and doll-like French singer Arielle, in body-hugging tulle, joined musician Melissa Auf der Maur, International Herald Tribune critic Suzy Menkes, Newsweek’s Robin Givhan, and hairstylist Odile Gilbert in touring the show. An ebullient Gaultier, who initially had not been keen on the notion of a retrospective—“it can be like a funeral,” he told me back in January—was clearly enjoying himself, wandering the rooms and amiably chatting and posing for photos.

And funereal this show is not. High-tech mannequins commissioned for the exhibit feature talking, blinking facial projections of favourite Gaultier
models—a hint of how all mannequins may look if the technology can be mass-produced.

What can’t be mass-produced is the Gaultier couture on display: corsets woven from sheaves of wheat, feathered bustiers (for men), bodysuits with red sequined heart and veins, and those cone bras made famous by Madonna. Polaroids of early Madonna fittings and Gaultier’s childhood teddy bear—with its own rudimentary cone bra—are among the few artifacts that round out the exhibit. We wish there were more.

Four thousand guests were invited for another celebration last night and Gaultier will greet fans at The Bay today. After his three-hour autograph signing at Holt Renfrew on Saturday, they can expect a mob. But if there’s one thing made clear by Gaultier’s designs with their all-inclusive gender/culture mash-ups, this designer is a people person. “I love them and they love me, and this is why I do this, because I love people,” he said, smiling.

See photos from the party + exhibit »
Watch the mannequins in action!