Spring awakening

After a long and dull winter, Montreal is full of life again. Last week the Festival Transamériques (www.fta.qc.ca) drew dance and theatre lovers to its indoor and outdoor shows, exhibitions and workshops. With artists in from Paris, Dusseldorf, Brussels, New York, Rio and Berlin, the atmosphere was really thrilling. Among the favourites was Benoît Lachambre and Louise Lecavalier’s Is You Me, a dark, minimalist dance show that questioned the body and its relationship to others. With N.Y.C. composer Hahn Rowe’s magnetic electronic music and artist Laurent Goldring’s live digital creations, it was a voyage for all the senses.

Talking about voyages, yesterday the Montreal fashion community was very proud at the opening of Yves Saint Laurent at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (www.mbam.qc.ca), the first retrospective exploring 40 years of creation from the man whom many have called the world’s greatest couturier. We had the privilege of listening to Pierre Bergé—Saint Laurent’s backer and friend since 1958 and the co-founder of the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent foundation in Paris—share his ideas on fashion and art. Florence Müller, a prestigious French fashion historian and the show’s main curator, talked about the beauty and the importance of Saint Laurent’s work.  “This exhibition shows 40 years of creation which have left a mark on modernity, on the way we dress today,” she said at the press conference.

The couturier, who started working for Christian Dior at 17 and opened his own maison with Bergé in 1962, revolutionized the way we dress with his avant-garde and empowering lines and colour palettes: the pantsuit, the safari jacket, Eastern and art inspirations. He dressed dancers, actresses and celebrities, popularized prêt-à-porter in 1966 and built an empire. Then, disillusioned, he announced his retirement from fashion in 2002.

Last night at the cocktail opening a massive crowd listened to Bergé’s every syllable, moved and impressed, including many local designers, who will exhibit their homage to Saint Laurent during Festival Mode & Design (June 4-7, McGill College Ave., festivalmodedesign.com).

The party will continue tonight when, after the much-talked-about premiere of Sex and the City: The Movie, we’re flocking to the museum for a très VIP cosmo-sipping after-party (but what to wear to VIP events when it’s 10 degrees?)  And tomorrow, some very lucky fashion and beauty reporters will meet Coco Rocha and YSL makeup artist Val Garland for a day-long extravaganza at the exhibit. More on that later.

Ah, que la vie est belle!

Shown: Cocktail dress, homage to Mondrian, Yves Saint Laurent, Fall/Winter 1965, No. 81. Wool jersey yoke. Faceted jet stud earrings with fancy pearls, patent leather pumps with metal buckles. Courtesy of Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent.