There are few things more thrilling to this fashion lover than the extravagant spectacle of a couture runway show in Paris. And the fantastic match to the jaw dropping excitement (fashion! Supermodels! Celebrities! Designers!) is seeing the actual garments up close. Yes close enough to touch at a museum exhibit. But don’t you dare – museum security will toss your designer-clad bum out the door. 

I had the privilege last weekend – thanks to Montreal’s Fashion & Design Festival – to view Love is Love: Wedding Bliss For All a la Jean Paul Gaultier at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Our tour guide was none other than Thierry-Maxime Loriot, the curator who worked closely with Gaultier himself. So close in fact that both men had plaster casts made of their faces (a long claustrophobic process) to help project their moving mannerisms on the actual mannequins. (Cool and kind of creepy.) 

Tribute To Greece collection, Summer 2006. Skirt, Tuareg Marquis collection, 1998

 Love is Love is the crowning finish of the larger exhibit – The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk – that travelled around the world for five years. I saw the first exhibit when it opened in Montreal in 2011. Since then, it was shown in 12 cities and attended by more than two million visitors. This smaller exhibit, presented in one room of the Museum, showcases thirty haute couture bridal outfits (jaw dropping gowns to sleek suits) that reflect the designer’s innovative thinking (so ahead of the times) on love’s diversity and peace. Gaultier smashed bridal conventions with his irreverent celebration of marriage that brings together heterosexual, homosexual, intercultural and interracial couples. It’s astonishing how far ahead of the curve Gaultier was in the early 90s to issues of inclusion and tolerance that are only just bubbling to the surface today. Check the exhibit out before it closes on October 9, 2017. 

Here, in no particular order, are some of the pieces that stood out to me:

Handknit Irish fisherman's sweaters, Fall 1998
Countryside Babes collection, Summer 2017
Gypsy Indians collection, Summer 2013
The back of the same gown
Virgins (or Madonna) collection, Summer 2013
Close up - outfit worn by Kylie Minogue
Butterfly Showgirls collection, Summer 2014
Punk CanCan, Summer 2011
Love is Love closes October 9, 2017