Home » Fashion, Art: It’s all about Denis Gagnon

Fashion, Art: It’s all about Denis Gagnon

Is fashion art? Or ‘only’ craft?


The Montreal fashion designer Denis Gagnon. Image: bestioledemode.com

It’s a discussion that comes up every once in a while, usually when an exceptionally talented fashion designer comes onto the scene. And it presumes that craft is somehow lesser than fine art. But I don’t think it’s any less relevant or important, it is just different. Craft relates to objects which have a use, while visual art is the pure transformation of emotion or thought into a language. But why shouldn’t artists or craftspeople be able to use the language of craft to express an artistic sentiment?

Consider Japanese Living National Treasures, who preserve the tradition of such crafts as ceramics, textiles and lacquerware at the very highest levels. I believe fashion is a craft that can become art. It certainly did in the hands of Alexander McQueen.


Looks from Gagnon’s Spring 2011 show. Image: fashionist.ca

Probably the closest thing to fashion’s national treasure in Canada today is Montreal’s Denis Gagnon.
His recent Spring 2011 collection showed an original way with fringe, and was pretty gorgeous. Though he may lack a true understanding of women’s bodies – some styles look awkward, even on the models – but his designs are gutsy, very modern and really quite interesting.


Denis Gagnon with some of his zipper dresses. image: montrealgazette.com

In March, the National Post published THIS article wondering why he isn’t yet a household name. Perhaps in an effort to address this question, the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, which held a spectacular retrospective of the late designer/genius Yves Saint Laurent in 2008 that I blogged about HERE, has now brought Gagnon into the fold.

Interestingly, the exhibition has been designed by the Montreal architect Gilles Saucier, of Saucier + Perrotte.


Gagnon’s Spring 2011. Image: montrealgazette.com

From October 19, 2010 to February 13, 2011 they will showcase work by Gagnon. It’s the first time the museum has exhibited the work of a Quebec couturier. Following Gagnon’s show will be  a show of fashion designs by Jean Paul Gaultier. There are similarities between the two which will be interesting to see.

Click HERE for Gagnon’s website and HERE for more on the MMFA’s exhibition. Oh, and click HERE for an article on the exhibition from the Montreal Gazette.

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