I just returned from a lovely weekend in Montreal involving many of my favourite activities: eating, shopping, seeing art and socializing. One topic of discussion was why people, both men and women, are better dressed in Montreal. They wear artfully knotted scarves, trendy shoes, and this fall, lots of dark layers. My favourite fashion sighting was a punky young girl with skinny jeans, a jacket, black t-shirt and Doc Marten-styled boots; the kicker was that the boots were bright fushia and the t-shirt had a splash of the exactly the same pink.
I think all this good dressing has to do with “the gaze”. In Montreal people look at you, sometimes flirtatiously, sometimes curiously, sometimes competitively, but they all look. If people are looking at you with interest, you hold yourself up a little straighter and try to look your best. You add that long scarf or dangly earring and pop on a brighter lipstick when you go out, because you know you will be seen.
I think that something similar goes on with art. Once you buy your first original artwork, you take it home and hang it and admire it. You start to look at art more, when visiting friends, at the doctor’s office, or best of all in the museum. You have a heightened awareness of the visual, and a growing appreciation of what you like and don’t like. You start to look around you, and notice little vignettes of beauty everywhere.