In the Charles Perrault fairy tale Peau d'Ane, a young princess, whose family riches are dependent on a gold-excreting donkey, orders impossible wedding gifts from her father to avoid marrying him: three dresses made of immaterial materials. The first is to be made of the "sky" and should be as light and airy as the clouds. The second is to be made of "moonbeams" and should reflect the same lyrical intensity as the moon at night. The third, and last, is to be made of "sunlight" and should be as blinding and warm as the sun above.
Through the processes of interactive wearable technology, Valerie Lamontagne aims to construct the three impossible dresses described in Perrault's Peau d'Ane. The materials and programming utilized in this piece are not uncommon within the realm of interactive sculptures, but what sets this project apart are its implications for fashion design and ubiquitous computing. "We are what we wear," while seemingly superficial in its traditional sense, becomes a phrase synonymous with fashion technology and Lamontagne's work. Costumes and footwear inspired by other fairy tales, such as Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella, are indicative of the dichotomy between playful and sinister, and Lamontagne's piece is no different in its ability to extract caution and wonderment.
Lamontagne's dresses, when completed, are to be used within a performance context. They conflate aspects of our reality, interpreting the atmospheric environment in the form of a mobile information network draped on the corporeal. Yet because the dresses amalgamate Art Nouveau modes and embedded circuitry, the result is a fashion statement that is elegant, smart and provocative.
Lamontagne is a Montreal-based artist, freelance art critic and curator. She received her BFA (1993) and MFA (2001) from Concordia University (Montreal), where she teaches in the Digital Image/Sound and Fine Arts program. Lamontagne has been exhibiting in and curating shows across Canada since 1997. Visit her website for more information.
Lamontagne thanks the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Quebec for its support.