The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk
March 24 – August 19, 2012
“Beauty exists everywhere”
- Jean Paul Gaultier
Calling all fashionistas! You won’t want to miss this dynamic exhibition devoted to celebrated French haute couture designer Jean Paul Gaultier, one of the most important designers of our era. It is without doubt one of the most creative and extraordinary exhibits we’ve ever seen. And what better place to see it than at the de Young museum in San Francisco – the exclusive west coast venue. As you enter the exhibit, you’ll see lifelike animated mannequins, draped in signature Gaultier designs, illuminated against a royal blue backdrop — it couldn’t be more visually stunning. Some of the mannequins’ facial features and movements are so lifelike and surreal, you’d swear they were human… we kid you not! Watch the video below and see for yourself.
The unique exhibit features 140 ensembles spanning over 35 years from Gaultier’s most celebrated works of haute couture* and ready-to-wear collections (along with their accessories), created between the mid-1970s and 2010. In addition to the state-of-the-art animated mannequins, the multimedia exhibition also includes stage costumes (from shows and movies), fashion photography, sketches, never-before-seen prints, runway clips, concerts and video excerpts from the designer’s extensive film and video collaborations. You won’t believe how much there is to see!
The dramatic exhibition (featured in darkened rooms with exceptional lighting) is organized along six different thematic sections:
- The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier
(Exhibition begins with a dramatic display of animated mannequins)
- The Boudoir
(Explores Gaultier’s fascination with lingerie. See the first Corset Dress and Madonna’s famous “cone bra” Body Corsets)
- Skin deep
(Provocative gallery featuring garments inspired by themes of bondage and body art)
- Punk Cancan
(Intriguing combination of Chic Parisienne and Street “Punk” Culture; the colorful wall mural and moving catwalk down the center of the room are nice touches)
- Urban Jungle
(Multicultural clash of influences including Hussars, Mongolians, Hassidic Jews, Frida Kahlo and China)
(Includes Jean Paul Gaultier‘s ensemble that he wore when hosting the MTV Europe Music Awards in Paris in 1995. Section also features a variety of creative costume sketches designed by Gaultier for movies, including many of Pedro Almodovar’s films (most recently “The Skin I Live In”)
One of the highlights of the show for us was seeing the infamous “cone bra” Body Corsets worn by Madonna in her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour – quite a contrast to the “very first cone bar” (pictured below) worn by Jean Paul Gaultier’s teddy bear, Nana
Other stars who have worn Gaultier’s signature corsets, include Grace Jones, Dita Von Teese and Kylie Minogue.
Influenced by reality, Gaultier liked artistic expression and was inspired by people who were different. During his first visit to San Francisco in the early 1980s, he saw a man dressed in black leather and thought that was unique (welcome to San Francisco!) And so his famous leather-designed creations were born.
Allow plenty of time to view this amazing exhibit (we could have done with a few extra hours) – there’s so much to see! At the end of your tour, be sure to visit the museum’s special Gaultier Gift Store – they offer a great selection of Gaultier gifts, including coffee-table books, fascinators, t-shirts, striped sailor tops, tote bags, jewelry, posters, cards… and more!
*Have you ever wondered what Haute Couture really means? Couture houses must comply with very specific requirements how garments are made, presented, and sold. Unlike industrially produced pret-a-porter, couture is a fine craft in which one-of-a-kind objects are the products of exceptional technical virtuosity. Creating certain designs sometimes necessitates hundreds of hours of work. Everything involved in a couture garment – from embroidery and lace to accessories and the final finishing touches – must be entirely accomplished by hand.
What are some of your favorite couture pieces in the exhibit?