Jean Paul Gaultier has always been one of my favorite fashion designers so you can imagine how excited I was to be invited to get a sneak peek at his new exhibition ‘The world of Jean Paul Gautier: from the sidewalk to the catwalk‘.
I arrived at the preview event very early which turned out to be a good idea since I was able to snap up a seat close to the stage before the rest of the room filled up (you snooze, you lose baby!). The talk preceding the exhibition was fascinating and it was great to hear more about the rationale behind the show and the work that went into its creation. Monsieur Gaultier himself was present, and ever the charismatic Frenchman, he quickly seduced the crowd with his humor and down-to-earth approach to life and fashion. He spoke candidly about his fashion journey; from just being a little boy sketching in his school books to working with Pierre Cardin and finally opening his own fashion house in 1976.
He also spoke about his constant desire to be different and to go against the fashion grain; ‘nothing bores me more than clones‘ he says – something that transpires not only through his fashion collections but also through his choice of models for example. His fashion shows have featured women of every size, age, ethnicity and shape and one of his muses, Andreja Pejic, is transgender. For him ‘anyone can be beautiful, it’s about attitude‘.
After the presentation, we were led into the exhibition. I don’t want to give too much away as I know some of you will be going to the exhibition but I still can’t resist giving you a little sneak peek! (look away if you don’t want to see any spoilers ;)
From the moment I entered the first room (called ‘The Odyssey’) I knew that this was going to be an amazing installation. The clothes are not only stunning but the way in which they are presented is truly unique. Using video projection, each mannequin has been given a face and some even talk and sing. This was one of Gaultier’s ideas, as he wanted the exhibition to ‘feel alive and be fun‘. One of the mannequin even has his face on it and welcomes you to the exhibition as you walk in!
The second room is called ‘The Boudoir’ and puts the spotlight on his lingerie-inspired pieces (including the iconic cone shaped bras worn by Madonna). Most of the pieces are presented in cubicles surrounded by plush pink walls which only adds to the sexy/ slightly voyeuristic atmosphere.
The next room is an ode to the punk movement in London in the 70’s. It features a moving catwalk with rotating mannequins (you can even sit at the front row) and a whole lot of fabulous punk rock ensembles.
The fourth room on the other hand has a real underground Cabaret/ Fetish club feel, complete with red lights and lingerie-clad mannequins peeking out from velvet curtains.
The ‘Metropolis’ room is all about Gaultier’s many collaborations with filmmakers, choreographers and pop icons whereas the next room, ‘Urban Jungle ‘, features outfits that pay homage to various cultures around the world.
Finally, the last room showcases some of the dresses that he’s made for celebrities over the years such as the dress Nicole Kidman wore at the Oscars in 2003.
As you can tell, the exhibition was a fabulous experience and I’ll no doubt be back for a second look-through (If you plan on going there, I’d suggest you go through the exhibition very slowly as there is a lot to take in!).
Beyond the fabulous theatrics and irresistible playfulness, I really appreciated the amount of work, love and details that was put into each room. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a fashion exhibition that pushed so many boundaries before, which makes total sense of course since one of Gaultier’s favorite phrases is ‘To confirm is to give in’.
If you’re in Melbourne I couldn’t recommend this fabulous exhibition enough! It runs from October 17th to February 8th 2015 so make sure you get there early to avoid the crowds. :)