Jean Paul Gaultier at Barbican, London
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is the first major exhibition devoted to the celebrated French couturier. Dubbed fashion’s enfant terribleby the press from the time of his first catwalk shows in the 1970s, Jean Paul Gaultier is arguably one of the most important fashion designers of recent decades. This theatrical installation of around 165 cutting-edge couture and ready-to-wear garments explores Gaultier’s fashion world, from his witty and boundary-pushing designs to his ceaseless interest in society, identity and a beauty borne of difference. The exhibition includes costumes for film and performance including iconic pieces such as the conical bra and corsetsMadonna wore during her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour, stage costumes designed for Kylie Minogue as well as pieces created for the films of Pedro Almodóvar among others. The exhibition opens at Barbican Art Gallery on 9 April 2014.
Celebrating the designer’s daring inventiveness, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalktraces the influences that have marked Gaultier’s creative development from the streets of Paris to the DIY aesthetic of punk or fantasies of science fiction. It includes eight thematic sections; The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier, Punk Cancan, Muses, The Boudoir, Metropolis, Eurotrash, Skin Deep andUrban Jungle. The exhibition also features a wealth of photography by collaborators such as Miles Aldridge, David LaChapelle, Peter Lindbergh, Pierre et Gilles, Herb Ritts, Stéphane Sednaoui , Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol as well as footage of catwalk presentations, concerts, music videos, films and dance performances. At the Barbican the Muses section has been expanded, featuring models, musicians and performers that have inspired Gaultier from Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Erin O’Connor, to Beth Ditto and Dita Von Teese, with newly commissioned portraits by British artist Annie Kevans. Other highlights include theSpitting Image puppet of Jean Paul Gaultier, on show for the first time in a UK gallery and dramatic metre-high Mohawk head pieces especially created by renowned hair stylist Odile Gilbert .
Jean Paul Gaultier said : “I am super excited that the show is coming to London for two reasons. The first reason is that I always want to go to London, because London, for me, is a special place. In England I’ve got so many memories and I’ve had so many experiences and the English were the first ones to come to my shows and appreciate my fashion. If there is one place other than Paris that I should like to live in, it is London. I’ve got so many connections with London and feel at home there, even sometimes more than Paris. I like the spirit, the humour and little adventures that were funny, like Eurotrash.The second thing is the Barbican. It’s an honour for me because it’s a wonderful gallery and a wonderful place with extraordinary architecture and I think that showing my work there will be beautiful.”
Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts, Barbican, said: “Jean Paul Gaultier is a true artist. I couldn’t be more delighted that we are able to showcase his work at the Barbican. What comes across in his work, first and foremost, is its sheer exuberance and creativity and also the way in which Gaultier embraces and celebrates diversity. This is a show for London – it is here that we understand the importance of street style. And it’s a show for now – the spirit of inclusivity that Gaultier encapsulates, is crucial for our times.
This glorious show builds on previous Barbican exhibitions dedicated to celebrating the art of avant-garde couture; Jam: Style+Music+Media in 1996, The House of Viktor & Rolf in 2008 and most recently, Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion in 2010. “
Interested in the world’s cultures and countercultures, Gaultier has conceived a new kind of fashion in both the way it is made and worn. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier reveals how through twists, transformations, transgressions and reinterpretations, he not only erases the boundaries between cultures but also the sexes, redefining the idea of androgyny or subverting hyper-sexualized fashion codes.
Designed as an installation rather than a conventional fashion retrospective, this theatrically staged exhibition presents pieces created between 1970 and now, many of which are on show in Britain for the first time. It features over 30 custom-made mannequins wearing remarkable wigs and headdresses by Odile Gilbert, founder of the Atelier 68 in Paris, that come alive with interactive faces, surprising visitors with their lifelike presence. Poetic and playful, the production and staging of this dynamic audio-visual element is the work of Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin of UBU/Compagnie de création of Montreal. Jolicoeur International of Québec designed all the custom-made mannequins.
Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, said:
“By creating this exhibition, I wanted to show the profound humanity that inspires Jean Paul Gaultier’s work and share – beyond the virtuosity of haute couture and the couturier’s unbridled imagination – the values of tolerance and respect that unite us. To date, over a million people have visited The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier – his biggest ‘fashion show’ ever – in this phenomenal tour to eight cities around the world… And it’s not over yet! But for London, a city at the heart of his creativity, we wanted the exhibition to be bigger and better than ever.”
This critically acclaimed touring show, initiated and produced by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts under the direction of Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator, and Thierry-Maxime Loriot, curator of the exhibition, in collaboration with Maison Jean Paul Gaultier, Paris, has already been seen by more than one million visitors in North America and Europe. The Barbican is delighted to present the exhibition in the UK as part of its international tour, in a city that continues to inspire Jean Paul Gaultier and his artistic vision. The exhibition opens on 9 April at Barbican Art Gallery, and is accompanied by an events programme and film season.