LOVE ME MORE, JEAN PAUL GAULTIER

October 25, 2013 5:46 PM

At the corner where fashion meets fine art, there stands Jean Paul Gaultier, four decades of his glory and avant-garde haute couture all packaged into the beautiful Brooklyn Museum under the exhibition titled The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. Natalie Bhondil, Montreal Museum of Fine Art’s chief curator named three defining moments in fashion museum history. The first being the great Yves Saint Laurent during his lifetime, then the late Alexander McQueen, and now we have the magnificent Jean Paul Gaultier.

The legendary designer was initially hesitant to do a museum exhibition, he calls it a cemetery exhibition. There is no narcissism in him looking into the past in awe of all he has done, but rather a desire to move forward to see what can be done. He wanted a new collaboration, something futuristic, new and refreshing. This exhibition was just that. It is less of a chronological presentation of the collection of Maison Jean Paul Gaultier, but rather more of a cross between a fine arts exhibition and a multi-media theatrical presentation. The show strips away the commercial aspects of the label, and is essentially a poetic interpretation of his creations from the iconic cone bra lent by Madonna to costumes used in films and concerts to, of course, his famous runway pieces. 130 of them were carefully selected to represent 7 different themes, each with their own message, documenting his collaborations with musicians, photographers, choreographers, and artists.

The show literally comes to life as high definition projections are used to animate 30 of the collections mannequins, each modeled after a real person including the exhibitions dashingly handsome curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot and, of course, a mannequin of Jean Paul Gaultier himself. In speaking with TWELV, Loriot explains that the intention was to do what has never been done by others. The exhibition collaborated with Denis Marleau and Stephanie Jazmin, on creating these animated mannequins with full facial expressions, eyes that move, and voices that speak to the audience.

The Brooklyn Museum will be the only museum in the East Coast to host the exhibition and Thierry explains to TWELV why, of all museums, the exhibition choose Brooklyn. He emphasizes that Brooklyn really is the heart of what New York is about. There are different communities that are present, representing such diverse cultures and countercultures. Jean Paul later adds to this by explaining how New York captivated him from his first visit over 35 years ago. He vividly describes how the window displays at department stores look amazingly more beautiful than those in Paris. New Yorkers can rejoice in his words!

There is a deeper social message and element of humanity reflected in these past 40 years of Maison Jean Paul Gaultier. He describes that “Fashion is a reflection of the desires of society and of the moment [and] what could be the future”. What sets the “enfant terrible” apart from other designers is really his optimism and love for women of all sizes, of all ethnicities, and of all ages. He specifically addresses the social concerns of the fashion industry and points out that there is a real issue in many designers not using models of color. He states “There is not only one type of beauty, of shape, of face, of color… [you should] accept yourself, don’t try to be like others. Show what you are, not hide what you are”. He has been known to challenge the status quo of beauty and shock his audience by using older, larger and shorter women in his shows. Amongst the exhibition there is a whole theme dedicated to his use of plus size models as well as a grand finale theme dedicated to Amazon, Mongolian and Far East influenced pieces.

The exhibit is currently on display until February 23rd 2014. Anyone who wants to stand witness to a glorious event in art and fashion history would make it a point to see this theatrical, beautifully conducted, and very relevant artistic installation that takes Jean Paul Gaultier beyond being a label, and into a poetic reflection of these past four decades of social and cultural history. Jean Paul smiles in conclusion of the press conference and reminds us in a humble, charming, and witty fashion “I am in this profession to make you love me and now after the exhibition, I’m hoping you will love me more."

 

 

WRITTEN BY: TINA SHIMIZU 

CONTRIBUTOR/INTERVIEWER: DENISE BOWEN 

 

 

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