Must-See: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier Exhibit in Montreal

This retrospective of the famous French designer's work is one not to be missed.
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Must-See: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier Exhibit in Montreal

This retrospective of the famous French designer’s work is one not to be missed.

-Faye Brennan

Jean Paul Gaultier

Is fashion art? That’s the concept Jean Paul Gaultier plays with in his brand new exhibit at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, titled, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier. From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. After seeing it first hand—which I highly recommend you do—you’ll be able to answer that question with a confident, “Yes.”

Spanning the French fashion designer’s successful career since the 1970’s, the exhibit includes over 140 ensembles – the best and most fascinating pieces from his 150 couture and ready-to-wear collections and more. You’ll see his cone-shaped bras and bustiers that Madonna made famous, his iconic blue-and-white sailor stripes, and his costume designs for movies like The Fifth Element. The installation is the first retrospective of its kind dedicated to the designer. Gaultier himself jokes, “Usually, exhibitions are for the dead, but I am alive!”

Indeed, Gaultier is alive… as is his exhibit. In an innovative and modern effort to elevate the visitor’s experience, Gaultier’s exhibit features animated mannequins. They’re faces move, talk, sing, and look so real, you feel compelled to get insanely close to confirm that they are, indeed, just video images projected onto the mannequins’ molded heads (see how they were made here). The effect is mesmerizing and achieves exactly what Gaultier, the exhibition’s curator, Thierry-Maxime Loriot, and the director and chief curator of The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Nathalie Bondil, (all pictured below) had intended: to bring Gaultier’s designs to life!

Thierry, Jean Paul Gaultier, Nathalie

As Bondil explained in a press conference, “The faces are not just a special effect. Gaultier thought the mannequins should be alive, because fashion is alive. He wanted them to have real physicalities, and wanted real people to embody the fashion.”

Gaultier added, “It looks like real people because of the movement, and the liveliness makes it feel like the real thing.”

JPG exhibit

These animated mannequins are scattered throughout the six themed sections of the exhibition:

“The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier,” which features Gaultier’s early work and experimentation with his favorite themes of sailors, mermaids and virgins;

“The Boudoir,” where one will find the numerous corsets and cone-shaped bras that made him famous, including the costumes from Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour that she happily donated to the exhibit;

“Skin Deep,” the section where one can see Gaultier’s obsession with the beauty and seductive nature of skin, showing it off and creating new layers of it with clothes;

“Punk Cancan,” where his love affair with the cities of Paris and London are displayed through the sexy and punk-rock designs he created for the women who live there;

“Urban Jungle,” the section where one can see how Gaultier knows no ethnic boundaries, and uses the uniqueness of several cultures to influence his work;

and finally, “Metropolis,” Gaultier’s more modern creations that border on fantasy and science fiction – he designed these for several genres, including movies, dance performances, and pop icons like Lady Gaga.

To see photos from the exhibit, go to the next page…


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