words Charly Suggett
“No, no no. This is not a burial!” Jean Paul Gaultier exclaimed. “I must be honest and say I didn’t want to do an exhibition at first. I thought that exhibitions were for those who are dead. And I am very much alive.”
Gaultier explained during a press conference for his latest exhibition Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk To Catwalk at the Barbican Centre how, after being talked around the idea, it was glorious to see all of his ‘obsessions’ together. The exhibition takes you on a rollercoaster of a ride through Gaultier’s life, his works and his muses complete with a moving catwalk of garments placed on a raised podium.
Gaultier’s cheek and humour also shine through in the mannequins themselves. Rather than displaying the creations upon a simple figure to let the clothes speak for themselves, they wanted to experiment and to bring the figures to life. You should be warned though, the incredibly life-like facial projections may seem scary at first but they are also strangely intriguing.
Now onto the pieces themselves, the exhibition explores many of the well recognised pieces, for instance, the Breton stripes, the Tartan Kilt adorned by a talking mannequin of Gaultier himself, the mesh bodysuit complete with a sequined pubic triangle and of course the most famous of them all, the Madonna conical bra from her 1990 ‘Blonde Ambition Tour’. We are also invited deeper into Gaultier’s world as we explore his couture pieces which are displayed in all of their exquisite glory alongside a brief description and a time log of the hours it took to complete each piece.
Many other enjoyable aspects of the exhibition that can be seen as you work your way through the multitude of different rooms are snippets of film including his Eurotrash gig in the 90’s and his Spitting Image puppet complete with kilt. It is easy to see that a lot of hard work was put into this exhibition and its curation and they wanted to include all aspects of Gaultier’s work and efforts. It is a superb retrospective of his career so far and definitely not a look back at a designer who has passed or whose career is slowing down at any rate.
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is at Barbican Art Gallery, London until 25 August 2014.
A homage to the great designer comes from PAUL the Patisserie who have launched a Limited Edition Breton striped éclair which is available at all 32 of PAUL’s UK stores from 9th April for a limited time.
An app has also been created by the Barbican Design Team which lets you explore the key themes of the exhibition, available at www.barbican.org.uk