A month ago I visited the The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum and it did not disappoint. The exhibit was large and worth every penny of the admission to view it. Throughout the showing were an array of multimedia mannequins which were both creepy and fascinating, projected moving faces and eerie sound bites accompanied the “almost alive” mannequins, each wearing a spectacular display of Jean Paul Gaultier’s couturier designs.
This is the first international exhibit dedicated to French couturier and you haven’t missed your window to check it out, the exhibit will run through February 23, 2014 at the Brooklyn Museum. Haute couture is a French term for ‘high sewing’ or ‘high dressmaking’ and is custom-made for a specific customer, sewn from expensive fabrics, and involves hours upon hours of hand sewing.
Many of the Gaultier’s designs on display included a description which included the amount of time a piece took, from 35 hours to 350 hours roughly.
The walls surrounding the exhibit were part of it and if you are tempted to touch the padded silk cushions covering the walls – “Don’t Touch!” will be shouted from any security guard standing near you. The exhibit covered a wide range of Gaultier’s career from the Bleeding Heart Dress in his Virgin collection to the camouflage dress Sarah Jessica Parker wore to the 2000 MTV awards to the iconic cone bra Madonna is so known for.
Sketches for the design of Madonna’s famous cones are included in the exhibit which is divided into seven themes. A few highlighted are The Odyssey, a fantasy/mermaid display, the boudoir – which explains itself by overhearing an older woman exclaiming, “Oh my gosh, more underwear!” as I walked through the designs, and Punk Cancan, a urban London punk meets classic Parisian style which was spectacular.
As I wandered around the exhibit with a friend visiting from out of town, we were mesmerized by the multi-media incorporated within the exhibit as much as we were impressed with the excruciating tiny details weaved throughout each of Gaultier’s creations.
In particular, I was drawn to a delicately crocheted green dress which took more than 300 hours to put together giving the illusion of snakes floating around the legs of the wearer. The creations throughout were diverse and many descriptions of these unique designs shamelessly name-dropped the celebrity they were made for; including Madonna, Beyoncé, Natalie Imbruglia, Tina Turner, Nirvana, Nicole Kidman, and Boy George.
In addition to the fashion, the exhibit also included an inside look into the life of Jean Paul, including a childhood teddy he dressed as a child, photographs, sketches –small windows into Gaultier and his creative genius throughout his career.
“I would like to say to people, open your eyes and find beauty where you normally don’t expect it.” -Gaultier
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk
October 25, 2013–February 23, 2014
The Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY.
Written by Jemile Nesimi