15.8.14

THE FASHION WORLD OF JEAN PAUL GAULTIER AT THE BARBICAN CENTRE


As an aspiring fashion and dress historian, visiting fashion exhibitions and museums is one of my favourite pass times. I am fortunate to live in London, home to some of the best Museum's in the world, so there is always an interesting exhibition on in order to spend a day absorbing art. The V&A are brilliant for fashion exhibitions; most recently they hosted the Italian Glamour and are currently showing a Wedding Dress exhibitions. However, the lesser known Barbican Centre are currently holding 'The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From The Sidewalk To The Catwalk' and, despite having never been to Barbican before, I had to go! Jean Paul Gaultier is one of my favourite designers, oozing eccentricity and creativity in each and every piece he crafts.

This innovative exhibition was initiated and produced by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and is part of an international tour. As became evident throughout the exhibit, London was a place that did and continues to inspire Gaultier and his artistic vision, and Chief Curator Nathalie Bondil respects and enhances his work in the beautiful curation of this exhibition.





While some brands have a signature style that one can automatically associate with the name, such as Chanel and tweed jackets, McQueen and skull print or Louboutin and the iconic red sole, Jean Paul Gaultier has excelled in so many different styles, it is hard to pin point his 'signature'. While the Breton stripes and sailor inspired pieces from his early collections springs to mind, as does his latter punk designs and his famed corsetry. He has mastered so many different styles, yet always keeping his high level of intricate detailing and eccentricity prevalent. 'The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier' takes the viewer on a journey through Gaultier's life, as the title suggests, from sidewalk to catwalk. From his early nautical, religious and mermaid inspired collections, through to his corsetry and interest in fetishism, the museum is brilliantly curated. I would have to say that it is probably one of the best curated fashion exhibitions I have ever been to. 




While Gaultier has always been on my fashion radar, notably for designing the Madonna cone bra for her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour and for the beautiful perfume that used to be my favourite, I wasn't as aware of his journey or design archive as I was of say Westwood or McQueen. 'The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier' is a detailed retrospective of Gauliter's work, with the accompanying app, which features videos of fashion historians and Jean Paul Gaultier himself talking in great detail about every section of the exhibition, and interactive elements including holographic faces projected onto mannequins, the Barbican Centre most definitely educates visitors thoroughly on the Gaultier archives. It is truly a celebration and appreciation of such a skilled designer.

As mentioned previously, I try to attend as many fashion related exhibitions as possible, however I have found that many are either not very well curated, or do not delve into the archives as much as I had expected. This one though surpassed my expectations, and I spent a long time - over two hours in fact - taking in all of the features. The collection consist of a combination of archived designs from all of his different collections, from denim and mermaids, to stage and music video costumes, on to his bondage inspired pieces, alongside runway footage and photographs spread across two floors. Although I have frequently mentioned this, I cannot express enough how well curated this exhibition is, huge commendation to Nathalie Bondil!

'The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier' is on at the Barbican Centre until 25th August, and I would definitely recommend a visit. It is one of the most thorough, yet interactive fashion exhibition I have ever been too. I would also highly recommend downloading the free app to help guide you through the exhibition.


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