Jean Paul Gaultier: from the sidewalk to the catwalk

January 8, 2015

For the past three months, the French fashion master Jean Paul Gaultier has taken over the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne with his extensive exhibition of 140 garments from haute couture to prêt-à-porter. The display showcases his exuberant designs in a setting where fashion becomes art.

Gaultier’s original style is one of the most recognizable styles in the industry. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk honours the lifetime of work and unforgettable garments that the designer has created for both the runway and the stage.

Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier.

The exhibition is divided into multiple sections, each with its own unique atmosphere: mermaids, boudoirs, London rock ’n’ roll grunge, mirrored rooms and urban jungles all reinforce the trends Gaultier has explored through his career.

Mannequins resemble living human beings by having animated faces projected onto them and by speaking to guests when someone comes close.

The showcase displays many garments worn by celebrities, such as Beyoncé, Nicole Kidman, Kylie Minogue and Madonna (her corsets and cone bras, worn during her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990, were custom-designed by Gaultier).

Visitors are able to stand mere centimetres away from the pieces, some of which took up to 240 hours to create. This proximity allows them to appreciate the dedication and effort invested in fabricating these items.

Jean Paul Gaultier: designs

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The display is accompanied by an evening event: Friday Nights at Jean Paul Gaultier. Every Friday throughout exhibit’s duration, the National Gallery of Victoria opens its doors and allows patrons to experience the exhibit in a different light.

The event gives access to the show itself, as well as to a large room with a high ceiling and a mosaic glass roof. Runway captions featuring garments from the show play on large screens, while guests sip on champagne and enjoy small platters of charcuterie and cheeses. Simultaneously, DJs play music that suits the captions and adds ambiance.

As part of the entertainment, visitors are invited to attend talks about Gaultier’s style, such as his famous use of patterns and the architecture behind the construction of his garments.

The entirety of the event and the exhibit allows those familiar with the fashion world to feel connected to something unique and have a taste of what the fashion world may be like.

The Melbourne exhibit closes Feb. 8, 2015, and will then head to Paris, the hub of Gaultier’s inception.

Jean Paul Gaultier: exhibit

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By Moira Cotnoir
Photography by by Brooke Holm, Peter Lindbergh, Stéphane Sednaoui, William Baker, Paolo Roversi (courtesy of Art + Commerce), Patrice Stable/Jean Paul Gaultier, Alix Malka, Perou, and Pierre et Gilles/Rainer Torrado

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