There is no shortage of quirk when it comes to couturiers, but anyone who has seen a Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture show (think can-can dancers), his line for La Perla, the documentary The Day Before Jean Paul Gaultier, his 90s BBC television show Eurotrash, or just about any interview the playfully humorous French designer has given knows that Gaultier is in a league of his own. While he never received formal training as a designer, Gaultier has had an incredibly prolific, envelope-pushing, and often groundbreaking career that will now be celebrated in his first world retrospective that just opened at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Contrary to what one might think, this retrospective does not signal that the 59-year-old couturier plans to retire anytime soon. The designer told WWD that “the purpose is to show what I want to say through clothes. It is to make clothes that you will love and wear. It’s a good way to show my themes,” and to that end, the Montreal show is set up along the lines of six themes: the Odyssey of JPG, Boudoir, Skin Deep, Punk Can-Can, Urban Jungle, and Metropolis.
Two year in the making, the show titled "The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk" runs through October 2 and includes 130 pieces from Gaultier’s collections dating from 1976, the year he launched his first ready-to-wear collection. The Jean Paul Gaultier couture line came to fruition in 1997 and a number of pieces from his various Haute Couture collections will be included as well.
Aside from clothing and accessories, expect lifelike talking and moving mannequins – including ones in Gaultier’s signature stripes and mohawks – the designer’s name in white neon lights, video clips from films, concerts, and fashion shows, and according to WWD, a variety of never before seen in public pieces like Madonna’s conical bras and photos by Andy Warhol.
Given the designer’s prolific 35 year career, it’s no surprise that it was quite the task for curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot to decide what to include in the exhibit from among the more than 150 collections and thousands of pieces. Loriot notes that he “wanted to show how important he’s been in the last 30 years, but also to show how he’s still relevant. Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, and Tom Ford have all been influenced by him.”
While the exhibit will run through October 2 in Montreal, it will be shown at the Dallas Museum of Art from November 13 to February 12 and then at the de Young Museum in San Francisco at the end of March through July.
Images: WWD and Nymag.com