The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier Exhibition at the NGV
“Non-conformist designer seeks unusual models – the conventionally beautiful need not apply. ”
─ Ad placed by Jean Paul Gaultier in the French daily newspaper Libération
Recently, the National Gallery of Victoria hosted an exhibition entitled The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier. My friend Sandra and I decided to go on the last day, being 8 February 2015.
Neither of us had any particular expectations, and I think this was a good thing, as it added to the element of surprise. On the last day of the exhibition, the lineup to go in snaked outside the gallery door and down towards Flinders Street Station. There was no denying what everyone was there for:
Because we had pre-purchased our tickets, Sandra and I were able to skip the long ticketing queue, giving us a head start to view the exhibition. This was an advantage worth having, as the exhibition soon became very crowded.
On entry to the exhibition, we were greeted by this extraordinary site:
These are all mannequins, but they have the faces of real people projected onto them, and the faces move and speak. At first, it's a little disconcerting, but soon, it becomes fascinating. I couldn't get enough of staring at the faces, knowing that they didn't mind. You can see a mannequin of Jean Paul Gaultier himself at the top of this post.
The first room of the exhibition was called Odyssey, and contains information on Jean Paul Gaultier's journey to becoming a fashion designer.
My favourite display of the exhibition was in this first room, with a series of female mannequins dressed as angels in glorious gowns. These mannequins sang most beautifully:
There were also some creations inspired by the sea:
Moving into the next room, we walked past this thought-provoking quote on the wall:
The next room was entitled The Boudoir. This is where a selection of Jean Paul Gaultier's famous lingerie creations were displayed. He was strongly influenced by his grandmother, who introduced him to women's fashions at a young age, including corsets.
Even Gaultier's teddy bear was decked out in a conical bra:
Of course, Jean Paul Gaultier is well known for designing lingerie style costumes for Madonna, and the exhibition featured not only some of the actual creations that Madonna wore, but some conceptual sketches of those creations:
Who could forget Madonna's conical bra-corset from her Blonde Ambition tour:
The next room is entitled Punk Can Can. In the middle of the room is a revolving catwalk of mannequins wearing a selection of Gaultier fashions, from daywear to stunning and startling evening gowns:
Then there was the punk element. Even The Simpsons featured:
The room was dominated by mohawks, edgy outfits and riotous colour:
Gaultier graffiti adorned one wall.
Moving on was a room called Skin Deep. This was my least favourite room, featuring outfits printed with designs of muscles, skeletons and naked bodies, and dominated by a display reminiscent of a brothel, complete with a madam:
Metropolis, the next room, featured costumes from the stage and screen designed by Gaultier, including this dress made of film strips:
Urban Jungle was a collection of eclectic designs inspired by the many tribes of the urban jungle:
Note that the leopard is created by thousands of tiny beads; it is not a pelt.
In the final room, Muses, there was a collection of Gaultier outfits that have been worn by celebrities, from Dita von Teese to Kylie Minogue to Beth Ditto.
My favourite creation was this gorgeous powder blue gown worn by Cate Blanchett to the Golden Globes:
The Gaultier exhibition at NGV was surprising, fascinating and inspiring. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.