Monday, 25 August 2014

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: from the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

This weekend I took an exciting trip to the Barbican to see the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition. The exhibition entitled "The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: from the Sidewalk to the Catwalk" (breathe) has been travelling around the world and enchanting audiences from all continents. I had wanted to see the exhibition for quite a while, so when I found out that it would be closing that weekend I just had to go!

Gaultier is the type of designer that you can see in his creations. The type that you could pinpoint an exquisite piece of couture to without even being told who it was by. He has a very unique and prominent style that captivates the minds and questions the norms of whomever lays eyes upon his work.

One of Gaultier's most unique traits is his thoughts and expressions of gender. He believes that people should not be restricted by society's gender conventions, that they should be free to express their self without being confined to what is so typically known as 'female' or 'male'. He comments on how men in the nineteenth century would wear corsets to improve their strength and posture, an item that is seen as so feminine in the modern day actually improved upon a gentleman's masculinity in the not so distant past. Thereforth of course, we can not say what exactly is female and what exactly is male, as it is simply our cultural surroundings and own periodical perception that tell us so.

Something that was commented on constantly around the exhibition was Gaultier's love for difference. It is well known that he is captivated by unconventional types of beauty, "As a child, my attention was always drawn by those women who didn't look like everyone else…" In an advertisement for models early on in his career he proclaimed that "the conventionally beautiful need not apply". He cherishes individuality. Men and women of all different shapes and sizes have walked in his shows, from Kate Moss to Beth Ditto. Gaultier has said that he admires strikingly different faces. Specifically, he has indicated that he loves for example when a women has very bleach blonde hair contrasting with very dark skin. Appreciating their difference, Gaultier often features androgynous models in his show, once again promoting his refusal of society's gender associations. Men will walk in women's clothes, lingerie and corsets, whilst women are often dressed in typically masculine items of clothing; suits and ties. Although celebrating individuality in such an obvious way is far more common in modern catwalk shows and couture, Gaultier was very before his time.

His influences are very obvious within his work. When he develops a passion for something, it is projected onto his clothes in absolute hommage. Often, Gaultier will dedicate whole collections to those he is inspired by such as his Amy Winehouse collection, or his pieces that pay tribute to David Bowie. Other sources of inspiration include religion, punk rock, androgyny and sexuality.

Of course perhaps his biggest influence was that of his grandmother, Marie. When he was younger, his grandmother owned a television which was very uncommon in France at the time. His grandmother would let him watch whatever he wanted to, and so he became captivated by culture and women. He would spend a lot of time looking inside his grandmother's closet which fueled his inspiration further, he was particularly captivated by her beautiful corsets, an item that now features heavily in his collections. Later he designed clothes for his grandmother and mother to wear, and even made a bra for a teddy bear that he owned, an artifact that is featured in the exhibition and very well known.

All in all it was such a beautiful, interesting and inspiring exhibition. I really enjoyed it. I hope that you enjoyed this post and perhaps even saw the exhibition yourself! If you did let me know what you thought!

Here are a few more pictures of the exhibition that I took.

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Abigail x


1 comment

  1. Oh my gosh, I really regret missing this exhibition. What an experience!!
    - I follow back on Bloglovin' -



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