From the get-go this is a showstopper! The first thing that you see when you enter is two beautiful photographs of Madonnas from his “Virgins” collection. You are literally being birthed into the world of Gaultier and about to have a religious fashion experience. Gaultier’s Madonnas are stylish Virgin High Priestesses with beautiful headdresses and long, straight, Cher-likehair. Each one is dressed in clothing containing religious iconography on it. Whether it is a picture of an eye in the middle of a bodice or photographic transfers of paintings from Raphael and other fine Art Masters or two bodices made up of different paintings. They are stunning and command your attention! The manikins are etherealand nothing one has ever seen before as actual films of human faces are projected onto the head of the manikin. The faces interact with you and give you that very cheeky, sexy, coyness that is truly the spirit of Gautier.
In his designs, Jean Paul Gaultier has always interpreted very iconic images in adventuresome and provocative new ways. For example his take on the utilitarian fisherman sweater (an item we’ve seen since the beginning of clothing) is nothing short of miraculous as he transformed it into a full ball gown with a skirt of shirred tulle. Another fisherman’s shirt is pulled over the shoulders and turned into a hat, or more accurately, a dramatic dress/hat combination. Yes, of course there is his insignia, his advertising campaign and bottle for his cologne, the sexy male fishermen.
But what really stands out is Gaultier’s genius of his designs: the under form emerged as an outer form. One can see this in the boning of his corsets and skirts. There is a gown completely made out of ribbons. Each ribbon is wrapped around the form underneath the garment; a metal bodice, and emerges as a stunning satin dress. His evening dresses of tulle are truly outstandingly beautiful. The way he layers and manipulates tulle has a sculptural quality reminiscent of a Frank Gehry scupture. His homage to Hollywood can be seen in his bustier entirely made out of plastic photo negatives. The arms of the manikin are adorned with bangles, which are also movie frames.
The next large space is a fantastic version of “It’s a Small World After All.” The Mongolian- Eskimo combination, Cowboy, Geisha, and Native American designs are captivating and of course interpreted in true Gaultier vision. The Native American is in monochromatic white. She has a full headdress turned train and a bustier with a full skirt – both arms and skirt contain military epaulettes. There something very 20s meets punk about the jewelry. It’s just the sexiest thing you’ve seen. If I had to pick a wedding dress this would be mine.
Gaultier’s next room is a manifestation of the Red Light District showcasing his bondage inspired clothing. Once again the under form emerges as the outer. The leather and the sexier clothing that one considers more appropriate “behind closed doors” has been brought out onto the street in a way that’s actually wearable!
Another room was filled with Graffiti and his evening dresses that traveled around on carousel. This juxtaposition is pure Gaultier. He has a knack for having the viewer question what one is seeing. There is a surprise element to everything he touches, the clothing itself and the visual displays. For example there is a white ruffled ball gown, that when she spins/ flashes in a360° cancan legs are seen painted on a red satin undergarment. There is also an intricately sequined green dress, which appears to be a non-distinct pattern; until your brain suddenly registers the pattern is of two people French kissing.