Jean Paul Gaultier Retrospective Opens at Grand Palais in Paris

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Installation view of Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit.
Photo: Rmn-Grand Palais; photo by Francois Tomasi.

The Grand Palais in Paris inaugurated an elaborate Jean Paul Gaultier retrospective yesterday.

The show’s interactive multimedia component combines fashion, film, and art through the lens of one stalwart fashion iconoclast.

Celebrating Gaultier’s creative spirit, the exhibition stages 175 haute couture designs, along with ready-to-wear pieces and one iconic conical bra—yes, Madonna’s. A dreamy archaeology of sorts, the display might also function as both the artist’s self-portrait and an assembly of French cultural patrimony over a 30-year prolific career.

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Installation view of Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition.
Photo: Rmn-Grand Palais; photo by Francois Tomasi.

It’s a sartorial treat. Mannequins sporting fantastical wigs styled by Odile Gilbert are garbed in red carpet wonders, film costumes, and baroque corsets.

Gaultier, the former creative director of Hermès, also insisted on a hi-tech installation which projects ensembles onto visitors. Curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot explains the digital component allows everyone to be “a Gaultier model.”

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Pierre & Gilles, La Vierge aux serpents (Kylie Minogue) (2008).
Photo: Pierre et Gilles.

The designer was initially opposed to the idea of a museum show of his work. He said he believes clothes are made to be worn and lived in, not presented in glass cages. Gaultier was persuaded after the idea for an animated exhibition in which mannequins talk and dresses move, was proposed.

“The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier” is on view at the Grand Palais, Avenue des Champs Elysees, 75008, Paris, from April 1–August 3, 2015.

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Jean-Paul Goode, Jean Paul Gaultier, Made in Mode (2012).
Photo: Jean-Paul Goode.


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