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JEAN PAUL GAULTIER comes to New York

Injected with delightfully heavy doses of his femme fatale meets punk rock aesthetic, Jean Paul Gaultier’s “From Sidewalk to Catwalk” comes to NY. The exhibit opened for viewing at the Brooklyn Museum on October 25.  The designer showcased more than 140 of his most alluring ensembles, including a dreamy tulle gown with florals bursting from the seams and the signature cone bra rocked by Madonna.  Making a surprise appearance at the end of a panel lecture to satiate the fashion appetites of his audience members, Gaultier revealed intimate details of his muses and rise to design fame.

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Gaultier’s longing to blur the lines between society’s idea of gender and societal norms in fashion was evident in the way he managed to flip perspectives on many of his garments.  The walk-through of the exhibit began in a dimly lit room with spotlights shining on several aggressively androgynous pieces, including a backless men’s suit jacket and nautical sweaters that were, upon closer inspection, adorned by hand with tiny glimmering beads.  Reoccurring themes of religious iconography and the eerily interactive digital faces and voices on mannequins that flirtatiously made eye contact with attendees evoked a sense of surrealism that truly enveloped us in Gaultier’s artistic vision. Even playing on cultural ideas of physical weaknesses and vulnerabilities, one of the most prominent looks was modeled on a mermaid-esque mannequin.   Clad in a gold sequined gown with tattoos winding up her thigh, she leaned on pearl encrusted crutches that evoked anything but a sense of a weakness.

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The exhibit had a distinct New York touch to it that differed drastically from its appearances in Canada, California, and Texas, where Fashion Daily Mag’s own Brigitte Segura connected with the designer for the first time.  The vibrancy of the display for Gaultier’s spring/summer 2011 punk collection especially reflected Manhattan’s unique ability to transform urban vibes into something covetable and cool.  Up against a background sprayed with graffiti, the artwork only further amplified the volume on Gaultier’s leather minidresses, plaid miniskirts, and mannequins rocking Mohawks in true rebellious rocker fashion.

Closed with a panel of speakers consisting of Francis Kurkdjian, the creator of the LE MALE fragrance, and Theirry-Maxime Loriot, the curator of the exhibit, the two revealed much of the story behind Gaultier’s inspiration and muses.  Loriot told the story of Gaultier seeking inspiration while lacing his grandmother’s corsets, and his parents gifting him with a teddy bear that served as his original dressform – with said bear lovingly displayed in a glass case next to a boudoir overflowing with salmon pink undergarments.  Audience members couldn’t help but laugh when told the story of Gaultier’s teacher attempting to shame him by posting his classtime doodles of nude women on his back, only for his fellow students to ask him to draw them their own.

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With Kurkdjian’s admittance of the fact that one of Gaultier’s fragrance packages is purchased around the world every six seconds, it was not difficult to understand why the designer has left such a lasting impact on the beauty and fashion worlds.   After screening the romantic “On The Docks” starring the face of Gaultier’s latest campaign, Jarrod Scott, Jean Paul Gaultier emerged from the backstage area to answer questions and thank his shocked fans for attending.  Though the press swarmed Gaultier at the end of the lecture, the designer turned to embrace Segura through the crowd.

Gaultier’s exhibit will remain open in Brooklyn until the end of February 2014.  A must see. JEAN PAUL GAULTIER Sidewalk to Catwalk comes to New York selects Brigitte Segura, written by Emily Tantuccio.

Photos:  Emily Tantuccio for FashionDailyMag