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The Fashion World Of Jean Paul Gaultier

May 19, 2014

FashionLondon | by Hannah Banks-Walker

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Jean Paul Gaultier’s exhibition at The Barbican is without a doubt the most immersive, theatrical and entertaining fashion exhibits staged in recent years. Nothing is more typical of Gaultier than mannequins with digitally expressive faces, where they sing and talk with the help of mini projectors. The effect is both brilliant and quite unnerving; suddenly you are transported into an almost fairytale-nightmare world, albeit an incredibly stylish one, where static mannequins appear to follow you around the room with their roving eyes.

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Moving into the main exhibition space, where Gaultier’s punk collections and the 1990s Levi’s collaboration is displayed, the number of mannequin voices increase tenfold and talk simultaneously; the result is a fashion dystopia you’ll want to visit. And the influence the designer has exerted on the industry is immediately apparent- the Levi’s collection was an obvious reference for Marc Jacobs when creating his final Louis Vuitton offering, with denim mixed with black lace and sequin embellishment, and enormous feathered headdresses that were strikingly similar to those created for Jacobs by Stephen Jones. A bandeau denim gown came finished with an ombre feathered fishtail in that innovative Gaultier blend between casual streetwear and show stopping couture.

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Gaultier’s love for heritage plaid was shown through the punk collections. A Britpop display came complete with a union jack feathered headdress, paying homage to Brit icons Amy Winehouse and David Bowie. Moving through to the Muses space, Gaultier’s iconic conical designs, created for Madonna, were shown in among Kylie Minogue’s Showgirl tour outfits.

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It is impossible to mention all of the exquisite designs on display at the Barbican. What it is possible to say, however, is that Gaultier’s craftsmanship is (in case you were still wondering) astonishing. Those conical corsets made from mahogany croc skin, held together with crochet, highlight how inventive Gaultier was, and is, with his approach to fabrics and structure. Gaultier is unique, and this extensive exhibition pays homage to his unbelievable talent. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier might just be the best visit you make all year. You may even want to stay.


By Grace Cook