A few weeks ago, I went to see the first major Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibition at The Barbican expecting a lovely but fairly standard exhibition. From the moment I arrived I realised I vastly underestimated L’Enfant Terrible, to quote Julia Roberts: “Big mistake. Big. Huge”. I should have expected more from the man who has shocked and delighted the fashion world for over 40 years.
The sprawling exhibition is made up of 165 RTW and Haute Couture outfits and spans two floors, with the majority of the mannequins being bought to life with moving, talking human faces – they are projected on but very realistic and therefore pretty creepy but very cool.
One of the most well curated and comprehensive fashion exhibitions that I’ve visited, the quirky features such as the projected faces and mechanical catwalk really bring the Frenchman’s archive pieces to life and play on his playful, theatrical creativity.
The exhibition presents eight Gaultier themes; The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier, Punk Cancan, Muses, The Boudoir, Metropolis, Eurotrash, Skin Deep and Urban Jungle; as well as photography by the likes of Richard Avedon, Miles Aldridge and David LaChapelle, an exploration of Gaultier muses and video footage of shows, concerts, music videos and films. And yes, Madonna’s conical bra basque from her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour is also on show.
The exhibition is one not to be missed and is on at The Barbican until 25th August 2014.