Fresh from its huge success in Paris, Jean-Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk has now opened at the latest venue in its world tour: the Kunsthalle Munich.
“In the beginning, I was not thrilled,” explained the maestro. “To me, an exhibition sounds a bit like death. When you die, you get into the museum!" His change of mind came thanks to the visionary ideas of the curators, who have created a multimedia world around the 140 designs on display. The task has been massive: 41 tons of material had to be brought into the space. Video projection using 41 projectors has even enabled some of the mannequins to ‘talk’ and look alarmingly human, made all the more convincing by the fact that a stylist was hired specially to style their hair.
Jean Paul Gaultier has been the provocateur of the international fashion scene for forty years. The Frenchman who launched his label in 1976 after a career at Pierre Cardin, Jean Patou and Angelo Tarlazzi was focused from the start on poking fun at social convention. He put skirts and lingerie on men, bringing the common stereotypes of male and female beauty into question, and he finds inspiration in punk, pop culture, and the street. With his penchant for the imperfect, the disadvantaged, and minority groups, Gaultier's fashion has become synonymous with an open, tolerant society.
Gaultier and Swarovski have enjoyed a close partnership for decades, and among the haute couture and prêt-à-porter models are numerous designs incorporating Swarovski crystals. There’s the amazing Diamond Rocker biker jacket with Swarovski Crystal Spikes and Studs, along with Xenia and Mata Hari dresses, featuring Transfer Motif on Crystal Mesh to imitate the pelts of wildcats. Other highlights include a dress made of leopard beadwork that required 1,060 hours of tailoring, and another made of trash and waste, which so outraged guests at the Fall/Winter 1980/81 show that they walked out! In addition, there are costumes from Pedro Almodovar’s films, Madonna’s stage costumes, including the legendary corset ‘Cone Bra’ from her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour. What’s more, there are numerous pieces of stunningly beautiful jewelry that display the designer’s genius use of Swarovski crystals.
Two million visitors can attest to the brilliance of this exhibition, so don’t miss out on the last chance to see it. Catch it at the Kunsthalle Munich before it closes on February 14, 2016.
Written by Sabine Spieler.