Iconoclastic designer’s work, life on view come spring
By Katharine Fong
Before Gaga there was Gaultier – creator of the man-skirt, cone bra and that bandage get-up worn by Milla Jovovich in “The Fifth Element.”
The once-enfant terrible of fashion, now 59 and still a working, fiercely unconventional designer (who in fact has dressed Lady Gaga), is the subject of a much-anticipated exhibit coming to the de Young Museum in March. “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier” includes some 120 couture and ready-to-wear designs created from the early ’70s to 2010, along with fashion photographs and video clips of Gaultier’s many collaborations with filmmakers (such as Pedro Almodóvar and Luc Besson), choreographers and musical artists, including, of course, Madonna.
Gaultier has used his oft-outrageous but always superbly crafted designs to explore sexuality, gender, ethnicity and the definition of beauty. His inspirations have drawn from sartorial tradition and high art, pop culture and religious iconography, street fashion and tattoos.
Organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibit features 30 animated mannequins, including one of Gaultier himself, that talk, sing and chant as playful accompaniment. Who can resist? Bring something to carry the 424-page exhibition catalog home.
“The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk,” at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, March 24–Aug. 19, 2012. Information and tickets at deyoung.famsf.org