The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum presents 140 of his "costumes", from 1970 to 2013. They are grouped by seven themes or influences; however, I have arranged them in my own way. I can share a conversation overheard from a Gaultier insider that he always designs the costumes for Madonna when she is performing. She is one of his Muses; oh, to be part of that exclusive club.
Some of the mannequins turn slowly in a circular motion. The other mannequins have faces. They talk, their eyes move and they have a variety of facial expressions. They are interactive. The lighting is low in certain areas which makes ISO adjustments challenging.
I was there for over three hours and am still processing all the information that bombarded my senses. I felt exhausted yet exhilarated.
M. Gaultier does not create fashion, he designs with a genius that is ahead of fashion. As Diana Vreeland said, "... what they never knew they wanted." To describe him with words such as "quirky" or "edgy" is to underestimate his talent. Often, the words "l"enfant terrible" are used as he launched his first show at the age of 18. He transitioned into haute couture, becoming a world renowned couturier.
One of his mannequins wears a leather jacket with a long tulle ballet shirt and sneakers as she holds a pair of pointe shoes over her shoulder How many of us have coordinated a similar look, mixing casual with formal? Except he did it decades ago. One of the looks for spring 2014 is nautical, which he showed in one of his earliest pret-a-porter collections.
His pieces are textural (several patrons were told to stop touching the fabrics) and sculptural (for example, the cone bra). They range from denim jeans repurposed into a floor length gown to see- through bustiers to hefty tartan plaids to elegant tulles, satins and silks. As his mannequin speaks, he wears a straight, elegant ankle length black skirt affixed with one button. It made me want to look for a similar skirt in the back my closet. Sometimes simple is perfect.
I have captured images of "costumes", drawings, sketches, photographs, signage, etc. I chose the photographs that spoke to me and I hope will appeal to you.
The exhibition ends on February 23, 2014 and the Brooklyn Museum is the only East Coast site. I highly recommend that you visit it yourself. It is an experience that I will long remember - to be in the company (once removed) of M. Gaultier, one of the great artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.