The National Gallery of Victoria is currently hosting The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, a retrospective of the work of French designer Jean Paul Gaultier organised by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Melbourne is the only Asia-Pacific venue to host the exhibition, which has been seen by more than a million visitors in New York, San Francisco, London, Madrid and Stockholm.
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is a visual feast for those with an interest in fashion, art and design. Forget fashions on the field at the Melbourne Cup tomorrow and appreciate haute couture at its finest instead.
The massive show of clothing, accessories, furniture, photographs and art and it will take you at least 2 hours to see everything. It’s surprisingly interactive and is not just clothes on dummies, one after the other.
The rooms have been curated into seven thematic arrangements that track Gaultier’s design influences and the whole effect is highly theatrical.
The exhibition starts in the eerie blue room, with Jean Paul Gaultier himself dressed in his signature Breton stripes and introducing the exhibition as one of the animated mannequins. Gregorian chanting emanates from the Gothic looking women who are lined up two rows like religious icons.
In this room you’ll find costumes worn by Kylie Minogue and one of Beyonce’s jumpsuits.
From there you are taken to a somewhat more traditional museum setting with various items on show, including his famous corsets.
The path then leads to a brightly lit throwback to the 80s, with graffiti on the walls, punk music blaring and a clever moving runway of mannequins where you’re invited to take a front row seat.
You’re then lead into a room reminiscent of the opening scene of Chicago where the dominatrix and S&M influences of his work are collected.
Jean Paul Gaultier was also responsible for the costumes for many films, such as The Fifth Element and Pedro Almodavor’s works.
My favourite room was probably the ‘Urban Jungle’ with wild and extravagant interpretations of ethnic costumes set amongst a backdrop of Melbourne’s skyline. Just look at this bridal gown!
The final room is a special addition to the Melbourne exhibition as it features Gaultier’s Australian muses including pieces he has created for Kylie Minogue, Cate Blanchett, Andrej Pejić and Gemma Ward. The couture gown that Nicole Kidman’s wore when she won her Oscar for The Hours in 2003 is on display. I also liked the way in background had been created for this room, with the outlines furniture pushed and stretched against stark white fabric.
It’s the small details that make this experience so awe-inspiring. The yards of silk pink ribbon sewed together to make a corset. The hand-pleated details. The Eiffel Tower kitten heels. The animal skin made up of tiny little tubular beads.
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is a rare opportunity to learn about the skill and background of a designer that’s been in the fashion business for over 40 years and to admire the craftsmanship of haute couture up close. Don’t miss it.
NGV’s popular Friday Nights return in style celebrating The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier. Every Friday until Friday 6 February (excluding 26 December and 2 January) DJs and bands take to the stage alongside pop-up talks, bars and dining. Check out the program here.
National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
Open 10am–5pm daily except Tue. Exhibition from 17 October 2014 until 8 February 2015
NGV Member Adult $17
Child (5-15 years) $10