Dreamy walks through Jardin de Tuileries, liquid lunches and people-watching at the terrace on L’Avenue, and midnight cocktails at Hotel Costes… There are countless reasons for planning a spring trip to Paris. And another significant one has just been added to the list.
One of the most popular fashion exhibitions in recent years, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier – From Sidewalk to Catwalk, closes its worldwide tour by landing in Paris’s Grand Palais on April 1, 2015, where it can be experienced until August. So far, the exhibition has had more than a million visitors. There have been many popular fashion exhibitions through the years, but in truth none like this innovative multimedia show, which through a combination of wonder and thrill gets the audience to release a loud wooooow a great number of times.
When the exhibition was held in Brooklyn in the beginning of 2014, I experienced it for the first time, and was blown away. Not because of my daily work with fashion, but because the designer’s playful humor, wild creativity, and not least enormous courage gripped me… I got more courageous myself! Later in the year, I happened to catch the exhibition again in Melbourne, and there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll view it once again at the last stop in the designer’s own hometown, Paris.
The two times I have left the exhibition thus far, I’ve had a feeling that no ideas are too silly or too grand, that even the craziest visual expressions have a place, and – in a sadder department – that the way I dress is completely stripped of imagination and inspiration…
In the early 90s, when I lived in London, things were different. At the time – when Jean Paul Gaultier’s were the hottest items you could get your hands on – I spent all my hard-earned cash on his design, while nourishing myself with cheap ready meals from Tesco. I clearly recall my provocatively see-through nylon blouse with a tattoo pattern, India-inspired sarongs paired with army boots, and a little knitted beanie with devil’s horns… say no more! Those were the days when fashion existed not to make us more attractive, but more interesting…
Times change and the urban hipsters of today swear by deliberately boring normcore fashion rather than the theatrical. The 62-year-old Gaultier has taken the consequence of the failing sales figures and held his last prêt-à-porter show at the most recent Paris Fashion Week. I attended the show myself, and to me – as a fan and conveyor of fashion for many years – it was a tearful, moving farewell. We are after all talking about the man who had the courage to launch skirts for men in 1985! We’re talking about a designer who thought that Madonna should assume the stage wearing pink underwear with a stiff icecream cone bra in 1990. And we’re talking about the talent who dressed Marion Cottilard in an unforgettable silver-color mermaid dress when she won an Oscar in 2008.
But most of all, we’re talking about the rebel – the enfant terrible of fashion – who dared to mix punk with boudoir and folklore with bondage. And everything in between… We’re talkig about a man who pushed norms by letting women of all nationalities and body shapes walk the runway of his fashion shows, and who paid homage to diversity – most recently by letting the bearded Conchita Wurst walk his haute couture show last year.
So in all imaginable platforms, since his debut collection in 1976, Jean Paul Gaultier has moved the very idea of fashion, moved our idea of what constitutes normal.
That becomes very clear when you visit the exhibition.
Last stop Paris. Not to be missed.
Facts about Uffe Buchard:
Uffe Buchard is the Creative Director of Darling Creative Studio and Editor in Chief of DANSK Magazine. He has a monthly column in Danish fashion magazine ELLE and a segment on Denmark’s breakfast TV-show twice a month.
Uffe Buchard is a permanent Selector on feel.selected.com and brings you new updates from his whereabouts two times a month.
Follow him on Instagram here.