One of the best exhibitions we saw in 2011, perhaps over the past few years, was the exquisite Alexander McQueen knock-out fashion turned fine art visionary show at the MET in NYC (can you tell we liked it?). With this in mind, we were excited to see how The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk would play out at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. After our run through, this is another solid fashion to fine art display that we recommend if you travel to SF this summer.
A quick rundown from the de Young:
Dubbed fashion’s enfant terrible, Jean Paul Gaultier launched his first prêt-à-porter collection in 1976 and founded his own couture house in 1997. Emerging as a designer in the 1970s, he developed his own dress codes that reflected the changing world around him. The openly gay Gaultier uses his designs to tackle gender and transgender issues through androgynous, gender-bending styles, meanwhile delving even further into some of the darker areas of the sexual revolution. Always provocative, he addresses issues of multiculturalism by bringing ethnic diversity to the Paris runway. Despite the gritty and sometimes controversial context of his collections, the clothes remain beautiful, superbly crafted with the finest dressmaking and detailing skills.
This dynamic, multimedia exhibition will include 140 haute couture and prêt-à-porter designs created between the mid-1970s and 2010, along with numerous sketches, archival documents, fashion photographs, and video clips that spotlight Gaultier’s collaborations with filmmakers, choreographers, and musicians, most notably Madonna. For this presentation, Gaultier partnered with the Montreal-based theater company Ubu Compagnie de Création in the design of 30 animated mannequins who talk and sing in playful and poetic vignettes.
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier
Through August 19, 2012
de Young Museum
San Francisco, California