Attention fashion people, sewers, fans of consumer culture and arty-folk. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, From Sidewalk to Catwalk at the Barbican is a MUST SEE exhibition. Beautifully executed, extensive (around 165 garments), socially ahead of its time and with amazing outfits, it’s a comprehensive overview of how influential Gaultier has been to fashion since the late 70s. It’s a total treat. The exhibition has been touring the globe since 2011, garnering rave reviews so it’s about time we got to see it here in London.
I wont gush on too much, but for me, one of the biggest, spine tingling thrills was getting up-close to the haute couture collection pieces, which have information on how long each one has taken to make. Take the dress above, it looks like there’s a real leopard skin sewn on to the front, right? it’s actually densely packed sequins, embroidery and beading, which you need to get up really close to in order to convince yourself it’s not a proper skin. It took 1,600 hours to make. Imagine!
Here’s a quick overview of some of the clothes on show, i’ve gone for close up shots because it’s all about the detail for me.
Mr Gaultier himself was there to chat enthusiastically about how much he loved London and how important it’s been to his inspiration over the years, which is why there’s a big punk section. For anyone who saw this collection previously in either France or the US, Mr Gaultier told us this London version is slightly different, with a bigger section of London-inspired pieces, so you might want to go again.
Some of the mannequins (supplied by Canadian company JoliCoeur) have animated faces that are unnerving to observe, they blink, chat and bring a new dynamic angle to the display.
And of course there are corsets galore, including this one below, made entirely from soft satin ribbon, layered and sewn into amazing shapes.
Below is an haute couture lace dress in Gaultier’s signature Breton stripe. I can’t tell you how fabulous this hand made lace looks up close, every teeny bit is hand sewn.
Hat and jacket combo in fine straw below, could catch on.
Enough from me, just go and see it. It’s on at The Barbican until 25th August. More details here. There’s an enormous book to accompany the show, with excellent images and commentary, those of you building a fashion library might want to consider it.