Sunday, 28 September 2014

Jean Paul Gaultier @ The Barbican 2014

In response to Jean Paul Gaultier's SS15 show at Paris Fashion Week, I decided to share some photos and insight into the recent exhibition in London celebrating the "enfant terrible" of fashion. This latest show marks Gaultier's retirement from Ready to Wear in order to focus on Haute Couture and his perfume line.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk was a recent exhibition held at the Barbican in London showcasing his most famous pieces and collections over the last 40 years. He has used his position in the fashion industry as a platform for challenging the conventional standards of beauty in the fashion industry - from selecting runway models such as Beth Ditto and drag queen and Eurovision winner, Conchita Wurst.

The exhibition took us back to Gaultier's childhood where he would spend his afternoons in his grandmother's apartment watching TV without restriction. This unlimited access to other worlds on the other side of the screen sparked his imagination and cemented in his mind that he wanted to be a fashion designer.

Most of Gaultier's collections were inspired by street style trends and pop culture: from punk rockers on the streets on London to the uniforms of the sailors he saw while growing up. This nautical imagery led to Gaultier's infamous use of the Breton stripe. I adore the knitted dress that morphs into a feathered skirt; a genius contrast between casual and glamour.

The couturier is also famed for drawing his inspiration from different cultures across the world and celebrating diversity. I think this was my favourite part of the exhibition. I am absolutely in LOVE with these feathered boots, they are ridiculously cool! A perfect twist on the current over-the-knee boots trend - I could really do with these babies for the coming winter... *hint hint*

This next look is inspired by Mongolian traditional dress and it was hands-down my favourite look from my whole visit. The white fur hat is so adorable with eccentric ear flaps and pink embellishment, contrasting with the dark bodysuit and that brown fur backpack! The oriental-inspired blue satin thigh-high boots are gorgeous and so unexpected; everything about this look is perfect. I really like how every outfit feels so complete and cohesive from head to toe.

Of course JPG is renowned for his work with stars of the music industry, especially stage-wear, from Madonna to Nirvana and Kylie Minogue. There was a whole collection of his famous corsets - it was really interesting how this iconic item of clothing was reworked from something which was used to oppress women and their bodies into a celebration of the female form, empowering the wearer to exude strength and sexuality. 

The ICONIC conical bra from Madonna's Blonde Ambition tour.

My favourite from this section was this black, diamanté-encrusted corset reminiscent of a skeleton - but with curves in all the right places. It really looks like the deconstructed, dark and shiny exoskeleton of an insect. I love the contrast between something that is like armour but also intimate; gothic yet glamourous, embodied by the original woman who modelled this piece on the runway, Dita Von Teese.

Jean Paul Gaultier is probably as famous for his perfumes as he is his couture. The blue sailor-style bottle for him and satin-pink corset bottle for her paint a captivating tale of French romance. I really enjoyed how the exhibition transported you into the Parisian boudoirs behind the story - showing the inspiration, outfit and perfume bottle in one succinct and elegant image and summarising the undeniable impact that growing up in Paris, absorbed by the stories told through his grandmother's television, has had on Jean Paul Gaultier throughout his entire fashion career.

Did you go to see the exhibition? Let me know what you think!


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