Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jean Paul Gaultier in Montreal

The word on everyone’s lips lately in the design world was the recent Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art says its recent exhibition of costumes by the late designer Alexander McQueen was among its top 10 most-visited shows, with 661,509 people traipsing past some of McQueen’s most beguiling creations. Alas I was not one of them.

However another opportunity to see a very similar exhibition this weekend in Montreal has presented itself. (Oh, did I not tell you we are headed off to Montreal this weekend as it is a long weekend?).

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is presenting The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, the first international exhibition devoted to the celebrated French couturier. Gaultier launched his first prêt-à-porter collection in 1976 and founded his own couture house in 1997.

This exhibition has kind of gone under the radar, eclipsed by McQueen. Dubbed fashion's enfant terrible by the press from the time of his first runway shows in the 1970s, Jean Paul Gaultier is indisputably one of the most important fashion designers of recent decades.

Very early, his avant-garde fashions reflected an understanding of a multicultural society's issues and preoccupations, shaking up – with invariable good humour – established societal and aesthetic codes.

Created between the early 1970s and 2010, these pieces have, for the most part, never before been exhibited. Many other exhibits are also being presented for the first time. Sketches, stage costumes, excerpts from films, runway shows, concerts, videos, dance performances and even television programmes illustrate Jean Paul Gaultier's fashion world.

So what exactly does fashion icon Jean-Paul Gaultier think he's learned most about himself after seeing 30-plus years' worth of his eye-popping creations together in a new show at Montreal's Museum of Fine Arts?

Looking as surprised as someone who's just seen their first cone bra, Gaultier has to think a minute about the question.

"To see all that work at the same time, it's emotional," he says, warming up to the topic. "It's emotion, what I have learned, that I am always sensitive to emotion.

Gaultier said he was pleased with the Montreal museum show, saying he was reluctant to have exhibits in the past "because for me, it's a funeral, an exhibition in a museum."

"I thought the shows were enough because I am alive," he added.

"I am very happy and proud of this exhibition. I feel at home," he said. "I could even sleep there."

Following its presentation in Montreal, the exhibition will embark on an international tour, with presentations at the Dallas Museum of Art (November 13, 2011 - February 12, 2012), the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, de Young (March 24 - August 19, 2012), the Fundación Mapfre – Instituto de Cultura, Madrid (September 26 – November 18, 2012), and the Kunsthal Rotterdam, the Netherlands (February 9 – May 12, 2013).

Of course faithful Savoir Faires I will give a full report on my return. Have a wonderful weekend all.
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