An homage to diversity, a triumph of eclecticism, a ceaseless mixture of styles: prepare to be overwhelmed by major exhibition The Fashion world of Jean Paul Gaultier: from Sidewalk to Catwalk, on show at the Barbican Art Gallery.
The exhibition, which is presented as an art and fashion installation, aims to surprise the visitor from beginning to end: everything is bold, excessive, colourful, eccentric and whichever adjective you care to use to describe Jean Paul Gaultier style. The display features 165 cutting-edge couture and ready-to-wear outfits directly from the catwalks laid out in eight sections which attempt to sum up Gaultier’s way of creating and living fashion.
Walking through the exhibition you experience the French fashion designer’s world: a creative universe made of radically different inspirations, among which London has been one of the most influential. One of the most impressive sections is ‘Punk Cancan’ where the figure of the stereotypical Parisienne mixes with the London Punk Style that has inspired Gaultier since the 70s. Another particularly eclectic section is Muses, which brings together all the people that personally inspired fashion’s enfant terrible.
This exhibition underlines a personal experience more than just the path of a fashion designer. Throughout his career, Jean Paul Gaultier created a different way of doing fashion. He was the first to champion models from different ethnic backgrounds, to bring androgynous models to the catwalk, to mix genres, celebrate a new type of beauty and to break major fashion stereotypes.
The Barbican has launched a free app about the exhibition and organised a rich programme of events, including a short film festival personally curated by Jean Paul Gaultier. A satellite exhibition at the Fashion Space Gallery, Oxford Circus, hosts Jean Paul Gaultier: Be My Guest, which displays the couturier’s design work for the first time, from 11 April until 31 May.
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to the Catwalk is on display at the Barbican Art Gallery, Silk Street London, EC2Y 8DS, until 25 August. Admission in £14.50/£12.50, prebook is recommended.