The Barbican‘s latest exhibition, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, opened recently and I went along for a visit. I only knew of Gaultier from his famous corsets, but there is so much more to his work, which I loved. There were some amazing outfits on display, and what impressed me was that most of them were wearable – a bit dramatic and OTT, maybe, but you could wear them on a night out without worrying about whether you can actually move or see.
The exhibition started off quite gently with a display of Gallic-themed striped clothes and a selection of stunning dresses from one of Gaultier’s ranges, and moved on to look at the influence of British as well as Parisian culture and the rise of the punk movement. His corsets were looked at in detail as were several of the celebrities, including Madonna, Kylie and Lily Cole, who have worn his clothes.
I liked how Gaultier has played with traditional concepts of femininity and masculinity throughout his career, putting men in skirts and women in men’s tailored suits. His outfits do work really well; it’s hard to tell with mannequins but they seem like they would really flatter whoever was wearing them.
The mannequins rather freaked me out: their faces move and some of them talk! I found them rather creepy to be quite honest.
The exhibition runs until 25 August and if you have even the slightest interest in clothes or fashion then do go.