Picture Gallery: Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Barbican

Jean Paul Gaultier, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier - Credit: Archant

This April, the Barbican is celebrating the works of fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier in a new exhibition, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. I talked to the show’s curator Leila Hasham about what visitors can expect.

Why has the Barbican decided to celebrate Gaultier’s works now? What is his significance?

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts proposed the exhibition to the Barbican a few years ago.

There hasn’t been a comprehensive exhibition of Gaultier’s work before and it felt timely to showcase this illustrious designer’s 40-year career.

Gaultier is a designer with a true generosity of spirit and a humanist aesthetic, which he combines with an ­unbridled imagination and a prowess for technical ­design. His celebration of ­diversity and his open-minded vision of society where everyone can be proud to be different is crucial for our times.

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Also, as a cross-arts venue, with Gaultier often collaborating across different platforms, we thought it was a perfect match.

With such an array of designs, how did you go about deciding which to include?

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That’s the beauty of Gaultier’s work, his ­designs are so varied but yet he has such a recognisable style at the same time.

During the exhibition tour, Gaultier will often ­replace and add new garments.

For the London presentation we’ve added additional punk garments and new clothing has been added which gives a gentle nod to the Victoria dandy.

We’re also showing Gaultier’s Spitting Image puppet for the first time in a UK gallery and will present newly commissioned portraits by British artist Annie Kevans.

Do you have any favourite designs?

There are too many pieces to choose from and all of them have different appeal in terms of the design or the concept.

If you had to make me choose, I would probably go for the multi-coloured, pleated taffeta corset from The Boudoir section – it’s stunning.

How have you worked with Gaultier on the exhibition?

Jean Paul has visited the Barbican and we’ve discussed how to develop the exhibition here in London.

He is very excited about the exhibition coming to London as the city holds a special place for him.

Gaultier continues to visit London for pleasure and as a source of inspiration but he also used to frequent the clubs in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

He also featured on the cult television programme Eurotrash on Channel 4 from 1993 -1997.

Many will know him for works like the Madonna bra, in the exhibition, but what was the impact of his work with films? How is this celebrated in the accompanying Film World of Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition?

Gaultier has worked with a range of film directors from Luc Besson, Peter Greenaway and most notably the Spanish director, Pedro Almodóvar.

The costumes he makes often heighten the dramatic personas of the characters, while at the same time ­remain true to Gaultier’s own creative vocabulary. In the film programme, Gaultier has selected films that he has made costumes for but also films that have directly influenced or impacted him in some way.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk runs from April 9 until August 25 at Barbican. Visit www.barbican.org.uk

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