• Hero1

    The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at The Barbican

Exhibition

Exhibition: Amazing new Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition proves that he's probably the best guy ever

Posted by Liv Siddall,

Okay so before we begin let’s set the story straight here and lay down the fact that I know very little about fashion. That’s kind of the reason why I was so curious about going along to the Barbican to see the preview of their latest show that everyone is talking about: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.

As a total noob, I’d say that going along to this show unaware of Gaultier’s historic clout was a totally good move. The show is a visual feast for anyone that likes the following: learning, clothes, history, photography, and pop culture. You are led through glowing areas of the Barbican’s cavernous exhibition space into different segments of Gaultier’s career from his boudoir collection (silky, sexy corsets) to his punk era (metre-high mohicans) surrounded at all times by some seriously impressive mannequins with creepy, speaking face projections.

Little cheeky touches have been put in place to reassure you of Jean Paul’s trademark personality: most of the mannequins are holding a cigarette between their thin fingers and there’s a chatter of French voices coming from all angles which gives the impression that you’re in some kind of chic, Parisian, bitchy studio or cafe. In fact, there are so many fun little touches here and there that you kind of forget why you’re there, and that’s to marvel at the sheer level of craftsmanship that’s being displayed.

  • 2

    The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at The Barbican

Jean Paul Gaultier is very, very good at making clothes, sure, but there’s a whole other level to it – he’s literally inspired by EVERYTHING. From Roman Catholic visual knick-knacks, to leopard’s heads, and from Frida Kahlo to the streets of London – his clothes (if you can merely call them “clothes”) are like mood boards that have splurged out of his brain in waves of sequins on to a dressmaking dummy, or Kylie Minogue.

A lot of designers take inspiration from sources and feed them directly into their work – but how many of those designers would devote an enormous amount of their own retrospective to them? That’s what’s great about Gaultier’s show – everywhere you look is a David LaChapelle, a Pierre et Gilles, a portrait of Madonna, of Kylie, or even a series of paintings by a totally different artist (Annie Kevans) studying his muses through the ages. It would be easy to forget that this show is not about one guy, but a whole list of cultural influencers from the past 40 years.

It’s not though. As you go down the stairs towards the exit you catch sight of a little photo in a black frame, in a dark corner. It’s an utterly beautiful, rather modest photograph of the back of Gaultier’s head taken by the legend that was Herb Ritts. Just to serve as a reminder of who’s boss.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is on show at the Barbican from 10 April to 24 August 2014

You can have a look at our curated look at London’s best shows over on This at There.

  • 10

    The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at The Barbican

  • 1

    The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at The Barbican

  • 4

    The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at The Barbican

  • 5

    The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at The Barbican

  • 6

    The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at The Barbican

  • 7

    The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at The Barbican

  • 8

    The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at The Barbican

  • 13

    The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at The Barbican

  • 11

    The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at The Barbican

  • 12

    The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at The Barbican

Ls-300

Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She is also a regular guest and sometime host on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Exhibition View Archive

  1. Olafurlist

    “Riverbed is running.” So tweeted Studio Olafur Eliasson yesterday – a poetic press release if ever I heard one – to announce the opening of the Danish-Icelandic artist’s latest epic installation. Something of a titan in the art world, having already created moon, he’s now built riverbed in the south wing of the Louisiana Musuem of Modern Art in Denmark.

  2. List

    If, while walking down the street, flicking through a magazine or sitting on a bus recently you’ve found yourself looking at a movie poster, you’re probably in some way come into contact with the influence of Hans Hillmann. When the German graphic artist began producing film posters in 1953 at the height of the Modernist era, few realised he’d have such a profound effect on the industry, but his bold, Minimalist-inspired creations set a new standard for .

  3. List

    I’ll be honest and say that usually when I see the words “exquisite corps” in relation to a creative project, I immediately lose interest. So often this collaborative idea – used by the surrealists as a liberating drawing exercise – is used without imagination or flair. But a current exhibition at Walls Gallery in Amsterdam looks like a fantastic exception to my rule.

  4. List

    Dutch illustrator Stefan Glerum is one of the most accomplished image-makers working today. His latest show at London’s Kemistry Gallery is a whirlwind of references; from Art Deco to Bauhaus, Italian Futurism to Russian Constructivism; criss-crossing time and space with enviable style. Called simply Five Years of Work By Stefan Glerum, the exhibition features work with which even casual observers may be familiar, but that doesn’t in any way lessen its impact. In fact it’s exhilarating to go back to, say, the Bayern State Opera posters he made with Mirko Borsche and consider them anew in the wider context of his portfolio. Quite simply see this show if at all possible.

  5. List

    It’s not a flawless guide, but you can often tell how significant the subject of an exhibition is based on who writes the foreword in the show’s catalogue. That Milton Glaser contributed an essay for Ivan Chermayeff: Cut and Paste at The De La Warr Pavilion is a good guide that if you’re interested in graphic design, he’s a name with which you should be familiar.

  6. Main10

    It’s so great to see the Nous Vous lads continuing with their quest to bring a gentle spark of inspiration to the general public. Their latest venture is an exhibition in the enormous old factory-turned-cultural centre, The Tetley in Leeds. A Watery Line will exhibit “drawings, prints, paintings and objects, producing new artwork in on-site open studios and working with a selection of other artists to deliver a programme of performances and workshops.” Ahead of the opening of this exciting, friendly show, we asked Nicolas Burrows to tell us a little more about the planning of the exhibition and what they hope the public gets out of it.

  7. List

    Bold printing, toying with scale, subverting nature and confounding the senses seem to be the defining elements of Richard Woods’ work. The artist and designer made a name for himself mimicking wooden patterns in bright colours on the surface of furniture, but his skills extend beyond simple tables and chairs. In his latest show at Albion Barn he’s been given free reign to customise every inch of his exhibition space; the walls, floors and furnishings of an area in which he’s exhibiting a selection of original prints. It’s a pretty bold move to allow an artist to reinvent the entire gallery, but Richard has undertaken the task with characteristic flair, turning the whole environment into a vibrant, cartoonish set in which his work seems entirely at home.

  8. List

    I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking; “How on earth did that priest train a dolphin to carry him like that?” Or maybe you’re thinking; “Where did the photographer have to stand to capture that image?” Or perhaps, in fact, you’re thinking; “This HAS to be fake.” But all of these lines of inquiry are valid in the world of Joan Fontcuberta, the Spanish artist and photographer who’s latest exhibition has just landed at The Science Museum’s Media Space.

  9. Ws

    It’s not a revelation that festivals of today are not what they used to be. Flower garlands have been replaced with plastic ones that you can buy at Topshop, barely adolescent bands mime where once musicians gave career-changing performances and free loving, all-night dancing sun drenched affairs have morphed into a race to see who can snog a semi-famous TV presenter first. We’re not bitter about it though, especially not when we’ve got photographs like this to remind us of the golden age.

  10. Opinion-list

    This week assistant editor Maisie Skidmore asks what makes a good group show. Are they really all they’re cracked up to be, or are they poised for failure? Tell us what you think of them and which you’ve been to that were especially brilliant or terrible in the comments section below.

  11. Main6

    I love how Ryan McGinley will just burst on to the scene with a bunch of new work every now and again to remind everyone of his utter greatness. As soon as you see the new shots you realise that while you’ve been peddling backwards at a nine-to-five, Ryan’s been photographing kids jumping into phosphorescence-filled bays, streaking wildly through prairies or lying in meadows of fluff given off by procreating trees. Some people call him a one-trick pony, sure, but it’s pretty obvious that they’re just jealous. At the moment, Ryan’s work is on show at the high-rise Galerie Perrotin in Hong Kong where it seems to hover, hundreds of storeys up, looking down over the city, so go check it out if you’re in the area.

  12. List

    There’s a simple, iconic power to the work of Magnus Voll Mathiassen whether he’s immortalising Krautrock legends Kraftwerk or sultry pop princess Rihanna with his trademark crisp lines. His reductive approach to image-making means he’s ideally suited to creating bold work for album covers, but to really appreciate his work it’s best to blow it up MASSSIVE. Which is more or less what he’s done for his new show Hybridio in Oslo, enlarging some of his most iconic work to the size of an actually human man so you can appreciate his skill up close. He’s also showing a selection of hand-drawn work and some incredible watercolours, thereby proving that there’s even more strings to his bow than we’d first thought.

  13. List-2

    With the amount of press attention he’s been getting over the last couple of weeks in the run up to his debut exhibition at London’s Howard Griffin Gallery, you’d think photographer Bob Mazzer would be somewhat overwhelmed. This is not the case. Over the past 45 years he’s been taking photographs of the people he meets on the London Underground, but it wasn’t until Spitalfields Life starting posting them on their blog last year that it all kicked off.