Issue 52
Be His
Fashion’s beloved enfant terrible has
another surprise for his fans with his graphic
invitations and ad campaigns that will be open to the public for the first time.
For years, Jean Paul Gaultier has been synonymous with provocative and powerful images in the fashion industry. Besides his former role as the creative director for the revered Parisian fashion house Hermès, Jean Paul Gaultier has created his own empire with his namesake brand as well. Despite his dazzling success and ultimate insider status however, Gaultier certainly has a sense of humor that exudes the ‘never take oneself too seriously’ mantra. His profound yet personable approach to his artistic vision has charmed at both ends of industry critics as well as the general public; earning his reputation as both experimental and accessible while engaging viewers in a dynamic conversation that fashion’s enfant terrible has sparked.

This time, Jean Paul Gaultier created an experience for viewers to observe the private invitations to his fashion shows and ad campaigns from his earlier career for the first time to the public. Ongoing at the Fashion Space Gallery, “Jean Paul Gaultier: Be My Guest” serves as a refreshing place to examine Gaultier’s work from a different angle. As it is always exciting to get invited to fashion shows, this exhibition recreates that thrilling moments by revealing the exclusive invitations that once whetted the appetite of those of the top fashion editors, elites and culturati.

With “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” on view right now in London, the whole town seems to abuzz with Jean Paul Gaultier. And “Jean Paul Gaultier: Be My Guest” is the perfect starting point to survey the couturier’s bodies of works. Displayed invitations are selected from seminal collections such as Dada that introduced iconic corset bra and jumpsuits. As Alison Moloney, Curator of the International Exhibitions Programme at LCF explains, the exhibition traces the history and evolution of fashion’s enfant terrible. “Androgyny, hyper-sexualisation of both the male and female form, cultural diversity and the cultural impact of migration. These are key themes and influences in Gaultier's work and his humor is evident in the stylised imagery.”

Never been revealed to the public, the exhibition runs the gamut from stark graphic collages of literature, Gaultier’s signature denim cut-offs, to the fairy tale-like imageries. Along with the invitations are the ad campaigns that embody the provocative mastermind that transcends fashion and engages the viewers in a conversation deeply relevant to the society we are living in. Gaultier’s wit and daring style looms large throughout the exhibit as he mixes up both high and low culture, religion, politics and social issues, making viewers believe that they are no longer looking at fashion exhibits. Gaultier’s passion for creativity and relentless interest in society know no boundary, inspire and encourage any creative minds regardless of their medium, that there is truth in what they strive to do and to become.

A collaboration between London College of Fashion, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Maison JPG, “Jean Paul Gaultier: Be My Guest” is on view at the Fashion Space Gallery from now till May 31st.
Words by Sunny Park