Say Bonjour to Jean Paul Gaultier


The first major exhibition devoted solely to this French designer, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is a cacophony of punky designs, intricate embroidery and, of course, conical bras. First seen at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the JPG circus has rolled into London for the latest stop of its world tour. TOWER London went to the preview, which also featured an interview with the man himself, to find out what all of the fuss was about.

In his own words: He may be from Paris but Jean Paul Gaultier’s heart really belongs to London, which makes this exhibition even more special. “It’s very emotional to be here,” he said as he talked to the curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot. “I always loved to come here and this exhibition is in some ways an homage to London.”


TOWER London’s verdict: If you’re a fan of fashion then you’re certainly not going to be disappointed with this exhibition. From the sailor stripes Gaultier is so famous for to an Amy Winehouse-inspired haute couture collection, all of the designer’s key looks are represented here.


As soon as you walk in you know that this is not a normal exhibition, thanks to the fact that the mannequins are winking at you. On closer inspection you realise it’s a projection but that doesn’t stop you feeling like it’s about to hop off its podium and give you a hug – or a slap: one mannequin can be heard muttering “That face is very problematic.”


The real draw here is, of course, the clothes but it’s the way everything is presented that really sets it apart. From bespoke neon signs to two foot-high real hair Mohicans, everything in this exhibition has been made to inspire. Our favourite section? The conical corsets.


Need to know: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk runs at the Barbican from Wednesday 9th April until Monday 25th August. Tickets cost £14.50 for adults and £7.25 for concessions. Under 12s go in free.

Images courtesy of Emil Larsson, Matthew Lloyd and the Barbican.

Make like Jean Paul Gaultier and invest in a pair of Dr. Martens now: 

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