Jean-Paul Gaultier's magical maelstrom hits Montreal

From his old teddy bear decked out in a paper bosom to Madonna's corsets and a parrot feather bolero, French couturier Jean Paul Gaultier reveals an enchanting universe at Montreal's Fine Arts Museum exhibition which opened Friday.

The 59-year-old, who views haute couture as an art form, welcomes guests to a preview from the top of a grand staircase, sporting a simple knit sea sweater and surrounded by a handful of young women in splendid clothes and hairdos.

It is actually a dummy, its eyes and lips moving as it delights visitors with an anecdote from Gaultier's life. Gaultier's face is projected on the model using a technique developed by Quebec theater director Denis Marleau.

The illusion is striking. Hidden speakers allow Gaultier and several other models in the exhibition to tell their stories, thus the exhibit itself is communicating with the spectator.

Marleau had used the technology in mounting Maurice Maeterlinck's play "The Blind" before deciding to use it here, the real Gaultier told reporters at the preview including AFP.

It is also a nod to Jacques Becker's 1945 melodrama "Paris Frills" ("Falbalas") in which one of the characters sees his lost love in a mannequin.

The idea for "The Fashion World of Jean-Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk" was conceived by the museum's director Nathalie Bondil. For her, haute couture is an art form entirely set apart from others and deserving of a place in museums.

Gaultier, she said, is "beyond fashion". His work carries "a humanist message, of liberty and tolerance for minorities."

"I've always tried to show that there is no single beauty," the artist added.

Are Jean-Paul Gaultier's corsets and other cage-dresses for women really symbols of freedom? "Yes," insisted Bondil. "These are ithyphallic corsets."

In other words, they showcase women's breasts, affirming the power of women.

American singer Madonna, who lent the museum a gown decorated with selvage shaped into breast cones, agrees. In an exhibit inscription, she wrote: "I think that inversion of the concept of the corset is what turns it into a symbol of feminine power and sexual freedom."

Smiling, Gaultier was clearly delighting in his "new adventure". Pressed by Canadian journalists why he chose Montreal over Paris for the exhibit, he spoke first about his fondness for the Quebec museum's staff, and then the "administrative complexities" of the French capital.

Does he believe himself to be "king of France," since among his peers, Karl Lagerfeld is German, John Galliano is British and Yves Saint-Laurent has passed away?

"Oh no!" he exclaimed. "You know what they do to kings in France? They cut off their heads."

The public has until the beginning of October to revel in the former suburbanite's rich creativity. Thereafter, the 140-piece exhibit will travel to Dallas, San Francisco, Madrid and Rotterdam.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links