When you enter the JPG exhibition at the de Young Museum in SF, a mannequin of Jean Paul Gaultier speaks to you on his love for sailor stripes in his french accent. Meanwhile you hear mermaids singing off in the distance, and are instantly immersed in his world of quirk and passion. This was the most interactive fashion exhibition that I have ever been to, and I enjoyed the full environment as it captured all of my senses. At points, I almost didn't know where to look next.
While Gaultier's work ranges from costume to prêt-à-porter, every piece is beautifully constructed. Often times art will be conceptual, or visually stunning. Not both. But Gaultier managed to incorporate both meaning and beautiful craftsmanship into each piece.
The gown you see above is one you will currently see pasted on busses across San Francisco. It is his from his Virgins (or Maddonas) collection, "Immaculata" gown, haute couture Spring/ Summer 2007.
"I experimented with various aspects of design. I made my first cone-shaped breasts out of newsprint for my teddy bear Nana. I took a round doily from my grandmother's house and cut it out in a circle in the middle of it to make a skirt for my bear. I did a bias cut that way without knowing what it was!" - Jean Paul Gaultier
As soon as I saw this beaded gown I couldn't help but just stand there and stare in awe. While not as conceptual as some others, I really appreciated the craftsmanship of this dress. Just the will power to finish a dress that takes over 1,000 hours to create is amazing. I once made a beaded necklace that took me 40 hours... and I thought that was a lot! I've been proven wrong.
I would definitely recommend this exhibit. It even has a mechanical runway. And while you're there, don't forget to look at the details. You will discover high heels that at second glance are eiffel towers, tattooed mannequins, and mermaid canes made of shell and latex.