“The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier” Heads to Brooklyn

New Yorkers who haven’t seen “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” will finally get their chance when the globetrotting exhibition travels to New York next year. The exhibition, currently on view at the Fundación Mapfre in Madrid, has already been to Montreal, Dallas, and San Francisco, and will go on to the Netherlands and Sweden, before hitting the Brooklyn Museum on October 25, 2013.

The fashion world’s onetime enfant terrible is hardly an enfant anymore. The show hits all the canonic stops in Gaultier’s 37-year career, including 1985’s punk inflected man-skirts, 1993’s controversial Hasid-inspired collection, the conical bras and corsets made for Madonna’s 1990 Blonde Ambition tour, and his latest collection, which will be exhibited for the first time in New York. Conceived as a multimedia spectacle rather than a conventional exhibition, the show features animatronic mannequins, audiovisual projections of celebrities’ faces, and wigs and headdresses designed by Odile Gilbert, coiffeuse extraordinaire and wigmaker for Sophia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette.”

Appropriately, the survey doesn’t only highlight Gaultier’s skill as a designer or his acute understanding of fashion, but his larger, interdisciplinary conversation with culture as a whole. The fruits of Gaultier’s many collaborations with pop stars including Tina Turner, Kylie Minogue, and Madonna are on view, as are his costumes for Pedro Almodovar’s “Kika,” Peter Greenaway’s “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover,” Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “The City of Lost Children,” and Luc Besson’s “The Fifth Element.” Considering Gaultier’s cult status, his commensurate showmanship and talent, and the accelerating popularity of fashion exhibitions, the Brooklyn Museum has a hit in its hands. It remains to be seen if it could rival the critical and popular success of the Met’s record-breaking 2011 Alexander McQueen exhibition, to which it inevitably will be compared.

-Chloe Wyma

Image: Courtesy Dallas Museum of Art