The Montreal Museum Of Fine Art

"The Fashion World Of Jean Paul Gaultier"
June 2 - October 2, 2011
Montreal, Canada


The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts develops and produces the first international exhibition devoted to the celebrated couturier.

Montreal, April 21, 2011
From June 17 to October 2, 2011, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) will present The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, the first exhibition devoted to the celebrated French couturier who launched his first prêt‐à‐porter collection in 1976 and founded his own couture house in 1997. Dubbed fashion’s enfant terrible by the press from the time of his first runway shows in the 1970s, Jean Paul Gaultier is indisputably one of the most important fashion designers of recent decades. Very early, his avant‐garde fashions reflected an understanding of a multicultural society’s issues and preoccupations, shaking up – with invariable good humour – established societal and aesthetic codes. Initiated, developed, produced and circulated by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to mark the thirty‐fifth anniversary of the designer’s own label, this exploration of Jean Paul Gaultier’s creative world has been organized in collaboration with the Maison Jean Paul Gaultier. Following its presentation in Montreal, the exhibition will travel to the Dallas Museum of Art (November 9, 2011–February 12, 2012) and then to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, de Young (March 24–August 19, 2012).

“I wanted to create an exhibition on Jean Paul Gaultier more than any other couturier because of his great humanity,” explained Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. “Beyond the technical virtuosity resulting from exceptional expertise in the various skills involved in haute couture, an unbridled imagination and ground‐breaking artistic collaborations, he offers an open‐minded vision of society, a crazy, sensitive, funny, sassy world in which everyone can assert his or her own identity, a world without discrimination, a unique ‘fusion couture.’ Beneath Jean Paul Gaultier’s wit and irreverence lie a true generosity of spirit and a very powerful message for society. His humanist aesthetic touches me deeply.”

The exhibition – which the couturier considers to be not only a retrospective but a creation in its own right – will feature approximately 130 ensembles, mainly from the designer’s couture collections, but also from his prêt‐à‐porter line, along with their accessories. Created between the early 1970s and 2010, these pieces have, for the most part, never before been exhibited. Many other exhibits are also being presented for the first time. Sketches, stage costumes, excerpts from films, runway shows, concerts, videos, dance performances and even television programmes will illustrate the artistic collaborations that have characterized Gaultier’s world: in film (Pedro Almodóvar, Peter Greenaway, Luc Besson, Marc Caro and Jean‐Pierre Jeunet) and contemporary dance (Angelin Preljocaj, Régine Chopinot and Maurice Béjart), not to mention the world of popular music, in France (Yvette Horner and Mylène Farmer…) and on the international scene (Madonna – who has graciously lent two corsets from her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour – and Kylie Minogue…). Fashion photography will also be a major focus of attention, thanks to loans of, in many cases, never‐before‐seen prints from renowned photographers and contemporary artists (Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Erwin Wurm, David LaChapelle, Richard Avedon, Mario Testino, Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott, Pierre et Gilles, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, Paolo Roversi and Robert Doisneau…).

Keenly interested in all the world’s cultures and countercultures, Gaultier has picked up on the current trends and proclaimed the right to be different, and in the process conceived a new kind of fashion in both the way it is made and worn. Through twists, transformations, transgressions and reinterpretations, he not only erases the boundaries between cultures but also the sexes, creating a new androgyny or playing with subverting hypersexualized fashion codes.
Under the leadership of Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibition Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is curated by the MMFA’s Thierry‐Maxime Loriot.
A celebration of Gaultier’s daring inventiveness and humanist vision, this exhibition pays tribute to his cutting‐edge fashion and explores the audaciously eclectic sources of his ideas. This multimedia installation will be organized along six different thematic sections tracing the influences – from the streets of Paris to the world of science fiction – that have marked the couturier’s creative development: The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier; The Boudoir; Skin Deep; Punk Cancan; Urban Jungle; and Metropolis.

The innovative, sophisticated exhibition design by the architectural and stage design company Projectiles, Paris, will showcase the couturier’s designs, as well as prints and video clips that illustrate Gaultier’s many fruitful artistic collaborations. Thirty mannequins with animated faces provided by ingenious audiovisual projections will be placed throughout the galleries, surprising visitors with their lifelike presence. They will wear remarkable wigs and headdresses by Odile Gilbert, founder of the Atelier 68 in Paris. The design and staging of this poetic and playful audiovisual creation has been entrusted to Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin of UBU/Compagnie de création. Several celebrities, including Jean Paul Gaultier, models Ève Salvail and Francisco Randez, singer and filmmaker Melissa Auf der Maur, soprano Suzie LeBlanc, and TV host Virginie Coossa, have agreed to lend their faces – and sometimes even their voices – to this unique and technically complex project, which is being presented in a museum for the first time.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will publish a major monograph on the occasion of this exhibition in collaboration with Abrams for the English edition and Éditions de La Martinière for the French edition. Produced under the general editorship of Thierry‐Maxime Loriot, this magnificent large‐format boxed art book (424 pages and over 550 illustrations) will include over fifty interviews with Gaultier’s muses and colleagues, as well as the artists he has created costumes for: Pedro Almodóvar, Catherine Deneuve, Madonna, Helen Mirren, Martin Margiela, Pierre Cardin, Dita Von Teese, Marion Cotillard, Kylie Minogue, Polly Mellen and Tom Ford, to name just a few. It will feature many previously unpublished illustrations thanks to the collaboration of renowned fashion photographers and the Maison Jean Paul Gaultier.

An essay written by Suzy Menkes, journalist and fashion editor at The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune, will look at Jean Paul Gaultier’s fashion shows and examine their visionary reflection of society’s evolution over the past thirty‐five years. The work will include two exclusive interviews with the designer himself, in addition to an interview with Valerie Steele, fashion historian and director of New York’s Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), as well as a timeline of Gaultier’s career and a complete bibliography. The book’s graphic design has been entrusted to the Montreal agency Paprika, which has been awarded many prestigious international awards. This volume will be sold exclusively at the Museum Boutique and Bookstore starting in mid‐June before being distributed internationally in September 2011.

Montreal Museum of FIne Arts

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Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion
1380 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal (Quebec), Canada
H3G 1J5