He has dressed some of Australia’s most famous women in some of the fashion world’s most outrageous looks and now the designs of Jean-Paul Gaultier are coming to Melbourne in an elaborate showcase of his work on exhibit at the NGV from October: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.
The exhibit will feature more than 140 of his creations, including never before seen costumes worn by Madonna and Beyonce alongside pieces lent by Kylie Minogue for viewing only by the Melbourne audience.
On the announcement of the exhibition, Makers of Melbourne spoke to curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot.
The exhibition has so far shown in Montreal, Spain and New York, and will be visiting Paris after it comes to Melbourne – what brought his work here to Melbourne?
It’s really the fact that the museum is fantastic and the programming and the team at the NGV is very avant-garde. The space is amazing and it’s nice to share with a country that has the same open vision.
Tell us a little about the scale of the exhibition.
It’s been five years. I started work on the archives in 2009 and the exhibition itself has been travelling since 2011. To bring it together took two years of going through his archives which was very exciting but also terrifying – we had to choose from thousands of pieces and pick only the 140 or so that are on exhibit. But it’s been a unique opportunity: you would see his dresses in magazines and movies and then to see them in front of you… It’s like viewing a Picasso painting in a book and then experiencing it as you would in a gallery space.
Can you pick out any special pieces that speak to you?
There are so many dresses and pieces that Gaultier created that are so fantastic when you look at the craftsmanship – incredible couture pieces that are beaded and embroidered – but there were certain pieces I was dying to exhibit that we have held on to until we came to Melbourne: the dress Nicole Kidman collected her Oscar in for The Hours – the same with Kylie Minogue’s costumes. I knew we were coming to Australia so I kept them as a surprise.
What was Jean Paul like to work with?
In one word? Fantastic. What you see in pictures – that he is always smiling and happy and full of ideas – is really what he is. What you see is what you get: there are no surprises with him. He is a fantastic storyteller with so many incredible tales to tell of the relationships and inspiration behind each of his collaborations
Will there ever be another Gaultier exhibition such as this?
I think it is something that can only be done once because even at first he never wanted to do an exhibition of his work. The form he works with is the human body so he prefers to see his work on real humans rather than mannequins. He believes normally exhibitions in museums are for dead artists, not living designers. Certainly I consider Jean Paul an artist, even if he considers himself an artisan.
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk will be on show at the NGV from October 17, 2014, until February 8, 2015.