Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dallas, Part 2: Jean Paul Gaultier

I have a confession to make: I'm not that into fashion. In fact, "not that into" might be an overstatement. I really could not care less. I realize this is a strange admission from someone making and selling fashion accessories, but it's the truth. Part of the appeal of scarves is that they can pull together or spice up an otherwise boring outfit. Since I teach yoga almost every day and am consequently almost always wearing black pants and a black t-shirt, scarves save the day.
So when I saw that the Dallas Museum of Art had an exhibit on Jean Paul Gaultier, I didn't care. "Not my thing," I thought. Fortunately, some friends took me in hand and told me in no uncertain terms that I had to see it, and I'm glad they did!
Of course I couldn't take photos from inside the exhibit, so this is just the entrance. It doesn't begin to show off the extravagant details inside. They really went all out, designing the space and using technology for high impact. As you enter the exhibit, there's an array of mannequins with films of people's faces projected onto the mannequins' faces. It's eerily realistic - it looks like a bunch of very white people standing around very still. Some of the mannequins talk and sing and some of them just occasionally blink or yawn.
In case you're wondering, there wasn't a single scarf in the whole exhibit. Gaultier takes the opposite of the scarves-let-you-get-away-with-boring-clothes approach. Every element of his costumes and outfits are carefully considered and decorated to the max. Not only do you not need a scarf to spice things up, you couldn't possibly add anything to the mix. And, while that's not my thing, it was wonderful to see in a museum exhibit.

As an artist, it's always inspiring to see someone exploring their vision with a limited set of materials in a limited context. Though, of course, Gaultier's materials may be less limited than most fashion designers - there was one dress made of film strips! Still, how cool is that? If film strips were soft, I'd love to make scarves out of them.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk will be in Dallas through Feburary 12th, when it will move on to its second and last American showing at the de Young in San Francisco. If you get the chance, I highly recommend seeing it!

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