While I've always had a huge appreciation for art and design, I was completely taken aback by the cultural and provocative depth of the concepts behind many (if not all) of Gaultier's designs.
His aesthetic philosophy comments on everything from gender to society to sex and sexuality, all while using signature design elements such as renaissance art, floral embellishments, cage-like structures, folded fabrics and pieces taken from the worlds of bondage and couture.
Some of Gaultier's inspirations ranged from the military; with sailor-themed stripes, berets and gold buttons such as these pictured. When we entered the first room dedicated to this exhibition at the NGV we were taken aback by the fact that projectors streamed images onto the mannequins faces, so they blinked, smiled and sometimes spoke.
This first blue-lit room followed classic design lines with a Gaultier twist: beaded gowns, ocean-themed imagery, mermaid skirts, trailing stripes, military-esque men (who just happened to be wearing sequinned flares) and a small army of Madonna's toward the end of the room, clad in tightly embroidered, beaded and appliqued renaissance artwork and religious iconography
|This gown was made for singer Kylie Minogue|
This gown with it's stunningly appliqued bodice of the virgin mary, sin and baby Jesus was one of my favourites.
We then crossed into the next room, a darker black-walled room filled with corsets, cone bras and lingerie. It had been decorated in the manner of a french Boudoir with quilted pink walls framing each mannequin and their outfit. Right before you moved into the room you were greeted with this message from Gaultier himself:
The cone bra, folded fabric and caged silhouette are iconic Gaultier designs. He made his first-ever cone bra as a child from folded newspaper and fit it to his Teddy Bear. These designs were made infamous by Madonna as part of her Blonde Ambition world tour.
This corset had pieces of dried wheat placed along the edges.
This dress and parasol set was embroidered with tiny, tiny roses.
This was another favourite.
And featured in a photoset by David LaChapelle.
In the seventies Gaultier took inspiration from Vivienne Westwood, the Godmother of Punk for his 'punk cancan' creations. This inspired collection features everything from mens kilts to tartan sari's and headpieces reminiscent of Roman soldiers.
Post Punk Cancan we moved into another room reminiscent of a budoir, but this time darker, there was more skin, more red and more black and bondage-themed twists to each outfit. The pieces were bold and the body was on display.
After that it was all about the frocks. The epic, epic frocks and the man hours each took in creation:
Many of Gaultier's dresses were cited at over 150 hours in creation - from sketch to finished product. But some surpassed this, one dress took over 1600 hours in beading.
The colours in this dress were mostly beaded, each strip marking a painstaking effort. After this we entered a white room full of dresses worn by famous actresses at awards shows or during music tours. There were gender-bending and non-conformist pieces too such as this mens frock coat based on the traditional tuxedo:
It was a stunning exhibition, and it ends next Sunday. I would urge you, if you're in the greater Melbourne area, to get down to the NGV and see it. However if you're unable I will be posting a video of my experience at the exhibition soon!