Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Jean Paul Gaultier's Couture Cabaret in Paris

A diaphanous gown showing Jean Paul Gaultier's masterful draping at his latest haute couture show in Paris. Cover picture and main image by Elli Ioannou for DAM

Jean Paul Gaultier's cabaret show has opened in London with the theatrical aesthetic that enlivens all of his fashion collections. We take a look at the highlights of his Autumn/Winter 2019/20 haute couture show in Paris, presented earlier this month. The new collection was full of playful optical illusions and had a stellar front row including French cinema icon Catherine Deneuve and fashion designer Alber Elbaz. Story by Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Photography by Elli Ioannou

Dramatic, feathery hats that look
like fur and tromp l'oeil
patterns inspired
Victor Vasarely
JEAN Paul Gaultier's revue, Fashion Freak Show, opened in London at Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall, after a long and successful run in Paris at the Folies Bergère, which began in October last year.

The theatrical aspect to his work is one of the keys to Gaultier's continuing success after 40 years at the forefront of French fashion and as the last couturier of his generation to be the creative director at a house that still bears his name.

This season's haute couture collection, shown in Paris at his headquarters in the Marais, was full of as much drama and glamour as his cabaret, with Catherine Deneuve, Alber Elbaz, Walter Van Beirendonck and Christine Aguilera in the frow.

Wilting in the heat of a hot summer Parisian afternoon, guests at the show ~ some dressed in ball gowns ~ were greeted with Champagne, ice-cream and elegant black fans, before stepping on to the runway for photographs.

As the show opened, the first outfits appearing on the catwalk to the sound of Eighties and Nineties techno music, there were uproarious shouts and clapping. This all added to the sense of theatre at a Gaultier show that is quite different to the whispering quiet of other couture presentations.

Gaultier is the last French couturier of his generation to front a fashion house that still bears his name in Paris

Animal motifs on a
flowing ball gown
Gaultier has said he will not use new fur in his collections. This led to him to use optical effects, new fabrics and trompe l'oeil instead this season, creating the illusion of fur in a playful way.

The Autumn/Winter 2019-2020 collection includes prints and fabrics that all have images that look like fur but are actually abstract patterns. The black and white gown (see at right) is made of a specially printed textile that has a swirling design featuring vertical panels with an animal motif and a feathered waist. 

Gaultier's introduced colourful jumpsuits that were body-hugging, with feathered sleeves and jackets, cape dresses and coats in faux fur. A black tuxedo suit was beautifully cut with multiple fans of fine pleats deftly rising above the shoulders and fanned out around the waist.

The designer said he built the collection around the notion of hoodies, from a brilliant lime-green quilted satin parka to the bride's conical pleated gown. Backstage Gaultier described how optical effects, the hoodie and quilting were key themes: "This time, I did fur coat pieces, which were not real fur," he said. "I went with the spirit of optical illusions, prints that resemble different types of fur. I did coats but they were a bit like Michelin men, they had fox-like effects but it wasn’t a fox-fur coat. "

Gaultier is not including new fur in his collections and this season he used optical effects and trompe l'oeil instead

Fine purple pleats form
transparent layers
for this fairytale
creation
The collection included transparent, pleated veils over pointed, cone-shaped hats, (see at left) enveloping overcoats, long jackets with high collars and lapels rising up behind the head and brightly-hued chiffon and satin gowns with voluminous sleeves.
There were even quilted boots that matched the colour of the clothes.

"I did hooded, cape-coat pieces, which are a bit like tents, sometimes with transparent parts, and even an evening gown," said Gaultier at the Paris show. "There are even hat pieces that could make you think about fairies for a moment."

The designer likes to create dreamscapes in his fashion shows, where the models could be characters from a high-brow novel or a popular comic. Gaultier remains convinced fashion plays an important role in our lives: “It’s about a need for visual recognition, staking a claim."

In his jovial, talkative way, Gaultier wants to upend clichés and conventions and then reinvent them, through the medium of his clothes. Two designs are highlights of his innovative work as a couturier: the reinvented corset and the man skirt.

He describes how when he was looking through the clothes of his grandmother he found confining corsets and waist-cinchers which he then redesigned to be a symbol of female power rather than imprisonment. As early as the Return of Prints collection (Women’s RTW Spring/Summer 1984), Gaultier was mixing the African and the European, draping models in tunics or caftan miniskirts and Moroccan hats.

The designer likes to create dreamscapes in his fashion shows, where the models could be characters from a high-brow novel or a popular comic

Hoodies were inspiration
for the new collection
The lofty ceilings and black runway of this season's show at Gaultier's HQ, allows the collection's drama and fantasy to stand out in the stark setting, even the more subtly coloured outfits. Apart from the bright dashes of colour, there was a tonal palette of white, cream and brown that added a contrasting note of earthy hues that worked with the use of animal motifs.

There were also Victor Vasarely look prints (see at right), inspired by the Hungarian-French artist, who was the leader of the Op art movement. The graphic rows of dots and gradations of colour gave a 3D quality to some of the designer's creations.

The collection's combinations of plaid, print, vivid colours, feathers and animal prints ~ mixed with catsuits and chainmail headpieces ~ could have been a raucous cacophony. But Gaultier manages to make each eccentric piece part of his orchestra of ideas, individual instruments playing his signature exuberant tune.

The premiere of the designer's Fashion Freak Show revue in London, gives the public a taste of his provocative Paris couture along with the story of his life. Gaultier's cabaret combines aspects of a revue, circus, catwalk show and party. The show comes to London direct from its extended run in Paris where it was well-reviewed and very popular with audiences in the French capital.

Gaultier makes each eccentric piece part of his orchestra of ideas, individual instruments yet all playing his signature exuberant tune

Body hugging jumpsuit
with feathered sleeves and
chainmail headpiece
Fashion Freak Show features more than 200 original catwalk creations by Gaultier, showing his life through his most well-known designs, from extravagant gowns to the man skirt and the conical bustier.

The revue also explores his childhood and early career looking at his greatest fashion shows to wild nights in Paris and London plus sharing his journal from those times.

Gaultier also pays tribute to those famous muses who have inspired him, such as film directors Pedro Almodovar and Luc Besson, singers Madonna and Kylie Minogue and dancers Régine Chopinot and Angelin Prejlocaj.

Like Gaultier's couture show in Paris, the music is key for the cabaret show and moves from disco to funk, pop to rock and new wave to punk. The playlist of hits are the backdrop to Gaultier's life.

Apart from the outfits from past collections, he has also designed many new creations especially for the show that are presented against a vivid and evocative set. Gaultier collaborated with actress, scriptwriter and director Tonie Marshall to co-direct the show and worked with Marion Motin on the choreography.

The designer creates a sense of theatre at all of his fashion shows, but this revue brings all of his talents together and is a celebration and summation of his work so far. It will be interesting to see what Gaultier comes up with for his big anniversary year in fashion that he will celebrate at next January's couture shows.

Tap on photographs for highlights of the AW1920 haute couture show in Paris
The theatrical aspect to his work is one of the keys to Gaultier's continuing success after 40 years at the forefront of French fashion.

Jean Paul Gaultier is the last couturier of his generation to be the creative director at a house that still bears his name.

Prints were inspired by the Hungarian-French artist, Victor Vasarely, who was the leader of the Op art movement. The graphic rows of dots and gradations of colour gave a 3D quality to some of the designer's creations.


This season's haute couture collection, shown in Paris at his headquarters in the Marais, was full of as much drama and glamour as his cabaret.

Gaultier has said he will not use new fur in his collections. This led to him to use optical effects as the inspiration for this season, creating the illusion of animal motifs in a playful way.
The designer said he built the collection around the notion of hoodies and caps in different shapes and forms. 

Gaultier recreates animal patterns and fur by using innovative fabric designs and optical illusions.
As the show opened, the first outfits appearing on the catwalk to the sound of Eighties and Nineties techno music, there were uproarious shouts and clapping.
Gaultier wants to upend clichés and conventions and then reinvent them, through the medium of his clothes.
The collection included transparent, pleated veils over pointed, cone-shaped hats, enveloping overcoats, long jackets with high collars and lapels rising up behind the head, brightly-hued chiffon and satin gowns with voluminous sleeves.

The sense of theatre at a Gaultier show is quite different to the whispering quiet of other couture presentations. 

 The designer likes to create dreamscapes in his fashion shows, where the models could be characters from a high-brow novel or a popular comic.
Gaultier remains convinced fashion plays an important role in our lives:“It’s about a need for visual recognition, staking a claim."
Apart from the bright dashes of colour, there was a tonal palette of white, cream and brown, adding contrasting earthy tones.
The lofty ceilings and black runway of this season's show at Gaultier's HQ, allowed the collection's drama and fantasy to stand out in the stark setting, including this leopard print gown wrapped in a bodice of belts.
The collection's combinations of plaid, print, vivid colours, feathers and animal prints ~ mixed with catsuits and chainmail headpieces ~ could have been a raucous cacophony.
 But Gaultier manages to make each eccentric piece part of his orchestra of ideas, individual instruments playing his signature exuberant tune.

The diaphanous bridal gown finished the show and was like a fluid, creamy tent, flowing from a conical hat.