'From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk': Montreal exhibit about Jean Paul Gaultier debuts in Paris

By Sarah Kelsey

Jean Paul Gaultier has amassed an incredible celebrity following, with Cameron Diaz,Jessica Simpson, Kate Hudson, Sofia Vergara and Julianne Moore among his devotees. Now, the creative genius behind so many incredible red-carpet wins is being celebrated in a dedicated Parisian exhibit – one that was conceived of and debuted in Montreal!

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk initially showed at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Quebec curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot, debuting to rave reviews in 2011. It was so successful that the show went on to exhibit at several high-profile art galleries in Brooklyn, Dallas, San Francisco, Madrid, Rotterdam, Stockholm, London and Melbourne. It will be on display at the famed Grand Palais until August 3.

From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk explores the 62-year-old’s love of fashion as well as his eclectic style and the way his upbringing in rural France inspired his designs. He once said, “I have loved corsets since I was small. When I was a child, my grandmother took me to an exhibition, and they had a corset on display. I loved the flesh colour, the salmon satin, the lace.”

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There are also workshops that detail the techniques Jean-Paul would have used to craft some of his most interesting items (like feather-fitting and embroidery), as well as short films about his work.

In total, the exhibition displays 182 looks that the designer has crafted since 1976. On top of the haute couture ensembles under his own label, he’s developed several perfumes and was once creative director of Hermès.

He’s also designed the wardrobes for many motion pictures, including The Fifth Element and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover.

It’s a grand and lovely celebration of a man who explained his work as such: “The shock of the way I mix patterns and fabrics can be disconcerting, but what I am trying to do is provoke new ideas about how pieces can be put together in different ways. I think this is a more modern way to wear clothes that in themselves are fairly classic.”

Sarah Kelsey is a gal in the know who regularly appears on television and writes for a variety of outlets. Check out her work at sarahkelsey.ca, on Twitter @sarahkelsey, Instagram @sakelsey and Pinterest @sakelsey.

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