August 23 2014

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Friends, Fans, And Muses Gather To Toast Gaultier In Montreal


The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts celebrated the opening of Jean Paul Gaultier’s new retrospective installation last night with an evening of all things French, Canadian, and French-Canadian. Guests sipped traditional Canadian ice cider through bendy straws and moseyed through the exhibition, transfixed in equal parts by the clothing and, in true Gaultier fashion, the presentation. “I didn’t want to do an exhibit because that is for funerals,” the man of the hour confided, at first worried that an exhibit of his work would signify a finale or a valediction to his career. But upon being enchanted by museum director Nathalie Bondil and curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot (top, with JPG), Gaultier decided he could “have an adventure with them.”

Gaultier’s entire career has been an adventure of sorts, and it hasn’t been one he’s undertaken alone. Some of the muses who have shared his journey showed up to celebrate him. Farida Khelfa, his longtime friend, slipped quietly into the museum, while others made a somewhat showier entrance. French screen siren Arielle Dombasle (above) captivated the red carpet in a stunning vintage Gaultier cream gown with black lace overlay, while some of his famous punk models, like Eve Salvail, looked on alongside Francisco Randez, the longtime face of his fragrance Le Male.

The exhibit itself is no less animated. The clothes are shown on mannequins projected with digitally moving “faces,” creating an eerily lifelike display. Nine sirens clad in the 2007 Virgins couture collection and singing medieval hymns greet museumgoers. Inside, the exhibit is divided not chronologically but by Gaultier’s various “obsessions”: fetishwear, punk, urban jungle, sci-fi, boudoir, and nautical. Standout pieces include a sailor-striped silk knit gown finished with ostrich feathers from the Romantic India collection, worn by Princess Caroline of Monaco in 2000 for the Rose Ball; a few of Madonna’s infamous and iconic cone bras from her Blond Ambition world tour; and a selection of JPG’s other artistic collaborations, such as the pieces he designed for filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar.

One question hovered in the air: Why Montreal for the French designer’s retrospective? “I feel at home in Montreal,” Gaultier explained, citing its lack of Parisian snobbishness, and the warm reception his work received early on from Montreal’s magazines. And the city offered a warm reception to the designer again last night. He’s come a long way, but he hasn’t lost his puckish humor. “I am no longer l’enfant terrible,” Gaultier laughed, citing an old tag. “I am the old and terrible!”

Photo: Jerry Pigeon (Studio JPG)