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First International Retrospective of Jean Paul Gaultier to Premiere in Montreal
Barbès collection, Women’s prêt-à-porter fall/winter 1984-1985. © P. Stable/Jean Paul Gaultier.
MONTREAL.- From June 17 to October 2, 2011, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) will present The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, the first retrospective devoted to the celebrated French couturier who launched his first prêt-à-porter collection in 1976 and founded his own couture house in 1997. Dubbed fashion’s enfant terrible from the time of his first runway shows in the 1970s, Jean Paul Gaultier is indisputably one of the most important fashion designers of recent decades.

Very early, his avantgarde fashions reflected an understanding of a multicultural society’s issues and preoccupations, shaking up – with invariable good humour – established societal and aesthetic codes. Initiated, developed, produced and circulated by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to mark the thirty-fifth anniversary of the designer’s own label, this retrospective has been organized in collaboration with the Maison Jean Paul Gaultier.

“I wanted to create an exhibition on Jean Paul Gaultier more than any other couturier because of his great humanity,” explained Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. “Beyond the technical virtuosity resulting from exceptional expertise in the various skills involved in haute couture, an unbridled imagination and ground-breaking artistic collaborations, he offers an open-minded vision of society, a crazy, sensitive, funny, sassy world in which everyone can assert his or her own identity, a world without discrimination, a unique ‘fusion couture.’ Beneath Jean Paul Gaultier’s wit and irreverence lie a true generosity of spirit and a very powerful message for society. His humanist aesthetic touches me deeply.”

The exhibition will feature approximately 120 ensembles, mainly from the designer’s couture collections, but also from his prêt-à-porter line, along with their accessories. Created between 1976 and 2010, for the most part these pieces have never been exhibited. Sketches, stage costumes, excerpts from films, runway shows, concerts, videos, dance performances, interviews and even television programmes will all provide a look at the couturier’s world. Photography will also be a major focus of attention, thanks to loans of, in many cases, never-before-seen prints from renowned contemporary photographers and artists. The exhibition will be organized along five different thematic sections: “Paris,” “Fusions,” “Multi-Gender,” “Eurotrash/X-Rated” and “Metropolis.”

A substantial portion of the exhibition will also be devoted to the artistic collaborations that have characterized the world of Gaultier, including filmmakers (Peter Greenaway, Luc Besson, Caro and Jeunet, and Pedro Almodóvar) and choreographers (Maurice Béjart, Angelin Preljocaj and Régine Chopinot), not to mention with the world of popular music, in France (Yvette Horner, Les Rita Mitsouko and Mylène Farmer) and on the international scene (Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Lady Gaga).

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