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    Odile Gilbert for Jean Paul Gaultier's "From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk"

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    Way back in October, we shared some photos of the the multimedia traveling exhibition “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” for which Odile Gilbert was tasked with creating a number of custom hairpieces for the show. With the show heading to France, Gaultier's return to Paris is more than just a homecoming, as the presentation will take place at the Grand Palais, just steps away from Palais de la découverte, where he presented his first collection in 1976. The Paris leg of this exhibition's journey will be the most grand, with more pieces, bigger hair and a touch of nostalgic memorabilia, including his childhood friend Nana, and a painted portrait of the designer. 

    “His archives are so rich that it makes it possible to keep surprises for each venue. Paris is very important for us, and for Gaultier, as it is the city that embraced him first and gave him the freedom to be the great designer that he is,” says Loriot. Artists have also been commissioned to create special spaces and video installations to take visitors through Gaultier’s various influences as a child and the different “arrondissements” of Paris. Most interestingly, Moment Factory has created an immersive installation in which each visitor can become a Gaultier model. (via Blouin Art Info)

    Sneak a peek at the show on the right, read an exclusive interview with Style.com below, and click here to see images from previous installations! 

    How does it feel to be headlining your exhibition at home?

    For me, retrospectives were always for dead people. But the curators [Nathalie Bondil of the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts and Thierry-Maxime Loriot] convinced me otherwise. I think of this [event] as more of a collection: I wanted it to be life and show life as I like it. I wanted it to be like a party—the perfect occasion to do a kind of perfect show. This time it’s very personal because it’s in Paris. Coincidentally, it happens that I staged my first show in the planetarium at the Palais de la Découverte [located in an adjacent part of the Grand Palais complex], nearly 40 years ago, in October 1976.

    The show is the thing for you, isn’t it?

    I’ve wanted to do shows ever since I saw the 1945 Jacques Becker film Falbalaswhen I was about 12 years old. The défilé, the catwalk scene, was a huge part of wanting to become a designer. This [exhibition] is a new adventure, a collection of themes that are dear to me. It’s everything I believe in.

    Is it fashion as art?

    Fashion is not an art—it represents a bit of what’s happening, it’s a figuration of what is happening out there in society at large.

    What is different about the Paris show?

    Paris can’t be the same [as everywhere else], but the foundation is the same. We added parts of my childhood—pictures and the first muses with outfits from the first three of four collections—in the first room. It’s the only part of the show that’s chronological. Also, elements from backstage, especially from the amfAR gala in L.A. in 1992. There’s more about my muses, the men and women who inspired me, morally, visually, who formed my opinion on fashion. And there’s a bigger mix of models, both famous and forgotten. It’s the realization of a childhood dream that led to working with people like Luc Besson, Peter Greenaway, and [Pedro] Almodóvar.

    What, in your opinion, is the takeaway?

    There is beauty in differences. Thanks in part to the media, we spend so much time trying to hide our so-called flaws. Tics and differences should be brought out. There is no one beauty, there are lots, you only need to see it. There’s no reason to have to retrain your gaze. It’s the multiple beauties that interest me. Likewise, life is full of art. You have to see art where it’s not obvious, sometimes. There are people who are works of art themselves. Art is everywhere.

    Do you feel nostalgic?

    No. But to be honest, I really asked myself how I was going to show the clothes here. There are a dozen pieces from the first three or four collections. There’s androgyny, piercing, tattoos, various ethnicities. And in the end, it all stood the test of time. This is like a new fashion collection—I love it.

    Lots has changed for you since this show started in September 2011…

    Times are changing. Today, the fashion that I loved has changed. At one point I was designing 18 collections a year; last year, I put on my last ready-to-wear show. In between, I had the extreme good fortune of being free and creating my own limits. Now the groups are bigger and I am too old to go through filter after filter [of marketing]. Couture is a lab to explore new adventures. I will be doing a Klimt-inspired show for the Life Ball AIDS charity event in Vienna next summer. And perhaps a capsule collection from time to time.

    Now that you have stepped back, where do you see fashion headed?

    There are always things to pick up from street styles. All creation is the reflection of a social desire. I think that what Rick Owens did with his men’s show is really very interesting. Right now we’re seeing much more of the bourgeois fashion that we tried to beat in the ’80s. Society is quite divided. But when you have such a conservative side, it ultimately lets creativity explode. Given everything that’s going on now, fashion is going to bring out something because it’s a mirror of society. Get ready for a new punk movement!

    Yves Saint Laurent said he regretted not inventing jeans. What about you?

    I regret not having invented rubber.

    What comes next?

    For the show, Munich is the next stop. For me, I wouldn’t mind doing a revue like the Folies Bergère!

    Photos (Style.com, WWD) Video (Brooklyn Museum)

    Odile Gilbert is part of Exposure NY's styling division. Exposure NY is photography agency / stylist agency in New York City. 


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