The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier
From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

Feb. 10, 2013 – May 12, 2013 This exhibition has ended
Immaculée No.3
Virgins collection, Haute couture spring/sumer 2007, photo Miles Aldridge
The Kunsthal Rotterdam proudly presents the exhibition ‘The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk'. Gaultier has shaped the look of fashion over the last 35 years with his avant-garde fashion creations and cutting-edge designs. The first international exhibition of this celebrated and famed French couturier's work provides a spectacular overview of his extensive oeuvre.

Initiated and produced by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in collaboration with the Maison Jean Paul Gaultier in Paris and the Kunsthal Rotterdam, the exhibition brings to life the world of Gaultier and gives a unique opportunity to visitors to have access to haute couture, stage and movie costumes.

Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts started the project with the ambition of creating an exhibition about Jean Paul Gaultier because of his great humanity, his open minded vision of society where everyone can be proud and distinctive because of his/her own identity, as much as for his technical virtuosity.

StreetCulture, Craftsmanship and Haute Couture

Since his first ready-to-wear collection was presented in 1976, Jean Paul Gaultier has become an integral part of the fashion and pop culture scene and an international icon. Provocative and bold, he has been designing the quirky and the offbeat almost forty years and through this work questions established conventions. Gaultier takes inspiration for his collections from world cultures, from Africa and India to Russia and Greece. He effortlessly combines Hussar and Mongol influences with those of the Hasidic Jews, the Chinese and even the Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo. By twisting, transforming, transgressing and reinterpreting existing codes, Gaultier erases not only the boundaries between cultures but also between the sexes, creating androgynous shapes and playing with hyper-sexualized conventions in the fashion industry.With his flawless awareness of the zeitgeist, he taps into existing cultures and subcultures such as the world of sailors, punks, glam rock and graffiti.

04 Jean Paul Gaultier, Korset gedragen door Madonna, foto Emil Larsson.jpg
Body corset worn by Madonna, photo Emil Larsson, 2008

From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

‘TheFashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier' is more of a contemporary installation than a retrospective. Over a hundred and forty original creations from the early 1970s to the present day, and from both his haute couture collections and his ready-to-wear lines, can be seen at the Kunsthal. Most of these pieces are being exhibited for the first time in the Netherlands, with exceptional loansfrom Madonna and Pedro Almodovar to name a few. Fashion show recordings,television programmes, films, videos, sketches and photographs by leading photographers complete the world of Gaultier. In this multimedia exhibition, thirty unique mannequins wearing remarkable wigs and headdresses by Odile Gilbert, founder of the Atelier 68 in Paris, come ‘alive' with interactive faces created by technologically ingenious audiovisual projections, surprising visitors with their life­like presence. Poetic and playful, the production, designand staging of this dynamic audiovisual element has been produced by Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin of UBU/Compagnie de création from Montreal, Canada. A dozen celebrities, including Gaultier himself, have lent their faces-projected on to the mannequins - and often their voices to this project. Jolicoeur International from Canada have designed all the mannequins and the scenography was created by Projectiles from Paris.

03 L'Homme-objet [Boy Toy] collection Men's pret-a-porter springsummer 1984 foto Patrice Stable Jean Paul Gaultier - LR.jpg
L'Homme-objet [Boy Toy] collection Men's pret-a-porter spring/summer 1984, photo Patrice Stable

The exhibition's curator, Thierry-Maxime Loriot, has succeeded in designing a Gaultier-esque creation in the form of an exuberant theatrical exhibition."With this unique access to the world of Jean Paul Gaultier and hautecouture, visitors will discover a real artist. He initiates trends rather than following them, which explains why he is still relevant after 35years. This exhibit is not simply a reminiscent of the past but rather a link to the present as seen through the eyes of Jean Paul Gaultier", mentioned Thierry-Maxime Loriot.

Artistic Collaboration

Jean Paul Gaultier's unique creativity leads him to collaborate with other artistic disciplines. He has worked with film directors such as Pedro Almodovar, Peter Greenaway and Luc Besson, and in modern dance and music with Kylie Minogue,Tina Turner, Lady Gaga and Madonna. The exhibition includes designs for costumes worn in films such as ‘The Fifth Element' and ‘Kika' (Pedro Almodovar), and fashion worn by celebrities such as Catherine Deneuve, Bjork, Grace Jones and Carla Bruni.  Ample space has been dedicated to fashion photography including work by contemporary photographers and well-known artists like Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, David LaChapelle, Richard Avedon, Robert Doisneau, Mario Testino, Peter Lindbergh andPierre et Gilles. Work by well-known Dutch photographers such as Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Anton Corbijn and Marc de Groot has also been requested for loan especially for the exhibition in Rotterdam.

The Exhibition 'The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: from the Sidewalk to the Catwalk' is organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in collaboration with Maison Jean Paul Gaultier.


Published by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, under the direction of Thierry-Maxime Loriot, the first ever monograph on Jean Paul Gaultier has been published to accompany the exhibition. The English language edition of this book is published by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in collaboration with American publisher Abrams ISBN: 978-1-4197-0002-6. A French language edition of the catalogue is published by French publishers Édition de la Martinière ISBN: 978-2-7324-4518-2.


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02 Jean Paul Gaultier, La Vierge aux serpents (Kylie Minogue), 2008, foto Pierre et Gilles.jpg
La Vierge aux serpents (Kylie Minogue), 2008, photo Pierre et Gilles
05 Les Vierges [Virgins]  collection, Apparitions dress Haute couture springsummer 2007 foto Patrice Stable Jean Paul Gaultier.jpg
Les Vierges [Virgins] collection, Apparitions dress Haute couture spring/summer, 2007 photo Patrice Stable
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