We’re not told what the NGV’s big 2014/2015 summer show will be when we turn up – the only clues are the blue- and white-striped sweaters the staff are wearing.
The media are herded into a darkened room in which a thumping ‘Love Train’ soundtrack is blaring. There’s an introduction by the NGV’s director, Tony Elwood – in which he’s rightfully proud that the 2013/2014 summer smash, Melbourne Now, has drawn over 600,000 visitors – and then it’s time for the big reveal.
Curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot steps up to preview The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. This blockbuster exhibition will feature over 140 of Gaultier’s most iconic fashion designs, which Loriot (a former model himself) spent two years whittling down from the 15,000-piece archive. It will find its home at the National Gallery of Victoria between October 17 2014 and February 8 2015.
Melbourne will be the only city in the Asia-Pacific region to host the show, which will use innovative manequins with superimposed faces and voices from Gaultier’s real-life muses. The exhibition is curated by Loriot and organised by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in collaboration with Maison Jean Paul Gaultier, Paris.
Gaultier’s initial reaction to an exhibition had been: “No – museums are for dead people,” so as Loriot says, the challenge was to create something very alive, which reflects the designer’s strong social message. Loriot describes Gaultier as a “great humanist”, who had people of every age, skin colour and sexuality in his campaigns. “Everyone is welcome in his world,” says Loriot.
The exhibition will take up six galleries, but rather than be chronological collections, they’ll look at Gaultier’s obsessions from childhood till now, as well as some of his most fantastical dresses and corsetry, of course. Come the next summer, the NGV plans to paint the town in blue and white stripes to celebrate – so we look forward to seeing how they achieve that.
We’ll leave the last word to Kylie, who emails in a message to the press: “As a longtime fan and admirer of Jean Paul Gaultier and his work, it was a great thrill to collaborate with him for my tour costumes. A visionary, his skill at creating drama and fantasy are second to none. On top of that, his kindness and humour shine through all that he does. A dear friend and an icon of design, long may he reign! I’m honoured to be part of this amazing exhibition and know visitors will leave elated and inspired.”
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, NGV International, Oct 17 2014 – Feb 8 2015.