Rhinestones and Talking Mannequins-A Walk Inside Gaultier

Hello sensory overload! Last night, I braved the crowds of the monthly Dallas Arts District Art Crawl and DMA late night, to wander through the halls of the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit. Walking into the museum, you immediately know something incredible is going on. Everyone at the front desk is donning the Gaultier, white and blue sailor stripe shirts, and behind them the entire wall is fashioned to match their shirts.

Looking in on the exhibit from the outside, gave me goosebumps. As I began to walk into the blue lit entrance of an exhibit, it proved to take the visitors breath away. Absolutely no cameras were allowed in this exhibit, and there was a disclaimer on the wall stating that the content was not appropriate for young audiences. As I walked into the main room, the eager viewers were greeted by a dozen or more mannequins that all assumed a Mona Lisa effect. The exhibit designers had a rigged system of projectors that showed images of different models talking by moving faces onto the blank mannequins face. There was audio playing in the sea-themed room, where Mr. Jean Paul Gaultier greeted you as you walked in. His mannequin was made to interact with the audience and give a background story as to what was happening in this room, and what we would see as we made our journey through his archive of pieces from his collections. The front room set the tone for the rest of the rooms. Each mannequin in this room had a projected face that would move and interact with other mannequins that gave an added intrigue to the perfected, over-detailed garments that they were wearing. The walls were covered with large framed photographs that accompanied the theme the models were wearing.

From sea theme, to corsets, to dominatrix, then onto punk themes, movie costume designs, to culture merging, each room had a different vibe. The boudoir room showcased the corset and how Gaultier turned it into something that no longer held a gender. In this room, we learned about Mr. Gaultier’s teddy bear, that he created his first cone bra for. This was just the beginning of the history that we learned of about Mr. Gaultier, and every room told us something different and innovative about the fashion genius. In the dominatrix room we learned about how he was an innovator of making garments genderless. The black room, from floor to ceiling, had carved out boxes that housed mannequins wearing different pieces, showing this genderless dominatrix look from different Gaultier collections. In the middle of the room was a circle riser that had three mannequins dressed in rhinestoned corseted dominatrix looks with individual grotesque, but also beautiful themes. The fourth room was the punk themed room, where in the middle of the room was a raised catwalk platform that had 16 mannequins, all wearing exquisite pieces. The platform had a pully system, that moved the mannequins around like they were taking the final walk at a runway show. The fifth room was when we learned of all of the cultural effects Gaultier has contributed to. On a large wall, they projected a sequence from the movie Kika. The walls behind either side of the focused wall had small monitors, all playing different segments of clips from cultural phenomenons that Jean Paul Gaultier had contributed to. Hanging on the opposite wall, were framed sketches of the designs for The Fifth Element characters and Kika.

Ending your experience in the sixth room were the virginal whites, rhinestones, beads, and cultural elements that he merged into vibrant outfits. In this room, was a floor length taupe gown with a leopard beaded cat that ran from bottom to top of the dress. This dress took 1006 hours to create. Walking out of the exhibit, overtook all of my senses. It took serious brain power to restrain from touching all of the garments like a child. The gift shop allowed you to take a piece of Gaultier with you. In this shop, you could buy a navy striped boat neck shirt, the classic Gaultier kilt, Gaultier French pillows, fashion books on Gaultier, chocolates, and jewelry. Although this room had many things that I would love to own, it was not exactly college budget friendly. The umbrella for sale that donned the iconic Gaultier navy stripe was $155, which was a little too rich for my blood. The entire exhibit took me about 2 hours to get through, and I still feel as though there was more to see, and more history to learn on Gaultier, that I may have missed my first time through the exhibit. If you have some time to kill and you love the Madonna cone bra, take a journey through the iconic world of Jean Paul Gaultier at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Other Reviews:


D Magazine

Houston Chronicle

WFAA Photo’s

33 Interview with Gaultier


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