Exhibition File – The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

installation photograph via Fashion Snoops

Now at its third venue, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk continues to delight audiences. Originally organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in collaboration with Maison Jean Paul Gaultier, the show has traveled to Dallas Museum of Art and now is at de Young Museum in San Francisco until August 19.

The exhibition is arranged in six thematic sections and includes 140 haute couture and prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) designs from the mid-1970s to 2010. To create a multimedia experience, sketches, stage costumes, film, and photographs have been incorporated. The Montreal theater company Ubu Compagnie de Création created 30 animated mannequins who can talk and sing.

Gaultier, the enfant terrible, uses fashion to explore provocative and sometime controversial topics, such as gender, sex, and multiculturalism. The exhibition includes a warning that it contains adult themes.

Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 9:30-5:15, Friday 9:30-8:45, Saturday 9:30-5:15
Admission: $20 adults, $17 seniors, $16 students, $10 youths, free children 5 and under and members
Website: deyoung.famsf.org

Rodarte on Stage

The Mulleavy sisters of Rodarte are trying their hand at costume design again, this time on the stage. Kate and Laura Mulleavy designed costumes for Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni performed by the L.A. Philharmonic. The show opens May 18 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and features 20 costumes by the duo, including gowns and menswear.

This project comes after the controversy that surrounded credits for the film Black Swan. Kate and Laura created seven ballet costumes for the movie. After the release of Black Swan, reports about how many costumes they actually designed were exaggerated, and head costume designer Amy Wescott was vilified by the fashion media and in quotes from Kate and Laura. It was disappointing to read the contrived drama about what should have been a successful and celebrated collaboration. Hopefully this time around there won’t be any controversy as the Mulleavy sisters don’t have to share credit for their costume designs for the opera.

I have mixed feelings about Rodarte. The sisters’ designs have evolved toward sophistication, and their construction techniques have improved over time. They have an avant-garde aesthetic. They find inspiration and beauty everywhere, especially in untraditional places. This has gotten the Mulleavys into trouble in the past though — a beauty collaboration with MAC based on Mexico’s colors and culture was called “tasteless,” and their fall 2012 collection was accused of being offensive and insensitive because of its appropriation of Australian aboriginal designs. There is a long traditional of avant-garde fashion designers working in costume design on the stage, so it’s nice to see Rodarte carrying on that torch.

No matter what the Mulleavy sisters do in the future, I’m sure they will stay in the headlines.

Under the Sea

Giorgio Armani Dress & Alexis Bittar necklace | Alexander McQueen dress, mask, and cape & Carolee Necklaces — photos by Richard Burbridge, styled by Robbie Spencer for The New York Times Style Magazine

Many designers used the sea as inspiration for their spring 2012 looks. And The New York Times Style Magazine took this idea literally when styling these gowns from Giorgio Armani and Alexander McQueen.

I really like these two concepts. They both have a little whimsy, are well executed, but could not be accused of being cute or boring. If only we could get this much imagination on a regular basis in fashion shoots.