Soul Sunday with KNAGUI: A Corset For Your Thoughts???

“The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier” premiered at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), on November 13, 2001 and ran through February 12, 2012.  This was the DMAs inauguration into the art of contemporary fashion, which featured a multimedia exhibition of one of the world’s most celebrated couturiers.

I was really excited about going to this event.  I actually received the promotion for the show just before it opened and shared it with The Ladybug.  My excitement grew when she (obviously) knew who I was talking about.  I knew nothing about him… Still, I told her I would go, but I knew I wasn’t going to have any time available until February.  That time came on the last day of the exhibit.

Let me admit something… This turned out to not be KNAGUI’s “idea of a good time.”  It may have been better with The Ladybug as my guide to understand exactly what the hell couture is and it’s purpose in the world, but we’ll never know.  There were things I really dug about it, but I’m not a “costume”/”couture” (really don’t know what the difference or line is after seeing this show) wearer, so I couldn’t sink my teeth into his world of fashion.  I did, however, see his philosophy to showcase “the strength of women and the frailty of men” threaded throughout the exhibit.

The exhibition included pieces as recent as his Corcirico ensemble for men featuring black fox, feathers and lamé from the Haute Couture Fall Winter 2011/2012 collection and as vintage as his Sainte Nitouche Cow-Style Gown which was the first piece he created in 1971 (for Pierre Cardin, I think). Described by the Jean Paul as, “my biggest show ever [in] my life,” the more or less 500 works comprising the exhibition illustrate the technical virtuosity, unbridled joie de vivre, and daring flare that I’ve learned can only be Gaultier.

Stage outfits worn by Madonna (including two of the iconic cone bras worn during the 1990 Blond Ambition Tour), and Kylie Minogue are just a few of the 130 couture and ready-to-wear ensembles showcased for men and women spanning from 1976 to 2011.

More than midway through,  I felt like the guy dragged to the museum by his girlfriend, but this time… the girlfriend was me. LOL “I AM A BOY, DAMON!!!” (sorry, it was a movie line that popped in my mind)



Speaking of movies- excerpts from films, concerts, videos and dance performances give insight to Gaultier’s idiosyncratic connections with the worlds of art, music, film, and dance.  I found interesting how these multidisciplinary influences formed his eclectic and global creative vision.  As a wannabe photographer, I was drawn most to the photography.  There were loads of prints from renowned photographers and contemporary artists including Richard Avedon, Nathan Goldberg, Steven Klein,  David LaChapelle, Steven Meisel, Cindy Sherman, Mario Testino, Andy Warhol and more.  I was surprised when I rounded a corner into my favorite room of the exhibit to see the album cover for Cameo’s Word Up! album which was styled by Toyce Anderson.  Seeing it and the rest of the pieces and media in this room was like a much needed caffè Italiano. Buon Giorno!!!

According to Exhibition Curator and Catalogue Editor, Thierry-Maxime Loriot, “When you see the craftsmanship and all the work and how imaginative Gaultier is, I consider him a real artist. He designed more than 150 collections for himself, 15 for Hermès, countless collaborations with movie directors from Peter Greenaway to Luc Besson, dance choreographers, pop stars and all the videos he collaborated on, no other designer has ever achieved that much, but what is most fascinating is that it is always innovative, always new, never boring, which is exceptional. He initiates the trends rather than following them, which explains why he is still here after 35 years.” Adds exhibition catalogue contributor Suzy Menkes, Fashion Critic and Editor at the International Herald Tribune, “He is not just a fashion designer, he has created kind of modern art that should be in a museum.”

This may not have turned out to be my favorite assignment, but I did walk away with a refreshing prospect of how to open myself up for both my life and my art. Gaultier said two things that I’m keeping with me.  He said, “we must be proud to be different.” This is something that I’ve always embraced, but sometimes I need a reminder of accepting others’ differences.  This  evening helped.  He also said, “In life, I like the blemishes, scars, emotions of the skin, of the flesh of the moment.” To me, it was a testament of how soft his skin might be to absorb so much from the world around him and then squeeze out something so different yet similar …but beautiful (…But Beautiful is an awesome Shirley Horn compilation. I couldn’t help adding this because she’s such a big influence of mine). I’ve been wanting to make myself more absorbent to the world around me.  I think this helped me understand a bit more about how to do that. So to answer my question, a corset for my thoughts… NEVER! …but I can think of a wonderful being to put a corset on. lol

The exhibit is accompanied by the English publication of a 424-page exhibition catalogue. It features interviews with Gaultier friends, colleagues, and muses including Madonna, Pedro Almodóvar, Carla Bruni Sarkozy, Catherine Deneuve, Carine Roitfeld, Boy George, Marion Cotillard, Pierre et Gilles, Helen Mirren, Dita Von Teese, Tom Ford, and Victoria Abril, among others.

The next stop for the exhibit is: de Young-Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; March 24 – Aug 19, 2012.

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