Jean Paul Gaultier – Fashion Freak Show | Fashion

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When the creative force behind some of the most storied shows of the late 20th and early 21st centuries put their name on a consumer entertainment vehicle, the bar is set pretty high. But such is the genius – as well as the optimism and charm – of Jean Paul Gaultier that his fashion freak show rather than clear it.

Jean Paul Gaultier Fashion Freak Show

Sumptuous and captivating, Gaultier has created 100 costumes to form 400 ensembles in a cast of 18 performers (singers, dancers, circus performers) each at the top of their game. Yet while it is undoubtedly a feast of aesthetic glory, Monsieur Gaultier’s show, co-directed with Tonie Marshall with musical arrangements and orchestration by the legendary Nile Rogers, also tells a beautiful, simple and uplifting story of a different and very special boy. who found his place in the world.

Combining cabaret elements with near-stadium-rock-level projections and the best of a super-club atmosphere (even if the crowd stays relatively quiet and seated), Jean Paul Gaultier Fashion Freak Show is fundamentally a musical and artistic biographical retrospective. We start at the beginning, through a film that features Almodóvar superstar Rossy de Palma as the future design legend’s teacher who tries to humiliate the boy for drawing in class (depicted in a highly stylized way, of course). ). But, in many ways, Gaultier is extraordinary. The intimidation attempt fails because the classmates immediately detect his talent and yearn for his drawings and other creative results. From the outset, it’s reassuring that this theatrical experience, quite unpredictably for a high fashion icon, is one of triumph and encouragement rather than heartbreak and heartache.

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Various musical numbers, ranging from arrangements of torch songs sung by Haylen to flamboyant and spirited dance pieces choreographed by Marion Motin, take us through time and place in a linear sequence. The visualization of the era with Pierre Cardin is particularly impressive, as are many other paintings that follow, with vignettes including punk, Paris’s Palace nightclub and the underbelly of ’80s Soho, among others.

While freak show it is predominantly about visual and auditory sensations, it also has soul and pathos. Gaultier masterfully tells the story of falling in love by showing us an iconic double-size Breton leotard worn by him and his partner together, united and pampered in a single garment. When the AIDS epidemic emerges in a future scene and the voices inside the nightclub ask ‘Where is Patrick? West…?‘ it is with the lightest, yet most poignant of touches that we share the pain through the simple image of the double jumper now occupied by one: beautiful and heartbreaking.

Uplifting and visually glorious, this ‘freak show’ is also just plain fun. It’s deeply sexy but not for a second in bad taste, even if it’s playful and decidedly non-intellectual. Explicit in its celebration of various expressions of beauty, the show doesn’t even shy away from tokenism or finger wagging. On the one hand, it’s like going to a blockbuster art show where all the work comes to you (perfect for the weary feet of Gen-Xers who grew up with JPGs). On the other hand, it offers all the impulses and imperative to dance and nobody will stop you, so go crazy. As the teacher himself exhorts, ‘Embrace your freak. Le freak, c’est chic.

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If you grew up with Jean Paul Gaultier, treat yourself to something historically rewarding but absolutely future-oriented. If the era of eurotrash or the first presentations of men’s haute couture featuring men in skirts predate you, be enriched by the history and style of the man without whom Alexander McQueen and Harry Styles would not exist. A real treat and excellent value for money, fashion freak show it will benefit and delight you.

5 star rating

Mary Beer Review

An explosive combination of magazine and fashion show, the production depicts the sensational life of Jean Paul Gaultier against a backdrop of the most defining political and cultural changes of his generation. Iconic music, from Disco to Funk, Pop to Rock and New Wave and Punk, features a playlist of hits that have inspired the artist throughout his life.

TEG MJR in association with TS3
(A Fimalac entertainment company)
and RGM Productions and
Avex Entertainment

round house
chalk farm road
London, NW1 8EH

Friday 15 July – Sunday 28 August 2022