I have a terrible habit that is to always visit exhibitions during their final days…I mostly do so as I believe I will avoid the crowds of the beginnings…Well, this has proven to be a very bad idea quite a few times and I’ve once again been a victim of my very own wrong assumptions as I missed the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition that was held at the Grand Palais in Paris. I must admit I am very disappointed as I heard so many positive and enthusiastic reviews about a display that seemed to have perfectly combined wit, drama, technology and playfulness. I had thought I would nonetheless write about this exhibition, researching articles and questioning the people that had seen it but the point of our posts on Worn Through are mainly to speak from the heart and write about a personal experience so I thought it would be a little dishonest to do so.
However, what I can tell you about this exhibition is that it has been a huge success (that’s also why I missed it: because of work, I couldn’t allow myself to queue for three hours!). Initiated by the Musée des Beaux Arts of Montreal in 2011, the display has since travelled in numerous cities such as San Francisco, London or Madrid: surely lucky readers of Worn Through have managed to visit this exhibition.
Within the different reviews I have read I have been appalled by how some journalists still go on with that archaic debate that confronts entertainment (and thus popularity) and the intellectual (a conflict that often features a fashion exhibition). A journalist even believing that the Grand Palais programmed its Velasquez exhibition alongside the Jean Paul Gaultier display in purpose. The Velasquez show being the scholar exposition that would give profoundness to the institution despite a poor audience and Jean Paul Gaultier being the attractive ‘cash machine’. I have always refused to engage in such an unproductive debate…maybe because I am not only a fashion historian but also an art historian who finds as much pleasure in contemplating Velasquez’s Christ in the House of Martha and Mary as in enjoying a sequined Jean-Paul Gaultier gown. So, without having seen the exhibition but secured by many of my friends’ impressions, I can affirm that its popularity and theatricality did absolutely not prevent the display from brilliant, original and informative. To learn with pleasure: isn’t it what we always seek for?
Here’s a video showing the exhibition’s behind-the-scenes with a lovely Nutcracker air and a fashion show-like atmosphere…because that’s what it’s all about: fantasy and glamour!