The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier

Last week I visited the Barbican in East London to see ‘The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier – from sidewalk to catwalk’ (which has now finished as an exhibition). I was excited not only to compare my trip to my recent trip to the Dior Museum (read that post here – but also because of the rave reviews which it got. I really enjoyed my time there and found it interesting and inspiring to see his designs in both sketch, finished product and video form. Here’s a few of the photos I took whilst I was there…

Jean Paul Gaultier is a haute couture and pret-a-porter french designer. From his early years he has been inspired by unusual models who are not ‘conventionally beautiful’. He is known for his cone bra pieces, the re-working of corsets and the trend of underwear as outerwear. He has worked with a HUGE amount of celebrities and models including the likes of Madonna, Kylie, Beyonce and Grace Jones.

Madonna [talking about Jean Paul Gaultier] “I liked his clothes in terms of their gender confusion, the way he mixed masculinity and femininity together…”

Some of my favourite outfits from the exhibition

Some of my favourite outfits from the exhibition

His works and designs are in stark contrast with what I saw at the Dior Museum. Gaultier’s designers are very loud and daring, it seems like he wants a reaction and emotion from the viewer. Gaultier has been inspired by anything and everything he has seen around him, from the punk movement in the streets of London to his grandma’s wardrobe.


One of the best parts of the exhibition was the rotating mannequins on the catwalk. It gave a real life feel and was definitely a good photo opportunity!

Gaultier – “Perfection is relative and beauty is subjective. I wanted to make imperfection admirable…”


The effort, time and thought which goes into the whole process of haute fashion makes me look on in awe. The pieces that Jean Paul Gaultier designs can easily take over 200 hours to create which is absolutely incredible.


The photo above is of (probably) my favourite piece in the exhibition. I love the grandness of it, the classic feminine shape and unique cut-out/paneling idea. This piece (along with the whole exhibition) has certainly given me lots of ideas to use in my own designs and sketches!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my post, I’ll leave you with a quote/story about Jean Paul Gaultier which really made me chuckle.

The first time Gaultier showed men in skirts, the 30-strong Vogue staff stood up and, in a flurry of Saint Laurent, made a mass exit, closely follwoed by the retinues of Marie-Claire and French Elle. [Gaultier speaking] “I was slated by the French press for designing clothes for hairdressers and homosexuals! It took them two years to accept my statement that Prince Charles is not the only real man to wear a skirt!”

From The Face magazine, April 1986

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