Jean Paul Gaultier brings together fashion and cinema in his new exhibition

It was cinema that revealed to him, from an early age, his vocation as a fashion designer. If the 7eart has always been one of his major inspirations, Jean Paul Gaultier has also imagined costumes for great directors like Luc Besson or Pedro Almodóvar… His dazzling exhibition CineMode testifies to the way in which the iconic designer has always pushed the dialogue between fashion and cinema even further.

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Backstage, Jean Paul Gaultier fashion show © William Klein

Close friend of the director Tonie Marshall, collaborator of Luc Besson and Pedro Almodóvar… Passionate about cinema, the couturier Jean Paul Gaultier has immersed himself in it to the point of being, to this day, the one and only fashion designer invited to participate in the jury of the Cannes Film Festival (in 2012). The exhibition CinéMode by Jean Paul Gaultier that the Cinémathèque devotes to him, thus deploys all the chapters of the cinephilia of the one who was nicknamed “the terrible child of fashion”. From the 1940s to the present day, a body of clothing, photos and film clips reveals in detail the thoughts and favorites that the seventh art has inspired in it. In his career, it all started with a film: Falbalas, by Jacques Becker. Still a child, Jean Paul Gaultier discovers on television this melodrama in which a creator experiences a devastating passion for one of his models. The story takes place in a fictional Parisian fashion house, and allows a large audience to discover the typical effervescence that accompanies the preparation of a fashion show, and the quest for the perfect beauty that vibrates in its heart.

For the young Jean Paul Gaultier, the film is a real revelation, which soon turns into an obsession: his vocation was born. So it is, of course, with Falbalas, his very first “fashion school”, Opens the exhibition CinéMode … The typical silhouettes of the 1940s (signed by Marcel Rochas), and actress Micheline Presle (mother of Tonie Marshall), to whom he will also be close, will become cornerstones of his universe. The basque (a relaxed corset to which is added a garter belt), invented by Marcel Rochas, will inspire him in particular his corseted silhouettes with conical breasts, and the idea of ​​lingerie pieces worn as clothing.

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Photo Jean Paul Gaultier: Steve Pike; photo M. Dietrich: B. Thomas © Getty image; Quarrel photo: © R. Fritz; photo Eight Women © JC Moireau; photo Kika: JM. Leroy © El Deseo DASLU; Would you dance with me ? by M. Boisrond © Gaumont; Desperately seeking Susan, Satyricon by F. Fellini © MGM; Dangerously yours © EON / MGM; Saturday Night Fever, Rocket Man, Funny Face, Barbarella © Paramount; The Savage Equip, Gilda © Sony; Window on courtyard © Universal; The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Men Prefer Blondes © 20th Century Fox; La Reine Margot by P. Chéreau © Pathé; Les Valseuses by B. Blier © Orange Studio; My Life with Liberace © HBO; The Fury of Living, Pink Flamingos, Wonder Woman and Superman © Warner Bros; Viva James Bond, Y. Thos © SAIF; Last year at Marienbad and Je t’aime moi non plus © G. Pierre / L. Pierre de Geyer; The Fifth Element © J. English; Absolutely Fabulous poster © A. Borrel; Falbalas: H. Caruel, H. Thibault © Studiocanal; Photo: T. Marshall © JC Cohen

In the wake of these inventions, the work of Jean Paul Gaultier is rooted in a reflection full of humor on the gendered archetypes, which he worked to thwart. A speculation built in a permanent dialogue with movie characters. Vamps, ultra-sexualized women-objects, superheroes and super-heroines, bourgeois, cowboys, extremely muscular malabars … American and European cinema has fixed archetypes for eternity, each revealing the fantasies and the collective unconscious of different people. eras. “Towards the start of the exhibition there is Marilyn, who somewhat represents the victim of the Hollywood system, the fragility of the woman-object, he explains. In counterpoint, I show Brigitte Bardot, a French woman who explodes with freedom. Beyond his films, his everyday clothing choices have greatly inspired women, especially her little flat ballerinas, notched at the base of the toes, or her gingham wedding dress, a poor fabric.

By revisiting the heritage of past decades, the better to divert it, the couturier transformed his mannequins into man-objects in his first men’s collection, in 1983. “It was the era of super muscular actors, like Sylvester Stallone then Dolph Lundgren, he continues. I found it very refreshing that men should take such a high degree of attention to their own plastic, so crafted that it bordered on ridiculous at times.”In a tight-fitting striped sweater that is wide open at the back, the Apollo looks of this parade are highlighted in a totally uninhibited and innovative way, as no fashion designer had yet dared to do.

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11- (c) William Klein – Behind the scenes of the film Who Are You Polly Maggoo W Klein 01

The rest of the story is already known to all: the men in skirts, made up, as well as the women in male costumes, have carried out a societal reflection on the expression of genres in the field of fashion. Sexualize bodies, feminize male silhouettes, enhance powerful women: this is the credo of the couturier imbued with culture. camp Anglo-American. Forerunner of queer or gender fluidity in the hushed world of haute couture, Jean Paul Gaultier has, there too, nourished his intuitions and his keen observation of daily realities thanks to a solid curiosity for the cinema lover. In the 1930s, before the censorship born of the famous Hays code, a Marlene Dietrich dressed in a tuxedo can still steal a kiss from a woman, on the screen. She will also dare to wear the military uniform, at a time when the wearing of trousers by women is prohibited. Much later, a skinny Jane Birkin, with short hair and boyish looks, will radicalize the androgynous ambiguity in the film. I love you neither by Serge Gainsbourg (1976). Sure, Quarrel by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, inspired by Brest quarrel by Jean Genet, featured prominently in the exhibition: the open striped sweater from the L’Homme-Objet collection in 1983, accompanied by a small beret, owes a lot to the assumed homoeroticism of the German director’s masterpiece .

Another tutelary figure of the seventh art, also cultivating total freedom, Pedro Almodóvar will choose Jean Paul Gaultier to imagine the costumes of several of his films: the dresses of Gael García Bernal in Bad Education, the clothes of The skin that inhabits, and the surrealist panoply of Victoria Abril in Kika, incorporating projectors to a bustier and a camera to a helmet. “With Jean Paul, we use sexuality in a way that may seem scandalous, and we have both been called ‘terrible children’”, Comments Pedro Almodóvar on one of the exhibition cartels. “Yet he like me are very innocent people: there is nothing cloudy or unhealthy about the way sex appears in our respective work. Everything is a question of naturalness, of the absence of prejudices. And a sense of humor.

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View of the CinéMode exhibition at the Cinémathèque © La Cinémathèque française

Queer characters, even mutants … the directors, through the ages, gave visibility to those who do not fit into the boxes of society. Praised by Jean Paul Gaultier for the choice of his heroine, the film Titanium by Julia Ducournau, Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, is soberly represented by her poster. Her heroine lives with a piece of metal in her head. Metal, which transforms the human into the posthuman, occupies a whole section of CinéMode … : the massive and antique jewelry worn by model Donyale Luna in the Satyricon by Fellini, for example inspired Jean Paul Gaultier to create a male breastplate with abdominals and a female bustier with conical breasts, transforming the attributes of both genders into prostheses external to the human body.

In terms of prostheses or hairpieces is also in the exhibition, next to the costumes made for the actor Bruce Willis in The fifth Elementby Luc Besson, a hilarious anecdote. While the singer Prince was originally to be part of the cast of the film, Luc Besson proposed to Jean Paul Gaultier to show the sketches of his future costumes to the icon, passing through Paris. Obviously little excited by the proposal of a full jumpsuit in fishnet adorned with hair as a thong, the star was frankly offended when the designer offered her a “’fuck-you ‘at the back”- actually a“ faux cul ”, pronounced by the French designer in broken English! Prince immediately went to tell Luc Besson that his costumes were “way too gay”. “It is very funny”, Concludes the facetious Jean Paul Gaultier with a burst of laughter. “At the time, he still wore very low-cut clothes in the back, revealing the buttocks, with feathers. But I understood then that he wanted to be a kind of metrosexual, sexy only for women!

Exposure CinéMode by Jean Paul Gaultier,

at the Cinémathèque française (Paris XIIe), until January 16, 2022,

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Jean Paul Gaultier brings together fashion and cinema in his new exhibition