There’s no doubt the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit was made for San Francisco. Titled “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk,” the De Young museum in Golden Gate Park hosts a collection of 140 pieces through August 19.
In addition to clothing, the exhibit features sketches, televisions showing looping footage of runway shows, and few pieces of furniture and photography.
This beautiful and well-curated representation of Gaultier’s remarkable 35-year career is gracefully displayed, with items ranging from the absurd and subtle to the sophisticated.
Upon entering the exhibit, a sincere hand-written note is displayed on the wall: “For San Francisco with love, Jean Paul.” A mannequin with Gaultier’s face projected on it personally welcomes visitors with warm hospitality and gratitude. What follows is a psychedelic and awe-inspiring timeline of Gaultier’s creations.
Reflecting his personal philosophy of “equality, diversity and perversity,” the collection is categorized into several themes, including “The Boudoir”, which displays the actual cone-bra corset Madonna donned in her “Truth or Dare” movie.
“Skin Deep” is a collection inspired by his love of the human body, and “Urban Jungle”, was inspired by his hometown of Paris. Other exhibits on display included “Punk Can-Can”, an homage to the punk culture he encountered in London, and “Metropolis,” a collection of more recent pieces and movie costumes.
On April 6, as part of an unofficial welcome wagon for the exhibit, San Francisco cult icon and drag favorite, Peaches Christ hosted a combination drag and runway show titled “Beautiful Rebels: A Celebration of the World of Gaultier.”
The runway show was a cacophony of glitter, sequins, neon and lace. Showcasing some of the best and most diverse of San Francisco’s underground fashion, the designers included Mister David, who dazzled with sequins, Tria, who showcased glitter and lace, and Mrs. Vera, who dazzled with a distinct “Burning Man chic” aesthetic.
The crowd was a healthy blend of the fashion-obsessed and the anxious and curious.
Cafeteria Fashion show
Applying the same unique sensibility and characteristics of Gaultier, the fashion department at City College held a fashion show titled “Belle Fleur” on May 1 in the Smith Hall cafeteria.
Shira Peleg, Cristina Castellanos, Abigail Andrade, Angela Tse and Heather Carnes were among those who developed the fashion show.
Along with their fellow classmates, the team of seven created 30 looks which were presented on a T-shaped, slightly raised runway ending in a changing space covered by a lattice fence. According to the show’s style report, they combined floral prints and color blocking as the main focuses of their runway show.
Wearing clothes borrowed from local boutiques, thrift stores and designers, the models proudly pranced the runway. Having contributed evening gowns from her job at Altitude Fashion Showroom located in the Westin St. Francis Hotel, Heather Carnes commented with a smile, “Honestly, if I didn’t work there, I don’t think they would have let me borrow the clothes.”
When producing these fashion shows, the students are instructed to create outfits inspired by the season’s trend report. “It’s like the fashion bible,” said Dianne Green, chair of the fashion department and mentor to the students.
During this fourth fashion show of the semester, the cafeteria was filled with a combination of onlookers enjoying their food, friends, family and curious students. Roughly 30 people made up the friends and family in attendance, while the marginally-filled cafeteria created the rest of the audience.
The atmosphere was very casual, as if an extension of a classroom. The music, much like the clothing had a sweet, approachable, girlie charm to it. Those sitting around the runway remained cemented to their seats, while those enjoying their lunch remained just as transfixed and many stayed for the duration of the show.
Meaning “pretty flower” in French, this fashion show’s recurring theme was a combination of color blocking and floral prints. These fashion shows, a weekly occurrence, are a way for students of the fashion department to display what they’ve learned.
What goes on behind the scenes is an entire circus of chaos. What people fail to recognize is how much work actually goes into creating one of these shows.
“They have to borrow clothing, create outfits, gain publicity, select the music and get models,” Green said.
The models themselves are a collection of friends, students, and if possible, working models. “The most important thing is that they select people who look like working models,” Green said.
“Fashion is business and all of the students show the dedication and drive,” said Dorothy Dominique, fashion student and assistant to Green.
“I’ve noticed that in the science department, people fall asleep in class, here, the students are especially dedicated and hardworking. It’s a competitive field and the students understand this.”
Although “Belle Fleur” was held nearly a month after the Beautiful Rebels show, they shared remarkable similarities. There is a feeling of self-sustainability and uniqueness that makes fashion look irresistible.
That is something that San Franciscans do better than anyone else when it comes to fashion.
“We’re real with it,” Dominique said. “We’re not trying to out do each other. Fashion here is based on emotions. San Franciscans like to wear their emotions.”
“They keep it real here,” she added. A mantra which is pure Gaultier.
Usually scheduled to run for 30 minutes, this particular fashion show ran for 45 minutes. The reaction from the crowd was varied, the most applause being given to the two men participating in the show.
Although there were a few stumbles and slip-ups, it was nothing the models couldn’t handle. With a simple smile of acknowledgment, they were back to working their stuff on the runway.
Following the last three cafeteria fashion shows, Ethereal Night will be the next big production for the fashion department. Held at the Ruby Sky nightclub in Union Square on May 20, this high concept fashion show will display the clothing created by students in the fashion construction classes.