From catwalk to museum

From catwalk to museum
Brooklyn Museum

The Brooklyn Museum is hoping it has the latest fashion blockbuster on its hands.

On Oct. 25, the museum opens a retrospective of the legendary designer Jean Paul Gaultier, which it hopes will draw the fashion fans who made the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art such a phenomenon two years ago.

“We certainly will be happy to have that kind of buzz and those kinds of crowds,” said Lisa Small, exhibitions curator for the Brooklyn Museum, who is organizing the borough presentation. “Fashion exhibitions have become very popular, and we can only hope this will prove to be popular for us.”

Indeed, the past few months have seen an installation of “hippie chic,” currently up at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, a display of Christian Louboutin high heels at Toronto’s Design Exchange museum, and an exploration of punk’s influence on high fashion with the Met’s “PUNK: Chaos to Couture” this past summer.

The Gaultier show, the first-ever retrospective of the groundbreaking French courtier known for his gender-bending model casting and Madonna’s infamous cone bra, has already been seen by nearly a million people since originating at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2011. During the past two years, it has traveled across the globe, including stops in Dallas, Madrid, and Rotterdam.

When it lands in Brooklyn later this month, it’ll bring with it highlights from the nearly 40-year career of the fashion-world enfant terrible, including that cone bra corset worn on Madonna’s 1990 Blond Ambition tour, as well as his most-recent collaborations with the artist; costumes worn in “The Fifth Element” and the films of Pedro Almodóvar; original sketches; and 140 haute couture and prêt-à-porter ensembles that span the avant-garde designer’s entire career, from his earliest runway shows in the 1970s to his latest collections.

Helping to make the show a spectacle befitting the playful, unconventional designer, some of these ensembles will be worn by talking mannequins with video-animated faces displayed on a moving catwalk.

“It was important to [Gaultier] that the show has dynamism and animation,” said Small. “It’s a jaw-dropping experience.”

“The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” at the Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Pkwy. near Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights, (718) 638–5000, www.brooklynmuseum.org], Oct. 25 to Feb. 23, 2014, $15.

Gaultier’s costume work in film, such as this bondage number from “The Fifth Element,” will be included in the retrospective.
Brooklyn Museum