Jean-Paul Gaultier Exhibition
The Barbican, London
Another great show I went to this year was the Jean-Paul Gaultier at The Barbican. Gaultier has always been one of my favourite designers. Many pieces in the exhibition were ones that I knew very well from photographs but had never seen before in person.
The craftsmanship to be honest was so high in standard that I almost found it extreme and pedantic. I’m not sure I believe that great design does need to be crafted to such an extreme. It made me question this aspect of high end fashion, and to be honest I have questioned it for a while. It reminded me of the backward way that art used to be judged centuries ago, where the amount of gold etc used in a painting would influence its value, more so the standard of design itself. I worry that fashion, in this respect is centuries old. In that designers feel the very backward need to use expensive materials and greatly labored craftsmanship to justify a high price or level in the market, when these aspects often do not in fact add anything to the design. Seeing the show made me more certain about my design ethos. I think it is more of a challenge to take inexpensive means (materials and techniques) and create fashion of the highest design merit. I think high-end fashion must become more concept and design focused, which I think happens more amongst the smaller independent designers than the larger fashion houses.
Ironically though the exhibition included sustainable fashion pieces, in contradiction to what I have just said (using recycled inexpensive materials). Some of these I hadn’t seen before such as the tie-dress, which I loved. For me this experimental side of Gaultier is him at his best as well as his signature female-contoured pieces, which are also magnificent.