The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: SLOANE MARTIN Scoops It First for SF!

This is a story about this one time that I totally saw Jean Paul Gaultier in person and then my friend ran into him outside of the bathroom and shook his hand and we were all super jealous. Here goes.

Last week, my friend Lê wrote, “I have tickets to see this JPG movie and then we can go to the exhibit a week before it opens to the public!” After squinting at my computer for ten minutes, I figured out that “JPG” meant Jean Paul Gaultier and is not some new, hip term for a certain type of photo file extension. (Scott just informed me that JPG is actually a way to say JPEG, and I’m just being Mac-centric.)

 Lê was inviting me to the DeYoung for this exhibit I’ve been totally excited to see! So, win. All photos of our experience are courtesy of my friend Kasia, who has a smartphone with a nice camera whereas I am still operating with a 2004-style flip phone. She probably wasn’t planning on my sharing her mad photography skillz with the Internetz, but it’s cool. (I think.)


Waiting for the movie to start. Whoa, who's going to be in those chairs?


We’re all squished into this theater, and the crowd is murmuring and a beautiful French man gets up and introduces himself as the curator of the exhibition and says, “Please welcome Farida Khelfa and Jean Paul!”


Farida Khelfa and Jean-Paul! At this point, we're pretty much in hysterics. Goosebumps and hyperventilating feature heavily.


Farida Khelfa, who made the documentary Jean Paul Gaultier ou les codes bouleversés, started her modeling career with Gaultier in the ’80s, and she’s also been his couture director, and she talks about how it feels right to be beginning this new venture (filmmaking) with him as well. They clearly have a lot of love for one another, and they shared the story of their first meeting, which Jean Paul describes as a coup de foudre, the French term for love at first sight.

The documentary was great, and I would highly recommend it to everyone. It was tremendously inspiring because of Jean-Paul’s talent and accomplishments, but also because of his amazing capacity for optimism. I won’t ruin it for you, but I came away really energized by his enthusiasm and positivity. By the way, did I mention that this was the first time the documentary had been screened in the United States? And that I got to see Jean-Paul Gaultier? Sorry, it bears repeating.

Then we went downstairs to get in line for the exhibit, and Lê went to the restroom while we saved her place, and while she was there Jean-Paul was hanging out in some fancy room next door with some museum donors and he shook her hand! We took a picture of her hand. You don’t necessarily need to see that.


The wall leading into the exhibit, signed by JPG.


The exhibit was awesome, duh. It’s not even really my aesthetic but the craftsmanship was incredible to see up close. There was so much that I kind of just want to photobomb you and be done. Things not pictured here: the costumes from several of Madonna’s tours, including the infamous cone bras/corsets; several of the costumes from The Fifth Element, one of my favorite movies of all time (mostly those worn by Chris Tucker, hilariously); any of the rad photographs from various editorials featuring JPG’s clothing. There was just so much to see.


There are faces projected onto the mannequins, which makes it look like they're talking and singing. Creepy but cool.


Mermaid with accompanying crutches.


From the first JPG collection EVER, made from woven straw placemats.


What I would like to get married in, please. I don't even need to marry anyone in particular. I just need an excuse for the dress.


Shades of early Margiela in this one, part of a revolving catwalk which was a really convenient way to see a ton of looks. Just stand in one place and let them come to you.


For your next pillaging vacation.


Corset designed for Dita Von Teese, part of a strip performance she did at one of of JPG's runway shows.


And the back, which is almost more impressive.


Here's Nirvana wearing JPG for a photo shoot. Included because Nirvana is awesome, of course.


JPG's childhood teddy bear, Nana, wearing his first ever cone bra design.



I leave you with the only song Jean Paul Gaultier ever released, called “How To Do That.” It was number 53 on the charts in 1989, and JPG said that he didn’t quite make it into the Top 50, so he thought he should probably just focus on the clothes. I think he should have kept going, but…

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier is on display at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco until August 19, 2012.


About Sloane Martin

Sloane Martin is a writer, reader, collage-maker and used clothing store worker in San Francisco. She collects wide-brimmed hats, ankle boots, leather jackets and bolo ties. Lately she's been going for an urban cowgirl kind of thing, but less costume-y than what you're picturing. She gets really excited about good breakfast foods, Japanese whisky, and making lists (she's a Libra, obviously.) Sloane was once told that the children's book Eloise explained a lot about her, and she doesn't disagree. 


  1. Michael von Braithwaite

    I just mentally punched myself in the face out of pure empathetic excitement. SO GREAT!

  2. I love those mermaid crutches. I think half of what makes creative people creative is saying/doing what other people think but don’t say/do. Like, I would think, “Huh, a mermaid couldn’t really walk on land. But whatev, let’s just have her floating in the air or something.” JPG was like, “No, let’s impose some reality on this fantasy, the combination of which is pure amazing-crazy.”

    • Sloane Martin

      It sort of reminded me of the prosthetic legs Alexander McQueen carved for Aimee Mullins, but I agree that there’s something more intrinsically narrative about the mermaid crutches.

    • i’ve seen women in stilettos it would nice to give a snazzy cane to (or even just 1 crutch, think how they could jam along). i’m looking 4wrd to seeing the various shoes + heels used in JPG collections, ovr the years, b4 & aftr the Tomford/Jimmychoo etc.crazes.

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