Bustiers with intricate stitching, ribbons and laces. A gallery back lit with blue with mannequins that spoke and moved their eyes and wore fairy tale metaphorical garments. A camouflage ballgown made with yards and yards of ruffed tulle.
I was mesmerized by the Jean Paul Gaultier installation at the Dallas Art Museum. Last summer, I missed the Alexander McQueen exhibition in New York at the Met. I didn't intend to miss Jean Paul Gaultier in Dallas. So, on Friday morning, ES and I spent several hours immersed in Gaultier's world. No photos allowed and I really struggled with that, eventually began to take notes of what I was seeing. Found photos on-line, but they don't really evoke my experience.Five themed galleries, the first being filled with a circle of mannequins with eyes that suddenly moved and then lips that spoke incomprehensible words, but evocative of times past, memories revisited. It took me minutes before I looked overhead and saw the sleep projects that focused on each faced, giving it recorded expressions and words.A series of gowns in that first gallery, was each a variation of intricate applique of photo images and milagros on lace and crochet figure hugging gowns. Then a group of sailor blue and white striped knit gowns that appeared simply at the neck and gradually become covered with ever widening rows of tiny feathers of white and blue that kept the sailor stripes moving downward slowing transforming a sailor tee into a ballgown.
There were mermaids with shell breastplates and lame fins. I struggled to remember the details and they faded as quickly as morning dreams.A second gallery was titled Boudoir. The central core of the room was a room sized cube covered with padded, quilted pancake make-up pink fabric. Each side of the cube had a window that featured intricately crafted bustiers, some of which were designed for and worn by Madonna. Huge photographs of Madonna lined two walls and quite frankly, these photos, as well as all the photo images and video throughout the exhibition, were far better, or more enticing, than all of Helmut Newtons' photographs I saw recently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
There was one poignant tableau in the Boudoir gallery. I proper lady, again speaking and looking at the viewer, wore a garment made entirely of rosette ribbons sewed together to make open squares. She carried a matching parasol of open squared ribbons. Nearby was an end table that held a 1950s television with suggestion programing from that era. Was she was 'left behind', caught in a time warp, betrayed, jilted or was this tableau merely a stab at nostalgiaNear her on the wall was a tiny dog-eared teddy bear with two Madonna-like quilted breasts sewn on its faded chest. Did the teddy bear belong to the lady wearing ribbons with rosettes? The tableau was haunting. It worked.
I'll write more. There is no book in print that details the installation in Dallas. The catalogue is more about the life and times of Jean Paul Gaultier than what we saw in the galleries. Here is a You Tube commentary on the Dallas installation. And another clip. And still another. And here's a bit of the exhibition from You Tube as it played in Montreal. None of the clips quite capture what I experienced, but they do give a sense of the installation. I have the sense that all the short videos were made clandestinely as I guess I could have done. Opps, perhaps a second trip to Dallas?
Gaultier made body suits that showed muscles and sinews and blood vessels. Lots of laced up leggings with this body suit. Another model carried a small purse that was a sequined red heart.
Surely this Indian chief is a Gautier bride? ES said she'd be overwhelming to watch walk down the aisle toward her groom. She was a goddess.This ball gown was whit tulle and its lining was a 360 degree series of legs in black net stockings. Knock-out.There were more details and garments that I loved. Will find photos of them. Off to bed. I can see the Dallas skyline from our hotel room. We are staying at The Belmont and that deserves its very own blog post. Love it.