The Brooklyn Museum is presenting a retrospective of Jean-Paul Gaultier, the French fashion designer best known for his costumes for Madonna’s *Blonde Ambition* tour. The corsets with the cone-shaped bras, who could forget them. Richard and I went to this and had such a good time. There were 160 ensembles, I might say it was a little too big! A few highlights: he’s a big fan of the horizontal-striped sailor shirt, and uses sailor iconography a lot in his work. They had a black and off white sailor shirt done in tiny rows of mink, worn with a long heavy black wool skirt, with the traditional buttoned drop-front crotch. This was menswear, by the way! Gorgeous. Also a red plaid suit in mohair. I hope it was lined.
The most memorable thing he had for the ladies was a suit that, on first glance, looks like an ordinary well-tailored grey suit, the sort of thing you would wear to lunch. But the jacket was strapped to the body, with the sleeves lying on top of the arms, and the whole torso of the jacket lying over the torso of the wearer. Very witty, and not shown with a blouse under it, by the way - - just a black satin strap along a naked back. A lot of his dresses and gowns use feathers, there were a few denim skirts with feathers sewn on, one by one, those were impressive. Many of the explanation cards showed the number of hours spent making the outfit: some of these dresses took over 200 hours to make. Can you imagine.
The most memorable thing about the show was what they did with the mannequins. Mannequins at museum shows typically have no features at all on the face, just a smooth bulbous head, or sometimes the faintest suggestion of a face. At this show about half of the mannequins had noses, and video projectors projecting a film of a face onto the mannequin. And the eyes and mouths moved, and sometimes they talked! It was a little spooky at first, but kind of adorable once you got used to it. Richard thought the faces were a distraction from the clothes, but I liked it.