Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I've been looking forward to a scheduled tour of Jean Paul Gaultier's retrospective at the De Young Museum, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.  That day has finally rolled around, and I'll be visiting it tomorrow with a group of women involved in the Arts.  I'm even considering wearing a corset-style dress to it -- if I wake up audacious enough in the morning.

Inspired by Jean Paul Gaultier's corset fashion
To wear or not to wear to the exhibit?
Dress: miha studio

Naturally, any discussion of Jean Paul Gaultier is accompanied by images of bustiers and corsetry, bound onto iconic faces in pop music and film.  In his own way, Gaultier emancipated women from corsetry's connotations of helplessness and, instead, infused them with power.  We are definitely not the weaker sex in Gaultier's bustiers ...

Madonna's Blond Ambition Tour, 1990
"Cone bra" by Jean Paul Gaultier
Photo source: Google Images

... not when ladies like Madonna show us how to don them.

Actually, now that I examine the design below, another strong female is brought to mind: the Valkyrie, Brünnhilde.  I am mentally finishing off this outfit with a horned Viking helmet, accompanied by charging Wagnerian strains.

Madonna's "Cone Bra"
by Jean Paul Gaultier
at the Exhibit
Photo: Emil Larsson

I read somewhere that Gaultier's "cone bra" was inspired by antique breast plates worn by Italian soldiers.  It is no surprise then that his corsets announce Offense rather than Defense, with such armed origins.  

Gaultier's fascination with the corset began early on in his life, upon discovering his grandmother's.  He then created a paper version, summarily pinning it onto his teddy bear.  This prophetic teddy bear is apparently on display too.


  1. Jean Paul Gaultier is such an artist !

  2. Hello:
    Tomorrow, visiting the exhibition, really does give you the opportunity to make a statement, to wear something really exciting and individual, and to demonstrate your own creativity. We should, perhaps, advise against wearing a 'breast plate' - possibly slightly uncomfortable!!

  3. Ahh, the master of playfulness, sensuality and individual creativity.

  4. I wonder what your decision was regarding the corset. Were you brave and wore it?
    Looking forward to hearing about your visit. Xxxx

  5. Corsets are always super sexy but can be a mission to wear, really cute!

  6. Gaultier is a genius. I once went to an exhibition in the Museum of Fashion in Paris. It was about catwalk shows and included material ranging from astonishingly creative invites to the decoration of the room, and also included some of the garments that were intended to be the real eye catchers.I wrote it all down at the time in my diary (frustratingly, no pics were allowed) and without digging out the diary I can't tell you exactly what JPG did, but I do remember he was pretty amazing even by the extravagant standards of everyone else!

    To my annoyance, this superb show has never come round to London, nor any of the others (all equally good) that I have seen at this show.

    Gaultier used to present a comedy programme called "Eurotrash" with another Frenchman, Antoine de Caunes - think it was on BBC - and they exaggerated their French accents to the point of incomprehensibility which made it funnier (to me). The programme was perfectly outrageous in parts.

    I'd be interested to know if any of this stuff is featured in the exhibition, Jenny, so I hope you are able to give us an update. I really wish I could see the show and hope you enjoy it.

  7. I meant to say "To my annoyance, this superb show has never come round to London, nor any of the others (all equally good) that I have seen at this museum" - sorry - bit too quick off the mark with the "publish" button there.

    Strangely, corsets always repel me, though I don't really know why, so I wouldn't wear one even for JPG :)

  8. oh...did you wear this?it must have been brilliant.

  9. That's fascinating - I didn't know that, about the Italian breast plates. And it's uncanny that I've been wanting to come to your blog for ages - I've been thinking of you and glad to hear you've moved in and can't wait to hear (and see) more about the house!

    This is driving me crazy: I was thinking of an anecdote about a Gaultier dress I once tried on, in NY, but now I think perhaps it's another designer.. and I have this purple leather motorcycle jacket made in the 70s, that a friend in NY gave me because she owed me money and didn't want the jacket, (neither did I, at the time - I wanted the money she owed me!) - she was kind of a London 'It' girl in NY and never had any cash on her, but had all these clothes she never wanted.. but now, the label is faded. She claimed it was Gaultier... but maybe I'm thinking of someone else! Oh never mind. This is a very stupid story.

    Anyway - like 'songbird' asked - did you wear it to the exhibition? It's gorgeous. xoxo

  10. I hope you wore the corset to the exhibition! I love the 'shapeliness', but find it a bit hard to breathe in them - but I guess that's part of the allure.

  11. I'm green with envy, I'd love to visit this exhibition and get a guided tour. So how was it? Did you wear the outfit? Did you enjoy it?

    Personally I really like Gaultier, and just this week I bought one of his perfumes. It is my favorite scent: "Classique X collection"

    Enjoy your weekend.

  12. suuuper cool1 Love Jean Paul Gaultier


  13. Well it would have taken an extremely brave person to wonder out in a corset in the cold. I think it is amazing that museums allow photography these days. Probably the rise of blogging - I wonder? Glad you enjoyed the exhibit. Xxxx

  14. I love to see his first vision of the corset in his teddy bear. Sounds amazing! I hope you enojoyed the exhibition! :) I hope you wore the corset BTW! PErfect for the occasion ;)

  15. I can't wait to see what Madonna's costumes are going to look like for her upcoming tour! Great post!



  16. Wow i Love the corsette..

    .. Kissies


  17. Thank you for posting this. It’s exactly what I was looking for!

  18. I'd love to know if you did indeed wear a corset dress to the exhibition - and if you were able to breathe easily! The only time I've ever tried on a corset was at the BAth Museum of FAshion and it wasn't comfortable. GAultier's are amazing though and it was fascinating to read of his use of them as symbols of female power/strength and 'offence'.

  19. To everyone who was curious: I'm sorry to disappoint. I woke up that morning not particularly brave. It was so cold and pouring rain. I cobbled together another outfit built around boots instead. I still did try to pay homage to JPG, choosing high lace-up boots (corsets for the feet?) and a wide, double-buckle belt. It was a corset in spirit!


Dear Fellow Aesthetes, I love hearing your thoughts. I think the other readers find them valuable too! Much love xxx

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