Some memorable parades of Jean Paul Gaultier, like And god created man (1985) or James blonde (2011), recall the stylist’s tropism for cinema and for the diversion of codes. By feminizing the male wardrobe, by transforming the corset into an armor, Jean Paul Gaultier was inspired by the street but also by a certain pop, queer and futuristic cinema, foremost among which the graphic and squeaky Who are you Polly Maggoo? (1966), by William Klein. As often with the designer with the platinum brush, an image strikes the mind and triggers a creation: “The eye speaks”, he used to say.
The main idea of the “CinéMode par Jean Paul Gaultier” exhibition, at La Cinémathèque française, in Paris until January 16, 2022, is to put in tension, precisely, the cinema icon and the fashion designer: by what gestures of directors and stylists have they exacerbated the difference between the sexes in the history of cinema, and how have some, on the contrary, staged their porosity? Another question: what alchemy does the “recycling” of a film character take into a fashion trend? One might wonder what effect Marlon Brando produced in a black leather jacket in The wild team (1953), by Laszlo Benedek, in the imagination of Gaultier. Still, the designer revisited the Perfecto in the 1970s, pairing it with a feminine tutu. Later, in 1983, the striped striped sweater became a new emblem, echoing the sailor Querelle in the eponymous film by Fassbinder, released in 1982 …
We meet the 69-year-old stylist at La Cinémathèque française, his voice still so young amid the silhouettes and costumes resurrecting from cult films – the hooded sheath of Grace Jones signed Alaïa in Dangerously yours (1985); the shorts of Silvester Stallone in Rocky ; Superman’s leotard, and also dresses by Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Catherine Deneuve, pants by Marlene Dietrich… ” In “CineMode”, I wanted to show that women are moving towards freedom and power, while men are becoming more and more feminine, freeing themselves from virilist norms ”, explains Jean Paul Gaultier. For the sake of equality, the stylist removed the wallet pocket inside male overcoats, which female coats lack. “Putting your hand inside the coat to get money is a masculine gesture that you often see in the cinema”, notes the designer.
On the side of female stars, Gaultier leans in favor of Brigitte Bardot, more than Marilyn Monroe. “What I find fascinating is the contrast between Marilyn, Hollywood victim, and Bardot, free and rebel, although coming from a totally bourgeois background”, says Gaultier, while an excerpt from And God… created woman (1956), by Roger Vadim, scrolls on the screen. “Hair shaggy, Bardot goes into a trance. Almost at the same time, in Some like it hot (1959), by Billy Wilder, Marilyn sings boop-boop-be-doo… Say it all! I tried to show it all, to get to Titanium “, explains Gaultier in front of the poster for Julia Ducournau’s film, Palme d’Or at Cannes in May. ” I loved Titanium and yet I don’t like violent films. On the one hand, the image is absolutely magnificent, with a sublimated reality; on the other hand, the character [incarné par Agathe Rousselle] is a true wild heroine, with a hint of Cronenberg. ” When asked if he would have liked to dress the actress in Titanium, Gaultier replies: “I don’t know if I would have dressed her that well, but I would have loved…”
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At La Cinémathèque française, Jean Paul Gaultier cuts a suit with stereotypes