Be In the Know

Be In the Know. Sign up to have DesignDestinations delivered right to your inbox, weekly.

Heads Up! Fashionistas! Don’t miss Gaultier exhibit.


If you are headed to San Francisco his summer, don’t miss the stunning Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the very cool de Young Art Museum in the middle of the Presideo in this often foggy  city.

More than 140 ensembles spanning almost 40 years of the “enfante terrible of French fashion” are displayed in a compelling way.

 I love going to Fashion Exhibits at museums.  I’ve been trotting to  clothing shows since the late 1970s Diana Vreeland used to stage large extravaganzas at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC.  They were worth a trip to New York for a fashion follower like me.

But this one, wow.  I’d love to know what Diana would think. Entering this exhibit was like entering another world.  Whatever was on my mind, flew away, as I merged into the sensory, heady experience. I even forgot that I had a broken foot.

 The mannequins loomed over me, talking and blinking their eyes, flicking tongues in a totally disconcerting way.  I suspect the advanced video techniques were probably developed by Disney. In fact, Gaultier, himself, dressed in signature blue stripes, welcomes guests in a rambling sort of way.

This stopped me in my tracks.


 The clothes were so close  my itchy fingers wanted to touch (not allowed but tempting) and I really liked the conveyer belt set up like a catwalk, rotating with clothes.  Brought back memories of covering the big shows in New York City in the late 1980s for the Grand Rapids Press.

But the clothes. Wow.  The “underwear as outerwear” theme that Gaultier started with this iconic bra for Madonna is on display along with a number of other pieces in this theme.  Made me think about the hotel in South Beach that claims to be the inspiration.  (Click here for that post).


 Expect to see his men in skirts collection, urban jungle period, french influenced stuff and lots of just amazing “costume as art” creations.


It’s high and low couture mashed together. Shocking and gorgeous.   Ridiculously cool. The lighting, audio, video and the clothing……ah, yes, the clothing designed by this fashion icon, Jean Paul Gaultier, is well worth the trip.

You don’t have to love fashion to enjoy it.



Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Jul 23, 2012 Reply

    Too bad this won’t still be running in September.  I love this museum… especially the view of the city from above the galleries 

    • posted by
      Jul 23, 2012 Reply

      I’m sorry that because of my broken foot I didn’t get up into the tower.  Next trip.   Thanks for the reminder.   

  2. posted by
    Aug 2, 2012 Reply

    This exhibit was gorgeous! I hadn’t fully appreciated his influence until seeing this show. And it’s amazing to see these fashion retrospectives up close… the craftsmanship is jaw-dropping.

Leave a Reply