Monday, 2 June 2014

Exhibition: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk

Ever since the Barbican announced 'The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk' I've been excited! Last Saturday I finally got the chance to check out the exhibition and it did not disappoint. If you've still got a chance to squeeze another trip in before the end of the summer term you should definitely make this it! It's open till August 25th 2014. Also, one of the absolute highlights is that you're allowed to take photographs in the exhibition! (as long as you don't use the flash) There's nothing worse than students being unable to reference something properly because they can't find an image of it post-visit!

One of the key things I liked about the exhibition was that whilst walking around it I kept coming across ways in which you could extend the visit into the classroom, both before and after. I don't know about you but one of the things I often find tricky is making sure that a visit is really valuable to the students and that it doesn't become a 'day out', which is enjoyable at the time but forgotten about once you're back in the classroom or a token page or two in the sketchbook that doesn't really link to their project! I've put together a few suggestions of activities I would do if I took my students - there's some interesting topics, particularly in a wider context and gives the opportunity to discuss some more controversial topics which you might not normally get the chance to discuss in the Textiles classroom! 

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation 
Gaultier's early work reflects the experiences he was having transforming from a child with a 'different' sexual identity into an adult who could choose his own. His work is often hypersexulised and exagerates the norms of masculine and feminine creating androgynous looks. You could also discuss his 'A Wardrobe for Two' collection (1985) for which he looked at masculine, feminine, androgynous and alternative conventions. Brilliant to get a bit of E&D into the trip and/or classroom discussions. 

Cultures and Countercultures
Punk, androgyny, nautical, fetish, tailoring and his many muses there's an array of things that you could pick out and focus on depending on what's relevant to your class. I loved the punk stuff, especially the yellow tartan...
Music, Film and Theatre
It's great to be able to highlight to students a wider-context in which more extravagant Fashion garments can be worn and Jean Paul Gaultier is a great example of this! There's some incredible pieces on show including garments from Madonna's Blonde Ambition Tour, Kylie Minogue videos, a piece inspired by David Bowie and a collection inspired by Amy Winehouse. I reckon a nice fun starter activity for the lessons building up to the trip would be to watch a few music videos. There's also a section in the exhibition on the infamous, Euro Trash, but perhaps that's best discussed with the older year groups only!

The App
When I saw the exhibition had it's own app I was keen to check it out. I love the idea of having an app alongside an exhibition, however in my experience it's always been a frustrating affair and unfortunately this one was no exception. I loaded it up before the exhibition so I could check it out what was on there; some video clips, written information and a camera function to upload and hashtag photos from the exhibition (I think, I never got this function to work). There was also some general info about opening times and ticket prices. 

When I got the exhibition I saw the symbol for the app by a garment so I tried to load it up and that's when the problems started, crash/restart/crash/restart, repeat! I finally got it to work but I couldn't see a clear correlation between what I was looking at and what I was meant to look at on the app. I also found at various points in the exhibition it stated things like 'go to the app to hear clips from various muses' unless I was missing something, there was just one! So there was a lot of hype going on as well. I didn't even get half way round before I gave up using it! Also be prepared to watch the same intro video a lot as it pops up everytime you open the app (which is a lot when it keeps crashing!). 

Obviously if you get this working this could be a fun way to make the exhibition a little more interactive for your students both during the exhibition and as a follow up! The exhibition has only been open for a few weeks so hopefully they'll be some bug fixes to sort the app out!

Go visit! 
Anyway it's a brilliant exhibition and well worth a visit, if your still not convinced here's the details and a video of Jean Paul Gaultier himself discussing the exhibition...

What: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk
When: now - till August 25th 2014
Where: The Barbican, London
Price: £14.50 (general) £9 (student) £7.50 (school groups and they'll give you a complimentary ticket to use before your visit if needed) 

- Claire  

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