News by Ashutosh Kukreja

Famed French fashion designer and artist Jean Paul Gaultier has premiered in London his latest creation, the “Fashion Freak Show”, a musical/cabaret tracing the life and work of the celebrated fashion figure – taking place in the Queen Elizabeth Hall of the Southbank Centre, until the 2nd of August 2019.

Directed by actor/screenwriter/director Tonie Marshall, along with Gaultier himself, Fashion Freak Show takes an interestingly exuberant and comical take on the life events and fashion moments of the industry’s ‘enfant terrible’. Gaultier’s show is a comedic, eccentric, energetic, extravagant (and simply excessive) self-indulgent autobiography of sorts, crafted to entertain and inform the crowds. The show pays an ode to all that has inspired the designer’s works – Paris nightclub Le Palace, the famous London club-scene, dance and pop icons like Madonna and Kylie Minogue and punk elements, amongst other things.

The costume element of the show incorporates some of Gaultier’s new designs alongside the vintage, time-tested ones – however, they follow his avante-garde/provocative aesthetic to the core, as the skin-baring, fanciful outfits celebrate art and sexuality. The show costumes incorporate iconic JPG garments like sculptural corsets, banana skirts, cone bras, and piped bodysuits, while exhibiting gender fluidity through fashion (a key subject Gaultier includes in his design work).

Organized to mimic a big-scale party, the show is a wild part-cabaret, part-revue and part-catwalk that channels numerous theatrical elements of a lively musical. Exploring Gaultier’s relationship with fashion all his life, the musical shows his school sketches, and scenes from his childhood where he can be seen dressing his teddy bear in a conical bra, only to become one of his most iconic outfits worn by Madonna on her Blonde Ambition tour, as was shown in other scenes. Gaultier mentioned in a statement, “My dreams as a young child became reality … to see it I’ve lived that already but to make it I wanted to give homage to all the people that inspired me, the cities that inspired me.”

According to the designer, he wanted the audience of his show to take home the message of appreciating the beauty in different people and different things, reiterating the same through his whimsical Fashion Freak Show. In his own words, Gaultier says, “We are a world made of different people and anyone of us has beauty. You have to see it.”

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