“The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier” Opens With a Bang in San Francisco

“The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk,” an exhibition showcasing famed French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier’s work, opened this past weekend in San Francisco. In celebration of the much-anticipated exhibit, San Francisco’s de Young Museum, located in Golden Gate Park, transformed its white minimalist interior to a neon, graffitied wonderland for the opening party. Scantily clad models dressed in Gaultier lingerie mingled with ultra-fabulous drag queens (including Raja, winner of Ru Paul’s Drag Race) and San Francisco’s wildly dressed attendees, while a live marching band from Oakland snaked through the crowd. Glam caught up with Gilt San Francisco fashionista and intern Ali Allis at the event. Gilt City featured an exclusive package for the Gaultier Opening, and Ali even purchased her sparkly nOir ring on Gilt for the occasion. “Even my hair is Gilt!” Allis said. “The blowout I had done before the event at Preston Nesbit Salon was purchased through Gilt.” Gaultier himself was in attendance, having celebrated the night before at a party hosted by San Francisco interior designer Ken Fulk’s studio, which included a surprise performance by Gaultier’s gorgeous muse Dita Von Teese.

The most breathtaking part of the party was the exhibition itself, which showcases almost four decades of the designer’s work. Los Angeles Times fashion critic Booth Moore said the exhibit’s designs “pushed the boundaries of gender, sexuality, multiculturalism, and good taste—all in the name of promoting diversity—and inspired a generation of enfants terribles.” Highlights include pieces from Gaultier’s “Rabbi Chic” F/W ’93 collection, a leopard dress embroidered by François Lesage from the F/W ’97 show that took more than 700 hours to complete, mermaid wedding dresses, the infamous cone-bra corsets, some tartan and chain-metal London-inspired punk ensembles, and animatronic mannequins from his Virgin Mary–esque spring-summer ’97 collection. There’s also a Gaultier mannequin dressed in his signature nautical-striped sweater.

You can even catch a glimpse of a paper cone bra made from Gaultier’s childhood teddy bear, his first inspiration for the costume design for Madonna’s famed Blonde Ambition tour. Iconic photography of his designs by Richard Avedon, Pierre et Gilles, and Mario Testino adorn the walls. Gaultier’s knack for mixing masculine with feminine and his love of androgynous designs can be seen in every room of the exhibit.

This isn’t the de Young Museum’s first haute couture exhibit; others include Cristobal Balenciaga, Vivienne Westwood, and Yves Saint Laurent. The exhibit, which began at Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts last spring, runs through Aug. 19, 2012.

Click here to see more photos from the event and exhibit!