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Jean Paul Gaultier Museum Exhibit in Montreal

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This summer, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts pays tribute to an iconic haute couture designer of our time: the incomparable Jean Paul Gaultier.

In the 1980s, he sent men in skirts down the down the runway. In the '90s, he put Madonna on stage in the infamous cone bra for her Blond Ambition Tour.

The avant garde French designer -- whose daring coups over the years earned him the nickname "enfant terrible" -- stands out not only because of his technique but because of his art, identity, and influence upon the world.

"I wanted to create an exhibition on Jean Paul Gaultier more than any other couturier because of his great humanity," said Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. (Gaultier will be attending the media preview of his career retrospective, which marks the 35th anniversary of the couturier's own label. The exhibit opens to the public June 17.)

Certainly, Gaultier's creations have always toyed with public perception of the human condition and social issues like gender roles and identity. His work has served as art and social commentary.

For example, he's known for using models who break the industry stereotype (think gender-bending, age, tattoos and piercings). Ultimately, though, his designs are also beautiful and ultimately wearable -- and always with a sense of humour. Just like his vision of the world.

Organized in collaboration with the Maison Jean Paul Gaultier, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts exhibit is called "The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk." Organized in six sections that thematically correspond to Gaultier's creative development, the anticipated show features some 120 ensembles Gaultier created between 1976 and 2010 (from both couture and pret-a-porter).

Also on the menu are fashion photography and contemporary art by legends like Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, David LaChapelle, Mario Testino and Steven Klein, to name but a few. Many of these prints are on loan and have never before been seen by the public.

True to the couturier's cutting-edge and playful aesthetic, a highlight of the exhibit will be 30 mannequins, their faces brought to life by audiovisual projection (created by local theatre company UBU.) Melissa Auf der Maur and Suzie Leblanc are among a handful of Montreal celebrities who lent their faces and voices to the mannequins.

Gaultier is also known for his artistic collaborations with pop stars, filmmakers, and leaders of contemporary dance. He's worked with not only Madonna, but also Kylie Minogue, Pedro Almodovar, Peter Greenaway, Luc Besson, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and many more. The exhibit also includes sketches, stage costumes, multimedia film and video excerpts from the couturier's work with concerts, videos, dance and television.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is at the MMFA between June 17 and October 2, before moving on to the Dallas Museum of Art in November and Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco de Young in March. www.

(Oh, and by the way, the cone bra is reportedly back, as part of Gaultier's new 23-piece collection for La Perla lingerie.)

Read more about the Gaultier exhibit on the Montréal Buzz here

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