Jean Paul Gaultier – Fashion Freak Show

Jean Paul Gaultier - Fashion Freak Show

The bar is high when the creative force behind some of most famous spectacles of late 20th century and early 21st centuries puts his name on a consumer entertainment vehicle. But such is the genius – as well as the optimism and charm – of Jean Paul Gaultier that his Fashion Freak ShowMore than clearing it.

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Sumptuous and enthralling, Gaultier has created 100 costumes to form 400 outfits on a cast of 18 performers – singers, dancers, circus performers – each at the top of their game. Yet whilst it is without question a feast of aesthetic glory, Monsieur Gaultier’s show – co-directed with Tonie Marshall with musical arrangement and orchestration by the legendary Nile Rogers – also tells a beautiful, simple and uplifting story of a different and very special boy who found his place in the world.

Combining cabaret elements, almost stadium rock-level projections, and the best of superclub ambience (even though the crowd remains relatively seated), Jean Paul Gaultier Fashion Freak ShowThis musical is a combination of a biographical musical and an artistic retrospective. We start at the beginning, via film featuring Almodóvar super-star Rossy de Palma as the future design legend’s teacher attempting to humiliate the boy for sketching in class (depicted in a highly stylised way, of course). Gaultier is exceptional in many ways. Because his peers see his talent and want to emulate his creative output, the attempted bullying fails. From the get-go, it’s reassuring that this theatrical experience will, rather unpredictably for a high fashion icon, be one of triumph and encouragement rather than angst and anguish.

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You will be taken through time and place with a variety of musical numbers. These range from Haylen’s torch song arrangements to Marion Motin’s up-tempo dance choreographed pieces. The visualisation of the era with Pierre Cardin is particularly stunning as are so many other tableaux that follow – with vignettes including punk, Paris’ Palace nightclub and the underbelly of 80s Soho, amongst others.

While Freak ShowIt is primarily about visual and auditory sensations, but it also has soul or pathos. Gaultier tells the story of love by showing us a Breton jersey in double size, worn by Gaultier and his partner. They are joined in one garment. The AIDS epidemic is revealed in a future scene. Ask your friends at the nightclub. ‘Ou est Patrick? Ou est…?’It is with the simplest, yet most profound, of touches that we grieve through the simple picture of the double jumper being occupied now by one: beautiful, and heart-breaking.

This is visually stunning and uplifting. ‘freak show’It is also fun. It is deeply sexy and not for one second too tacky, even though it is playful and decidedly not highbrow. The show celebrates diversity of beauty and is explicit in this. On one hand, it’s like going to a blockbuster art exhibition in which all the work comes to you (perfect for the tired feet of the Gen-Xers who grew up with JPG). On the other hand, it offers every impulse and imperative to dance and no one will stop you – so get your freak on. The maestro exhorts us to dance, ‘Embrace your freak. Le freak, c’est chic.’

Jean Paul Gaultier is a man you can look forward to if you grew up. If you are a fan of Eurotrash, or the first haute-couture presentation featuring men in skirts, then enrich your life with the story and style that inspired Harry Styles or Alexander McQueen. This is a true treat and a great value for money. Fashion Freak ShowYour satisfaction and profit will be great.

5 Star Rating

Mary Beer Reviews

The production, an explosive combination of revue and fashion show, depicts the sensational life of Jean Paul Gaultier against a backdrop of his generation’s most defining political and cultural changes. The iconic music – from Disco to Funk, from Pop to Rock and New Wave and Punk – boasts a playlist of hits that have inspired the artist throughout his life.

(A Fimalac Entertainment Company).
RGM Productions
Avex Entertainment

Chalk Farm Road
London, NW1 8EH

Friday 15 July – Sunday 28 August 2022

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