Alliance Française French Film Festival Review: Jean-Paul Gaultier: Freak & Chic (France, 2019) is no regular Jean’s parade of weird oddities

Models are cool people. Beautiful glamazons. You don’t think of them as freaks unless you’re Jean Paul Gaultier. The French designer dedicated an entire show to just this. Freak & Chic is a feature documentary that shows us this crazy world, as well as the hard work and creativity that went into shaping this wild party.

Gautier is renowned as the enfant terrible of French fashion. At his first show in 1976, he fused high style with a punk ethos. This subversive nature has peppered his career and some of this same spirit is captured here by director, Yann L’Hénoret. The latter followed Gautier and Co. for six months from the conception through to the design, planning and finessing that took place, especially for this show. To say that Gautier’s army of helpers require an eye for detail is an understatement, they also need a mouth, nose, head, shoulders, knees and toes for attention too.

The resulting presentation is not your standard fashion show. The music and dancing draws inspiration from different styles like: rock, cabaret, dance and burlesque. Gautier doesn’t use traditional models here, instead favouring dancers. He also draws on different aspects of pop culture. The night was a homage to Gautier’s history, from his boyhood spent drawing showgirls at school to his loving relationship with late partner, Francis Menuge.

Gautier is responsible for creating Madonna’s favourite and famous conical corset. The singer makes an appearance here along with Nile Rodgers, Catherine Deneuve and Marion Cotillard. Gautier is renowned for his famous fashions, perfumes and more. He also cut his teeth working for Pierre Cardin.

Gautier has a defiant spirit. He thumbs his nose at serious stuff and this attitude makes the proceedings so much more fun. It also means that one minute you’ll see bears dancing around in conical bras. At another point, you’ll see a woman doing a striptease while dressed as a man. Other models wear grass skirts that are made to look like 3D bananas while other outfits are like pure works of art. It’s amazing to see these designs come together and to life. This film allows us to marvel at what is going on in Gautier’s mind. This is playfulness and adventure at its very best.

Fashion fans will love this glorious spectacle of colour and razzmatazz. Gautier’s show draws on decades of culture and is ultimately one massive party. Think all things Great Gatsby, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Moulin Rouge fronted by rhinestone cowgirls and bears. It’s a veritable space oddity.

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE).

Jean-Paul Gaultier: Freak & Chic plays as part of the Alliance Française French Film Festival until 10 April. For more information head HERE.

Related Posts

Like it? Share it!

Natalie Salvo

My writing portfolio can be found at: https://nataliesalvo.wordpress.com/