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Sunday, May 25, 2014

John Paul Gaultier: Pain Couture Exhibition

The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain presented the exhibition Pain Couture by Jean Paul Gaultier back in October 2004. Some how it took me over a decade to discover this hidden gem, and now that I have found it, I am eager to breathe back life to Pain Couture.

The challenge placed on Gaultier was to produce haute couture with flour, water, salt and yeast. The symbolism of bread and fashion contain deep roots that can connect as far back as the French Revolution, where bread was the blood line of France, and fashion the culprit. 
Gaultier's creations had baguettes shooting out with ebullience, forming swirling skirts or flounces. Rolls and country round bread, were piled and curled into feminine fullness around basket corsets. The results include uncanny evocations of Dior's New Look, of evening sheaths by Schiaparelli and of sumptuous, crinolined ballgowns. The transformations from bread to couture was both whimsical and unexpected, creating a musical  phrase that ended in sublime poetry. 

"Bread is noble, bread is pure, bread is life itself — we can live without clothes but not without bread!" Jean Paul Gaultier 

Gaultier dressed model like servers  in traditional aprons, adorned by corsets made out of baskets worn over transparent white taffeta and muslin over lacy under pants.

The 'Kelly bag', was lovingly shaped and baked, to celebrate his role as designer for Hermès. 
Venetian blinds made from 4,000 fresh baguettes were also hung from the windows creating a delectable vision of art.

The exhibition also included a sculpted dress with two brioches to create Gaultier's famous pointed-bosom gown for Madonna. 

"I love the sensuality of bread, its roundness — there is something sexual and womanly about it," -John Paul Gaultier

13 master bakers were chosen among France's 33,000 registered bakers. They gathered for the weekend opening, wore chef's caps of red, white and blue ribbons hung with the gold medals that recognize their exceptional skills.

Video is in French:


  1. Well this exhibtion seems so interesting and great! Thanks for sharing and for the explanations... I love the references of the French Revolution... Also love the historical and cultural aspects of it. xx

    1. hi Maeva,
      Thanks for commenting! Yes, it is an amazing exhibition and I only wish I could have seen it live!