Things we like #4: Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fashion Freak Show - Coley Porter Bell

Things we like #4: Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fashion Freak Show

Written by: John Clark, Strategy Director

One of my favourite books on creativity ‘A Technique for Producing Ideas’ by James Webb Young, advocates (and excuse the paraphrasing), learning a lot about your subject, experiencing a lot outside your subject – then letting it all percolate.  And in our rapidly changing world there’s a never-ending stream of stuff to immerse ourselves in and get inspired by.

But as important as it is to explore and experience all the ways that brands are utilising and experimenting with new thinking and new technology, I’m not sure that what James had in mind was only to look around only within our industries.  And whilst it’s easy to google or browse on our mobiles, there’s a whole world out there to explore.

So if avatars are your thing, then do take a look at what brands are doing – but if you really want to see what can be done then get yourself to Industrial Light and Magic’s showcase of cutting edge avatar technology (otherwise known as the ABBA Voyage show).  Into creating virtual worlds?  Then you should have a mooch around the metaverse – but also get yourself to Punchdrunk’s The Burnt City.  And if you’re looking for immersive storytelling, then last Summer you couldn’t have done better than Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fashion Freak Show.

A glorious mix of cabaret music, catwalk shows, film, panto, digital FX, performance, dance, fashion, and a massive dollop of kitsch, camp, and fabulousness.  Along the way there are cultural references (and even cameo appearances) to everything from Josephine Baker, to Folies Bergère, Catherine Deneuve, Rossy de Palma, the London club scene, Pierre et Giles and, magnificently, Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld.

You get a hint of what’s to come in the opening hospital scene that gets thrown off kilter with the donning of silk evening gloves…. From there you get a loose telling of Gaultier’s life, learning along the way about his inspiration for that Madonna dress, gender neutral dressing and his punk S&M wear.  And it’s all set to Chic, Serge Gainsbourg, David Bowie, Plastic Bertrand and Grace Jones to name but a few.

Its visually glorious, hugely uplifting and you’ll be singing the soundtrack for weeks.    It’s only later when you reflect that the enormity of the technology, filmography, choreography, storytelling, and co-ordination becomes apparent – a real case of advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic!   So, not just a great show but a reminder that if you want to be inspired by the creative cutting edge of anything, then remember to look beyond the worlds of marketing and brands.