Jean Paul Gaultier has hosted plenty of catwalk extravaganzas in his time — so dedicated followers of fashion will expect nothing less from the stage show about his life which is coming to London.
The designer is bringing his autobiographical Fashion Freak Show to the Southbank Centre later this year — and it will see him reunite with Eurotrash co-star Antoine de Caunes.
The 66-year-old described the production, which includes video projections and about 17 on-stage performers, as “a mirror image of my life”.
It follows Gaultier from childhood to his big break working for Pierre Cardin as a teenager, and his emergence as a designer. It will also cover his arrival in mid-Seventies London — where the burgeoning punk scene was a huge influence on him; his collaboration with Madonna, including designing the infamous cone bra for her Blond Ambition tour; and the death from Aids of his boyfriend Francis Menuge in 1990.
“Life is like that, it is all mixed together,” he told the Standard. “I think life is beautiful because sometimes it is sad and on the stage you have a lot of emotions, you have drama, there is something ironic.”
Gaultier will be played by cast members and has roped in fellow Frenchman de Caunes to play the Queen in a filmed section set in London. The two men became stars in Britain while presenting the cult TV show Eurotrash on Channel 4 in the mid-Nineties.
“I am excited about it,” Gaultier said. “I’m very, very proud to present this in London because London has always been for me a big inspiration. I came to London in 1975 and London was more free, people were more free and it was a moment of punk and people were discovering this and it influenced me in my fashion.”
The show, which is in the middle of a long run at the Folies Bergère in Paris, features some of the designer’s favourite music from the period including the Sex Pistols and The Clash.
He added: “Fashion can maybe be superfluous but clothes can say things. It can provoke, it can get attention or be discreet and cover things up, and clothes can lie as well … what I show in the show is different kinds of beauty, androgyny, different people from different races, all the things that have been in my collections, so I wanted to put that in and tell my story as well.”
Fashion Freak Show is at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall from July 23 for 13 performances. Tickets go on general sale from Friday.
Belvedere Road, SE1, southbankcentre.co.uk