Fashion as a Sign and Statement against the Traditional Female Gender Role - "The Brides" by Jean Paul Gaultier

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At Jean Paul Gaultier's exhibition From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk in Munich’s Kunsthalle between autumn 2015 and spring 2016, four wedding dresses from different contemporary haute couture collections between 2002 and 2015 were presented as “The Brides”. Munich was the eleventh location of this exhibition at which 140 haute couture creations from the years 1971 to 2015 were shown. Gaultier’s gowns are very unconventional and ambiguous. As the dresses are influenced by the traditional wedding dress, the viewer can feel the tensions between tradition and innovative transformation. Elements of the dresses, such as “wedding trousers,” a pope’s crown, an Indian feather headdress, or an African mask, refer to different male wardrobes. Even though playfully concealed, each of the dresses can be clearly understood as a fashion statement about the traditional female gender role: it seems that some of the brides are rather entering a battle instead of walking down the aisle. To find out how Gaultier’s designs respond to the female gender role, I have developed the following research question: How do Jean Paul Gaultier’s “Brides,” presented at the From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk exhibition, constitute a fashion statement against traditional female gender roles? For the Theoretical Framework Judith Butler's theory and as a Method Roland Barthes' semiological analysis are used.
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