France (2019), 100 min.

Directed by Yann L’Henoret

Instituto Francais

Any designer can stage a runway show, but possibly only Gaultier could pull off a “Fashion Freak Show” at the Folies Bergère. Go behind the scenes of the fashion innovator’s most outrageous project yet.

Inspired even as a boy by the Folies Bergere, the legendary Paris cabaret venue (open exactly 150 years, btw, as of May 2), couturier Jean-Paul Gaultier always wanted to stage a show there. “But what story can I tell?” he muses in this doc about the six months of preparation that went into the show. “Mine.” Combining fashion with film, dance, theater, and unapologetic over-the-top-ness, the revue, which opened last October 2, offers a 40-year career retrospective of the designer who is practically never spoken of without using the phrase enfant terrible. Notorious among cinephiles for his costumes for The Fifth Element and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover and among pop fans for Madonna’s pointy cone brassiere, he also incorporated teddy bears and S&M fetish gear as design motifs. In the show, the fanciful and outrageous (a gown with a train so long it has to be rolled along behind the model on a clothes rack) meets the naughtily witty (a skit sending up Vogue dragon lady Anna Wintour) and the poignant (a tribute to his partner Francis Menuge, who died in 1990). It also nods fabulously to the Bergere’s own history: A tribute to ’20s star Josephine Baker features her iconic banana skirt, this time encrusted with Swarovski crystals.

Festivals and Awards:

  • Seattle International Film Festiva