I am not usually a big fan of haute couture, but Jean Paul Gaultier's Virgins (or Madonnas) collection, now on view at The Brooklyn Museum, is one of the best things I have ever seen. These lavishly elegant and painstakingly crafted gowns are embellished with sacred and bleeding hearts, or open in the suggestion of portable altars, or are encrusted with anatomical silver ex voto. Each is topped by a halo-inspired tiara/headdresses made from such materials as feathers, shells, and/or jewels; many of the models sport stylized Madonna Dolorosa-inspried tears. The installation is also a delightful spectacle in and of itself, with the blank white heads of the mannequins uncannily brought to life by video projections of the faces of the models, who blink and shift their aloof gazes towards and away from you, fantasies of the Virgin Mary brought to life.
If you are based in the New York area, I cannot more highly recommend making a pilgrimage to see these incredibly artful pieces, on view at The Brooklyn Museum in the exhibition "The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk" through February 23, 2014. You can find out more by clicking here.
Thanks so much to my friend Shannon Taggart for making sure I saw this incredible exhibition.
Images sourced from Art at Heart, Visual Therapy, Relics on Adams Street, and Pretty Cripple.