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Outtakes: Exhibitionists

Elizabeth Varnell and Sara Johnson | April 20, 2012 | Lifestyle Style & Beauty Story Style City Life Culture Beauty

Shortly after board president Dede Wilsey welcomed director John Buchanan to the Herzog & de Meuron–designed de Young Museum in 2006, San Franciscans found themselves in the thick of the international fashion scene. Some were ambivalent, others were thrilled, a few muttered and moved on. Though Buchanan passed away in December, the de Young is filled with another masterful style exhibition that he helped bring to the museum—the work of couturier Jean Paul Gaultier—and locals are basking in the global spotlight once again. Gaultier, ever the provocateur, brought Dita Von Teese to the opening gala and to a party held by the Fine Arts Museums at Ken Fulk’s Seventh Street gallery, aptly named Peep Show. “The Parisian cliché of the elegant woman doesn’t exist anymore,” said Gaultier. “But when I saw Dita, it was a shock. She makes it all look alive and modern.” And so did throngs of fans in gowns by Gaultier throughout the exhibition’s opening festivities. Weeks earlier, at the Mid-Winter Gala, dresses from another famed French design house, Chanel, turned up en masse. About his exhibition, Gaultier said, “You can make clothes speak in a certain way,” and this month the city’s fashion demimonde answered back.


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