For this installment I thought I'd tell you about a recent Girls' Night Out, for which Laura and I went to the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the De Young Museum. Now the De Young has long been an institution in San Francisco, residing in the heart of Golden Gate Park near some of the park's other main attractions such as the Japanese Tea Garden as well as the Academy of Sciences, which I've written about before. But ever since its complete renovation and reopening in 2005, the museum seems to have a hipness that I've never seen in other art museums.
I tend to think of art museums as fairly sedate places, but the DeYoung has a vibrancy that seems to reflect the spirit of San Francisco. When Laura and I went, they had just kicked off their new season of Friday Nights at the DeYoung, where the museum stays open late and hosts all sorts of different events with music, cocktails, film screenings, dance, and so on. It's entirely possible that other art museums the world over are doing stuff like this, but then again I'm not really a frequent visitor of art museums. However, when we walked in the place that night, it seemed like a very San Francisco sort of scene.
For one thing, the place was PACKED. Tables and art supplies were set up all over the place with people creating elaborate costumes, and further into the museum they were putting on a fashion show while the music from a DJ blared. People were milling about with cocktails in hand, while others danced near the DJ table and giant video screen. It wasn't just a trip to the art museum, it was a party.
And then there was the exhibit, which was wonderful. It was much more than just a display of different clothing pieces, it was a multimedia experience that was so true to Gaultier as a designer and a personality. Many of the mannequins had animated faces projected onto them, so that they appeared to look at you, blink, and even speak.
One of the displays had the mannequins rotating around a raised platform, giving the effect of a live runway show. Clips from many of the movies that Gaultier has designed costumes for played in one room, and another contained a giant pink, satin-quilted boudoir to showcase many of the corsets and cone bras that have become Gaultier's signature.
As we made our way out of the exhibit and back through the throngs of people participating in the evening's event, a mostly naked woman adorned with sequins and feathers walked by with her young son, and the two of them hurried off to where the fashion show was taking place. No one batted an eye. They might do this sort of thing at other museums around the world, but I have a feeling it's still a little different out here.