Jean Paul Gaultier on the Big Screen

I’m sure you know the fashion world’s enfant terrible and remember his most daring catwalks, but what about his cinematographic work in the ’80s? 

I’m talking about the costume design by Jean Paul Gaultier for The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, a film written and directed by Peter Greenaway, starring Helen Mirren (Georgina Spica), Michael Gambon (Albert Spica) and Tim Roth (Mitchell Davis).

A 1989 dark comedy in theatrical style pouring expression and meaning through every single cinematographic element. It’s such a memorable reference and source of inspiration for Art Direction, a subject that has been unnoticed in the last movies lately focused on action and famous actors.

Now let’s take a look at the use of color in every location of the story and its reflection on the costumes.

The movie begins with the entrance to ‘The Dutch’ restaurant, the pathway is a long cold hall where blue is the main color, symbolizing the way to a cruel place.

The arrival to ‘The Dutch’ restaurant

The second stage is the restaurant’s kitchen. Here the characters wear white uniforms and they manipulate the food surrounded by a green light that spreads all over the location and stains their clothes as a clear message of toxic, petty and putrid events that are going to be processed from this place.

The kitchen

The third stage comes to life as the diners zone, where the passion, the lust, politics and important discussions take place. This is also the location where the hierarchy is visible through humiliation and submission, naturally, the perfect and unique color chosen to express all of this is the red range.

Lastly, the bathroom is represented in white as a place for sin and cleansing from sin, which needs to be eliminated according to moral principles.

The above choices fit perfectly in the fashion styling of each scene and film action through Gaultier’s ability to make his signature as precise as remarkable: he took inspiration from pictorial art esthetics and specific garments from XV to XVIII centuries; periods of time where he took the corsé from to reinvent it and make it his own iconic piece. All of this organically mixed with ‘80s current trends, especially the punk style.

Gaultier’s corsé

Would you watch this film in the same way?

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