With the launch of a new exhibit devoted to Jean Paul Gaultier's avant-garde fashion creations, we interviewed director Balthazar Klarwein and Mill colourist Matt Osborne to find out about 'Dance for Decades', a new fashion short for Dazed celebrating the work of the famed couturier through a vivid exploration of strength, beauty and sensuality with a little help from Dinah Lux and friends.
This week sees the opening of the hotly anticipated exhibition 'The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to the Catwalk' at the Barbican (9 April - 25 August 2014), devoted to the iconic French designer and some of his 165 cutting edge couture and ready-to-wear garments. Dazed & Confused, working with director Balthazar Klarwein and The Mill, pay homage to the enfant terrible himself, Jean Paul Gaultier, in the fashion short 'Dance for Decades', featuring some of designers key signature pieces from the last decade and channeling a Gaultier-esque 80’s aesthetic.
We caught up with the fashion-favoured director behind the film and The Mill colourist Matt Osborne responsible for the pop palette, to find out more about their experience working on this project below.
Tell us a bit about how this film came about?
B: I think Dazed & Confused had the original idea of making a film with Gaultier pieces in advance of this retrospective show launching at the Barbican this month.
What was it like having access to some of Jean Paul Gaultier's most iconic pieces from the last decade?
B: Dazed & Confused gained access to some pieces of the collection which I believe is on sale at Matchesfashion.com at the moment. They are one-off pieces from the 80's and 90's so it was a real treat to get to use them on this film, especially being by Gaultier, who in my opinion is one of the most creative and imaginative designers of our time.
How did you approach bringing the iconic designers' work to life in this Almodovar-esque film?
B: The original idea was to explore gender roles in both sexes and twist everything around, playing with cliches and breaking them up. I wanted to explore strength, beauty and sensuality in femininity and masculinity and interchange everything around in one big dance of a large mix of characters from body builders, mannequins, voguing and ballet dancers. As we where quite tight on time some of the original cast fell through... but fortunately Dazed booked a last minute amazing cast of all male drag superstars who saved the day.
Was there a specific colour palette you worked off?
M: I've always been inspired by Jean Paul Gaultier's use of gutsy colours and the vibrancy of his designs. He is continually pushing boundaries and deconstructing conventions in his work and I guess our choice of using such a pop-esque, vivid colour palette advocates what makes Jean Paul Gaultier a master of his craft.
Were there any Gaultier designs that influenced you?
M: The Fifth Element was very much in the front of my mind in the lead up to the grade as I think it was the Gaultier costumes which made that film so striking. There were some really amazing outfits – from Leelo’s white outfit with her shock of orange hair, to the blue alien opera singers dress. These strong vivid colours really inspired me and worked perfectly as references for this piece.
Tell us about working with the cast: Jacob Mallinson Bird (aka Dinah Lux), Jonbenet Blonde, Tschan Andrews and Rodent DeCay.
B: These girls are amazing! so much personality and all very different which was perfect for the story. I didn't really have to do much except put together a good disco playlist and the rest came naturally. I couldn't help but dance behind the camera… I think I actually wished I was in front of the camera dancing in heels.
How was it working with Matt / Balthazar?
B: Matt's a real gentleman with amazing technical skills. Together with our DOP Jake Scott they have really elevated the film giving it a colourful, poppy and glossy look which was so important for this piece. Hopefully I'll get to work with Matt again soon!
M: This was the first time I worked with Balthazar. But I really respect the work he has done before. A real standout for me is the spot he directed for Harpers Bazaar titled ‘The Party’– such a sophisticated, filmic piece of work. It’s always great to work with directors on their fashion films as it allows for more daring and experimental content.
How do you feel about the stylistic and colourful final film?
B: Couldn't be happier.
Watch the film below and visit the Barbican to enjoy the theatrically-staged Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition.