Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Jean Paul Gaultier San Francisco (watch out Melbourne, it is diii-vvvviiiinne)!

Hello my dear Paris '99ians!
Welcome to part two of USA 2012 a la Paris '99. Los Angeles was, as you saw, a most fabulous experience; food, fashion, champagne, what more could you want?!
Well, perhaps one the highest of highlights of the entire trip, THE Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition for which I had been itching for months! to see. (Please read my post regarding the arrival of the book for this show, which shows just how truly excited I was to actually be able to see it.)
For this, a few days in San Francisco; city of Alcatraz, clam chowder, Harvey Milk, fine food and much much more!

I arrived in the bay city on Saturday afternoon, where the city was in the midst of preparations for the annual Pride March, down Market St towards the Castro. Colourful people of alsorts were hovering around. It was nice to see trams, though  of course I really didn't miss these yet, well, ever, not even when I haven't used them at home, myki, what? :S
My first night I had a real craving for Asian, something that had mostly eluded me in L.A, as the nearest 'authentic' eatery was 21km away from my whereabouts, and as much as I like dumplings, they probs ain't worth that cab ride (tarifs are way high haha)!
But there it was , Chinatown, just 10 minutes walk from my hotel. This one, not the snappiest hotel in town I must say. Everything old, no air conditioning (and contrary to the rumour this was a cooler city, the mercury didn't drop below 28 while I was there,) and no lift! Try lugging a 20kg suitcase up 5 flights of almost Amsterdam style stairs, 'tis no fun at all!
But I survived, and I knew my cushiest hotel experiences were yet to come (see next parts of the story...).
Anyway, Chinatown (dodgy image seen below.. ;)).

Of course by now I had discovered just how useful a tool Yelp is in the US, type in anything, someone will have reviewed it, fantastic. I looked up a couple of places that had been in guide websites, eh, who needs those. They looked, for lack of a better word, too 'white', and not that I speak a word of Mandarin or Cantonese, but I like a place where there's only one of me and I don't really understand what's going on. For me, that's a guarantee it's going to be good!
Along comes my place, and even though I am 3 minutes past closing time I guess I smiled nicely so they gave me table, hooray :). Basically I got greedy; 'soup' dumplings, pork and chive dumplings, broccoli oyster sauce and some other spicy thing that was really nice. And then! As a palette cleanser, they give a free orange, whole orange all ready to eat, amazing! Take not Shanghai Village (even though I don't go there, too white.. hahaha).

San Francisco Pride. Wow, I caught up with my friend who had been living in Berkeley on the Sunday. She had overheard a couple of drag queens saying on the train that the parade would start at 11 and go for an hour and a half. Well, I think it might have gone for about...7 hours at least, was stilling going just as the sun was coming down after we had stuffed ourselves full of yummy food samples at the building right on the water looking up at the Bay Bridge. I enjoyed the tasty salted pig parts, my friend, a vegetarian, did not.

So they say LA is impossible to walk, I did it, mostly, and yes, it is very time consuming indeed (well, its impossible to walk some parts of the hills as the footpath disappears rather suddenly, there you go..), but, San Francisco isn't easy to walk either, its so hilly! But the hilly walks are so more than worth it when you finally reach the top; the views are just spectacular, and rolling, rolling, the hills, the sea, in the distance the taller buildings of the city centre, and of course the bridges, all stunning!
The only thing was, as lovely and picturesque as it all was, I felt it all to be just slightly elusive. I found it hard to connect entirely with the vibe of the city. Maybe it was because the expectations were so high, really, EVERYbody said how amazing it is, how much I'd love it, the food, the buildings (these were truly lovely though, don't get me wrong..), everything! And yes I really tried, but I felt like it was all dangling in front of me and beckoning me, but then just pulling away when I tried to get closer. Poignant I know :S :P...

One thing that did not disappoint, and in fact smashed away all expectations, and was really the main reason for my San Fran visit, was the exhibition.
Which one? Well, remember my post a few months ago about The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier book, arriving and thrilling me with its pull out striped cover which made different images. That one. That exibition.
My word of advice (even though it is now over), go early. I arrived at 10am, half an hour after the museum opened. Good choice Yahav. It was as if the gallery was almost my own, and I was free to go right up close with an unobstructed view, which allowed for some pretty ok photos if I may say so myself!
Like the book, the exhibition explored the themes of Gaultier's large and extremely impressive (just a small fan here duh..) oeuvre. The sailor and the sea, the boudoir and the corset, leading into overt bondage and S&M and fetish wear, done ever so chic of course.
The urban jungle, a whole host of interpretations and inspiration drawn from a multitude of ethnic references; Africa, India, China, Spain, Russia, Mexico, Iceland and of course the infamous Rabbi Chic collection, my favourite! Jungle, pieces made from the most beautiful furs, leathers, skins, hides, pelts, in ways you'd just never imagine.
Shark skin stitched on the lightest stretch mesh, ponyskin laser cut into the finest fernlike fronds, a fabulously cut pinstriped suit made entirely of dyed mink, and two of the most incredibly constructed crocodile skin pieces I've ever seen, a laced corset where the gradating sizes of the scales were used symmetrically as decoration, and a jacket with a raw edged back which is simply beyond words, worn with a fur turban to boot! (see picture further down).
Punk, the military, Paris, all done with knowing cheekiness, high camp and humour, but executed with the finest hands in Paris, workmanship that shows the capabilities of people in the highest echelons of fashion's technical know how. I actually had to sit and catch my breath on more than one occasion, and also watch my hands!
Some of you might know, fashion exhibition vexes me to no end; clothes are fabric, fabric needs to be touched to truly connect. It's one big tease. Of course I understand that a piece in a museum loses its 'usability' and becomes artefact. I know that if we all touched the dresses they would cease to exist, oils and all. But please excuse me painters, sculptors and your ilk; one doesn't HAVE to touch a painting, a statue or even a piece of decorative furniture in order to REALLY interact with it, so do forgive my angst regarding the matter. In any case, I was good, not one garment was illegally touched, pats on the back for me haha!
So yes. I got to the end of the exhibition, Ruby Rod's outfit from The 5th Element, one of my favourite movies, in the section looking at Gaultier's contribution to cinema, working with everyone from Luc Besson, to Almodovar and Edina and Patsy, and as there were no passouts or re-entry, I turned sharply on my heel, walked back to the beginning of the show, and did it all again! From a full phone battery to 10% and almost 400 photos later, I left the exhibition, fighting my way through the crowds this time, and enjoyed a post fashgasmic coffee and tart at the cafe in the park where the museum is housed.
Then I flew to Vegas!

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