Gaultier-a-Go-Go

This zombie carnival greets the visitor at the De Young.

Get your high-stylin’ freak on and go hang out in the latest, greatest update to our tawdry, displaced Musée Méchanique, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, at the De Young, now through August 19. Go early, go often.

As my friend said, stunned by the lavish display of gender-bending haute-couture automata, “It makes me feel so conventional.”

Well, it’s not too late to change that!

Beneath the freak, there’s a profound French grasp of eternal verities, as evidenced by a loop from Falbalas (1945) playing inside an old wooden TV. This high-concept film by Jacques Becker portrays a designer’s obsession with female beauty — not women, but an essence you could call the Goddess. Clip below shows the femme fatale (Micheline Presle), alas! engaged to his best friend, penetrating the designer’s (Raymond Rouleau) creative process.

UPDATE: in answer to my prayer, Falbalas screens at 7 pm, April 6th, free, as part of Friday Nights at the de Young, in its Koret Auditorium, in partnership with the San Francisco Fashion Film Festival, which kicks off at the Roxie for a two-day run, April 7th and 8th.

UPDATEST: in answer to my other prayer, cult video purveyor Le Video sends a charming ungrammatical email agreeing Falbalas is a must have, so they ordered it, au diable l’avarice. In a few weeks, you’ll be able to rent it at 1231 9th Avenue, at Irving, 415-566-3606.

ENCORE PLUS UPDATED: Onstage to present a screening of Falbalas last year, Jean Paul Gaultier attributes his career to Micheline Presle. They’re joined by her daughter, Tonie Marshall, who filmed the documentary Les falbalas de Jean-Paul Gaultier (2004). Does life get any more coherent?

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