Fashion Freak Show

3
Seen at the Roundhouse.
By Daryl - 20th Jul 2022

Originally performed at the Southbank Centre in 2019, Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fashion Freak Show returns to London for a limited season at the Roundhouse, Camden. The enfant terrible of couture highlights his love for ‘magazine and fashion’. Part autobiography, part runway, part burlesque, Fashion Freak Show (FFS – any coincidence?) tells the story of how a young boy from France with no formal training took the fashion world by storm. Or at least, I think that’s what it’s supposed to do.

The show is undeniably a visual feast with high energy performances from all concerned; I’m just not sure what the show is supposed to be. And perhaps that’s the point; like fashion, it can be all things to all people. Whatever you take away from this production, you cannot fail to be impressed by the design and costumes. But I guess you’d hope for that at the very least. For me, it lacks a certain cohesion or identity. In attempting to gel autobiography with runway and burlesque, the show ends up being none of them. Individually, each element is well conceived but, somehow, the show never quite becomes greater than the sum of its parts. There are too many conventions at play.

That said, it’s unlike anything else I’ve seen and it reminds us of just how rare a talent Jean Paul Gaultier is. For sheer fashion history and incredible costumes, it’s worth the price of the ticket alone.

Daryl Bennett


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