'Jean Paul Gaultier's Fashion Freak Show' Is Making Its Australian Debut at Brisbane Festival 2024

Playing an Aussie-exclusive season, this stage production features more than 200 original Gaultier couture pieces and celebrates the designer's 50-year career.
Sarah Ward
Published on June 05, 2024

Life has been a cabaret for one of the world's inimitable designers since 2018, when Jean Paul Gaultier's Fashion Freak Show first premiered in Paris. Couture, colour, flair, excess, passion, a larger-than-life attitude: they're all channelled into this fashion show-meets-musical revue that steps through its namesake's career and promises a time at the theatre like nothing else. More than 200 original Gaultier pieces feature. His 50 years making threads are in the spotlight. Unsurprisingly, the whole thing also plays out like a party.

So far, London, Tokyo, Munich, Porto, Lisbon, Milan, Barcelona and Osaka have also revelled in the Jean Paul Gaultier's Fashion Freak Show experience. Next, it's Brisbane's turn. The River City will welcome the Australian debut of the show — and the Aussie-exclusive season, too — during Brisbane Festival 2024. Donning attire that Gaultier would approve of isn't a prerequisite of attending the production, but you know that you want to dress the part if you're heading along.

Jean Paul Gaultier's Fashion Freak Show will kick off with Brisbane Festival itself, starting on Friday, August 30. The Australian season runs until Sunday, September 15, taking over the South Bank Piazza — which forms part of the Festival Garden for the duration of Brisbane Festival.

"I am pleased and honoured that my Fashion Freak Show will be presented in Australia, as part of the Brisbane Festival," said Gaultier about the production's trip Down Under.

"I could never imagine that it would travel this far and I hope that the Australian audiences will enjoy the show as much as I enjoyed making it with the fantastic team that you will see in Brisbane. It's the story of my life told through music and dance and fashion. The story of a boy from the suburbs who dreamed of being a couturier — who lived his dream with all the highs and lows of his destiny."

Of course Jean Paul Gaultier's Fashion Freak Show emphasises its titular figure's boundary-pushing work, his focus on individual expression, and his championing of queer aesthetics and LGBTQIA+ causes. Alongside the hefty range of outfits, it also features a suitable genre-defying soundtrack of disco, funk, pop, rock, new wave and punk tunes as actors and dancers — plus circus artists as well — take to the stage.

The diverse cast of faces bringing the show to life spans even further, too, with celebrities and other special guests filming cameos that play during the production.

Jean-Paul Gaultier: Freak & Chic

In another highlight of Jean Paul Gaultier's Fashion Freak Show's Brisbane visit, a couture piece by Queensland Indigenous designer Grace Lillian Lee has been chosen by Gaultier to feature for the season.

"The coming together of Grace Lillian Lee and Jean Paul Gaultier will forever be one of my proudest moments and the epitome of Brisbane Festival as local and global," said Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Louise Bezzina.

"And in an Olympic year when eyes will turn from Paris to Brisbane, the festival is perfectly placed to host this shining blockbuster event that brings together superstar talents from Europe and First Nations Australia."

Grace Lillian Lee

Lee is no stranger to Brisbane Festival thanks to 2021's First Nations Fashion: Walking In Two Worlds, and will debut her first solo exhibition The Dream Weaver: Guardians of Grace from Friday, August 30–Saturday, September 21 during this year's fest.

For more of Brisbane Festival's ode to Jean Paul Gaultier, the event has also included a screening of documentary Jean-Paul Gaultier: Freak & Chic on its 2024 lineup.

Jean Paul Gaultier's Fashion Freak Show will play the South Bank Piazza, Festival Garden, South Bank, Brisbane from Friday, August 30–Sunday, September 15 as part of Brisbane Festival 2024. Head to the festival website for tickets and more details.

Published on June 05, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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