Cabaret Dream Gaultier Outfits Major Berlin Revue

Berlin's famous Friedrichstadt-Palast is going haute couture with a new €10 million revue featuring costumes by famous pop star outfitter Jean Paul Gaultier.
A sketch of the Mr. Gaultier's designs for the show.

Madonna's iconic cone bra made global headlines when fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier made it for the pop star in 1990. Since then he's gone on to create costumes for performers like Kylie Minogue, Depeche Mode and Beyoncé. In the pop scene, being dressed by Mr. Gaultier is an honor.

Austrian singer and drag queen Conchita Wurst has also worn customized Gaultier. But in that case it was the French designer himself who says he felt particularly honored to dress her. The 63-year-old is a devoted fan of the bearded singer, who made history when she won the Eurovision Song Contest two years ago, wearing a glamorous costume designed by Mr. Gaultier.

"I sent 73 text message votes," he said after her victory.

Mr. Gaultier loves a big show, so it's fittting that his work's next prominent appearance will be on stage at Berlin’s famous Friedrichstadt-Palast. It will be the first time he's designed costumes for a revue in his 40-year career.

“THE ONE Grand Show" premieres in September, and Mr. Gaultier says working on it will be a dream come true.

"I saw the televised premiere at [famous French cabaret hall] Folies Bergere at my grandmother’s house. The next day I got in trouble at school because I drew girls dressed in feathers and fishnets,” he said.

One good thing did come of his scandalous school drawings? “I realized that I was admired for my drawings because suddenly I was very popular with my classmates."


Mr. Gaultier was inspired by a televised revue show he saw as a child. Credit: DPA/Tobias Hase


Friedrichstadt-Palast says it invested €10 million ($10.9 million) into the new show. More than 100 artists from 26 countries will come together for what the show’s director Berndt Schmidt promises will be a "poetic and ecstatic dream" at one of the German capital's most storied venues. To make this dream come true, he also brought show designer Roland Welke and Emmy winner Peter Morse on board.

Mr. Welke is also currently involved in the Friedrichstadt-Palast’s running show "The Wyld," which sparkles with costumes designed by French designer Thierry Mugler.

Mr. Morse is known for his spectacular lighting designs. Like Mr. Gaultier, he has also collaborated with many famous artists, such as Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Prince, Bette Midler, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, as well as cone-bra-wearing Queen of Pop Madonna.

For the Friedrichstadt-Palast’s upcoming show, Mr. Morse designed "The Light," an artificial protagonist in a play that tells the story of a reawakened revue theater. The Light is awoken when it hears the electronic beats coming from an underground rave. There, a young partygoer experiences a waking dream where the past and the present blur into one.

Mr. Gaultier has designed about 500 costumes for the show – a massive undertaking.

"Those who have ever seen Mr. Gaultier's calendar will know that it is a sensation that this legendary couturier it dedicating weeks of his time to our project," said the show’s director Berndt Schmidt.

The designer says the task bears special significance.

"The first revue for which I am designing the costumes will take place in Berlin,” he says. “This city defined cabaret in the 1920s and the Friedrichstadt-Palast is a place rich in history – it has reinvented itself more than once,” he said. “I'm flattered and honored that I am able to be part of this production.”

This will not, however, be the very first time that Mr. Gaultier has worked on a production in Berlin. In 2009, he designed the costumes for the Berlin State Ballet’s interpretation of "Snow White" at the Deutsche Oper.


This article originally appeared in Berlin daily, Der Tagesspiegel. To contact the author: [email protected]