Madge in her element

Madonna (Madge), in her element on stage wearing Jean-Paul Gaultier’s masterpiece. Commissioned by Madonna this piece is the definition of a juxtaposition. The traditionalist views of the male and female genders have been shown clearly through the carefully thought out choice of fabric, colour and style to the song ‘Express Yourself’.

In a new study group in Constellation, the class were asked to describe and analyse a photo, relating to existing theories from existing practitioners and academics. By describing the photos we had looked at, we discovered what Gaultier’s and Madonna’s intentions were with creating the outfit for her Blond Ambition world tour in 1990.

We first looked at the parts of the masculine blue pinstripe suit that Madonna was wearing. Because of the colour, pattern and shape of the suit if gave the audience the impression and traditionalist theory that men are used to wearing formal and business like clothing.

The next feature of the outfit we looked at was of course the famous light pink silky corset with the extravagant design of the cups on the chest area. Corsets were introduced in the 16th century, however became very popular in fashion in the 18th to 19th century. Corsets were predominantly made of whale bone to tighten the waist and lift the cleavage up. The design and concept of the corset was to tighten the stomach to make the waist significantly smaller. The stomach fat would be pushed up to the chest area to reveal the cleavage and make the breasts seem larger. Because of the strong whale bone that was used to tighten the waist, the ribcage would be pushed in and ultimately crush the organs making it hard for the wearer to breath.

With the design by Gaultier, he designed Madonna’s corset so that it was effective and comfortable to move in. The costume needed to be designed this way to wear on stage for her tour because of the dance sequences being fast paced and expressive.

After describing the image and analysing the features of the costume, we tied them together into the analysis of why Gaultier and Madonna chose to juxtapose these. With the LGBT community up and rising into 21st century, Madonna wanted to make a statement through the lyrics in her songs and the costumes she wore on her tour in 1990. By slowly transforming people’s ideas of what she stated through her music, the choice of juxtaposition of traditionalist and stereotypical views of genders perfectly stated that men and women should be equal and that all genders should be accepted for who they are.

The sharpness of the shoulders on the suit jacket and the pointed cones for the bra on the corset, this represents the aggressive nature and the power that Madonna wants to convey of both sexes. The slashes in the suit jacket reveal what’s underneath, also representing the song ‘Express Yourself’, which is what she had worn to dance to the song on tour.

Gaultier’s creation of her outfit for the tour had inspired millions, both in the fashion world and in the real world on the issue of equality for both genders.


Author: jennifertaylorgraphics

First year student studying Graphic Communication at the Cardiff School of Art and Design

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