Fashion and Cocktails Collide at The Barbican’s Bar Gaultier

By Lauren Thomas

Last weekend I visited ‘The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to Catwalk’, the stunning exhibition of the French couturier’s designs, at East London’s Barbican. The sprawling complex plays host to concerts, some incredible installations and exhibitions, as well as bars and restaurants.

A cultural hub with just about everything you could need, across a maze of levels and lifts. The exhibition itself celebrates an impressive scope of work spanning three decades from Madonna’s iconic conical bra, to pieces from the 2012 collection inspired by the late Amy Winehouse, all brought to life by expressive mannequins which look and talk to you thanks to some ingenious video projection work.

After wandering around the incredible exhibition it would have been easy to walk out awestruck into the real world and into a mediocre bar for a drink. But continuing the experience just downstairs and well worth a visit is the pop-up, Bar Gaultier.

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In tribute to the much anticipated show, the Barbican’s martini bar has been transformed with the help of beautiful furniture, designed by the man himself. Comfy sofas and chairs on wheels are dotted around the circular bar, giving you a chance to surround yourself in his world for just a little while longer. We opted for a sofa and admired the nautical design before being distracted by the equally head-turning cocktail menu.

Dubbed the enfant terrible of the fashion world, his daring designs and irreverent personality have been mirrored in the cocktail creations on offer. Punk Cancan is a bold martini, definitely not for the faint hearted, while The Conical is a Cosmopolitan-style blend with vodka, Cointreau, lime and Cranberry juice; lightened with a mist of rose water – which one of the Breton-clad barmen squirts from a perfume atomiser – at your table. All deliciously decadent and so very Gaultier.

Completely seduced by the glamour, we plumped for the two most expensive cocktails on the list next. Both use Lanson White Label Champagne, a premium champagne popular in cocktails, as it is developed to delicately enhance aromas so is perfect for mixing with fruit. The stylish Fifth Element combined Cognac, Lanson White Label and Angostura bitters and was sweetened with a sugar cube and orange. Pret-a-porter was a pretty and easy to drink blend of Lanson White Label with cranberry juice and lime served in a sugar rimmed glass, a personal favourite.

For fashion and cocktail lovers it really doesn’t get much better and luckily there’s still plenty of time to get down to the exhibition, and get a taste of Bar Gaultier, before it finishes on 25th August. Try and plan your visit wisely though as the bar is only open 5.30pm-9pm, then slightly later on a Thursday and Friday closing at 10pm.

Bar Gaultier, The Barbican, Silk St, EC2