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Alexander McQueen v. Jean Paul Gaultier: How do their exhibitions stack up?

It's a rare treat for fashion buffs on this side of the Atlantic: two major exhibitions devoted to the work of two major clothing designers by a pair of major museums. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, which opened at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in May, has had its run extended to Aug. 7 because of popular demand; The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk opened at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts two weeks ago and continues to Oct. 2. Both exhibitions celebrate designers who have transcended the runway to create wearable art, even if their shows have markedly different feels. Amy Verner, having visited both, looks at how they stack up.

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Outfits on display Gaultier: 140

Robert Marquardt/Robert Marquardt/Getty Images

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Outfits on display McQueen: 100

Jeff Christensen/Jeff Christensen/Reuters

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Running themes Gaultier: Sex in all its glory

Associated Press

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Running themes McQueen: Romanticism in myriad forms

Associated Press

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Early experiments Gaultier: Used a teddy bear named Nana as his childhood muse, giving her cone-shaped breasts made out of newsprint and a bias-cut doily skirt


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Early experiments McQueen: Used loops of his own hair as his trademark before opting for a plastic alternative; he wanted to channel Victorian times, when people gave locks to their lovers

Matt Dunham/Matt Dunham/Reuters

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Signature motif Gaultier: Stripes

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Signature motif McQueen: Skulls

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Major misunderstandings Gaultier: The designer took much heat for his Chic Rabbis collection inspired by Hasidic Jews. "What I wanted to convey with this collection was the feeling these traditional costumes gave me, to pay tribute to their beauty"

Remy de la Mauviniere/Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press

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Major misunderstandings McQueen: People thought the fall/winter '95 Highland Rape collection was about women being raped. In fact, the earthy, tartan-heavy pieces represented England's rape of Scotland

Matthew Fearn/Matthew Fearn/Reuters

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Curatorial sound bite Gaultier: "I'm not a fashionista but I was touched by Jean Paul Gaultier ... He is so discreet and humble. The first impression is that he's an enfant terrible, but he's more than that. He's more than Breton stripes and corsets." -- Natalie Bondil

Benoit Tessier/Benoit Tessier/Reuters

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Curatorial sound bite McQueen: "His fashions were an outlet for his emotions, an expression of the deepest, often darkest aspects of his imagination. He was a true romantic in the Byronic sense of the word -- he channeled the sublime." -- Andrew Bolton

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Show-related book Gaultier: Four kilograms, 424 pages, contribution by fashion journalist Suzy Menkes

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Show-related tomes McQueen: Two kilograms, 241 pages, contribution by fashion journalist Tim Blanks

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The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk runs at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts ( until Oct. 2.

Franck Prevel/Franck Prevel/Reuters

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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty continues at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute ( through Aug. 7.

Danny Moloshok/Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

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