Jean Paul Gaultier's Fashion Evolution
Girdles, panties, conical bras and suspender belts refashioned in extravagant fabrics as outerwear are the immediate images that spring to mind when thinking of Jean Paul Gaultier. The sight of Madonna on her Blonde Ambition tour, straddling the stage, defiant in her designer scanties will be forever associated with this ‘Frencher than French’ designer. Super feminine references juxtaposed with harder more surprising elements regularly feature in his designs. He’s also well known for putting his male models into a swishy yet very macho kilt and for taking the unusual step of starting his own couture show in 1997, as well as paying tribute to Amy Winehouse with a couture collection dedicated to the late singer’s signature style.
Gaultier has made sure that over the years his personality is as well known as his headline snatching collections. Firstly there’s his signature look – bleached hair, more often than not a kilt and big boots, plus his sideline as presenter of the supremely silly TV show Eurotrash. Fashion, not being an industry renowned for its sense of humour, allows the original enfant terrible to indulge his childish impulses because he has proved his technical abilities beyond doubt. At 18 years old, he was hired by Pierre Cardin as an assistant after recognising a spark of talent even though Gaultier had no formal training. He launched his eponymous collection six years later in Paris.
JPG also created the costumes for Luc Besson’s astonishing sci-fi vision of the future, ‘The Fifth Element’, and his couture collections have, on occasion, impressed editors so much that he’s even been dubbed ‘the successor to Yves Saint Laurent’ and the savior of a dying art. His business empire encompasses menswear, accessories, fragrances and even Coca Cola bottles, his clients include the burlesque queen Dita Von Teese and Katy Perry and he names androgynous model Andrej Pejic as his muse. In 2000, the CFDA crowned him with the International Award and in 2003 he succeeded Martin Margiela as creative director at Hermes.