Jean Paul Gaultier has always been way out front, what the French call 'avant-garde.' He was the couturier who caparisoned men in skirts and provided Madonna with conical mammai.
Born in France, Gaultier had no formal training as a designer. Still, he felt driven to draw up sketches of his ideas for innovative clothing. Gaultier not only put his ideas on paper, but he had the gall to send the sketches to famous couturiers, telling them this is the way it should be done. Pierre Cardin liked what he saw and decided to hire the 18-year old as an assistant. A year later, Gaultier was working with Jacques Esterel and Jean Patou.
Gaultier's star was rising.
In 1976, he released his initial collection. From the beginning, his designs were invested with a bold, cheeky style that would never fade. This impudence earned him the nickname of enfant terrible ' Gaultier was the 'terrible child' of French fashion. Observers were simultaneously horrified and magnetized by his egregious renderings. The fashion world was agog.
Despite the fact that many people considered his designs debauched, prominent editors of slick fashion magazines refused to jump on the judgmental bandwagon. Instead, they praised his originality and exquisite tailoring. Their plaudits served to provide impetus to Gaultier's fledgling career.
Gaultier took off. Gaultier soared.
His man-skirts arrived in 1985, and were followed by his innovative costume designs for Madonna's world tours: the Blond Ambition Tour in 1990 and the Confessions Tour in 2006. Just as Gaultier's designs were non-conforming, so were his models: Gaultier used older male models and full-figured women in his Paris fashion shows. This definitely went against the prevailing trend of young is beautiful and thin is in. And many of his models sported body piercings and mucho tattoos.
I think it was about four years ago when my feelings were changing towards the industry. I didn't hate it, but I was yearning to do something different. ---Agyness Deyn, born Laura Michelle Hollins on 16 February 1983, is an English fashion model, actress and singer. |
Unsurprisingly, Gaultier's distinctive designs caught the eye of Hollywood. The result? He designed the wardrobe for The Fifth Element
, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
, and The City of Lost Children
. Gaultier's costume designs for Madonna have already been mentioned. Other vocalists that employed his talents were rocker Marilyn Manson, and techno-songstress Kylie Minogue. In both cases, his designs garnered vast attention. Tongues wagged, jaws dropped, and cameras flashed.
Gaultier indulges his creativity in a variety of active labels and collections: Gaultier PARIS, which is devoted to haute couture. Junior Gaultier, a modestly priced line of clothing with a decidedly nautical motif for young hipsters, was later replaced by JPG by Gaultier. JPG features unisex clothing, while another line, Gaultier Jeans, focuses on denim with a street motif. Indubitably, Gaultier's haute couture label is his claim to fame. For it is here that he indulges his creativity and imagination, unrestrained. It was this flamboyantly articulated creativity that caught the eye of Hermes, the Paris-based, high-fashion luxury-goods manufacturer. Gaultier took over as creative director of Hermes from 2003 to 2010.
Puig, the family-owned international company founded in 1914 by Antonio Puig Castell? in Barcelona, Spain, and Gaultier hooked up to produce a line of perfumes: Classique, a floral-oriental perfume for women and Le Male for men. As usual, success pursued Gaultier's foray into the world of essences. Le Male is the most popular European men's cologne, and ranks in the top-ten in the American and Australian markets. A third fragrance ' Fragile ' did not do well. This entry was followed by Ma Dame, a perfume for women, and a new men's cologne ' Kokorico, introduced in 2011.
Jean Paul Gaultier became a jury member for the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, the first ever fashion designer invited to participate in the prestigious festival of flicks. Gaultier's most recent conquest was his first international exhibit in Rotterdam. Dubbed the "Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier," the exhibit traces the designer's last thirty-five years, includes 140 original creations, along with other prototypes from the worlds of movies and music. The exhibit runs through May 12, 2013, a celebration of talent and 'cool.'