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"Elegance is a question of personality, more than one's clothing." - J.P. Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier
is celebrating 35 influential years in the industry with a new exhibition launching on June 17th at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA). The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk will showcase about 120 haute couture and ready-to-wear pieces for women and men from 1976 to 2010.
Jean Paul Gaultier – one of the most famous fashion designers of our times– was born on 24 April 1952 in Arcueil, Val-de-Marne, France. Gaultier studied at the Lycee d'Arcueil. Although he never received formal training as a designer, he was considered a prodigy when it came to fashion design. At age 13 he designed a collection of clothing for his mother and grandmother.

When only 14, in 1964, he started sketching his fashion ideas on paper and sending sketches to famous couture stylists. Pierre Cardin was impressed by his talent and hired him as an assistant in 1970.

Gaultier worked for Cardin for two years. He then spent a year designing for Jacques Esterel before joining Jean Patou, the famous couture house, as an assistant to Michael Gomez, then Angelo Tarlazzi.

Then in 1974 returned to manage the Pierre Cardin boutique in Manila, Philippines, for a year in 1974, where he designed clothes for Imelda Marcos.
In 1976 several of Gaultier's sketches were published in Mode Internationale, a French fashion magazine. The sketches were favourably received by the design world. That same year Gaultier launched his design career under his own label for a company called Mayagor, as well as continuing to design freelance ready-to-war furs, swimwear, and leather clothing.
In 1976 in October, he presented his first individual collection under his own name, at the "Palais de la Decouverte" comprising articles such as furnishings, table sets in plaited straw. Many of Gaultier's following collections have been based on street wear, focusing on popular culture, whereas others, particularly his haute couture collections, are very formal yet at the same time unusual and playful.

In 1977 he started his own Haute Couture firm. In 1978 he produced his first collection with partner Kashiyama.

In 1981 Gaultier changed his partner and Kashiyama went back to Japan, where he still produces Gaultier products under licence for Japan and the Far East. Sales in Italy were handled by Gibo for woven goods and Equator for knits.

In 1984 Gaultier achieved recognition world wide with his men's collection "men in skirts" In Brigitte Bardot's famous film "God Created Woman" men wore trousers like pencil skirts. This inspired his collection.

In 1987 Gaultier received the coveted French designer of the year award (the French Fashion Oscar Award).

In 1988 he launched a lower-priced sportswear line called Junior Gaultier, at first carried exclusively in a small store located in Les Halles, a funky area of Paris, and later sporadically sold in U.S. department stores. His other store, located on the chic Right Bank of Paris, contained his men's and women's readyto- wear bearing high price tags ($1,200 for a suit). These clothes were also sold in boutiques in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami.

In 1988 Gaultier launched his jewellery line.
In 1990 Gaultier's talents were viewed by a wider, less fashion-conscious audience when he designed the entire wardrobe for the controversial British director Peter Greenaway film "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover". Long a fan of Greenaway's films, Gaultier and he decided that the clothing
for this modern day morality play should change colours as the characters moved from set to set. Four sets of clothing were made: red for the dining room, blue for the parking lot, white for the bathroom, and green for the kitchen.

One of his most devoted fans was singer Madonna, who on her 1990 Blonde Ambition international tour wore nothing but Gaultier suits with sliced open breasts covering a torpedo bra corset over menswear pants. She was also one of the first to adopt his lingerie-over-clothing trend in 1985.

In 1993 Gaultier launched his perfume "Haute Perfumerie".

In 1997, Gaultier collaborated with French movie director Luc Besson to design costumes for the movie "The Fifth Element", a futuristic sci-fi thriller. Although the film received less than enthusiastic reviews, the costumes were referred to as "body-conscious" and "outlandish" in reviews in National Review and People Weekly.

Although in 1997, Gaultier displayed couture for the first time in a Paris show. In an article in Interview, he stated that: "We are in a world where many people are staying at home on the Internet, not doing anything. I think the moment now for couture is right because it's a small fantasy. It's special, and for only one customer at a time."
Gaultier was the only designer in the show to feature couture for men as well as women. Also noteworthy in the 1997 Paris show were corsets for men. Gaultier rationalized in Interview that: "I am for equality of gender. I say there's couture for women, so why not for men". Although Gaultier derived his inspiration for design from the street in the past, and couture is generally perceived to be in the realm of the elite, he attempted to respect the tradition of couture with fabrics not normally used in couture.

On June 15, 2000, Gaultier was given the International Award at the American Fashion Awards, presented by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Gaultier has been known for using unique looking models in his shows of all different shapes, sizes and ages, like older men and full-figured women, pierced and heavily tattooed models, and by playing with traditional gender roles in the shows. This earned him both criticism and enormous popularity. In Interview he explained that: "I have never really cared about what fashion's ideal was. There are different kinds of beauty and I always try to show that." Renowned as perhaps the most avant-garde fashion designer of his time, Gaultier was sometimes called the Prince of Perversity. He was known for keeping a keen winking eye on young London and New York street fashions, reinterpreting them with a dash of Parisian panache, then pushing them out on his runways.

Some of his most recognizable cutting-edge designs are jackets, dresses, and jumpsuits with indiscreet cutouts that make the garments resemble cages. His unique designs also include dresses and tops with sliced open breasts and bra-like torpedo inserts, fichu off-the-shoulder tops, multi-coloured Lycra, vinyl and leather bike pants, and kilt-ish skirts for men.
Although Gaultier's designs are sometimes considered over-the-top, there is no question among the fashion historians or the retail fashion world that his multiple talents greatly influence the work of other designers. Gaultier imitations and sometimes blatant thefts of his somewhat insane designs often appear in more moderately priced department stores mere months after his runway shows.

Gaultier currently designs for three collections: his own couture and ready-to-wear lines, as well as the newly relaunched clothing line for Hermes, a French leather goods company well-known for their equestrian background, scarves, and expensive handbags.

Source: Bookrags, MMFA, Wikipedia

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk - From June 17 to October 2, 2011, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA).


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