Tattoo prints, sailor stripes and of course, corsetry are championed continuously throughout Jean Paul Gaultier’s collections. The French ‘enfant terrible’ of fashion can create both beautiful couture and bizarrely extravagant outfits down to a tee. His use of unconventional models, the overweight, the old and the heavily tattooed has caused a stir in the world where only perfectly crafted women run free.
Gaultier’s childhood was spent sketching enchanting designs, which he would go on to create out of newspaper and model on his teddy bear. By his teens he was sending his sketches to his favourite designers in hope to gain experience within the fashion industry. Pierre Cardin was one of these designers, who hired Gaultier as an assistant in 1970.
Throughout his early collections he has used a whirlwind of weird but wonderful themes such as James Bond, Japanese tourists and homosexual brides. Arguably, Gaultier could be credited for the start of the androgynous trend which the Frenchmen showcased in his spring/summer 1985 show ‘A Wardrobe for Two’, like a true innovator.
Despite catwalk collections galore, Gaultier has also touched the worlds of music and film with his magic fashion finger, including the designing of costumes for films such as ‘The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover’. And who could forget the iconic cone bra, worn by the Queen of pop herself, Madonna on her Blonde ambition tour in the early 90s.
From borrowing shoes off drag queens to introducing 3D into his fashion shows it is easy to say Gaultier is not one you can ignore. Gaultier has more than earned his stripes as a designer and will continue on until the end of his career being just as imaginative, theatrical and undeniably provocative.