Jean Paul Gaultier is a Bona Fide Hero

Jean Paul Gaultier is a Bona Fide Hero

The designer discusses his debut at the Folies Bergère and a brand new fragrance.

The designer discusses his debut at the Folies Bergère and a brand new fragrance.

Text: Kristen Bateman

This interview appears n the pages of V114 Fearless Gigi Hadid Issue on newsstands now! Order your copy at shop.vmagazine.com.

Jean Paul Gaultier sits in the lobby of New York City’s Mercer Hotel, three small pizzas and an iced tea in front of him, excitedly discussing his upcoming projects. The first is the U.S.exclusive of his new fragrance, dubbed In the Navy, available this August. “It’s fresher,” says Gaultier of his olfactory creation. “It’s lighter, easier for summer time.” The designer considers it an extension of his bestselling scent, Le Male, which, as many pointed out, may have inspired the bottle for Kim Kardashian West’s own KKW Body fragrance released earlier this year. While Gaultier’s Le Male comes in a blue, striped, male-torso-shaped bottle, the latter is an actual mold of Kardashian West’s body. “I couldn’t make my body,” he laughs. “So, I had to make another one!”

Over 40 years ago, Jean Paul Gaultier began experiment- ing with some of the same concepts deemed new by today’s generation of designers. Think men in skirts, gender-defying clothing, and models of all shapes, sizes, and races cast from the streets. Plus, dramatic shows that proved to be equal parts showmanship and runway. He first launched his own line in 1976, prior to working under Pierre Cardin (who recently paid homage to Gaultier by attending his Spring2018 couture show).

“The truth is,” he muses, “at the beginning, I wanted to do fashion, but through a movie. Not the clothes on a hanger, the clothes that are on a beautiful girl who had a certain way of walking and personality.” After becoming a designer, he distinguished himself by choosing a varied group of mod- els to walk in his shows. “It was real girls I was attracted to,that I was finding in the clubs,” he says. At one of his first shows, the Parisian punk Edwige Belmore sang “My Way” by Sid Vicious and, according to Gaultier, some people were so shocked they left mid-show.

Gaultier cast models based on personal style and makeup, which in turn, inspired his theatrical collections and performances, like Coco Rocha (whom he cites as his forever muse) doing an Irish jig down the runway for Fall 2007, or walking down the catwalk as a surreal mermaid on crutches for Spring2008 couture. Enamored of big ideas and painstaking techniques, Gaultier switched to couture exclusively in 2015. His relationship with Madonna, whom he has dressed for years, is also not without its drama, from the iconic cone bra she wore for her Blonde Ambition tour in 1980, to the gothic ecclesiastical pieces Gaultier designed for her at this year’s Met Gala.

“I didn’t go to a school of fashion,” Gaultier says. His other upcoming project, a stage production at Paris’s Folies Bergère called Fashion Freak Show, will follow Gaultier’s life trajectory through the mediums of dancing, singing, and acting—and, of course, fashion. Unsurprisingly, it was another intersection of theatrics and fashion that started Gaultier’s whole journey—Paris Frills, a 1945 lm set in a Parisian couture house, directed by Jacques Becker. “If people say I’m provocative in my career,” Gaultier says, “It’s all relativity. It’s only what I like.”

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JERIOH YANGA AT THE MERCER HOTEL, NEW YORK CITY MAY 2018, ILLUSTRATIONS BY APIRAT INFAHSAENG

Credits: IMAGES PHOTOGRAPHED BY JEIROH YANGA, ILLUSTRATIONS BY APIRAT INFAHSAENG

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