L’enfant terrible de la mode, a recurring nickname yet disapproved by the designer himself, put down his needles a few years ago. Since then, the Jean-Paul Gaultier collection sees, each season, a different designer taking the reins to perpetuate his work: Chitose Abe from Sacai, Olivier Rousteing from Balmain, or Julien Dossena from Paco Rabanne. His legacy continues to indelibly influence the world of fashion.
In the 1980s, Jean-Paul Gaultier disrupted the codes of his time, then focused on beauty standards, and revolutionized shapes, colors, and genders. He managed to stand out among the wave of new designers: Alaïa, Mugler, Montana…
He is bolder than his predecessors. His fashion shows are spectacular, not just simple demonstrations. The models play an active role. These shows characterized him throughout his career. In this article, we explore his universe. We study the influence of Gaultier on French fashion. He is known for overturning the codes of his time. His close relationship with cinema is also discussed.
Revolution of shapes, colors, and genders
Fashion shows as real shows: active role of models
Unlike traditional fashion shows, Jean-Paul Gaultier’s fashion shows give an active role to the models. They do not walk stoically on a catwalk. Gaultier’s models dance, smile, and communicate. They become actors in his dreamlike and theatrical universe. These spectacular shows have changed the representation of fashion. They bring clothes to life in a dynamic and captivating way.
Distinction from other designers of the time
Although associated with the wave of new designers of the 1980s, Gaultier nevertheless distinguished himself with his bold and innovative vision. His shows, both remarkable and extravagant, have made an impression and made him a true symbol of French culture, capable of transcending the limits of fashion, just like Vivienne Westwood.
Iconic sailor shirt and other iconic creations
Balance between safe values and provocation
His fame goes well beyond his iconic Jean-Paul Gaultier sailor shirt. He is a designer who has managed to find a balance between the safe values of fashion and provocation.
For historian Olivier Saillard, Gaultier is a designer “who has flair, in tune with his time“. Thus, he managed to shake up conventions by finding, for example, his inspiration in punk culture, like Versace or Gucci. However, he revisited timeless pieces, such as the sailor shirt or the corset, a true emblem of the designer. Elsa Schiaparelli is also one of his inspirations.
Unisex collections and skirts for men
It was in 1985 that Gaultier innovated with unisex collections. He highlighted male models parading in skirts! While the time was rather for women dressed in men’s clothes, Gaultier broke down barriers by offering alternatives to gender conventions. By challenging stereotypes and exploring new possibilities, he paved the way for a more inclusive fashion.
Close relationship between fashion and cinema
Dressing movie stars and collaborating with cinema
Over the years, Jean-Paul Gaultier has dressed many movie stars such as Madonna, Sharon Stone, and Catherine Deneuve. From his collaboration with these celebrities, memorable outfits were born that have marked the history of fashion and cinema. We think of the famous conical corset Jean-Paul Gaultier worn by Madonna during her Blond Ambition tour, in 1990.
Influence of the seventh art on his work
Gaultier’s work is linked to the imaginary of cinema. His creations often draw inspiration from iconic characters and scenes from the seventh art. He thus weaves a link between these two artistic forms. Gaultier has frequently emphasized the importance of cinema in his creation. He asserts that films are for him an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
Collaboration between La Caixa Foundation and the French Cinematheque
Tribute to the links between fashion and cinema
In 2021, the La Caixa Foundation and the French Cinematheque collaborated with the aim of highlighting the work of Jean-Paul Gaultier, a true recognition of the extent of the links between fashion and cinema. This collaboration allowed to celebrate the mutual influence of these two arts and to pay tribute to the work of the designer.
Gaultier’s contribution to the intersection of these two arts
The collaboration between the La Caixa Foundation and the French Cinematheque also highlighted how Gaultier’s work embodies the intersection between fashion and cinema. Indeed, his creations are often the result of a dialogue between the two universes, combining cinematic aesthetics with the creativity and innovation of fashion.
Impact of Gaultier’s work on young designers
Inspiring new generations of designers
The bold and innovative work of Jean-Paul Gaultier transcends boundaries to inspire creators such as Julien Dossena, Olivier Rousteing, Glenn Martens, Chitose Abe, Haider Ackermann, Alan Crocetti, Nicola (Nix) Lecourt Mansion, Ottolinger, Palomo Spain, Marvin M’Toumo and so many others…
Importance of diversity and social inclusion
Jean-Paul Gaultier’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity is one of the most important aspects of the creator’s vision.
By going against traditional beauty norms and giving a voice to people often marginalized in the fashion industry, Gaultier has helped change the way we perceive aesthetics and style.
Values that are central in our society today, young creators have a source of inspiration on which to base their approach.
Future of fashion through Jean-Paul Gaultier
More responsible and sustainable fashion
Environmental and ethical concerns are increasingly taking center stage in the fashion industry. Gaultier’s influence on the new generation of designers is evident in their way of rethinking fashion in terms of production and consumption.
Potential of the fusion between fashion and arts
Fashion inspired by Gaultier opens new horizons for today’s creators. By exploring the possibilities offered by the ever-expanding fusion between fashion and other forms of art such as cinema, music, and dance, they are pushed to push the boundaries of fashion, while enriching our aesthetic and cultural experience.
Jean-Paul Gaultier’s work goes well beyond fashion. First, because he is also the father of a perfume collection – Jean-Paul Gaultier Perfumes – some of which are easily recognizable by their design reminiscent of the designer’s famous corset: Le Mâle or La Belle by Jean-Paul Gaultier.
Next, because he has collaborated in different universes such as furniture with Roche Bobois or even eyewear. This year, it is Nigerian artist Burna Boy who will highlight his sunglasses.
The world of sport is not left out with a collaboration with footballer Karim Benzema.
In short, Jean-Paul Gaultier has revolutionized French and international fashion. He has challenged pre-established codes and explored new artistic possibilities. His prodigious shows and iconic creations have a lasting impact. He maintains a close relationship with cinema, influencing fashion and culture. The legacy of this fashion maverick continues to inspire creators.