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Jean-Paul Gaultier: l'Enfant Terrible of French Fashion

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Jean-Paul Gaultier«The awful child» of fashion was born to a good French family, in the suburb of Paris, on April 24, 1952. He was an awkward kid: he never played pranks; he made friends with girls and never fought with his contemporaries. Later on he would say, «I am more attracted to men from physical point of view; however I find women easy to talk to. I understand them more. But I like wearing both men and women».

Jean Paul was brought up by his grandmother, a professional fortune-teller. «She greatly loved me and was always telling, spreading the cards, «I see luck comes for you and all your dreams will come true». She predicted only good things to me. And I could always rely on her support», recollected the designer. And certainly, a great couturier loved drawing a lot in his childhood.

Jean-Paul Gaultier created his first work when he was 17 and he sent his drawings to several Fashion Houses. His parents supported their «odd» son and his mother followed him to all interviews.

On April 24, 1970 when he was 18-year-old, Gaultier was employed as one of the numerous assistants at Pierre Cardin Fashion House. «I was so worried when I stepped into this Fashion House. Cardin offered 500 francs per month. Of course, I agreed!».

When working for Cardin Gaultier was involved in design of small kitchen utensils. Yet, he is not a designer, the fashion world does not appeal to his name, but Gaultier is still learning. He sucks the atmosphere, remembers the feelings and impressions and gradually relaxes. During the last six years prior to his first collection Jean-Paul Gaultier finally determines his sexual orientation and turned into one of the perspective apprentices from provincial pain in the neck. And during those six years he did a lot; he left Cardin, worked for several less popular designers, returned to Cardin again and left for the Philippines to make a line of clothing for the sale in America.

But in the very soonest time his dearest grandmother died, his true friend and helper. In tears, he returned to Paris in July, 1975.

Luxury and snobbish Paris did not anticipate a great Maestro in Gaultier. Along with his partner a young designer creates a collection of electronic adornments, he dreams, tries, but fails, alas. His first collection of ready-made clothes of 1976 passed unnoticed.

In 1978 «Kashiyama», a Japanese Fashion Company, offered to fill a vacation at their House. And Gaultier opens his own Fashion House for this money. And only the fifth collection gets successful. And this is not just a success:  Gaultier gets up the following day a God of Fashion.

And why the world-weary public got attracted by this collection? First of all, combination of women and men elements, rapture of the underwear to the «evening» clothes, lack of taste as such which was absolutely replaced by the eclecticism.  As Pierre Cardin noted, «during years of work Gaultier changed his concepts of good and bad taste».

His most crucial works of 80s include a collection devoted to James Bond, Hi-Tech attires made from waste and cans, homespun «Paper summer», unisex «Clothes for the Two», and a collection «Dadaism» where he first presented girdles.

The designer included skirts in his collection for men «Et Dieu créa l'homme» Spring-Summer 1985 released in 1984. «Manhood is not necessarily a wear garment. Manhood of every representative of stronger sex is in his mind», he shocked the public with this statement.

The 90s became a milestone in life of the designer. First of all, his regular partner Fransis Menouge died of AIDS. This big personal tragedy hardly broke Gaultier but his work helped to survive.

Second, that was time of Madonna. Gaultier worked with enthusiasm at her image and the result was just phenomenal. Who has not heard or seen that famous bustier with peaked caps? And in 1991 the world was acquainted to his collection of men and women wear «Adam and Eve - modern adventurers». Yes, yes, the collection was for both men and women. It was such an ode for androgynism.

After that Gaultier became a famous host to the iconic English program «Euro trash», full of obscenity and humor, and he became even more popular than other celebrities.

In 1996 Gaultier achieves another breakthrough in the fashion industry; he exhibits the first Haute Couture Show.

Apart from the own line of clothes, the Maestro is involved in perfume creation and, of course, collaboration with movie industry. Just remember the icon movie «The Fifth Element» by Besson, and this is Gaultier who created fantastic attires for movie characters. He works with Pedro Almodovar and makes costumes for the world-known theater performances. He is always dramatically busy.

He is one of the popular persons in the world, he is still young, and is capable for a lot.

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