Jean Paul Gaultier

Born: Arcueil, France, 1952

Designer Biography Jean Paul Gaultier

Credits & copyrights: Roberto Alamo

Jean Paul Gaultier’s career started on his 18th birthday when he was employed as a sketcher for Pierre Cardin in 1970. With no formal training, Gaultier continued to grow his skills, joining Jacques Esterel for a short period in 1971. That same year Gaultier joined Jean Patou, where he stayed for two years as an assistant to Michael Goma and then to Angelo Tarlazzi.

In 1974 Gaultier returned to Pierre Cardin, this time working in Manila where he began to create collections intended for America.

At the beginning of 1976 Gaultier started a collaboration with Mr Francis Menuge. Together Gaultier and his business partner manufactured the first electronic jewellery.

With his experience and skills honed, Gaultier created his first collection under his own name in 1976. Two years later in 1978, Gaultier presented his first collection with new partners. This marked the beginning of twice yearly presentations of his female collections.

Gaultier hit his stride during the eighties with fashion editors including Melka Treanton of Elle and Claude Brouet and Catherine Lardeur of French Marie Claire impressed by his creativity and precise tailoring.

In 1984 Gaultier produced his first men’s collection “Man As Object”, featuring low cut backs. The following spring/summer 1985 “and God Created Man” collection, Gaultier designed the skirt for men. This was followed by autumn/winter 85/86 “Pretty Mister” collection, where Gaultier created the dress for men.

In 1988 Gaultier designed his first collection of “JUNIOR Gaultier”, a line for children.

In 1989 Gaultier released a record, “How To Do That”, in collaboration with Tony Mansfield. The following year Gaultier designed the costumes for Madonna’s “Blond Ambition World Tour 90”. Gaultier dressed Madonna in satin corsetry, black bondage and the famous cone-bra.

Gaultier’s autumn/winter 91/92 collection was shown abroad for the first time in Italy for the Pitti Uomo.

In the summer of that year, Gaultier launched the “Gaultier Jean’s” collection. This was shortly followed by a retrospective of Gaultier’s collections presented in Los Angeles for the benefit of the AIDS research Amfar.

In 1993 Gaultier launched his first fragrance, “Jean-Paul Gaultier” for women. That same year Gaultier featured in “Eurotrash”, a weekly tabloid programme broadcast on Channel 5 in the U.K, that saw Gaultier appear in a kilt and a massive grin.

In 1994 Gaultier launched a new line “JPG”. The unisex collection featured a sportswear tendency with lower price points. The new line replaced the Junior Gaultier line.

Gaultier was featured again with a retrospective of his collections in 1995, this time in Austria for the benefit of the Aids research. The year also saw Gaultier launch his first male fragrance “Le Male”.

In 1997 Gaultier launched his first Haute Couture collection “Atmosphere of a Couture Salon” for spring/summer 97. That same year Gaultier costume designed for Luc Besson’s film “The Fifth Element”.

In 1988 Gaultier launched his first fur collection “Jean Paul Gaultier Fourrures”.

In 1999 Gaultier signed a partnership agreement with Hermes International. The year also saw the launched of his second perfume for women, “Fragile” and saw Gaultier as the first French designer to go online.

In 2001 Gaultier was nominated Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. The following year Gaultier was inaugurated in New York with his first boutique in the United States.

In 2003 Gaultier was appointed designer for the women’s ready-to-wear collection at Hermès. The year also saw an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London featuring Gaultier’s collections.

In the same year Gaultier launched a men’s make up line “Tout Beau Tout Propre”.

2004 saw Fondation Cartier for Contemporary Art tribute Gaultier with an exhibition “Pain Couture” and a documentary on Gaultier created by French director Tonnie Marshall.

Gaultuer won the Best International Designer award form the Council of Fashin Designers of America in 2004. The following year Gaultier launched a new perfume “unisex”.

In 2010 Gaultier collaborated with La Perla to create a lingerie collection. That year Gaultier was honoured by AmFAR for his life time achievement.

Gaultier was honoured again in 2011, receiving a Globe de Cristal as best fashion designer.

Having used unconventional models, Jean Paul Gaultier has repeatedly shocked audiences. With his collections constantly pushing the boundaries of androgyny, Gaultier continues to mix the sexes, playing with the traditional gender roles. Opposing his styles; masculine and feminine, tailoring and sports casual, tradition and modernism, Gaultier once claimed he never intended to shock. A contemporary master, Jean Paul Gaultier is a king of Parisian couture.

In 2011, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts collaborated with the Maison Jean Paul Gaultier to present a retrospective exhibit titled “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.” This exhibition has since travelled to various venues worldwide, including the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design in Stockholm, the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, the Barbican Centre in London, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, and the Grand Palais in Paris. The Paris exhibition was even featured in a documentary called “Jean Paul Gaultier at the Grand Palais,” exclusively aired on Eurochannel.

Over the years, Jean Paul Gaultier has been known for designing three collections: his own couture and ready-to-wear lines for both men and women. However, he announced in 2014 that he would be closing the ready-to-wear labels to focus on haute couture. In addition to his fashion career, Gaultier has explored other creative avenues, including music and TV. He released a dance single titled “How To Do That” and co-hosted the Channel 4 programme “Eurotrash” with Antoine de Caunes.

Gaultier’s distinctive style is characterised by irreverence and a playful approach to fashion. He draws inspiration from streetwear, popular culture, and various cultures, often challenging conventional norms and gender roles. His haute couture collections have allowed him to freely express his eclectic and diverse aesthetic, incorporating influences from different parts of the world and unique subcultures. Throughout his career, Gaultier has pushed boundaries and embraced diversity, using unconventional models and breaking away from traditional fashion norms. His innovative and audacious approach has earned him both criticism and immense popularity, cementing his status as an iconic figure in the fashion world.

 Jean Paul Gaultier Biography

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Written by Saxony Dudbridge

Saxony Dudbridge was one of the first contributors to the Catwalk Yourself project, Saxony studies International Fashion Marketing and she is responsible for our great History and Designers Biographies sections.

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