Gaultier marks 30 years as fashion's 'bad boy'

2nd October 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 2, 2006 (AFP) - Fashion's 'enfant terrible' Jean-Paul Gaultier has come a long way since presenting his first collection 30 years ago of straw 'tablemat' dresses to a small, slightly disconcerted audience.

PARIS, Oct 2, 2006 (AFP) -  Fashion's 'enfant terrible' Jean-Paul Gaultier has come a long way since presenting his first collection 30 years ago of straw 'tablemat' dresses to a small, slightly disconcerted audience.

Now as the head of a small business empire and one of the world's most recognizable designers, the Frenchman is marking the 30th anniversary of a career in pushing fashion's boundaries.

Gaultier on Tuesday will unveil his latest ready-to-wear women's collection at Paris fashion week, where the front row of his shows regularly include A-listers from film and pop.

When he made his debut as a designer in October 1976 at the Palais de la Découverte in Paris, it was the fulfillment of a dream for the boy from Arcueil, in the Parisian suburbs, who had grown up being mad about fashion, encouraged by his grandmother.

In 1970, aged 18, Gaultier started out, in a job with Pierre Cardin.

The essence of Gaultier's style was already evident in the early years, as Cardin commented years later: "From your first collection in 1976, you have challenged the criteria of taste and bad taste.

"You have shocked, troubled and irritated while enjoying yourself clouding the issue with an ambivalent and interchangeable wardrobe."

Soon Gaultier had gained a reputation as the 'enfant terrible' (bad boy) of fashion and was joyfully mixing the genres, jumbling the eras, crossbreeding styles and undermining the cliches of dressing, while refuting any desire to be provocative.

His 'And God Created Man' collection for spring-summer 1985 included skirts for men. "A man doesn't wear his masculinity on his clothes, his virility is in his head," he said.

In January 2006, he again blurred the line between male-female dressing with his men's collection, 'Gaultier Puissance 2', targeted also at women and comprising staples from the masculine wardrobe.

As the founder of Jean Paul Gaultier SA, of which he is today the general manager, the designer is branching out — ready-to-wear lines and perfumes, of which the first, launched in 1993, comes in a striking bottle shaped like a pink bust inside a tin.

Three other perfumes have followed: Le Mâle in 1995, Fragile in 1999 and Puissance 2 in 2006.

But it was his acceptance into the hallowed and restricted realm of haute couture in 1997 that highlighted his peers' recognition of the 54-year-old's talent as a rigorous couture technician.

In 2003, Gaultier launched a line of care products and cosmetics for men; in the same year he was appointed director of women's collections at Hermès, the French temple of luxurious and classic elegance.

But the designer has other interests too — dance, cinema and music.

And he has created stage costumes for, among others, choreographer Régine Chopinot, as well as French rocker Johnny Hallyday and US mega-star Madonna, for whom he made the iconic cone bra.

He has also been a television presenter and worked with movie directors such as Luc Besson, Peter Greenaway and Pedro Almodovar.

He celebrates his 30th anniversary as a designer with a party on October 7 in Paris.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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