Monday, October 31, 2011

Madonna to Vogue on Harper's Bazaar!!!!

Woohoo! Madonna on a fashion magazine!
We last saw Madonna on W March 2010 issue and it looks like she's back with a vengeance!

Get ready for some exciting new Madonna pictures !
Madonna just did some photoshoots and interviews to promote the release of her new movie W.E.

Madonna is also giving an interview to the magazine in which she talks about the movie, her experience as a director and Wallis Simpson as a woman and a fashion icon of her era.
Also, don’t forget the upcoming November issue of W magazine that will include the “Gowns, Jewels, Glamour! On set with Madonna” coverage of the movie W.E.
The Harper’s Bazaar December 2011 issue featuring Madonna will hit newsstands Nov. 29.

I hope that on promoting her 12th studio album, she goes on the cover of Vogue, I'm wishing the March 2012 issue or better yet if possible, SEPTEMBER 2012!!!!! please! please! puh-lease!!!! :D

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Celine Fall 2011 ad campaign

Super loving the clothes and those square sunglasses are A MUST HAVE! :D

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Celine Spring 2011 ad campaign

I don't know about you but I love Celine. For all its minimalist beauty that Francisco Costa of Calvin Klein should take notes! And their spring 2011 ad campaign was my favorite of all!
I love their trueness as the Celine Boston bag is still featured and so are those sunglasses! It makes me want to buy them even though it's not my style. :))

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fashion tends to repeat itself

There's a lot of similarities right? I mean talke off that couture feather coat that I'm lushing over and makes me want to head to Divisoria and have one made for me! :)))

                                                            Yves Saint Laurent Fall 2011
                                                                  Jil Sander Spring 2012

Which one do you like more? We know it's Yves Saint Laurent! :))

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Marc Jacobs is clearly distracted. Maybe it's because of Dior, we'll just never know. While Proenza Schouler was the Chanel Part 2 of Spring 2011, it seems Louis Vuitton is the Chanel Part 2 of Spring 2012. Not just starting with the carousel that was presented. In Chanel, there were 2 stories, just saying. The collection was so fun and so Chanel with that touch of Marc Jacobs for Vuitton! It looks like Marc presented his Resort show. You know, he loves the girly type in his resort shows for both Vuitton and his own house. When I look at it, it's like oh so Chanel.

Still a very fun collection that I might see more on the carpet and on the street and less on print unlike the Fall 2011 collection. It's a good thing you know. You sell clothes not make clothes for magazine. It's different. You earn on the former and you don't on the latter. Anyways, good job Marc! :D

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Marc Jacobs Spring 2012

The good: The famoulsy late Marc Jacobs was on time today. And he is scheduled on the last day of NYFW. So it's like saving the best for last! :D

The ok: The clothes. Well a lot were comparing it to McQueen's "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" but the clothes were Oh So Prada! Dropped waist and 20's silhouettes that Prada presented last season were clearly the influence of this collection. Even those plastic sewn in the garments that were presented throughtout were reminiscent of the last few dresses on the Prada Fall 2011 shows. Wouldn't it be weird if Anna Wintour wore one of those plastic Prada dresses during the Marc Jacobs Spring 2012 show? Awkward! Anna dello Russo wore Prada Fall 2011 during fashion week. Just sayin' :)

Also noticeable were the number of looks: 47. A departure from her 70-80 looks per show. This he later resumed with the Louis Vuitton show.

Still desirable but just a little bit flat. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011




Sunday, October 23, 2011

What's wrong Marc?

Rumours came and went but not the buzz about Marc Jacobs and Dior. It is true that Marc Jacobs' contract with Louis Vuitton expires after Fall 2013. (it's a 4 season contract worth 10 million USD) then he decides whether he wants to continue and Dior is the first job on plan. So despite Bill Gaytten taking a bow during the Dior show, it's still Marc Jacobs in dior people are lushing about. ANYWAY...

Sorta having creative block?
I mean, your Marc Jacobs Spring 2012 collection seemed like Prada Fall 2011 (he is a big Prada fan you know)
and your Louis Vuitton Spring 2012 collection seemed like a Chanel collection (even with the carousel aside actually). So you know if you need help, I can be of service. Besides, you're such a huge talent and a piece of fine meat, don't let it all go to waste. I mean let's face it, you're sexy...

Anyway, I know you'll get it together for prefall and fall 2012 Marc. Counting on you! :D

Saturday, October 22, 2011



Friday, October 21, 2011

DVF's Rocky Start


DIANE VON FURSTENBERG has revealed her success in the fashion industry didn't come without a rocky start. The Belgian-Jewish designer married Prince Egon of Furstenberg at only 23 after falling pregnant while working in a clothing factory.
"I was humiliated, worried people would think I'd done it to get the 'best catch in Europe'," von Furstenberg told the Observer. "So I said to my boss: 'I'm getting married and moving to America, but before I go, can I learn how to make clothes?' And I stayed after work with the patternmaker, and that's how I got into fashion."
Von Furstenberg credits her mother (a Holocaust survivor with a "fear is not an option" attitude), for her strong and successful work ethic. Besides taking on her new role as a princess, the designer poured energy into her life in the fashion industry. And forty years on von Furstenberg still isn't ready to put her career to bed.
"I have given confidence to women [through clothes]," she says. "The word 'accomplished' makes you think with a full stop - I hope I am [still] accomplishing!"

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I'm loving Gwyneth's street style but WHY THE HELL ARE YOU WEARING THOSE PINK RAY-BANS? Ok fine Ray-Bans, but pink? seriously? I mean, it's a little bit over your age now right? Now, go buy some Dior, Chanel, Tom Ford, or John Galliano and glam up your punk look! :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jean Paul Gaultier: From the catwalk to the big screen


Jean Paul Gaultier is the subject of a new film. Geoffrey Macnab talks to the flamboyant Frenchman about Galliano, Gaga – and a life tailor-made for cinema

It's Saturday afternoon in the bar of a beachfront hotel in Copacabana, Rio, and the 59-year-old French fashion designer and former Eurotrash presenter Jean Paul Gaultier is sitting quietly at a table. He is in Brazil for the Rio Film Festival. A documentary about him by one of his former models and muses, Farida Khelfa, is screening in the festival, as is the new Pedro Almodóvar film, The Skin I Live In (for which he provided the costumes). He is dressed discreetly in a white shirt.
At first glance, the designer is an incongruous presence at a film festival. Look at his credits, though, and you realise that he has worked on many movies with directors from Almodóvar to Luc Besson, from Peter Greenaway to Jean-Pierre Jeunet. He was also a key part of the team on the Madonna documentary, Truth Or Dare, "the first reality movie. Bravo, Madonna! The first reality movie!" he applauds the singer, with whom he is so closely associated in public memory.
Gaultier still speaks in the heavily accented and idiosyncratic English that many will remember from Eurotrash, the TV show he used to front. However, he is a more measured and less outrageous presence than you might expect, given how often he is still described as the enfant terrible of French fashion.
It is 40 years now since Gaultier was talent-spotted by Pierre Cardin. The young would-be designer from the provinces (he was born in Arcueil) has come a very long way.
"One day, she [Khelfa] asked me, 'Jean Paul, would you like me to do a portrait of you?' I thought that it was a written portrait," Gaultier recalls of how Jean Paul Gaultier Ou Les Codes Bouleversés ("Jean Paul Gaultier Or the Shattered Codes") originated. He is happy with how she has shown him on film. "She knows me. She can show things even that I don't realise about myself."
Khelfa's film is one of an increasing number of documentaries and dramatic features set in the fashion world. Whether Valentino: The Last Emperor or The Devil Wears Prada, Gaultier has watched most of them. However, he has mixed feelings about the way the camera has captured his professional world.
"I didn't like, for example, Prêt-à-Porter," he says of Robert Altman's mid-Nineties comedy drama, complaining that it wasn't sarcastic enough. Nor did he much care for The Devil Wears Prada itself. "Anna Wintour is a lot more monstrous than she is described!" he laughs of the 2006 film, which features Meryl Streep as a formidable fashion editor not unlike US Vogue's editor-in-chief, Wintour. Ask about his attitude toward Wintour and he is a little evasive. Is she a positive figure?
"She is a figure," is all he will say.
Gaultier is markedly more enthusiastic talking about pop diva Lady Gaga, whom he recently met for the first time. Their encounter was filmed.
Lady Gaga dresses in a way that rekindles memories of Gaultier's clothes (for example, his cone bra for Madonna) during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Gaultier approves of Lady Gaga's sartorial sense, her business acumen and her voice. "Fabulous," he proclaims of her interpretation of "The Lady Is a Tramp", which she recently sang in a duet with crooner Tony Bennett. What he likes most of all is her outrageousness. At a time (he suggests) when fashion has become increasingly politically correct and petit bourgeois, she is a throwback to a less inhibited time.
Ask Gaultier about the troubled British designer John Galliano, who became caught up in a huge scandal, lost his position at Dior and was found guilty this autumn of making anti-semitic remarks, and the French designer sighs. He is not a close friend of Galliano, but is clearly pained by his fellow designer's plight.
"I know John a little and I must say that what he does for his work shows he is not a racist," Gaultier suggests. "It [the scandal] is something that happened and is beyond him. It's maybe because of drugs, because of alcohol, all that mixed together. I think it's also all the stress, that is enormous, about the importance of the collection... he didn't think about what he said."
The anti-semitic remarks that Galliano made were, Gaultier suggests, uttered as a defence mechanism when the designer felt himself being pushed into a corner. "When you see the video, you can see it is someone teasing him... John is very talented. He has done some beautiful things for Dior. I think it is completely sad that he doesn't have his own label anymore. I think it's bad. There are some people who say and do terrible things and they are not even punished for it." He adds that he "loves" Galliano's work and hopes fervently that the British designer will again have the chance to "make beautiful clothes that have enchanted so many people."
This may be the digital era, but Gaultier still has a relish for old-fashion media and for the "real". He would never countenance launching one of his own collections online first. He likes to go to the theatre ("it's good to smell also the sweat of the actor," he says, making an exaggerated sniffing noise) and would far rather see a movie in a cinema than on a laptop.
Film is a means of escape for him on both a personal and a professional level. Just as he likes to lose himself watching a movie, he relishes it when directors like Besson and Almodóvar recruit him to work with them. "It's like going into another story. When I do my collection, it is in a way my own story. But when I work for them, it's a little of my savoir faire, let's say, going into their story," he says of how he mutes his own creative personality in order to do the best work he can for his collaborators.
On The Skin I Live In, Almodóvar was present at all the costume fittings. He accepted most of Gaultier's suggestions. "I made a lot of propositions. He took away some that were very spectacular – a little too Grand Guignol, a little too theatrical," the designer recalls. "It is always interesting to see him [Almodóvar] working because he is so precise – so definite in what he wants."
Gaultier finished a seven-year stint as creative director at Hermès last year. He is now back on his own. To many, he seems a figure from another era: a trailblazer in the 1980s and 1990s who had the chutzpah to put men in skirts (remember, for example, David Beckham in his sarong). He can't hide his dismay at a present-day fashion industry every bit as conservative in its attitude to gender as the one he was trying to shake up at the beginning of his career.
"When I did the skirt, it was more like a symbol of equality for fashion for men and women... also, [to show that] men can be seductive and also men can be 'male objects'. It was not to scandalise or whatever," Gaultier says. Gaultier's mission was always to underline that you could be masculine but show feelings too: "show your sensitive and fragile part."
The French designer is a firm admirer of British humour and British irony. "It's rough and dignified at the same time. I love it," he enthuses. Gaultier likes British movies, too (citing My Beautiful Laundrette, Beautiful Thing and The King's Speech as favourites). As for the way the Brits dress, he manages to summon up some enthusiasm about that as well. "I love their eccentricity, which I regret is not as much as in the 80s. In the 80s, it was more strong."
Ask him about his current projects and he talks of "maybe making some project about cinema." He is quick, though, to scotch any idea that he has a hankering to direct films himself. "Not at all – I am not that stupid! I know what I am able and not able to do. Fashion? OK. Fashion... clothes in theatre, in an opera, in a concert – all that I love. To make a movie myself... no!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Milan Fashion Week to Clash with London and New York

It's official!

The catwalk showdown wages on! This morning, Mario Boselli, the head of Milan's Camera Nazionale della Moda, met with major Italian design houses to decide the fate of the Spring 2013 Milan Fashion Week, amid scheduling conflicts with London and New York. The consensus? Milan refused to budge on its original September 19 to 25 show dates, overlapping two days with New York and four with London.
“Italian designers unanimously agreed on the schedule, from the smallest brand to the biggest. They showed great solidarity and Italian pride," Boselli declared.
As previously reported, the CFDA scheduled New York's Spring 2013 Fashion Week to run September 13 to 20 and London followed suit with dates running from September 21 to 25. CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg and CEO Steven Kolb explained their decision yesterday in a memo referencing the 2008 "Second Thursday Pact," wherein they claim the CFDA, BFC, Chambre Syndicale, and Camera Nazionale della Moda made an agreement to begin New York's Fashion Week the second Thursday of every September. This was set up so Fashion Week wouldn't coincide with Labor Day, but Milan is claiming that they won't have enough time to manufacture and ship the Spring 2013 collections to retail stores.
The CFDA memo states: "When we started together at CFDA, the members and the American fashion industry asked us to stabilize the dates of New York's Fashion Week, which were being pushed back earlier each year. Given the international schedule, this was no easy accomplishment—but we were successful." Later, DvF and Kolb wrote, "Milan is claiming the agreement was for three years only. This is not the case; the agreed-to schedule was always meant to be a long-term/permanent one."
Earlier this week, Condé Nast International chairman Jonathan Newhouse joined Team New York with a letter to Boselli. "[Vogue editors] like the schedule the way it is presently organized. We at Condé Nast do not want the schedule to be changed. We very much oppose moving the Milan shows earlier so that they overlap or conflict with the London fashion shows—or with the New York fashion shows or those of any market...[Vogue editors] will not under any circumstances abandon the London or New York shows if the Milan shows are moved earlier."
"We will not move the days," reasserted Boselli this morning. "This is not our fault. Let the best one win."

Monday, October 17, 2011

New York and Milan in a Battle Over Fashion Week Calendar, Condé Nast Picks Sides

Ohnoes!!!! Looks like Spring 2013 will be a drag for editors around the world.
New Fashion Week calendar shakeups are forcing fashion capitals to battle it out.
Earlier this season, reports surfaced that regular fashion week schedule conflicts were causing problems (or “model crises“) for London Fashion week, with models not making it to London or being summoned to Milan early. While it seemed London Fashion Week’s fate was the least certain, Milan is also now in trouble with Condé editors threatening to skip it altogether because of a broken pact.
The problem is that New York pushed their September fashion week to September 13, 2012 to avoid conflicting with Labor Day and causing production problems. Milan says that schedule leaves them without enough time to put their wares into production and get them delivered on time for spring 2013. So, Milan has announced dates that would overlap with poor little London.
However, in a new, exciting twist, Condé Nast has taken a stance against a Milan Fashion week schedule change if it conflicts with London or any other city’s shows. Condé Nast International chairman Jonathan Newhouse literally wrote to Mario Boselli, head of the Italian Chamber of Fashion to inform him that Vogue editors (worldwide) like the schedule the way it is. From WWD:
[Vogue editors] like the schedule the way it is presently organized. We at Condé Nast do not want the schedule to be changed. We very much oppose moving the Milan shows earlier so that they overlap or conflict with the London fashion shows — or with the New York fashion shows or those of any market.
They will not under any circumstances abandon the London or New York shows if the Milan shows are moved earlier.
The best way to avoid having a problem is to maintain the schedule as it is now.
Wow. While they obviously have a lot of power, Condé does not control the fashion calendar. Apparently, the “governing bodies” of each fashion week (CFDA, British Fashion Council, Italian Chamber of Fashion and Chambre Syndicale) reached an official agreement in 2008 to begin each season on the second Thursday in February and September. However, according to WWD, “Milan’s Boselli claims the second Thursday rule was only for a three-year period, and thus expires this year, while the CFDA and the British Fashion Council maintain it was a permanent pact.” And also, “Some Europeans suggest that Milan and Paris could end up standing together on the issue of dates,” as they are both strong fashion capitals.
So, what is Paris‘ stance? The head of the Chambre Syndicale, Didier Grumbach, tells WWD that they are willing to compromise and are mainly just concerned that women’s ready-to-wear isn’t pushed too close to couture.
So, to recap: The U.S. and England are united on one side, while Italy is in clear opposition and France seems cool with whatever, but may side with Italy. (How insane is this??)
Conde has been pretty clear about which side they’re on, so it sounds like it all depends on how much Prada needs Anna Wintour in the front row. The Guardian raises an interesting point, arguing that the current show calendar is antiquated to begin with and “at odds with the needs of the modern fashion industry.”
Whose side are you on?

IN MY OPINION, It's very tasteless of NYFW to move it a week later just for some holiday. No offense to US holidays but moving it a week later costs conflicts to other fashion weeks. Milan is very stern because of the abuse they've got (Anna Wintour wanted it moved couple of years ago due to "scheduling conflicts") besides, legacy houses like Prada, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana are there. NYFW has emerging designers like Michael Kors (c'mon, the Project Runway finalists have better designs than him), and some other designers I don't know. Also, if Milan takes its stance I would be scared for London Fashion Week. Only Burberry matters in that Fashion Week and Topshop Unique. Matthew Williamson and Julien Macdonald beware, no one's going to watch your fashion show if it's the same day as Prada. :( I think NYFW should go back to its original date. Just saying. OR MOVE LABOR DAY FOR GOSH SAKE!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Queen Would Not Be Amused If Catherine Covered Vogue

So I think everyone knows that Anna Wintour wants (and really wants) Kate Middleton to cover Vogue. She even went to Mario Testino (the official royal wedding photographer) to convince Kate to cover Vogue. But, still Kate is adamant.

And she has a pretty good reason.
Queen Elizabeth may approve of her grandson's wife, but seeing her on a Vogue cover? Not so much.
According to a palace insider, Kate Middleton knows very well that Her Majesty would find nothing amusing about the Duchess dressing up in couture just so Anna Wintour could make a quick buck.
"Kate is keenly conscious that while her new grandmother-in-law may not chide her for appearing on a Vogue cover. But she would definitely not be amused, and Her Majesty is a real genius at making people squirm with simply a look or a 'tut, tut.' "
The royal sourcery went on to add:
"Both William and Kate are free to be interviewed or photographed by whoever they choose…But both William and Kate feel it would be wrong for Kate to promote herself as a fashion or style icon. That's not what they are about and they take their royal duties far too seriously to, in one sense, trivialize them."
We think that's a very noble and wise decision on their part.

Oh well, you can always have attention whore Michelle Obama cover Vogue again. Ha!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Here's A Tip To Avoiding A Cold


Keep your own pen.
It's that easy! Carry around your own pen — be it in your pocket or in your purse — and use it whenever a moment where someone offers you a pen presents itself!
Cold and Flu germs are spread so easily between hand to hand contact, including hand to object contact. We could be avoiding some nasty stuff just by using our own writing utensil!
Just a food for thought. Also, we'd be supporting the pen industry in a digital age.

Friday, October 14, 2011


1. GIVENCHY!!!!!
6. JEAN PAUL GAULTIER (bien sur!)
8. NO. 21
10.DSQUARED2 (You just gotta love that show and the clothes are chic and superwearable! :D )

How about yours? Try looking at No. 21, I think it's the only one most are not familiar with but it's by Alessandro Dell'Acqua. He had an Herve Leger issue that's why he made his own line named No. 21

at #11: Christian Siriano
12: Zac Posen :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011


OK. I can't believe I typed Kanye West on my blog. Let alone a season and a year. So it's named DW by Kanye West DW means Donda West, name of her late mother.

I don't know if you'll believe me but I think there are people that will wear this. He went for the Balmain and Givenchy (that roaring tiger jacket) look which means it's been done before. There are also fur and all that but I can't see a whole ensemble being worn by someone. It would be like jacket from look#5 with pants from Look # 7 or something like that. Styling is mediocre. Oh well, it's his first attempt. So for fall 2012 we might be expecting more fur than we can chew. PETA will surely be adding a lot more percentage to Kanye West's douchebagginess. ;)

Ta! Ta!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


One fo my favorite fall collections. He's relatively unknown but I loved him after I saw Madonna wore a pair of Hakaan devil heels to her shoot in Interview. See, Madonna's still fashion forward!

Monday, October 10, 2011


It's winter and a chic statement coat will get you through the harsh winter in style!

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I am in love with this collection. It's the Isabel Marant of New York Fashion Week!!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I bought a 2nd hand Eat Pray Love book for $2! Yes! $2!!!! I'm going to read it. Meanwhile, share your thoughts if you've read the book! :D

Friday, October 7, 2011


Seems like a number of designers are inspired by the waters
1. Versace
2. Givenchy
3. Chanel
4. Alexander McQueen

Must be because of the sailors that walked through the resort shows. Nautical stripes were dominant during Resort 2012. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011


YES! He presented at PARIS FASHION WEEK (WTH?) and so far I'm not liking it! I'll review it some other time! :)))

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Paris Fashion week is among us!!!! Loving it!!!!! It shoot down the three previous fashion weeks. Reviews and pics and my top 10 after they all finish! :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


It was in London again... we'll be waiting Tom! :) Hope there's a video. Wish it was a fashion show not a fashion presentation. Want a video like Spring 2011. :)

Monday, October 3, 2011


Prada had a very great concept, it was girly!!!!

But the cuts of the dress were matronly. Prada is one of those houses that serves the older class, even Miu Miu now! :(

I'm sure, greater dresses and greater cuts of the dresses will appear on the stores, they always do. :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011


The World Of Fashion


Jean Paul Gaultier’s inspirations.

by September 26, 2011

One day, some years back, Jean Paul Gaultier was at home, feeding his cat. As he emptied a can of cat food, he was struck by how attractive the can was, and surmised that if he cut off both the bottom and the top of it what remained would bear an intriguing resemblance to a traditional African cuff bracelet. Not many people would have this sort of thought while feeding their pets. Even fewer would actually cut up the can, dip it in a silver bath, and use it as an accessory in a fashion collection, along with a few other previously uncelebrated kitchen items, such as mesh tea balls and steel-wool pads.
But Gaultier, who has had his own clothing label since 1976 and is considered one of fashion’s most influential and inventive designers, is not like many people. He finds a lot of ordinary things delightful; in fact, he is one of the most consistently enthusiastic people I’ve ever met. He hates what he thinks of as the French habit of being blasé, of dismissing just about everything as pas mal. Instead, his usual mode of speech is fuelled by high-octane superlatives. The cat-food can was “super-super-beautiful!” Talking about it reminded him of other similarly undervalued things that have interested him over the years, especially subcultures like British punks (“super-elegant!”), street people (“I saw someone, very poor, he put a big pullover over his coat, and I thought it was super-beautiful!”), Hasidim (“I saw a lot of rabbis with their traditional clothes. I was amazed by how fabulous and beautiful it was!”), and redheads (“I feel like, red hair, it’s a surprise! A good surprise! It’s super-beautiful!”).
He told me the story of his cat-food-can revelation in June, while we were having lunch in a restaurant in Montreal. Across the street, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts was presenting a large exhibition of his work called “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk,” which will travel to Dallas and San Francisco and then to Europe. The night before, nearly a hundred thousand people had lined Sainte Catherine Street, in downtown Montreal, to watch a parade celebrating Gaultier and the museum show. In Gaultier’s honor, many of the onlookers were wearing something striped—French mariner stripes are one of his favorite visual themes—and little paper sailor caps that were being handed out on the street. Some people put the sailor caps on their dogs and their babies, too. The parade was noisy and lively and included two thousand dancers dressed in costumes that ranged from cancan skirts to opulent hip-hop outfits to wedding gowns, all representing aspects of Gaultier’s work. Gaultier himself marched at the front of the parade, flanked by a cohort of solemn-looking security guards, three pretty girls dressed as fairies, and some of his longtime models, and he was welcomed like the captain of a team that had won the Stanley Cup. Anytime he slowed his pace, people begged him to wait just a second so that they could have their picture taken with him. This kind of passionate public embrace struck me as astonishing for anyone, let alone a clothing designer, let alone one who had long been thought of as a bit subversive for having dressed men in skirts and used fetish fabrics like rubber and latex in haute couture, and for having once made a dress out of bread.
The highlight of the parade came late in the proceedings, sometime after the inflatable Eiffel Tower and the dancers in neon-pink Hasidic outfits had passed by. Floating down Sainte Catherine Street came a giant balloon in the shape of one of Gaultier’s favorite things: a seamed, pointy bra. Except for its scale and its buoyancy, the bra was a lot like the one he had made for his Teddy bear, when he was a kid, and like the one that had brought him his first really far-reaching fame, when he designed it in satin and jewels for Madonna to wear on her Blond Ambition tour, in 1990. I asked him if he had ever imagined anything quite like this—the exhibition, the cheering citizenry, the giant floating cone bra. He grinned. “It is so fantastic,” he said. “It is”—he paused—“Oh là là!”
For more than thirty years, Gaultier has been known as the enfant terrible of fashion, but he is no longer an enfant, and, while he is still impish, he is also so respectful of tradition that it is hard to think of him as terrible. He is fifty-nine. His hair, which he used to wear in a bristly buzz cut, dyed platinum blond, is now gray and neatly trimmed. He has a prominent forehead and a fine mouth and chin. His ears are set low and stick out a little, which makes him look cute rather than handsome. He photographs well, and has the kind of animated, genial face that looks appealing on television, but he almost fainted when I asked him if he had ever considered modelling. “Me? No, no, no, never!” he said. “I didn’t like the way I looked at all.” He has always liked people whose looks were unusual, even extreme. He found himself, with his classic profile, “nothing special.”
Gaultier’s father was an accountant and his mother a clerk; he was an only child. They lived in a suburb of Paris, and were, as Gaultier describes it, of modest means. His grandparents lived nearby, and he spent as much time as he could with his maternal grandmother, Marie, a widow who ran a home business that sort of prefigured wellness counselling: she provided massage, facials, laying on of hands, and marriage advice to a clientele of local women. She doted on Gaultier; she let him watch television whenever he visited, so he soaked up hours of movies and shows, including a broadcast of performances at the Folies Bergère, which a less permissive adult might have considered too adult for a little boy.
Marie also often allowed Gaultier to sit in on her consultations with clients. To women who confided that their husbands were losing interest in them, she recommended that they jazz up their wardrobes. The idea that fashion was powerful enough to perhaps save a relationship fascinated Gaultier. Sometimes, as he listened to the counselling sessions, he drew before-and-after sketches of the women. The “before” image was how they looked when they came to his grandmother, and the “after” was how he thought they would look if they took her advice, which usually meant that they were transformed into, say, Ava Gardner or Marilyn Monroe.
From the time he was a boy, Gaultier also experimented with appearances, and Marie was a more or less willing accomplice. According to Gaultier’s cousin Évelyne, one of those experiments resulted in Marie’s hair being dyed blue. In the catalogue of the Montreal exhibition, there is a hilarious photograph of a teen-age Jean Paul working on Marie’s hair. He looks pleased; she looks as if she were being held for ransom. Gaultier talks about his grandmother frequently. He appreciates the fact that she spoiled him, and he found her eccentricity inspiring. For instance, Marie would go outside dressed just in her slip; she was that kooky. While he loved his mother, he says she was “less interesting” than his grandmother. But he also told me a story about how he had once quit a job, claiming that his grandmother had died. His mother knew about his fib, and, when he asked her to pick up his final paycheck, she decided to go dressed in mourning clothes. The gesture thrilled him. “I couldn’t believe she would do that!” he said. “That she would dress up like that, for me.”
The Gaultiers weren’t political, but they insisted on an openness and acceptance that was unusual for the time. Once, when Gaultier said something insulting about Arabs living in the neighborhood, his mother reprimanded him. “She said, ‘They are nice people, and you should shut up,’ ” he recalled. His mother already suspected that he was gay, and added that Jean Paul ought to think hard about being prejudiced, since he, too, could be the target of insults.
The insults did indeed come, at school, where Gaultier was the misfit kid who wasn’t good at any sports and felt rejected by the boys in his grade. Then he got caught doodling in class. After smacking him with a ruler, the teacher pinned the drawing to the back of his shirt and made him walk through all the classrooms as a shaming punishment. This discipline strategy had one fatal flaw: the drawing was of women in bras and fish-net stockings, inspired by the Folies Bergère shows that Gaultier had watched at his grandmother’s. Instead of being the object of ridicule, he became the object of great admiration among the boys. “It was like a passport,” he says. “I realized if I sketched, people would smile.”
The first time I saw Gaultier at work was last summer, when I visited him in Paris before his couture show for the Winter 2011 collection. His headquarters is not in the “golden triangle” off the Champs-Elysées, where most of the couture houses are, but in a former trade-union building, bearing the inscription “FUTURE OF THE PROLETARIAT,” on the ragtag Rue Saint-Martin, in the Marais. Inside, though, the building is all white and marble and imposing elegance. There were half a dozen women of unusual height and weight drifting around the hallways when I arrived. Because most of them were wearing ratty cutoffs and clunky work boots and, in one case, a T-shirt that said “I’m Busy, You’re Ugly, Have a Nice Day,” I knew that they were supermodels.
Upstairs in a workroom, Gaultier was doing a final fitting of a sheer navy-blue gown, trimmed with mink, on Karlie Kloss, an American teen-ager with important-looking eyebrows and a delicate mouth. The gown had drapes and folds and looked impossibly complicated, but Gaultier dismissed it by saying, “It’s just a scarf, and a little fur trim, and that makes a dress. It’s nothing, nothing!” It was actually quite something, regal and feminine and luxuriously classic. Gaultier became famous for designs that referenced bondage and sexuality, but many of his clothes, like the navy-blue dress, are quietly beautiful and well tailored, without any attempt to shock.
When I came into the workroom, Gaultier was pinching bits of fabric and adjusting the dress on Kloss, and then stepping back to consult with his corset-maker, who goes by the name of Mr. Pearl. Gaultier was wearing his usual attire of a black polo shirt and black jeans and a pair of scuffed shoes. Mr. Pearl, a small South African man who himself has worn a corset for years and at one time achieved a sixteen-inch waist, was studying the dress and rotating Kloss by pressing one hand on her hip. All the while, multiple conversations were going on, between Mr. Pearl and Gaultier, and Gaultier and his head seamstress, who scurried in and out of the room, and Gaultier and Kloss, who was saying, apropos of nothing, that she thought that someday scientists would be able to clone people. “I hope not,” Gaultier said, with a gasp. “I like that everybody’s unique.” There was a busy, pleasing clutter in the room; sketches of the collection were strewn over every surface, racks of dresses were lined up against a wall, and a worktable was piled with fancy gloves, hair ornaments, a box of Werther’s Original candies, a golden Buddha in a snow globe, a lot of green satin and velvet, and feathers. The feathers were especially important—the theme of the collection was “Black Swan,” and many of the pieces incorporated them. (After the show, Gaultier launched a scent for men that continued the feather theme—it is called Kokorico, which means “cock-a-doodle-doo.”) For his past collections, he has taken inspiration from all manner of sources: Frida Kahlo, James Bond, religious iconography. He loved the movie “Black Swan” and also a flamenco show that he’d seen in which one of the male dancers sprouted wings and basically turned into a rooster, so he decided that, for this collection, he would design around the twinned themes of dance and feathers.
The show was to take place in less than twenty-four hours, and many of the dresses weren’t finished, and the security for the show was complicated by the fact that one of the biggest-selling French pop stars of all time, Mylène Farmer, a longtime client of Gaultier’s, would be walking the runway. Her fans were already milling around on the Rue Saint-Martin, waving Sharpies and CD covers in the hope of an autograph. I wondered if Gaultier would be distracted and irritable, but he was in good humor, which seems to be his default mode. The film director Pedro Almodóvar, who met Gaultier in a club in the nineteen-eighties and became a close friend, said recently, “It’s impossible to get in a fight with him.” As Gaultier did a little more fabric-pinching on Kloss, he talked about the flamenco show that had inspired him, and that made him think about feathers in general—“They are so, so superb!”—which reminded him of the year that he bought a lot of live turkeys to give as Christmas gifts. “They made a huge destruction at the office,” he said. “They were . . . huge!” He laughed at the memory, and then added that the turkey-gift idea had come to him when he was still very much the enfant terrible—outrageous gifts of poultry were, evidently, part of the job. But he had not given the birds just for the sake of being outrageous; he thinks that they are beautiful, and he admires their natural instinct for strutting like models. After telling the turkey story, he took a break and insisted that everyone in the room have a Ladurée macaron. “Jean Paul’s favorite thing in the world is sugar,” his communications director, Jelka Music, told me later. “No, no, that’s not true. Couture first, sugar second.”
The fact that Gaultier does haute couture at all is remarkable. His house is one of the eleven formally recognized by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. He began the business in 1996, at a time when more couture houses were closing than were opening. By then, he had been working in fashion for more than twenty-five years; he had left high school early, in 1970, to work as a studio assistant for Pierre Cardin, the designer who pioneered space-age dresses, bubble skirts, and the modern tunic jacket beloved by the late Ferdinand Marcos. Gaultier idolized Cardin, who was uninterested in convention and unafraid of the couture syndicate, which is regulated by French law. (He was kicked out once, for having the nerve to sell ready-to-wear clothes in a department store.) After the stint at Cardin, Gaultier worked for Jacques Esterel, and then for Jean Patou, a fusty old French house, where he was mocked for the unconventional way he had begun dressing. As he once said, “When I arrived in the morning wearing my riding boots, the old salesladies would say to me, ‘Where’s your horse? Did you leave it outside?’ ”
The good thing about working for Patou, though, was that the experience mirrored Gaultier’s idea of what it would be like to work in fashion. Like many of his notions, this one sprang from a movie: the 1945 Jacques Becker film, “Falbalas,” about a philandering couturier who ends up falling in love with a friend’s wife, has a nervous breakdown, and jumps out a window with a mannequin. Gaultier loved the drama and the romance of the movie, and he also loved the world it described—the mansions where the couturiers worked, the ateliers staffed by legions of stern seamstresses, the precision and the detail of the work. He has said that if he hadn’t seen “Falbalas” he might not have become a designer. The House of Patou, headquartered in a spectacular eighteenth-century building, made him feel that he was living in his favorite film.
In 1974, Gaultier went back to work for Cardin, designing and producing ready-to-wear clothes for the American market. In the meantime, his boyfriend, Francis Menuge, encouraged him to establish his own line of ready-to-wear. Scraping together his own money, and relying on friends and family (his cousin Évelyne knit the sweaters, the concierge of his apartment building helped with the sewing, and Menuge made the accessories and handled the business arrangements), Gaultier presented his first collection in 1976, at a Paris planetarium. There were nine models, who wore dresses made from placemats, canvas, and upholstery fabric, and biker jackets with tutus. The clothes were sexy and witty, making use of iconic fashion motifs (toile, biker jackets, ballet costumes) in unpredictable ways and humble materials in reverential ways, and grafting unlikely components together. That spirit has guided his work ever since, conveying his appreciation of anything hybrid and surprising, and, as he explained, “the question of what is beautiful and what is not beautiful.” One of the phrases Gaultier uses often is “Why not?,” which he delivers with his eyebrows lifted and his shoulders raised, as if he were a human interrobang. He says it most often to explain a lot of the decisions he makes with clothes. Why would someone wear a tutu with a biker jacket? Well, why not?
Many of the other young designers of his generation, such as Christian Lacroix and John Galliano, riffed on opulence and luxury; their clothes evoked a fantasy world of wealth and exclusivity. Gaultier was more interested in what he saw on the street: London kids with sky-high Mohawks and safety-pinned kilts, fetishists with full-body tattoos, African women in Paris who wore men’s overcoats on top of traditional dress. His fantasy world was one where ethnicity and gender were comfortably jumbled—a kimono could be spliced onto a double-breasted suit, or a ball gown could be made of camouflage fabric or, even better, of camouflage fabric that on closer inspection revealed itself to be colored bunches of nylon tulle, a cheap material usually used only for tutus and wedding dresses.
His choice of models was also part of his effort to conjure a world without boundaries. In the mid-seventies, fashion was ruled by towering blondes, including Jerry Hall, Cheryl Tiegs, and Margaux Hemingway. Gaultier chose unconventional models of all races; some were bald or tattooed (or bald and tattooed), some overweight, some elderly, others extreme in some way. His beauty ideal was the fierce, androgynous French model Farida Khelfa; her appearance in his shows was the first time that a model of North African descent had had such prominence. There were only nine journalists at Gaultier’s first show, but the collection drew enough attention so that, within two years, his clothes were being sold at the influential Paris boutique Bus Stop, and were being championed by the Japanese apparel company Kashiyama.
Among the first pieces he designed were his tattoo “skins”: long-sleeved tight-fitting stretch-nylon tops that were printed with the bursting roses, pierced hearts, and tribal swirls of body art. But not everything that Gaultier designed was pure invention. He was also interested in tradition: not conformity for the sake of conformity but those traditions of clothing, such as the trenchcoat and the sailor shirt, which were timeless and, above all, very French. It’s just that he looked at them in a different way. What if you took a trenchcoat and made it into a dress? Or made it in red satin? Or made the sleeves into huge, draping bat wings or layered them with feathers? Well, why not?
Gaultier says that he met Madonna in 1987, after her concert at the Parc de Sceaux, outside Paris. He had been a fan from the moment he first saw her, singing “Holiday” on television. “I thought, Oh, my God! That look is incredible!” Gaultier recalled. “The fish-nets! The jewelry! The stomach! The little boots! Truly, it was the same spirit of what I was doing, a little rebellious. Then I saw her on the MTV music awards singing ‘Like a Virgin,’ wearing a wedding dress, with the masturbation. . . . American show business was very shocked, but she was fantastic!” As it happened, Madonna was a fan of Gaultier’s. She wore one of his dresses, in black, to the 1985 American Music Awards and, a few months later, she wore the same dress, only in white, to the première of the film “Desperately Seeking Susan.” By that time, Gaultier had attracted a passionate audience—in 1985, four thousand people lined up to see his collection—and had opened his first boutique, in Paris. Madonna stopped in after her concert. (“Can you imagine?” Gaultier said to me, in a hushed voice. “Back then, even big stars actually bought clothes instead of borrowing them.”)
A few years earlier, he had begun making his first corset dresses—boned, bra-topped corsets that continued past the hips to qualify as legal street wear. He had first seen a corset at his grandmother’s. It was salmon pink, and he was struck by the luscious fabric and the delicate stitching: “I felt so much admiration for it. My grandmother explained to me that she wore it to have a slim waist, and that she had to drink vinegar to give herself a stomach contraction so it could be laced tightly. Like so!” He drew in his breath sharply, to demonstrate how his grandmother would collapse her stomach. “It’s like theatre!” He really liked Madonna, and he told her that he would like to make a corset dress for her.
These days, an exposed bra strap or a lingerie-style top is commonplace, but it wasn’t in the early nineteen-eighties. Foundation garments were demonized as anti-feminist and subjugating, and were not flaunted—if they were worn at all. But his grandmother’s corset and her intricately seamed bra struck Gaultier as celebratory, rather than confining, as did any article of clothing that conveyed the idea of the body and of flesh, especially if it scrambled usual notions of gender—even though fashion was then in the thrall of a new group of Japanese designers, including Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo, whose intellectual, architectural clothing was, if anything, anti-flesh and gender-neutral. Then one of Gaultier’s employees came to work wearing a Chanel jacket, unbuttoned, over nothing but a lacy bra, which reminded him of his grandmother walking around in her slip. He decided to design some clothes that were an elaboration on her lingerie. In some of the pieces, he exaggerated the cups of the bra, so that they looked like inverted ice-cream cones or an African fertility carving. He called the collection Dada, and it was an immediate sensation. The corset-dresses were analyzed for their politics—was dressing a woman in a corset enslaving or empowering?—and for their shock value. Gaultier says that he was surprised at the commotion. “I didn’t know there would be a reaction,” he said. “I did it quite naturally!” Pedro Almodóvar confirmed that Gaultier’s motivation was ingenuous. “He has an outrageous side,” Almodóvar told me, “but he’s far too innocent and authentic to shock for shock’s sake. He’s very sexual but never dirty. He can be provocative, but he’s not a poseur, trying to be scandalous.”
By the mid-eighties, Gaultier had collaborated with a number of artists. He had designed costumes for the French actress Annie Girardot, and for performances choreographed by Régine Chopinot. But he had never collaborated with a star as big as Madonna, who asked him to design costumes—three hundred and fifty-eight of them—for Blond Ambition. The tour was a sold-out success around the world, and Gaultier’s costumes were acclaimed. In particular, the pink corset bodysuit, with exaggerated conical bra cups, which the blond, ponytailed Madonna wore over black menswear trousers, became one of the indelible images of the era.
One day this past summer, a mother and daughter named Donna and Meghan Spears stopped by the Aeffe showroom, in midtown Manhattan. Aeffe is an Italian luxury-goods company that produces, distributes, wholesales, and does public relations for Gaultier’s ready-to-wear line in the United States. The Spearses own a designer boutique called Consortium, in Oklahoma City, and Gaultier is the best-selling designer in the store. They were in town to order the next season. I admitted to the Spearses that I wouldn’t have guessed that Gaultier had many fans in Oklahoma, but Donna said, “Oklahoma City is much more progressive than people think. In our target market, everyone has more than one home, more than one airplane. In the past, everyone went to Dallas or Aspen or La Jolla to shop. Now they come to us. At the end of the season, we never have any Gaultier left.”
The Aeffe house models took turns around the showroom, wearing a range of clothes from dresses with clever draping in flowered fabric to smart-looking tailored suits. Michelle Stein, the president of Aeffe, looked on as Juliette Dumesnil, the firm’s sales director for the Gaultier line, ran through a narration that was peppered with phrases like “We have this in a lot of different color ways” and “That’s a good price point for a lot of drama.” The Spearses were ecstatic. “Mom!” Meghan said, when she saw a knit dress she particularly liked. “I love this!”
“Me, too,” Donna said. “I think that’s the most perfect thing I’ve seen.”
Next, a model came out in a stretch poplin top that had a hint of a Gaultier cone bra in its shape.
“Oh, my God,” Meghan said. She nudged her mother, and they both nodded at Dumesnil.
“I know we’re going to buy just about everything,” Donna Spears said. “We can’t afford to look at this collection!”
A lot changed for Gaultier around the time of Blond Ambition, which, in many ways, started him on the path that led to being a best-selling designer in Oklahoma City. The association with Madonna vaulted him to a kind of recognition rare for a clothing designer. In addition to his ready-to-wear line, he began designing costumes for movies, including Almodóvar’s “Kika” and Luc Besson’s “The Fifth Element,” for which he was nominated for a César, the French equivalent of an Oscar. He launched a perfume, called Jean-Paul Gaultier, which came in a corset-shaped bottle packed in a tin can, and went on to sell more than sixty-five million units. He also branched out from fashion and recorded a house-music song, “Aow Tou Dou Zat,” which ended up in the Top 100 on the European dance charts. The CD cover featured a stylized photograph of Gaultier, his hair in full spike, a puckish smile on his face. In the nineties, he was the co-host of a wildly successful, British magazine-style television series called “Eurotrash.”
When Gaultier was working on Blond Ambition, Francis Menuge was stricken by a devastating AIDS-related illness. Menuge had handled the business side of Gaultier’s work since his first show, and they had been a couple for fifteen years. When he died, in 1990, Gaultier found it hard to continue with the business they had created together. He thought about quitting fashion, but decided to stay with it, and even to look into designing a couture line, as Menuge had urged him to do for years. It was a huge commitment, one far more demanding than designing ready-to-wear clothing. To be officially sanctioned by the couture syndicate, a designer must create made-to-order clothing for private clients, employ at least fifteen full-time craftspeople, and, twice a year, present a collection of at least thirty-five outfits, some for day and some for evening. Couture houses almost always operate at a loss; they exist to showcase the designers’ most unencumbered fantasies. Very few people buy couture, since one dress can easily cost fifty thousand dollars. Most customers can only afford something from a designer’s ready-to-wear line—or a perfume—whose brand has been made more valuable because he or she designs couture.
By the mid-nineties, the number of couture customers was shrinking, and there was a nagging feeling that the business was decadent, and dying. At first glance, Gaultier—he of the cat-food-can bracelet—would seem to be the last person interested in having a couture house, but he was the person who had grown up dreaming of “Falbalas,” and who, despite his rascally reputation, was deeply respectful of the French grand tradition. (“When we get together in Paris,” Pedro Almodóvar told me, “he takes me to some restaurant, not posh and trendy, but really traditional French cuisine.” After a moment, he added, “And then maybe we go to the latest transvestite show.”) In 1996, Gaultier says, he met with Bernard Arnault, the chairman of the fashion conglomerate LVMH, which owns Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, and Céline, among other brands. Gaultier thought that perhaps he would go to Dior, which was looking for a new head couturier. But Arnault wanted John Galliano, who had been a success at Givenchy, where he had spent the previous year, to take over Dior, and, according to Gaultier, Arnault wanted him to take Galliano’s place at Givenchy. Gaultier was dismayed. “I thought Givenchy was very bourgeois,” he said. “I loved Saint Laurent, Dior, Cardin. Givenchy was not a dream of mine. So I told Mr. Arnault no, I was not dreaming of Givenchy.”
Instead, he opened a couture house under his own name. He showed his first couture collection in 1997; Nicole Kidman bought one of the first pieces. “My God, Nicole Kidman!” he said. “I had a client!” He had thought he would do just the one collection, but he quickly discovered that he loved the freedom of designing couture, where, if he could imagine a full-body corset encrusted with Chantilly lace, or a unitard that was beaded with anatomical details, so that the wearer looked nude but sparkling, he could have it made. And he loved being in the atelier every day, tweaking and fussing over the pieces, working with the seamstresses and the hatmakers and the beaders and the corset-makers. (He also showed men’s couture—the first designer to do so.) So he did another collection and then another. In the early years, he showed as many as a hundred and twenty outfits. “I have a defect,” he confessed, saying that he allows himself to explore too many ideas, and that he admired designers like Rei Kawakubo, whose collections explore a single, rigorous theme. “But I love it,” he said, excitedly. “What I love is the process! I love it!”
Over all, the past several years have been gloomy ones for fashion, particularly for some of Gaultier’s contemporaries. The recession forced Christian Lacroix to leave his own company, and Yohji Yamamoto narrowly escaped bankruptcy (he was saved by an angel investor). Others have self-combusted, or nearly so. Marc Jacobs battled drug and alcohol addiction (he is now clean). Dior fired John Galliano, who was recently convicted of making anti-Semitic remarks, which he attributed to his problems with alcohol and prescription drugs. Alexander McQueen committed suicide in 2010. Ron Frasch, the president of Saks Fifth Avenue, which is one of Gaultier’s biggest retailers in the United States, told me that he sometimes wondered how designers bear the pressure of the job, now that it requires more than just being able to draw a pretty dress. “They’re in the position of creative leadership of a whole brand,” he said. “Image, store development, packaging, fragrance—it’s so much more than it was ten years ago. And there’s an enormous amount of expectation of constant newness.”
Gaultier has had setbacks: his only boutique in the United States, on Madison Avenue, closed in 2005, and, like everyone else in the luxury business since the recession, he has seen his orders drop. Stores have asked him to sell some items, like accessories, on consignment, and a number of the shops that carried his line have gone out of business. But he has also thrived. From 2003 to 2010, in addition to creating his own lines, he served as the head designer of Hermès. He has dressed Juliette Binoche, Catherine Deneuve, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and a dozen other celebrities; made costumes for two more Almodóvar films; and designed furniture for Roche Bobois and a special limited collection of clothes for Target, among countless other collaborations. “He keeps his feet on the ground,” Frasch says. “I think he’s enormously savvy.”
Even Gaultier’s riskiest moves have often paid off. For instance, he has famously advocated that men wear skirts, showing them for the first time in 1984, in a collection he called “Boy Toy.” Of course, the sight of a brooding male model, wearing a five-o’clock shadow and a skirt, set off all manner of comment. Gaultier says that he had no intention of making a statement or of being provocative; he was inspired by tradition, including the long aprons that waiters wear in brasseries, by togas and kilts, and by one of his male models, who had shown up for a fitting wearing a sarong, looking very masculine. Gaultier sold three thousand of the skirts, and continues to include them in his collections. “It was not a gay statement—quite the contrary,” he said. “Men were changing—they were not so macho. So I thought, Why not?”
In the summer of 2009, Nathalie Bondil, the director and chief curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, approached Gaultier with a proposal to mount an exhibition of his work. Before settling on Gaultier, Bondil had considered doing an Alexander McQueen exhibition. “He also had a very strong visual world,” Bondil said. “But Jean Paul Gaultier is like smiling sunshine. McQueen is the dark moon.” Gaultier says that he was reluctant but Bondil convinced him that the exhibition could really reflect his way of looking at the world. “I wanted something very, very alive,” he said. “I didn’t want something dead—a museum can seem dead, the clothes are very old, it’s like a funeral.” He thought that if the exhibition could show his obsessions—“flesh, ethnicity, different kinds of global beauty, cinema, my interest with Madonna, tattoos, the Parisienne, the male as object, all that kind of thing”—he would consent. Thierry Loriot, who is in charge of fashion and design projects at the museum and was the chief curator for the exhibition, interviewed almost everyone who has been instrumental to Gaultier’s career, and began looking through some eight thousand pieces that he had designed over the years. Loriot selected a hundred and forty for the show, along with accessories, photographs, archival materials, and seventy videos. So far, more than a hundred and twenty-five thousand people have seen the exhibition.
Gaultier’s favorite thing—besides sugar and couture—is film, and the exhibition ended up echoing his beloved “Falbalas.” He said, “At the end of ‘Falbalas,’ there is a beautiful scene—it’s the presentation of the couturier’s collection.” Then he described how the couturier, who is starting to go mad, stares at a mannequin, which suddenly becomes an apparition of the woman he loves. The way the mannequin came to life gave Gaultier the idea of making mannequins for the show that would also somehow come alive. “Why not?” he said, shrugging. He had seen a theatre performance in Avignon that used video projections and blank mannequin faces to create a similar illusion, so he approached Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin, the directors of the experimental theatre company Ubu, and together they created thirty-two animated mannequins that talk, wink, smile, and sigh. The effect is startlingly realistic, but slightly unnerving. The first mannequin you see in the show is one of Gaultier, chatting and laughing and exclaiming, as he often does.
The show itself is mind-boggling; there is a gown made to look like the skin of a leopard, fashioned entirely from beads; thigh-high tights made of Chinese-print satin; mermaid dresses that drape into swirls of liquidy fabric; long skirts with mariner stripes, made entirely of tiny feathers. While I walked around the exhibition, most of what I heard people saying was: “It’s amazing.” The visitors that day were the kind of mixed bag that would have made Gaultier happy—a lot of fashionable young women, some gay couples, a few families with children, and a number of elderly people, who tilted their bifocals so that they could examine the fabrics more closely. One of the older couples was paused in front of the section that showcased the first of Gaultier’s men’s skirts. I asked them what they thought of the clothes. “It’s a little, you know, ‘out there’ for me,” the woman replied. She and her husband moved on to the next section, most of which consisted of variations on bondage costumes. “Everything these days is mix and match,” the woman went on. “Soon we won’t know who is who.” Gaultier is thrilled with the way the exhibition has turned out. “It’s like a dream come true, in reality, for me,” he said. “It’s alive, it’s a story, it’s a movie. It is like a dream!”
These days, Gaultier lives alone, in Paris. He has a boyfriend who lives in Greece, and they see each other when they can. He doesn’t think that he will ever be as close to anyone as he was to Menuge. “He and I did something together,” he said. “We did my company. It was like our baby.” Most days, Gaultier works, then goes to the movies, then reads a book, then works some more. Facing his sixtieth birthday, with a major exhibition of his work travelling the world, has made him a little philosophical. He looks back at his old collections more than he used to. For his couture collection, he now designs about forty-five outfits—more than the thirty-five that are required, but not the flood of clothes that he created in his first seasons. He has a staff of seamstresses and public-relations people and helpers, but he designs everything himself: the couture, the ready-to-wear, the jewelry, the menswear, the nautical collection, the accessories, and the packaging for the fragrances, as well as Piper-Heidsieck limited-edition champagne bottles, a knit collection, lingerie, and children’s clothes. The last really great assistant he had was Martin Margiela, who left, more than twenty years ago, with Gaultier’s blessing, to do his own collection. “In the future, to be honest, I’d love to delegate some of my work,” Gaultier said. “But I can’t teach someone. I have to find someone who matches my sensibility.”
I couldn’t help but wonder whether someone who has been designing so much for so many years could remember every piece he had done. In particular, I wondered if he could remember a dress that I bought at least ten years ago. It’s a long-sleeved ankle-length oversized black T-shirt dress, decorated with halftone photographs. What’s striking about it is that the photographs are of a world that couldn’t possibly exist. In one, a Mongolian man is standing in front of a herd of giraffes, beside someone who looks a little like Marlon Brando in “The Godfather,” who is staring at what might be a trombone. There is also a photograph of an Inuit family in the desert.
“I remember that dress,” Gaultier said, when I described it to him. I asked what he had been thinking about when he designed it. “I think the long line of the black dress, that’s very nice; it looks very beautiful for a woman to wear a long line like that,” he replied. And what about the photographs? He started to laugh and tilted his head to the side. “I take what I like from here, and what I like from there, and put them together. I suppose that’s my fantasy world. Impossible, I know, but that’s my fantasy.”

Source: The New Yorker!

Saturday, October 1, 2011