A Biography of Jean Paul Gaultier


Jean Paul Gaultier

The Rise of Fashion’s Enfant Terrible
A Biography of Jean Paul Gaultier

He is a pop culture icon. His designs have been in the most important Fashion Weeks in Paris, London, New York, and Tokyo, and his garments have dressed important figures such as Madonna, Marilyn Manson, and Marion Cotillard.

Born April 24, 1952, in Arcueil, Val-de-Marne, France, Jean Paul Gaultier entered the fashion world almost by chance. His passion for sending sketches to famous couture stylists at a very early age, in 1971, earned him a position as assistant to fashion legend Pierre Cardin. His talent soon propelled him to run Cardin’s boutique in Manila for a year in 1974.

Gaultier’s career kept growing, and he released his first individual collection in 1976. It was received with mixed reviews by the press and critics, yet his transformation into a cultural trendsetter commenced. His irreverent works continued into the early 1980s, which led to his nickname as the enfant terrible of French fashion. Often, his collections were based on streetwear, and he used unconventional models for his exhibitions, such as older men and full-figured women, as well as pierced and heavily tattooed models.

Despite his detractors, Jean Paul Gaultier managed to impress notable fashion editors such as Melka Tréanton of Elle, and Claude Brouet and Catherine Lardeur of French Marie Claire.

By the mid-1980s, Gaultier introduced man-skirts, and produced sculptured costumes for Madonna during the nineties, starting with her infamous cone bra for her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour. Years later, in 2006, he also designed her wardrobe for her Confessions Tour.

Throughout his career, Jean Paul Gaultier has also been involved in cinema. He designed the wardrobe of many motion pictures, including Luc Besson's The Fifth Element, Pedro Almodóvar's Kika, Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's La Cité des enfants perdus (The City of Lost Children).

In 2003, he was appointed as head designer of high-fashion brand Hermès, and debuted with his first ready-to-wear collection for fall/winter 2004–05. He also became Diet Coke's new creative director in March 2012. His role involved providing creative input into company's advertising campaigns, retail events, and new online projects, as well as designing limited-edition bottles.

He is the owner of Active Labels Labels, a company that compiles his brands: Jean Paul Gaultier, Gaultier PARIS – couture collection – and former JEAN'S Paul Gaultier, Eyewear Jean Paul Gaultier and Jean Paul Gaultier Argent. He also licenses a line of perfumes in collaboration with the Puig company.

Return to Jean Paul Gaultier at the Grand Palais




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