Jean Paul Gaultier on Couture and a Special Message to the ACF<br/>
Jean Paul Gaultier on French couture and it’s heritage, Rihanna at the Met Ball and a special message to the Asian Couture Federation
It was in September 2014 that Jean Paul Gaultier announced that his just to be unveiled SS/14 collection would be his final ready-to-wear after almost four decades in the business. According to one of the currently most respected voices in the fashion journalism ( Alex Fury, The Independent) ‘over that time JPG has gone from arriviste, to provocateur, to establishment, to institution’. As his craft as a designer has never been shy of the ‘theatre of fashion’ , it almost made a perfect sense that couture remains Jean Paul Gaultier’s only turn on the runway of the fashion calendar.
With show at the Paris Haute Couture collections in July 2015 , this unequivocally French couturier has shown to the fashion world once again that his technical details are amazing as well as his renowned sense of fun. Not only that the collection was an ode to the region of Brittany in France, that once-upon-time inspired his trade-mark striped sailor sweater, but crepes and cider were served, as the show was about to commence, to the likes of fashion a-listers and celebrities. Like never before this particular show combined Jean Paul Gaultier’s past and present to the overwhelming sound of the traditional live band straight out of Brittany.
It was a spectacle, in every sense of the word, but the one that was also significant for the Asian Couture Federation as the famous designer was masterfully open to having a conversation with us on all things couture.
We spared the grand Couturier of no easy questions as the very first one was something that even the fashion historians have difficulty answering – how important is couture in this moment in fashion?
‘I don’t know about the others but couture has always been very important for me. When I was starting as a designer couture was actually all I knew about. I think I’ve always actually thought as a couturier, from my very first drawing to almost everything I’ve designed so far. For a designer couture is actually the way he thinks. There was a rumour not a long ago that the couture is dead or it belongs in the past. I’ve never thought that possible. Personally I love both the fantasy element and the fun part which I hope you were able to see in my show today.’
It was also very important to ask one question that has been on everyone’s mind lately – does couture has to be modern?
‘I think it does even though I think there are no rules in couture. I’ve never experienced a slump in the interest in my couture designs , quite the contrary. What is actually important for me to see is that I am getting a lot of new customers and somehow they are getting younger and younger. Also, you should be able to move wearing your couture – that’s what I find modern in mine or someone else’s design. I also think that a lot of people don’t really understand what couture is all about. Or what does or does not work. ‘
The Wall Street Journal hinted recently at the apparent ‘renaissance for the industry’ with new markets opening and couturiers coming from China, Russia, the Middle East. And you are often celebrated as the last truly French designer at the helm of the French ‘house’. In your opinion, is there such a thing as a typical French couture?
‘Yes, I am a French designer but whether there is a ‘typical French couture’ I really cannot say. Don’t forget that couture in France is not only something that can be traced back to the court of Marie Antoinette but also to the Englishman, Charles Worth who was actually considered as the first official couturier. The only thing I can say for sure is that the French couture has to be produced in France . Style-wise, I really cannot say as there are so many things that influence me and most of the time I am not sure where are they coming from’.
There are many French brands /couture houses that are currently either branching out or showing at the various venues in the Far East. When is Jean Paul Gaultier going to show in Asia..Singapore, Shanghai, Vietnam?
‘Perhaps when you invite me (laughing) I would love to come, all I need is an invitation’…
Together with the rest of the fashion world you’ve probably have seen or heard about Rihanna wearing the gown from the Chinese couturier and ACF’s Couturier Extraordinaire, Guo Pei at the Met Ball. What do you think in general about the Asian couture?
‘As you know I’ve had my inspirations drawn from Asia and I continue to do so. I’ve admired so many Asian designers here in Paris, particularly the Japanese ones. I think they are simply fantastic and very original. With Rihanna wearing that gown, which I’ve now learnt it was from the Chinese couturier, I loved it. There was also a lot of criticism which I think it was unfair because the dress was amazing’.
This was all delivered with that, almost signature , JPG energy and gesticulation with Guo Pei’s gown on Rihanna becoming almost ‘alive’ and ‘visible’ again. The ‘commotion’ was also captured on camera together with the designer’s special message for the Asian Couture Federation.
‘ Sorry, what shall I say again’, he asked kindly, forsaking the patience of his PR crew and the other media waiting in vain.
‘ My name is Jean Paul Gaultier and this is for the Asian Couture Federation’, we advised mercilessly and with a smile at the thought that certainly the most recognisable of modern designers have to introduce himself.
And he did.
In January 2016 after his show at Paris Couture Week in Rue St Martin, the ACF Chairman, Dr. Frank Cintamani presented Jean Paul Gaultier with the ACF Award for the Outstanding Contribution to Couture.