Jean Paul Gaultier: The Designer’s Most Unforgettable Haute Couture Looks

Jean Paul Gaultier: The Designer’s Most Unforgettable Haute Couture Looks

Jean Paul Gaultier: these haute couture looks are unforgettable

Jean Paul Gaultier is one of the best fashion designers of the last two decades. His extravagant designs often break with existing conventions and gender roles, only a few designers have influenced the fashion world as much as he has. He can now look back on a long and impressive career.

Gaultier Paris Autumn 2002 Haute Couture

Photo: Shoot Digital for

In 2020, Jean Paul Gaultier bid fashion farewell to his eponymous label by presenting his latest haute couture collection. As a result, Instagram was flooded with memorabilia from Gaultier’s career. Gaultier, who trained with Pierre Cardin, began making dresses under his own name in 1982; his debut in haute couture took place in the spring of 1997. The dresses he presented then were fundamental to what he would follow for the next 24 years and more than 40 haute couture collections.

Gaultier Paris Spring 2000 Haute Couture

Photo: Conde Nast Archive

Jean Paul Gaultier: That’s what makes it so unmistakable

Gaultier not only has a distinctive personal style, but also a well-defined design aesthetic, which overlaps. The designer’s recurring use of stripes and checks pays homage to his old uniform of Breton sweater, kilt and military boots. Over the years, Gaultier has interpreted the stripes of the sailor sweater in countless ways. Most memorable was a dress that went from a knitted bodice to a marabou hem in the spring of 2000. Feathers, worked into intricate patterns as if made of fabric, or simply levitated, are among Gaultier’s favorite materials. . He knows leather (he was at Hermès, after all), but even in haute couture he always returns to a simpler fabric: denim. High-quality jeans can be taken for granted today, but that was far from the case when Gaultier started introducing them.

Jean Paul Gaultier defends gender fluidity

Perhaps more than any other designer, Gaultier has woven a realistic feel into haute couture, both in terms of materials and silhouettes (parkas, ski sweaters, etc.). While stunning dresses for women and men are full of whimsy (he was an early proponent of gender fluidity), there are usually more understated options, like a low-cut suit or the perfect little black dress, not to mention the wink. occasional.

Gaultier Paris haute couture collections have always been declarations of love for the French capital, no matter how distant the references. Yes, the Eiffel Tower appears on several dresses, but the designer’s deepest commitment is to the crafts that have sprung up in the city. He, too, turned to Gallic tropes, such as the trench coat and tuxedo à la Yves Saint Laurent.

Gaultier also borrowed colors and silhouettes from the long history of clothing and from French painters such as Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Influencers like the Folies Bergère are less pompous but playful. When he wasn’t designing for an Amazon -his wife is always strong- he thought about the coquette. Garters, corsets, and tapered bras (hello, Madonna) have all been given the extra couture treatment.

Gaultier Paris Spring 2019 Haute Couture

Photo: Filippo Fior /

Gaultier Paris Haute Couture Fall 2019

Photo: Filippo Fior /

Why cool girls love Jean Paul Gaultier

After being rediscovered by a new generation (particularly the Kardashians, Bella Hadid, Miley Cyrus), Gaultier has revisited designs and motifs like the nude dress and his techno dots in recent years. He, too, was recruited to work with Supreme in 2019. When Vogue retold the Alice in Wonderland story in 2003, Gaultier was cast as the Cheshire Cat. Given the designer’s sense of fun, he was a brilliant choice.

As the designer bids farewell to the catwalks in 2020, it’s reassuring to know that Gaultier’s playful approach to fashion, like Lewis Carroll’s seductive creature, is still present in his absence. In other words: what Enfant terrible stays in the photo. Here we celebrate the designer’s achievements with a look back at 30 of his most memorable couture looks.

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