the designers

Jean-Paul Gaultier is a French fashion designer and past television presenter. Furthermore he is one of the most talked about and influential couturiers in the world. His designs are always unusual and controversial and he is the darling of the fashion press.

In 1952 Jean-Paul Gaultier was born in Arcueil, France. Gaultier never received formal training as a designer. He studied at the Lycee d'Arcueil.

When only 14, in 1964 he started sketching his fashion ideas on paper. For 2-3 years, he continued this. Instead, he started sending sketches to famous couture stylists at an early age in 1969. Pierre Cardin was impressed by his talent and hired him as an assistant in 1970 on Gaultier’s birthday, 24th April.

In 1971 Gaultier joined Jean Patou, the famous couture house, as Asst. to Michael Gomez, then Angelo Tarlazzi.

In 1973 he joined Jacques Esterel.

Then in 1974 he returned to Pierre Cardin looking after his store in the Philippines, where he designed clothes for Imelda Marcos.

In 1976 Gaultier started to manufacture the first electronic jewellery with his collaborator, Mr. Francis Menuge.

In 1976 in October, he presented his first collection under his own name, at the "Palais de la Decouverte" comprising articles such as furnishings, table sets in plaited straw.

In 1977 he started his own firm, for couture. In 1978 his first collection with partner Kashiyama. He held twice-yearly collections of feminine wear, the most important of which. He has long been known as the “enfant terrible” (bad boy) of French fashion. Many of Gaultier’s following collections have been based on street wear, focusing on popular culture, whereas others, particularly his Haute Couture collections, are very formal yet at the same time unusual and playful. In 1981 Gaultier changed his partner and Kashiyama went back to Japan, where he still produces Gaultier products under licence for Japan and the Far East.

Sales in Italy were handled by Gibo for woven goods and Equator for knits.

In 1984 Gaultier achieved recognition world wide with his men's collection "men in skirts" In Brigitte Bardot's famous film "God Created Woman" men wore trousers like pencil skirts. This inspired his collection.

In 1987, he won the French Fashion Oscar Award.

In 1988 Gaultier launched his jewellery line.

In 1993 Gaultier launched his perfume "Haute Perfumerie".

In 1996 Gaultier designed all the costumes for the film "Fifth Element"

He currently designs for three collections: his own couture and ready-to-wear lines, as well as the newly relaunched clothing line for Hermes, a French leather goods company well-known for their equestrian background, scarves, and expensive and difficult to obtain handbags.

Hermes has financed Jean-Paul Gaultier since 1999, to the extent of 35 % of his company. In May 2003, they announced that Gaultier would become the chief designer at the house of Hermes, replacing Martin Margiela. Gaultier will design for them beginning with Fall/Winter 2004. This is the first time that Jean-Paul has designed for any house, other than his own label. Jean-Paul Gaultier staged a retrospective exhibition in London at the Victoria and Albert Costume Museum, in May 2003. It showed all the creative garments of his career, and was a great success.

The Look

Gaultier does not like primary colours, he prefers ivory and half tones. His images are tiny but sacrilegious, his cut a little better, his vision breathtaking. He is a designer who has made his reputation by attaching 12" conical breasts to Madonna and putting men in Lycra jumpsuits covered in small diamond shape mirrors. As his fantasies wing their way down the runway, you see Backless T-shirts, cutaway jackets with more space between than fabric, a riot of prints, insanely skirted mens pants and beautiful women. Very little is what one would expect. This sets him apart from other controversial designers. He starts with some classic point, something people are familiar with like a blazer, or a chemise, then he deforms it, knots it, stamps on it, but retains its classic shape. Gaultier's vision of 21st century clothing is spray-on disposable clothes, seamless and without openings. To take it off, one would pull firmly and throw away. According to Gaultier, our clothing has not changed drastically up till the 20th century, and styles and construction have not kept pace with advances in technology. He says changes are imminent. He will probably be the designer putting them into practice. He popularised the use of skirts, especially kilts on men’s wardrobe, and the release of designer collections. Gaultier caused shock by using unconventional models for his exhibitions, like old and fat women, pierced and heavy tattooed models, and by playing with traditional gender roles in the shows. This actions granted him both criticism and enormous popularity.

Who Wears It

Madonna, Nicole Kidman,


1993 Jean-Paul Gaultier Parfum (based on Schiaparelli bottle of "Shocking" from 1937)
1993 Haute Perfumerie
1993 Summer Fragrance
1994 Jean Paul Gaultier Eau de Toilette
1996 Le Male
1999 Fragile
2000 Classique
2002 The Buddhist
2002 L'Eau d'Ete (W)
2003 Classic (W)
2005 Gaultier 2 (W)
2005 Gaultier Summer (W)
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