20th-century fashion icons and their contributions to fashion: Jean-Paul Gaultier

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Now it is the turn of this controversial and revolutionary fashion designer. Who, with his way of designing, conquered hearts and eyes within the world of fashion and haute couture. The Frenchman Jean-Paul Gaultier.


Jean-Paul Gaultier


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On April 24, 1952, Jean-Paul Gaultier was born in Arcueil, a suburban area of ​​Paris, France. He was the son of an office worker and an accountant. It was really his grandmother who instilled in him his interest in the fashion world.


From a very early age, he started in the fashion scene without having a previous formal education in the area. And it was in 1970, at the age of 18, when he was hired by the designer Pierre Cardin. He was delighted with the talent that Gaultier had shown.


Later, he would work with Jacques Esterel and later with Jean Patou. With the latter he was before resuming his work with Cardin, who put him in charge of one of his boutiques, located in the Philippines.




In 1976, he launched his first solo collection. It was made up of atypical designs, using materials such as straw to make some garments. And again, placing the sailor suit on stage and launching a very controversial piece, the male skirt. All the while, he was attracting the attention of buyers and editors thanks to this exaggerated and unconventional proposal.


It was 1982 when his brand was finally born, projecting itself as a new promise in the fashion world. It was an emblem of his personal stamp, the sailor suit we mentioned before, shown in his first show. And together with the corset, which gave a new sense of liberation and empowerment. He was in charge of emphasizing femininity and style in both women and men.


He also served as the creative head of the Hermès fashion house from 2003 to 2010.


Already in 2014, he decided to dissolve his ready-to-wear line. Because of the high demand of the industry and the creative limitations that mass production implies. This led to the fashion house announcing in March 2020 the new work modality that would involve receiving a guest designer each new season. And they would be in charge of preparing the couture collection of the moment. The Japanese Chitose Abe, from Sacai, was the first to work on this project. Jean-Paul Gaultier bid the fashion world farewell that year with his last haute couture collection.


Contributions to fashion


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Jean-Paul Gaultier is better known as the enfant terrible (Terrible Child) of fashion. Since he was irreverent and against the fashion system as it had been working.


Always creating under his own terms, where inclusion was its premise. When designing, he was inspired by real people and bodies, and he made room for race, gender, and cultural diversity.


He was in charge of reinventing the corset, reintroducing the sailor style, and producing several of the most popular fragrances on the market.


Most Emblematic Designs


La Marinière


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Gaultier rescues the sailor style and, in 1983, launches the horizontally striped t-shirt to become the flagship of his brand.


This design was the one that gave rise to the creation of the ready-to-wear line.


And also served as inspiration for the perfumes manufactured later.



Men’s Skirt


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The garment was what we know as the skort.


It consisted of high-cut pants with an adhesion of fabric covering the front part, giving the illusion of being a skirt.


A piece that seeks to break stereotypes about the male gender.





The Tapered Bustier


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Again, in search of revolution and seeking to highlight the idea of ​​hyper-femininity, he creates the cone-shaped bustier.


With Madonna in charge of popularizing it. It is a popular culture reference because it was part of the wardrobe she wore in her Blond Ambition WorldTour.






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In 1993, Gaultier began in the world of perfumery with the launch of its Classique fragrance for women. The bottle containing the product was the figure of the female body wearing his iconic corset protected in a silver tin. 


Later, in 1995, he brought Le Male to the market, his first bet for the male side.


Jean-Paul Gaultier dedicated his career to creating without limitations through his irreverent designs. The taboo subject was the focus of his inspiration when creating. He consolidated himself as one of the most influential designers in the fashion world, being his designs a reference today.