Jean Paul Gaultier Gets Freaky

Where Paris - - Contents - By San­dra Iskan­der

Meet the fa­mous French de­signer who is bring­ing a new cabaret to the city

Cel­e­brated fash­ion de­signer Jean Paul Gaultier, fa­mous for his cone bra de­signs and his nau­ti­cal print, has changed the way we look at fash­ion, has worked with some of the world’s most tal­ented and fash­ion icons in­clud­ing Madonna and Kylie Minogue, and now the de­signer is bring­ing his tal­ents to the all-new cabaret, Fash­ion Freak Show.

The self-con­fessed lover of “freaks” con­fides that he has “al­ways loved freaks, weir­does, ag­i­ta­tors, the mix­ing of dif­fer­ent aes­thet­ics, the un­ex­pected en­coun­ters.” And from the man who al­ways puts on quite the spec­ta­cle with his own run­way shows, his cabaret is set to em­brace more of his the­atri­cal ten­den­cies and form a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion from his fash­ion shows to his cabaret.

“I dis­cov­ered the en­ter­tain­ment world at the age of nine while watch­ing a Folies Bergère re­vue on TV. And I found out what a fash­ion show was through Jac­ques Becker’s film Fal­balas, in which Miche­line Presle falls in love with a fash­ion de­signer played by Ray­mond Rouleau. With the Fash­ion Freak Show I in­tend to bring these two worlds to­gether,” Gaultier ex­plains. “In ev­ery fash­ion show that I have pre­sented from the very be­gin­ning of my ca­reer I would al­ways put a bit of a show in it. It could be Ed­wige Bel­more singing My Way, the Sid Vis­cous ver­sion in 1979, or Dita von Teese do­ing a strip­tease at cou­ture in 2010 but there would al­ways be an el­e­ment of a show,” he con­tin­ues.

When de­cid­ing on the name of the cabaret, Fash­ion Freak Show, the de­signer con­fides that he “al­ways loved dif­fer­ence and tried to show it through­out my ca­reer. So maybe if you’re dif­fer­ent you’re con­sid­ered freaky. I want to show dif­fer­ence. For there is beauty to be found ev­ery­where, it all de­pends on how one chooses to look at it. This trans­gres­sive en­ergy will be on show for all to see. This show is the story of my life, things I have ex­pe­ri­enced, seen and loved. And also, sto­ries that I have never told be­fore. It will snake through four decades of my life, dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods of my ca­reer, from my child­hood to my early ca­reer, from my great­est fash­ion shows to the wild nights. I will draw from the peo­ple who have in­spired my fash­ions, from film­mak­ers to pop stars, for this re­vue pro­duc­tion will com­bine singing, danc­ing and act­ing and ful­fil my child­hood dream of mak­ing a show. The Fash­ion Freak Show is also an ex­plo­sive playlist of hits that have in­spired me through­out my life, from disco to funk, from pop to rock and also, new wave and punk. I asked my friend Nile Rodgers to pro­duce the sound­track and com­pose and record orig­i­nal music for the show. It will be a grand party!”

Of course, any party hosted by Jean Paul Gaultier means some fab­u­lous fash­ions and for his first cabaret, the de­signer de­signed “tens of new ex­clu­sive cos­tumes to in­cor­po­rate within an ex­u­ber­ant scenog­ra­phy with­out for­get­ting my most iconic cre­ations as the famed Blond Am­bi­tion tour corset for Madonna, the sailor striped t-shirt or skirt for men.”

Spend­ing “so much time dress­ing oth­ers that I dress very sim­ply now,” the de­signer loves to look at what peo­ple are wear­ing, es­pe­cially if they are not “to­tal looks”, shar­ing that “I love when peo­ple try to ex­press their per­son­al­ity through clothes. It doesn’t al­ways work but I don’t like to judge.” The French de­signer who de­clares he would “stop” what he is do­ing the day he is no longer in­spired to de­sign, ex­plains that he loves “to dress those who love my clothes and through that who love me. In a way I have be­come a cou­turier to be loved as I re­alised that my work was my pass­port to peo­ple’s hearts. I have never set out con­sciously to pro­voke. If you do that it never works. For ex­am­ple, when I did the corset dress I no­ticed that my girl­friends would wear just a bra un­der­neath a jacket. Their moth­ers burned their bras, but they wanted to be sexy again on their own terms. I also pre­sented ‘l’homme ob­jet’ as I felt that the men could be seen as on ob­ject. I was al­ways hor­ri­fied by this ex­pres­sion ‘soit belle et tais toi’, be beau­ti­ful and shut up. I was brought up by women, by my mother and my grand­mother, and I al­ways thought that women were more in­tel­li­gent and stronger than men. And I wanted to show it in my col­lec­tions. Even though look­ing at my fash­ion shows some peo­ple would say that my clothes are un­wear­able it is not true. I have al­ways de­signed real clothes and it was with the styling that I would turn them around.”

And it is his way of work­ing “on a tra­di­tion and turn­ing it on its head”, that has set Gaultier apart from other de­sign­ers. In­spired by ev­ery­thing and any­thing, Gaultier has the ad­mirable abil­ity to take any­thing and turn it into the sea­son’s must-have. Seem­ingly never run­ning out of ideas, Gaultier ex­plains that “ev­ery­thing can be an in­spi­ra­tion. Even a mis­take. Once I saw ad­ver­tis­ing in the street and I thought that mod­els had a wool hat, scarf and gloves all in one. I dou­bled back to see it and re­alised that it was only the way it was pho­tographed but it in­spired me to do an all-in-one hat.”

For the de­signer who epit­o­mises Paris for many around the world, the French cap­i­tal is also an im­por­tant source of in­spi­ra­tion for him, ex­plain­ing “I grew up in the sub­urbs of Paris, in Ar­cueil and there was al­ways this fas­ci­na­tion with Paris that started at the Porte d’Or­léans. But I would say that my Paris is full of clichés and I love it that way. I have been in­spired by the Tour Eif­fel, I have put [a] Moulin Rouge print on a cou­ture dress, I [held] my last ready-to-wear show at the Grand Rex cin­ema, [and] my statue is at the Musée Grévin.”

Though it isn’t only other fash­ion items and the fash­ion cap­i­tal that in­spire his de­signs, with strong women also push­ing his cre­ativ­ity, as he ex­plains that “my col­lab­o­ra­tion with Madonna is of­ten taken as an ex­am­ple [of the Jean Paul Gaultier look] and it is true that we share the same values, but I love all those who have a strong char­ac­ter and who are not afraid to ex­press it. I have pre­vi­ously in­vited Beth [Ditto] and Dita [von Teese] [to be part of my shows] be­cause I love them, and I love what they do. De­sign­ers need to ex­press the spirit of the times. We are all ex­press­ing what is hap­pen­ing around us, the changes in so­ci­ety. So, I would like to think that my cou­ture is in tune with the so­ci­ety that we live in.”

And it is with this kind of thought that has Gaultier ad­mired and stud­ied in­ter­na­tion­ally with his cre­ations ex­hib­ited in mu­se­ums around the world from Paris to Mel­bourne. “I don’t think that fash­ion is art, it is a craft. And for years I didn’t want to do an ex­hi­bi­tion as I see fash­ion as some­thing alive, clothes on a hanger or on a man­nequin don’t re­ally in­ter­est me. But when I met the team of the Mon­treal Mu­seum of Fine Arts I re­alised that I could do with them an ex­hi­bi­tion that would not be static and bor­ing. There were talk­ing man­nequins that were de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with De­nis Mar­leau and UBU Theatre Com­pany in Mon­treal, the ex­hi­bi­tion was not chrono­log­i­cal, but it was pre­sented by my codes, or rather my ob­ses­sions and it turned into this great ad­ven­ture that lasted [for] more than five years, trav­elled to 4 con­ti­nents, 9 coun­tries and 12 dif­fer­ent cities. More than 2 mil­lion peo­ple have seen it.”

This level of ex­cite­ment is what also makes Gaultier so fas­ci­nat­ing. Af­ter decades in the fash­ion in­dus­try, he is still able to be ex­cited about new projects and new ideas. The lit­tle boy who wanted to be a pas­try chef when he grew up con­fesses that “my work is my life and I love it and en­joy it. I love the point where I am in my life. I never thought that I would do an ex­hi­bi­tion that will travel for 5 years or that I will do a theatre show. I have all the free­dom I want and can ex­press my­self in new ways.”

Fash­ion Freak Show starts on the 2nd of Oc­to­ber at the Folies Bergère. Turn to out En­ter­tain­ment sec­tion for more in­for­ma­tion.

Af­ter peo­ple have watched your show what would you like them to walk out think­ing? “I would like them to walk out with a smile on ” their face and with a spirit open to dif­fer­ence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from France

© PressReader. All rights reserved.