Designer Jean Paul Gaultier holds his last ever fashion show in Paris. Picture: Reuters
Designer Jean Paul Gaultier holds his last ever fashion show in Paris. Picture: Reuters

LOOK: Jean Paul Gaultier bids adieu on final day of PFW SS20 couture

By THOMAS ADAMSON Time of article published Jan 23, 2020

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Jean Paul Gaultier bid adieu to the Paris couture runway with a fashion show and surprise guest singer Boy George at the Théâtre du Châtelet.

Gaultier on Wednesday retired from runway couture collections - the designer’s only remaining runway show outlet since ending his ready-to-wear collections in 2014. 

Hanging up his couture pin cushion - and with it effectively his catwalk career - is a big moment for the industry, but also a logical step for the one time enfant terrible of French fashion, who had acknowledged his disillusionment with the frenetic pace of the modern fashion industry.

Former French First Lady and ex-supermodel Carla Bruni joined hundreds of veteran Gaultier aficionados, who pushed and shoved in the iconic Chatelet Theater, for the final-curtain-call couture collection of Paris’ inimitable fashion artiste.

“Life is always the end of an era,” Bruni told Associated Press, striking an upbeat tone. “Jean Paul can never really stop.”

In a tweet, the 67-year-old Gaultier said that the Wednesday night couture show “celebrating 50 years of my career will also be my last.” He added: “But rest assured, haute couture will continue with a new concept,” without elaborating how.

For the relatively small Paris couture industry, having last year lost a towering figure in Karl Lagerfeld, the decision for Gaultier to quit, one more lost voice, has marked it deeply.

The difference is: “Jean Paul is alive. He’s well and alive,” Bruni said, smiling.

Dealing head-on with whispers about the end of his career, ever-humorous Gaultier began the spectacle with a funeral scene — as six male models carried a black coffin onto the runway. He ended it, after 90 minutes of new creations, jumping and laughing on stage as everyone danced to Boy George's singing his hit “Church of the Poison Mind.”

Singer Boy George performs during the final Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2020 fashion show. Picture: AP Photo/Thibault Camus

The energetic collection was a greatest hits of his couture. Figures from the Gaultier's past, including models from the 1980s, as well as it-models such as Bella Hadid and Karlie Kloss, walked the runway.

Design flourishes included cropped denim hot-pants with an actual pair of jeans attached to the back, a floaty Asiatic printed parachute gown, a sheath made of blown-up belts, a fringed monochrome tuxedo coat, and even a ninja outfit with a feathered headpiece. Needless to say there were also lots of gender-bending styles.

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2020 fashion collection. Picture: AP Photo/Francois Mori
Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2020 fashion collection. Picture: AP Photo/Francois Mori

The mood felt more like rock concert than couture show with screams from the audience. Accordingly, France's answer to Madonna, pop star Mylene Farmer, popped out from behind a screen to walk the runway to the booming sound of her own songs. Dita Von Teese appeared in a corset, to the audience's hysteria.

It was certainly a historic moment for fashion.

After founding his eponymous label in 1982, Gaultier shocked the fashion industry by introducing man-skirts and kilts to menswear. He became known as a designer who fused gender identity and empowered women.

Looking back through decades of his creations some years ago, Gaultier told The Associated Press that it was a bustier that first made him a household name in the United States - specifically one a certain pop star from Michigan named Madonna wore on her "Blond Ambition" tour in 1990.

AP

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