Vogue Festival: Jean Paul Gaultier

Sunday, 14 June 2015

So as I talked about in a previous post (here), my sister and I went to the Vogue Festival just over a month ago. It was such a fun day and Jean Paul Gaultier’s talk was absolutely the cherry on top.

French haute couture designer Gaultier has always been an interest of mine. His designs have always been fun if not a little controversial at times which I really admire. He was accompanied on stage by model Erin O’Connor who he knows personally and profssionally. O’Connor remembers first thinking of Gaultier as the Wizard of Oz, O’Connor was Dorothy and she ‘didn’t want to go home’. They both commented on their shared shyness something you wouldn’t expect from such big characters in the industry. Gaultier explained that his grandmother was his first muse who introduced him the corset, something that Gaultier has remained interested in. Gaultier then confessed he was not very accepted at school. Being a boy he was expected to enjoy football which he didn’t, claiming he wasn’t very good at it. His interest was textiles. He made a fake Balenciaga dress for one of his teddy bears, a reliable model for his childhood creations.

Gaultier then went on to discuss his education. He says that when he was young magazines were his source of learning about fashion. He would devour fashion magazine after fashion magazine. He felt that if he could draw clothes he’d find acceptance somewhere. It is because he could draw, he believes, that he found his place in the industry. If you can’t communicate your designs on paper you’ll struggle. McQueen was apparently the only one Gaultier knew who could communicate his designs without necessarily drawing them.

I loved Gaultier’s thoughts on variations of beauty. On make up Gaultier told O’Connor he didn’t want it to ‘hide’ a model ‘I love it when you can see different beauty’. O’Connor agreed that she was always allowed to be herself in Gaultier’s clothes. He always wanted to convey a message, ‘you were one of the first to challenge gender conformity’, O´Connor reminded him. Gaultier of course being one of the primary designers to encourage skirts for men in the eighties which brought both criticism and elation. Using fashion to challenge gender stereotypes was a brave move on Gaultier’s part but one I would like to see in more designers. There once was a day when women could not wear trousers and look at us now. We have already come such a long way in evolving views of gender and fashion is such an interesting and actually very powerful part of this. Gaultier was really part of the catalyst for changing gender perspectives not only in the industry but, from this, society as a whole. I really hope these ideas continue to develop.

I really felt proud of the fashion industry as Gaultier spoke. It’s a competitive industry. One that can shape society to an extent and it’s so moving to know that there are individuals that are working in fashion because it’s their dream; oh and for Gaultier because he’d love to dress the Queen Mother.

Did any of you catch the industry experts talking at Vogue Fest? What are your thoughts on Gaultier?


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