ORIGINALLY POSTED ON 22 JANUARY 2020: Last week the renowned designer announced his last couture show. The shock announcement came via Twitter as the designer spoke on the phone, posing languidly against various items including a mannequin reminiscent of his trademark sculpted perfume bottle.
He said: “This show celebrating 50 years of my career will also be my last. But rest assured Haute Couture will continue with a new concept.” Undoubtedly, tonight will not only be an incredibly emotional farewell for the designer, but it will indeed spark many conversations surrounding the French native’s initial venture into couture, as his vivaciousness and flair for embedding a sense of playfulness to the prestigious fashion week schedule will be sorely missed.
The final show took place in Paris on 22 January, and boy, oh boy was it impressive. Famous faces graced the catwalk clad in dresses sporting boned corsets, deconstructed dresses and sailor stripes. Dita Von Tesse sported a show-stopping nude buckled corset mini-dress, Gigi Hadid served up a healthy dose of marine realness and Irina Shayk donned a peach number reminiscent to the pieces that ruled Madonna’s tour wardrobe during the mid-90s.
Fashion fanatics showed up in their droves to witness the designer’s final hurrah. And for the finale? A Boy George performance, of course.
Many might know Jean Paul Gaultier as the designer who created that iconic hourglass perfume bottle. You know, the one kitted out in French Bretton stripes.
The cult perfume - Le Classique - was released in 1993 and was his first fragrance catering to women (he would later go on to drop Le Male two years later). It certainly caught the attention of many (no doubt, lots of us are still spritzing our bottle to this day), but in fact the designer is so much more than just a perfume bottle. Case in point: his cone bra dress, and respective corset, which debuted in 1984. The garments quickly amassed a slew of fans and served as archetypes for the underwear-as-outerwear trend. Madonna swiftly maintained an ongoing relationship with the cult silhouette too, serving as a pinnacle sartorial choice during her Blonde Ambition tour.
Gaultier presented his first couture show over two decades ago in 1997: provocative, daring and darn right fashion-forward was the evident theme. The show was awash with models caked in exaggerated makeup, draped in cutting, crisp two-piece suiting and utilised sheer materials in a way that challenged and conjured excitement within the fashion landscape. Gender constructs were dismantled as male models sauntered down the catwalk in halter necks, extremely beaded co-ords and jelly shoes. Heavily dubbed as the ‘Enfant Terrible of Fashion’, due to his penchant for creating thought-provoking, sensual and, most importantly, fun pieces that are somewhat unmatched in the industry. As a matter of fact, his signature tattoo print tops are still a hot commodity on resale sites like Depop and eBay.
Witnessing his career – which has spanned across five decades – flourish has simply been a dream and so, revelling in his craftsmanship and most memorable moments to-date is certainly a good way to spend our time.
From delicately spun sheer dresses to whimsical nautical headgear, scroll ahead to see a few of the designer’s most iconic creations.
1) Couture 1997 - Gaultier’s first offering
Injecting a sense of playfulness to the otherwise restrictive and Victoriana staple, this emblazoned iteration paired with a double draped satin bias skirt would quickly become a blueprint.
2) The corset gets flipped on its head
Yet another corset sample would make an appearance on the catwalk, much to the joy of his admirers. This time it sported fringe and cut out detailing, intertwined with sheer material, married up with tailored trousers. Inspiration. For. Days.
3) Things got a little more shiny and nautical
A sequinned striped top paired with a vivacious sheer skirt stood out in his 2003 couture collection.
4) Gaultier weaves in religion to couture week
Taking on a more religious feel, his 2007 designs were evidently inspired by the Catholic church and the delicately crafted interior.
5) Undergarments prove to be supreme (yet again)
Dita Von Teese made an appearance during his fall 2010 couture collection sporting a breathtaking number that made us hastily pledge our allegiance to the underwear-as-outerwear situation.
6) His final Couture Fashion Show hit us hard
This dress speaks for itself, no? There isn’t anything about this look that doesn’t scream glamour, from the poofy layered skirt to the satin sheen. Plus, the lace-up boots just kick-started our next shoe obsession.