Jean Paul Gaultier Threw Himself a High Fashion Funeral

Illustration for article titled Jean Paul Gaultier Threw Himself a High Fashion Funeral
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Jean Paul Gaultier’s final show at Paris fashion week was everything fun about ’80s and ’90s fashion—campy and arty all at once with Boy George hanging around in the background.

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Illustration for article titled Jean Paul Gaultier Threw Himself a High Fashion Funeral
Image: Getty

The hour-long show featured the usual suspect supermodels, Hadids and whathaveyou, alongside drag queens like Miss Fame, contortionists, dildo hats, and giant boobs.

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Illustration for article titled Jean Paul Gaultier Threw Himself a High Fashion Funeral
Image: Getty

Held in Paris’s Théâtre du Chatelet, the showed opened with the funeral scene from William Klein’s 1966 fashion film Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? before a curtain opened on a group of supermodel/socialite mourners posing on a white staircase presumably ascending to fashion heaven. An oversized coffin featured two giant, canonical breasts in reference to the “cone bra” he and Madonna used to piss off the heartland in 1990.

Illustration for article titled Jean Paul Gaultier Threw Himself a High Fashion Funeral
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Boy George covered Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black,” as Gaultier’s ’90s muses including Karen Elson modeled his final collection with up-and-comers like Winnie Harlow.

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Illustration for article titled Jean Paul Gaultier Threw Himself a High Fashion Funeral
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What I remember most about Gaultier is how completely apoplectic that cone bra made the men in my small town when Madonna wore it in 199o. “I don’t get it,” grown men with no interest in fashion would whine, furious about a piece of pop culture that wasn’t intended for and didn’t include them. Weaponized underwear and men in skirts genuinely terrified people who were used to the universe, even the fashion world, tailoring itself to their ideas of normalcy.

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Illustration for article titled Jean Paul Gaultier Threw Himself a High Fashion Funeral
Image: Getty

Gaultier’s best work always challenged as much as it delighted, but as the world grew into spaces he helped create, Gaultier was forced out. In 2015, he announced he would shutter his ready-to-wear line and focus on twice-yearly runways shows. His final show served as both swan song and retrospective:

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“I have opened all my drawers, taken back all my old collections,” Gaultier wrote in a farewell letter. “I have used my archives as material. Goodbye, the brand-new; hello, the brand old. What I did at the beginning with no resources, I do today with my inheritance to give life to new creations.”

Illustration for article titled Jean Paul Gaultier Threw Himself a High Fashion Funeral
Image: Getty
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And with his look back on four decades of perverse, beautiful, and sometimes oddly hilarious fashion, Gaultier created a spectacle that made even Anna Wintour break character and cheer, which was the curtain call he deserved.

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DISCUSSION

Jerry-Netherland
Jerry-Netherland

Nice to see his decades-long muse, the fabulous Rossy de Palma* right there by his side in the top photo (Together Gaultier and de Palma redefined the fashion press’ conventional definition of beauty; she was often described as looking like a human Picasso painting because of her unusual face - 30 years on and she still shows up in the fashion glossies).

*of course she’s equally known as a regular in the Almodovar repertory of stars, but her association with Gaultier was a game-changer in fashion.