Oliver Rousteing as Jean Paul Gaultier
The Reverent Irreverent Does the Master Proud in Spectacular Paris Fashion Show on July 7, 2022
As a long-time lover of art and fashion, I recall with delight a magnificent Jean Paul Gaultier retrospective exhibition I attended at Stockholm’s Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design in 2013. This show, with its talking mannikins, cone bras, and utterly vanguard designs, placed me in a realm of imagination without boundaries. I was witnessing an absolute master of creativity and innovation in both fashion design and presentation at his very best. What a memorable mind and spirit expanding experience that was!
I had the exact same same feeling when I saw the Olivier Rousteing interpretations and re-workings of Jean Paul Gaultier designs commissioned by JPG himself. Displaying the same perfectionistic craftsmanship and unbridled creativity which were the hallmarks of Gaultier designs, Rousteing has paid due homage to one of the fashion world’s true revolutionaries with a remarkable outpouring which displayed both reverence for JPG and Rousteing’s own irreverence and flair. What a show and what designs! JPG was of course a spectator at the event and had not seen any design beforehand, telling Rousteing to surprise him. And indeed Rousteing did, eliciting often ecstatic responses from the master. Rousteing truly deserved that approbation as he approached the project with a diligence akin to that of JPG, having made 200 drawings in preparation for the show before he even accessed by invitation the Gaultier archives. This show was another delight for me, seeing how a rising iconoclast interprets a legendary one! I was truly moved when the two met up after the event and held hands, OR decked out in a signature JPG sailor suit outfit! The photos of the show below should both excite and incite the viewer, and is not that the goal of both art and fashion?
Jean Paul Gaultier is an internationally renowned fashion designer whose groundbreaking works convey a wide-ranging and unprejudiced view of all aspects of the human adventure. His designs reflect his ebullient and insouciant spirit and cut across race, culture, and gender to reveal his innate humanity. When I visualize JPG, I see him in his classic striped sailor suit top embarked on his own unique voyage through the sea of life.
Olivier Rousteing has been the creative director of the fashion house Balmain since 2011, a role he assumed at just 25 and as a relative unknown. Since then, he has restructured, revamped, and reinvigorated Balmain and brought it to the apex of the fashion world. His designs reflect his personal zest and sense of play and made him the perfect choice to synthesize this tribute to Jean Paul Gautier, which he carried off brilliantly with his reimaginings of the JPG style.