The enfant terrible of the fashion scene, Jean Paul Gaultier is known for sailor stripes, bare skin and gender games. His creations are now on show in Munich.
What is fashion? And is stylish the same thing as beautiful? When it comes to Jean Paul Gaultier's designs, one thing is for sure: They're eccentric. Being different is his goal and he's clearly successful at achieving it.
The French fashion designer regularly works with models that don't necessarily fulfill the standard ideal of beauty - like Gossip's plump lead singer Beth Ditto.
And he doesn't just create clothing for women. Jean Paul Gaultier was the first fashion designer to work with androgynous models like Tanel Bedrossiantz. He's also brought Austria's 2014 Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst onto the catwalk.
Born in 1952 in a suburb of Paris, Jean Paul Gaultier finds inspiration in the world around him - from artists and filmmakers, from punks and other cultures. He also loves the ocean and many of the characters he creates for the catwalk have a marine flair. He's known for sailor outfits, nymph gowns and mermaids. In 1997, he famously organized the longest kiss for commercial purposes between model Kristen McMenamy and a sailor.
Gaultier's stripes and less wearable works
Sailors' stripes are Gaultier's trademark and certainly suitable for everyday wear beyond the fashion shows of Paris. That can't be said of his newer works, however. But wearability isn't necessarily his aim. Instead, he uses the human body as a palette for expression, questioning not only gender roles but also nudity and eroticism.
He deliberately breaks the boundaries between the aesthetic norms of haute couture and prêt-à-porter.
Gaultier has designed pieces made of latex, feathers and frills, and isn't afraid of showing lots of naked skin. The 1980s punk scene finds its way into his works, and he also has a thing for corsets. Madonna wore his most famous corset during her "Blond Ambition" tour in 1990.
Gaultier's designer pieces are iconic. Since many are one-of-a-kind, the exhibition at the Kunsthalle Munich - organized together with the Maison Jean Paul Gaultier - relies mainly on loans from stars like Madonna and Kylie Minogue.
Some 160 of Jean Paul Gaultier's creations spanning from the early 1970s to the present can be seen through February 14, 2016, in the Kunsthalle Munich. The show "Jean Paul Gaultier - From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk" has been touring for the past four years and Munich is its final stop.