After 50 years, Jean-Paul Gaultier takes final bow in Paris | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 21.01.2020
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After 50 years, Jean-Paul Gaultier takes final bow in Paris

Iconic French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier has announced that his haute couture show on January 22 in Paris will be his last. But the irreverent fashionista promises a new high design "concept" is in the wings.

The news came as a surprise: The revered French designer Jean Paul Gaultier bid adieu to his fashion collection shows on social media with a quirky video in which he makes the announcement on his phone. In the conversation with his fans, he sends out an invite to "celebrate my 50 years in fashion" on January 22 at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

But though the curtain will come down on the French fashion designer's catwalk shows, a "new concept" was in the works, he promised.

Breaking taboos

Born in an outer Paris suburb in 1952, the untrained designer began his career when he landed a job as a drawer and assistant for Pierre Cardin in 1970. It wouldn't take long for his outré creations to transform the French fashion landscape.

US singer Beth Ditto is joined on stage by Jean-Paul Gaultier (AP)

US singer Beth Ditto is joined on stage by Jean-Paul Gaultier while modelling his 2011 spring-summer collection in Paris

Gaultier's first individual collection appeared in 1976, while from 1997 on he also dedicated himself to haute couture. Meanwhile, the designer released dance music singles and hosted the TV variety program Eurotrash on Channel 4 — usually in a skirt — from the 1990s to 2007. 

Read moreChanel pays tribute to Lagerfeld with his final collection

The Parisian trendsetter became known for his use of catwalk models that do not correspond to orthodox standards of beauty, or gender identity — including the short, shapely front singer of the band Gossip, Beth Ditto.

Designing dresses and skirts to be worn by both women and men, Gaultier was the first fashion designer to work with androgynous models like Tanel Bedrossiantz. The fashion designer also brought the transgender Eurovision Song Contest winner from 2014, Conchita Wurst, onto the catwalk.

The human body is the basis for his work that has also never been shy of nudity and eroticism. As he stated in a video posted to Twitter that documents an "open casting" that marks his 50 years in the fashion business: "There is not one kind of beauty, there are many kinds."

Watch video 04:48

Jean Paul Gaultier's 'Fashion Freak Show'

Trademark style

The blue-striped sailor look is a Gaultier trademark that was tailored for everyday use, and paired well with his mass market perfume range. You can't say that about most of his daring creations, however, including the famous conical bra corset he crafted in the 1980s for Madonna.

In 2014, the eccentric fashion designer already withdrew from the prêt-à-porter ready-to-wear market. But with Gaultier assuring that his creative career is far from over, the world will be watching after he takes a final bow in Paris.

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