I recall with great glee cycling up the Champs Elysees with my wife Tabitha, and discovering a Jean Paul Gaultier boutique in Rue Vivienne. A block along was the five story fashion Disneyland of Louis Vuitton, packed with tourists. A large Kenzo store, in the street over. But here was a small quiet boutique. Gaultier across the front, in signature stencil script. But of all the places we had visited: Lanvin, LV, Givenchy, Chanel, Sonia Rykiel, JPG was arguably the highlight. He was the enfant terrible of French Haute Couture. In the 80’s especially, Gaultier cemented his name with outlandish style, decadence that few could match, and a complete irreverence. And this from a designer who wasn’t trained, but used to send sketches to couture houses in the hope of impressing. And one day Pierre Cardin was indeed impressed - enough to hire him as an assistant. The clothes in Peter Greenaway’s ‘The Cook, The Thief, His wife and her Lover’. The red leather jacket on the front cover of CAMEO the band. The Madonna Blonde Ambition tour. And of course the JPG fragrances.
After more than 38 years spent producing men's and women's ready-to-wear collections, Gaultier recently decided to exit Ready to Wear, citing time constraints and wanting to concentrate more on his fragrance line. Yet history has been kind to this fashion wunderkind. Melbourne has a touring exhibition that curates some of his finest work. I talk with the curator that has travelled with the exhibition for the last few years, Thierry Maxime Loriot - tomorrow on Sunday Morning, Radio New Zealand National.