Fashion’s ‘Enfant Terrible’, Controversy and Couture- Jean Paul Gaultier

After indulging in some research about one of the greatest fashion phenomenons of the century, I became completely seduced by the story to his creative genius, which lead me to reflect on my own passions and dreams for the future of fashion.

Like many great creative intellects, Gaultier grew up with a unique desire to be different and make a difference. His childhood and adolescent years brought about his sensual influences, which would later become is iconic couture designs and gave him the title ‘Enfant Terrible’ as an openly fetishist designer. Working with Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent as a young apprentice gave him his leap into the industry, whilst his inspiration for his own work came from the controversial and outrageous era of 1980’s punk. His creative method to ‘collect, convert, combine'[1] helped him to infuse his work with ideas from the world around him, be it in the streets of London or the night life in Paris. Using recycled materials and sources (like the famous soup can used as his perfume packaging) he portrayed his vision for the utility and beauty of fashion.

‘Fashion is becoming practical, ruling out nothing and enabling everything. Fashion is doing for materials what the romantics did for works’ Guillaum Apollinaire,1911-13[2]

His heyday was definitely the 80’s when women’s liberation was at its peak and the acceptance of sexuality was loud and clear. This movement enabled Gaultier to explore contemporary fashion and mix the divide between masculine and feminine, crossing borders with examples like the extravagant man skirt of SS 1985 and the subtle masculine traits (buttons on the right) in the traditional suit for women of Fall 1989-90. These examples the taboos in fashion were broken to portray the possibilities for an advance in equality between genders for the future.

However much Gaultier  ventured into the risqué style of erotic punk, his love for the sensual simplicity of cut and silhouette for Parisian fashion remained his grounding for his work, ‘separating elegance and vulgarity’[3]

To conclude, I thoroughly respect Gaultier’s vision for change, as I myself enjoy the turnover of fashion because it not only represents societies natural  need for  the new and interesting, but also the drawbacks and boredom of remaining static in old traditions and taboos. As part of my Melting Pot project, the concept of evolution and change in culture and society ties in perfectly with Gautier’s experience of changes in 20th century fashion movements. Although nowadays, there is no obvious political or social movement, like the new age of the 60’s or punk era, which fashion can grow from, there is still room for improvement and expansion in the industry concerning the inventions of new materials, which combined with the regurgitation of past fashion trends can produce a constantly fresh appeal to fashion which suits the tastes and interests in modern society.

[1],[2],[3] Fashion Memoir-‘Jean Paul Gaultier’ by Farid Chenoune 1996

My London Sourced Fabric

My London Sourced Fabric

As the purpose of the trip was to find fabric for our projects, the first option was to rummage through the textile shops and the market in Shepherd’s Bush. Infamous for its dusty, brown brick appearance, together with the rough and rugged atmosphere, Shepherd’s Bush offered a range of cheaper options for fabrics. Compared with the High-end fabric specialists of Liberty’s and Soho, The fabrics in the market and textile shops where not necessarily bad quality, but there was definitely a trash glamour feel about the range available, from sequins to animal prints. However, this is what drew me to purchasing fabric there, as I wanted to get something that had a trash glamour feel about it whilst incorporating the charm of that part of London and also relating to my evolution and animalistic/tribal theme. I luckily found, among other sample and trimmings, a blue/black/gold poly satin material in the market, which simulated futuristic alien skin, crossed with a leopard print with gold touches.

After collecting all my necessary fabric resources, Westfield shopping centre called out to me, as it is located near Shepherd’s Bush station. Apart from the initial thought of shopping for clothes etc, I wanted to observe the rich materialistic culture of retail displayed within the array of boutiques in the shopping centre. Having been to Westfield countless times before, I drew accustomed to the intense shopping atmosphere there, although until recently, I only realized how different the atmosphere was inside the shopping centre compared with the nearby market. I could only stand in awe at all the big brands displayed, wishing that I could one day experience the luxury lifestyle associated with the products, but when I took a look at my inexpensive fabric from the market I drew to a conclusion that its not necessarily wear source comes form that matters, it is all in the design and the manufacture that makes it valuable. Although I’m sure the fabrics used in most designer products are from top quality sources.

I am glad that my fabric represents the charming, old quirky side of London, but when used in my design, it will hopefully represent the new couture of London’s luxurious side. Overall, through fusing together the idea of old and new, I hope to use my fabric with great effect, to achieve my desired outcome for my garment in relation to my theme. Technically, the texture and weight of the fabric is supple enough to drape or structure, but will also take great skill to manipulate it in order to achieve a high quality finish.

London Fabric Trip 22/10/12

London Fabric Trip 22/10/12

London, combining the perfect fusion of old and new, sometimes sympathetically placed next each other, or at other times, set against each other for a striking impact. From the old quirky markets to the new high-end boutiques, there’s always something and some place suited to everyone’s taste. I personally enjoy observing both, and experiencing the values attractions that each location has to offer.

Initial Sketch

Initial Sketch

My first Design and Research project, “Melting Pot” focuses on the concept of culture. At first, I assumed culture meant something to do with the lives and traditions of a particular group of people in a different country or any other location.
However, as I broadened my mind, my thoughts lead me elsewhere. Being typically me to divert from the subject, I grasped the idea of culture within the timeframe of life from Reptilians to Humans. It took me to think of evolution and how we choose to adapt our bodies and general appearances to suit our culture. Similarly, Animals have adapted to their environment, but over time and through the course of nature for survival instead of choice.
As humans have past the needs purely for survival, the modern day consumers of material wealth indicates how humans take for granted the natural adaption to life and the world around us, and instead follow an artist’s desired ideal culture portrayed heavily in the media.
As for the future, we can only assume that this modern mentality will continue to grow for the better or worse. At first, I thought of humans wiping out completely, and a new race of life will come into existence, like aliens. Although, as far fetched as Aliens go, Many designers have incorporated futurism and life beyond humanity into their work, because it intriguing to think of a futuristic trend possibly one day turning into a alien reality.
None of this however is really positive or negative; it is just my observation, as my artistic influences stem from a range of subjects, especially desired material culture and futurism.
Overall, in this project I wish to attempt to combine these theories and observations and create a fashion design, which embraces the heart of culture from modern day society and by somehow clashing the two extremities of ancient versus future in a “Fusion Of Time”.