The Grand Rex, a stage, a certain Miss Cerlomny (as entertaining as ever), tears, emotion and good times: in a nutshell, Jean Paul Gaultier was showing us how to party. The reason wasn't one to celebrate, because it was his departure from Pret-à-Porter; but his show was full of happiness, irony, wit and surprises.
Catherine Deneuve, Boy George, Pierre Cardin, Alexander Wang, Anthony Vaccarello and Alber Elbaz came to applaud Gaultier for his years of amazing work. The stage was enormous and the audience knew it was witnessing something more than your everyday catwalk show: this was a performance—something between a cabaret and a ‘Miss’ pageant. This was fashion taken to the next level—that of joy and the freedom to create. Because Monsieur Gaultier now wants to concentrate on what he loves most: the future of couture.
Your last Prêt-à-Porter show! How do you feel about it?
It's a very positive emotion. I am very happy. A few people cried, but for me it's a party. I love this profession. It's my passion. I will go on to do couture and a lot of other things. It’s been 36 years making prêt-à-porter. I was always free to do the things I love. Now things have changed, mostly because of marketing, and I don’t feel comfortable with it. I think it’s enough. There are too many clothes, too many designers. You do couture with creativity or you do low-cost design. People cannot afford, or don’t want to afford, a middle price. But it’s not just a question of business: I cannot do the clothes I love, so in the end it’s a selfish decision. I always did my profession with passion, but I cannot do prêt-à-porter if I don't feel it anymore. So it's couture and maybe capsule, but not every season—six collections a year is impossible: you cannot think, you become a robot. For the moment there is no robot like Jean Paul Gaultier. (Laughs.)
What was your inspiration for this show?
The theme came quite early. I wanted to do the show of ‘the Miss’. I saw a movie with Catherine Deneuve called Elle s’en va. Deneuve plays an ex-Miss Brittany and I thought, a beauty like Catherine Deneuve playing a ‘Miss’? And then I thought, why not? I could do a show with different kinds of Miss. That was the idea. It was a pretext. So I then did Miss Tour de France. The cyclists have great outfits, and so I tried to transform them into dresses.
You also showed models dressed as the most famous fashion editors in your show. Suzy Menkes got a lot of laughs. There was Emmanuel Alt, Carine Roitfeld, of course, Grace Coddington, Franca Sozzani and Babeth Djian from Numéro. How did you come up with that idea?
They deserve a lot of thanks from me. I love them all. Beautiful fashion magazines were my bible. I used to look at them and learn about fashion that way, through the editors. I never went to design school—I learned only like that. There are some editors I just love. They are very creative. This is why I wanted to give an homage to them. They are the key to fashion, and I have respect for that profession.
As always, you also used crystals in this last show.
Yes, have you seen the football ladies? They all wore jeans jackets and accessories with Swarovski crystals. Amazing. That was so much fun. I always love using them.
Pierre Cardin was here, but also the next generation of young designers, such as Jeremy Scott. How does this make you feel?
When I was young I used to admire people like Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent. I’m really happy that the young designers came.
Who would you have picked to continue your brand if that had been an option?
In terms of legacy, I would have picked maybe Martin Margiela, but he stopped making his own collection. So he should not do mine. Hedi Slimane is doing a good job at Saint Laurent now, so he cannot do mine. (Laughs.)
Do you love Paris?
Yes. It’s a love-hate relationship. I was born in the suburbs of Paris, and at one point I wanted to leave for London, but I had already started work, and the work for me was here.
Thank you so much! Now we’re even more excited about your Haute Couture collection in January.
Photography by Patrice Stable.